360|Flex: Day 0

by Thomas Brady


I’m in Denver this week for 360|Flex. It’s my first time at this conference, and so far I’m a little disappointed.

This morning I saw James Ward present an “Into to Building Mobile Apps.” The session didn’t get as deep as I’d hoped, but I did learn a few things. For one: the reason iOS is sort of a second-class citizen right now (you can only compile Actionscript projects to iOS and you have to do it from the command-line) has less to do with Apple<->Adobe politics and more to do with the fact that the cross-compiling hasn’t been optimized, yet. Compiling for Android just means making use of the AIR runtime. That’s a bit easier, it turns out, than writing an optimized cross-compiler. Word is, though, that the next AIR runtime and Flash Builder will bring iOS publishing the click-to-publish attention it deserves. Oh, and I might have possibly gotten to use and app published in unannounced AIR and Flex SDK that performed very well on an iPod Touch (scrolling lists, screen transitions, and all looked native). No word on feature parity with AIR (there were some AIR features missing in the last Packager for iOS I used). Also, James has ported Tour de Flex to mobile! The app is in the Android Market, he’s hoping to submit it to the iOS App Store soon, and even if it gets rejected (it is technically a demo) he’s releasing the source code, so you could build and install it yourself. Very cool.

The afternoon session “Introduction to Away3D” was pretty awful. I don’t think I fault presenter Dan Florio. He was friendly, helpful, and approachable. He was, however, simply opening example projects, reading the code and/or comments aloud, and then executing the projects. It was clear he only uses 3D rendering for tinkering with mathematical visuals and building example projects for training. He couldn’t explain why you would manipulate the zoom property of a camera rather than it’s z property, nor exactly what the focus property does. At one point we built and rebuilt a project (which drew a simple square mesh and rotated it on all three axes) 5 or 6 times simply changing the color of the material applied to it. I did not stay for the whole session. Downloading the example code from any tutorial on Away3D is the functional equivalent of having attended this session. Thank you, Dan, for preparing all these examples and for documenting the code with plentiful explanatory comments. Shame on you, 360|Flex, for thinking this should be a whole afternoon hands-on session.

Tonight I skipped off to downtown Denver to check out some live music. I found that a band called Elliott Brood, from Ontario, was playing at a place called Hi Dive. After having a fantastic grilled cheese (asiago, cheddar and spinach pesto) next door at Sputnik I grabbed a Lucky U IPA and headed to the back of the bar, catching the tail end of Brothers O’Hair’s set. I guess you’d call them power-pop? They were fun. Elliott Brood was quite fun, too. I guess you’d call them alt country. Excellent drums, and combinations of acoustic guitar (often overdriven), electric guitar, banjo, harmonica, and vocals. Sometimes raucous, sometimes shoe-gazery.

It really felt to me like Denver appreciates music more than Austin. People were obviously into the music, rather than affecting the indifferent or slightly annoyed look I’m used to seeing back home. Maybe Austin is spoiled. Maybe we take live music for granted.

Adobe just announced CS 5.5 and 3 iPad apps, I see. Interesting timing. They’re delivering a Keynote at 9 AM. I’m looking forward to this.