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User Group Meeting Round-Up an Review and Engage with Flash meets Flash on Every Screen

This entry is a two parter. Part 1: User Group Meeting Round Up:
Its been a busy week for user group meetings! Started off Sunday with the first Make:Philly meeting [1], Monday night Ben Forta [2] came to town for a Flex 2 talk (and we had great attendance with 60 members present beating back San Francisco, and New York and all other stops thus far on Ben’s tour), Tuesday night I had off. Tonight, I wanted to check out the Flash Lite 2.0 seminar that Scott Janousek [3] and Alessandro Pace [4] did tonight for the Adobe Mobile User Group of Boston [5], but I was in the middle of my own Breeze presentation “Flash on Every Screen” for Brian Meloche [6] and the Cleveland MMUG [7], which went rather well for my first time trying to shoehorn that presentation into Breeze. Tomorrow night, Thursday, there is an interesting meeting, “Architecting Classes with Flash Lite 2” that James Talbot is presenting for the BFPUG (Boston Flash Platform User Group) [8]. Pheww….so many meetings so little time!

I thought a summary of Bens visit was in order:
Our pal Steve Rittler [9] manages PACFUG – Philadelphia Area ColdFusion User Group [10], did an amazing job getting this last meeting together. The meeting took place at Huntsman Hall – one of Wharton School of Business Buildings [11] (part of the University of Pennsylvania ). It was one of the best venues I have ever been in for a meeting – awesome AV equipment, comfortable stadium style seating with desks and room to spread out a bit. Parking was convenient right across the street or off-street if you could find it, and of course Steve kept us all well fed providing dozens of pizzas and beverages for all the attendees. Headcount at 60 was really great.

Bens presentation was top notch, and I really got a lot out of it. His presentation style is really easy to follow, and he engages the audience right away and encourages interaction and questions from the group. I learned a number of thinks about Flex 2 [12] that I wasn’t quite sure about prior to the meeting. The examples that he walked us through step by step were really well done, and the steps he took through them to explain things made it very easy to follow. They really showed the power of the Flex 2 framework for building the type of applications he put together during his presentation. Compared to the amount of code you would have to write in the Flash IDE to get similar results by hand, there is just no comparison. I think it really drove home the point about Flex being a great choice for certain types of RIA apps and really complimenting traditional Flash IDE development. Im not much of a ColdFusion developer (I’m more of a PHP guy), but the examples Ben showed on how to tie in the datasources, and some new wizards that aren’t quite ready yet, were really compelling and would certainly make me consider taking on ColdFusion for a project if a client required it.

Ben drove home that this was going to be very accessible release for developers with the new price points, and business model surrounding Flex 2, and the fact that the Framework [13]/SDK [14]/Compiler [15] will be free and that individual developer seats are going to be under $1000 [14]. I think this got a lot of people excited and perked them up right away. Ben started off his presentation with this information and I don’t think a lot of people had caught this info yet although its been out for a bit now.

Before I forget, the Wharton/Penn team showed off quite a number of very cool things they are doing with ColdFusion/Flex and Flash for the universities portal and internal resources for the campus. I really liked their mobile implementation of info and class schedule/location requests through the use of mobile devices and the ColdFusion SMS event gateway [16] – really cool idea and quite handy for new students during registration and the first few weeks of classes when everyone is running around clueless or overwhelmed.

Overall it was a really great meeting, good turnout and plenty of interest in Flex 2 [12] was generated. If you have a chance to catch one of Bens meetings along his tour – do yourself a favor and don’t miss it!

I have put up some some photos from the event here in case anyone wants to
take a peak:

Thanks to Adobe for sending Ben out to travel around and speak and get the word out about Flex 2, and thanks to Steve for the props to the Philadelphia Flash User Group (soon to be Philadelphia Flash Platform User Group) [19] and other plugs he popped in there for me and other local groups.
Part 2: Flash on Every Screen meets Engage with Flash

My own presentation tonight for the Cleveland MMUG [7] group went pretty well. It was originally designed to be done in person because of all the devices, interactive examples, and natures of the videos and demos I have put together. Not all of them work the best through Breeze as some of the content is difficult to share without mega-bandwidth on both ends. Overall though I compromised by referencing a lot of supplemental content I have online [20], and just hitting the major points for each piece. I was able to show some of the devices and even demonstrate a laser barcode reader by holding it in front of my webcam while controlling the Flash application (a Creative Commons licensed piece available here [20]). It worked pretty well. It wasn’t as nice as seeing it in person or projected high resolution via an Elmo or similar device, but it gets the point across and is pretty decent. The whole point of my presentation was to expose people who may or may not be familiar with Flash, to all the new exciting opportunities for Flash development in areas other than the web and desktop, from kiosks and mobile devices to interfaces for consumer devices and everday gadgets. I got some great feedback from the group, and have some ideas on how I can really tailor this to be more effective when presented via Breeze. My favorite link this week came from Adobe/Macromedia – Engage with Flash [21] – this short Flash/Video demo/presentation is precisely what my presentation is all about and actually hits on every major piece that was in my presentation. Introducing people to the other type of content and devices that Flash is capable of running on, and complimenting. The videos are really well done, and accurately and quickly convey the message that Flash really is a platform and can be used for more than just the web/desktop. I like to think my presentation back in October at MAX 2005 inspired this 😉 Seriously, it covers the iRiver U10 [22], Flash Lite 2.0 [23], the Jaguar XK Alpine GPS mapping system [24], the Kodak EasyShare-One WiFI camera [25], the Leapfrog Leapster [26], and even a cable box programming guide/menu system like the Orca SUI [27] system I covered in my presentation, with some kickass videos. I’m really pleased to see something like this. It looks like Adobe/Macromedia are finally putting together a more cohesive message about the Flash Platform [28] and providing some cool content and marketing materials behind it to drive home their point and really get the word out. Fantastic keep it up Adobe, I like where you are headed!