Beyond Boundaries Amsterdam

Last tuesday a bunch of other students from school and I took a traintrip to Amsterdam to see Daniel Dura, Sakri Rosenstrom and Serge Jespers talk at Beyond Boundaries Amsterdam.
At 8 in the morning I met up with Arno at the trainstation in Leeuwarden, just in time to eventually be really late for the first lecture by Sakri. So here’s what the day looked like:


FLASH CS3 COMPONENTS UNRAVELED (Serge Jespers)
When we walked into the building it occured to us that we were in fact really late and that Serge’s presentation had already started.
From an overall point of view Serge’s talk wasn’t half bad. He showed off some cool new Flash CS3 features like the uber-simple import-wizard for video and the really nice way components on the same timeline communicate with each other just like that without requiring any additional details (like instancenames and all that).

One minor disappointment was that most of what was talked about during this and the following presentations was not really anything new. Most features presented had already been revealed months ago at Adobe Live and in the blogosphere. On the other side this probably had something to do with my personal expectations, as Live had left a very positive impression and set a high standard as far as expectations go.

Serge also pointed out the new FLVPlaybackCaptioning component that brings support for subtitles with Flash video. The subtitle-styles can be customized by simply creating a customized dynamic textfield. Unfortunately there is a bug that resets the textfield its position when in fullscreen-mode, and so prevents subtitles from being displayed in the upper part of the screen.

Some other things talked about were the simplicity of skinning components in Flash CS3 (they’re basically just movieclips now) and the new support for H264 encoded media.

STYLING RICH APPS WITH FL, PS, AI AND FW (Serge Jespers)
Serge kicked off his second presentation by talking about the new and as-yet-to-be-released tool called Thermo. I was hardly impressed by the badly scaled-up screenshots from Adobe Labs Serge showed. And here again pretty much all of the information was already available some time ago.

After talking for a little bit about AIR projects in Flash and the new Adobe MediaPlayer Serge moved on to the subject of styling Flex applications through other applications. On top of the existent functionality in Flex 2 for using skins created in Flash, Flex 3 has a really nice wizard for importing skins made in Photoshop, Fireworks or Illustrator. Here’s some useful reading Serge recommended:
Designing Flex 2 skins with Flash, Photoshop, Fireworks, or Illustrator (by Narciso Jaramillo)

As a second tip Serge also mentioned the Flex Component Kit for Flash for creating Flex components in Flash, which is way cool.

ACTIONSCRIPT 3.0 (Sakri Rosenstrom)
First off, I just loved the way this guy talked his way through what he had to say. Even though it was kind of chaotic I really got the impression he had a huge passion for the subject and really enjoyed talking about it.

The first part of Sakri’s talk was about the changes in AS3, like less underscores, alpha going from zero to one instead of hundred, Void becoming void (all lowercase), etc.
He also pointed out the slightly cooler stuff like default parameters, the …rest parameter and the new for..each loop.
Regarding the latter Sakri also pointed out something that, for me, had gone by somewhat unnoticed at first. for..each actually requires a type-declaration, where for..in always uses a String. Thinking about it this makes enough sense, as for..each apparently loops through the actual property-values of an object, where for..in loops through the properties-names (Strings).

Sakri continued by showing us some benchmarking tests (with data, graphics and audio) to illustrate the performance advantages AS3 has compared to AS2.
NOTE: For those of you who are interested in the performance-side of AS3, read John Grden’s notes on OSFlash.org.

“To get you convinced this is the code you should be writing” – Sakri Rosenstrom

The best part was when Sakri started this brilliantly lengthy story about OOP and how getting an “efficient asskicking” by Hells Angels and Kung Fu masters resembles the reason of why you should use design patterns (“one of the Holy Grails of programming”) and aim for reusability. If you ever bump into him try to get him to repeat that one for you, it’s well worth it.

Unfortunately after telling us about document classes in Flash CS3 Sakri had ran out of time and had to skip the last two parts about XML (E4X) and textfields, which I thought to be quite a bummer.

FLEX BUILDER 3 (Daniel Dura)
After having hassled with his macbook (so they do crash from time to time? ;)) Daniel started off with some of the old news about Flex Builder 3 like built-in incremental compilation (speeding up compilation) and Flex Builder for Linux.
I was particularly excited about finally getting to see the application profiler in ‘action’. Especially so because we had missed out on it last time when Waldo Smeets talked about Flex 3 at Adobe Live but couldn’t get the profiler to work 🙁

One of the really cool things about Flex Builder 3 I think is the improved design-view, with live-preview of skins, CSS generation and zooming functionality.
The best thing about the new design-view is probably the enhanced constraint-support, which basically works like rulers in applications like Illustrator or Flash and allows for elements to be anchored to them.

Another cool feature is the new serverproject-wizard (from the second beta) that allows you to let your Flex app interact with a database, without having to write any serverside code at all.

Daniel ended his presentation by talking about the framework runtime-shared-libraries (RSL), which basically prevents the user from having a download-overlap when downloading two seperate Flex applications that both use the same Flex framework. This is cool, because it will hopefully do something about the big filesize of smallscale Flex applications.

Daniel kindly put online his slides and sample-files, to be found here:
danieldura.com/archive/air-and-flex-presentations-and-code-samples

After Daniel’s first presentation we decided to go catch our two-and-a-half-hour trainride back home. All in all Beyond Boundaries was cool, and definately worth the time and effort of getting there. The only slight disappointment being that there weren’t so many feature-revelations as back at Live, but I guess that was somewhat to be expected.

3 thoughts on “Beyond Boundaries Amsterdam

  1. Thanks Ruben for the kind words 🙂 The Amsterdam event was easily the biggest crowd I’ve ever spoken to, so it’s particularly nice to get positive feedback 🙂 Keep flashing!

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