I did not know what to expect when my name was drawn out of a hat to go to the popular flash conference based in sunny Brighton from the 11th September to the 14th September. I first thought, well I do not do any Flash work and thought of myself sitting there desperate for the time to tick by so I could go for a beer but how wrong I was. What a conference it is !
The three days was inspiring and meeting so many great and clever people including speakers and attendees was brilliant.
At first we were in the Dome during the key note with the Adobe team. During this they talked about using Adobe Edge. This is basically an effort to build HTML 5 versions of Adobe Flash applications. Whilst being exciting to see its potential, I feel that Edge needs a bit more work which I will discuss later in my blog post. Another thing that was discussed was the use of Sprite Sheets in Flash which can be exported as XML files. I could see how this would be a great addition for Flash developers.
A great presentation and my view of FOTB had changed within the first hour of being there!
My next presentation was with Jon Howard to talk about making games for kids. Whilst I am not a Flash developer first and foremost, I do, and have, worked alongside them to produce games for Ice Age and Rio so this was something that I was very keen to see. At first he talked about the development stages of producing and bringing the games to fruition but the presentation really came to life when he demonstrated some games to us and he even had his own game built aimed at the conference itself. Engaging and exciting.
My third and final presentation was learning about bringing and idea to interface. This was a great presentation that aimed at giving you that kick up the bum to say “Hey, you can do this” and if your idea does not work first time, go back to it at a later date and try again. This was strengthened by the video interview with Jack Dorsey who spoke about his original idea for the (little known!?!) social networking site Twitter!
The final presentations of the day were with Han Hoogerbrugge and Jon Burgerman. Both of these guys nearly had me in tears they were so funny. Han demonstrated his work as a illustrator and animator. Strange, lively and interesting. Brilliant. His demonstration of his work on the Pet Shop Boys ‘Love’ video was fantastic.
After this Jon Burgerman spoke about his work and I have to say it gave me a completely different view about the talent of illustration and art. I work and have worked with extremely talented illustrators but I have never really appreciated illustration as much as I should have.
I am constantly asked by Kevin Young to come out for lunch and illustrate with the guys. My drawing is awful. I can do a mean Hangman but that is as far as I go! This presentation, however, made me think that maybe it would be cool and relaxing just to try it out! I might only last one lunchtime but it would be worth a try nonetheless!
After this I spent the evening in great company with both colleagues, people I have met on various training workshops and even some new faces. Spending the evening with Robert Turrall, Paul King & Vickie Rettalick drinking beers and talking geek was great!
Again I found myself in the Corn Exchange (this was to be where I would spend a majority of the two days!) and first presentation was with Adobe man Mark Anders for his talk about Adobe Edge and what can be achieved using HTML 5 to create engaging content for your websites, and also so that it can be viewing on multiple platforms without the need for plugins. Whilst Adobe Edge is an exciting tool, there are big questions regarding its compression which cannot achieve (at the moment) anywhere near to what Flash can when delivering ads and banners. This is currently a big part of what my current employer Substance require as constantly we are asked that our ads and banners are only 40K in size and whilst I am sure Adobe will be working hard to export to smaller file sizes this will be extremely difficult.
I was not going to miss the next speaker. Seb Lee Delisle who has always impressed me, not only with his enthusiasm for all things web, but also for his vast knowledge of web technologies and Even though he has been a Flash man for many years, he is never reluctant to step into learning other technologies. He always seems to be ahead of technology and todays presentation was no exception! The whole hour was about how he has been looking at using WiFi and web sockets to achieve a collaborative event. We all had to use our mobile devices to connect to a WiFi point and from then on his application was used to control all of the devices. This was achieved by assigning ids which allowed the application to use a wide angle lens to see where each device was placed in the room. After Seb got all the devices recognised through the application he was able to get the crowd to play a game which involve trying to tap a cat running from device to device! It was extremely good fun but also very clever and innovating.
The third and final day involved seeing 20 speakers in 1 hour. Yes I did say 20 speakers in 1 hour!?! Each speaker had 3 minutes to each to talk about their chosen topic. Every single speaker did extremely well and spoke about some very interesting topics from code reviews to augmented reality!
Keith Peters talk on building tools to automate development for which I can relate was also very good. I have built my own tools including an internal program in our office that tracks employee’s work time and also a program that builds my PHP classes and code base just by pointing it to a set of mysql database tables so I could see the importance of this presentation.
I then went into the Pavillion Theatre to see Paulo Fierro talk about his development of iPhone applications. His talk about developing and releasing an application through the app store was fantastic. He talked through his development of a Boris Bikes iPhone application for the Norwegian market and discussed the pit falls and also the excitement generated from building the application. Truly inspirational stuff and something that I would really love to look at, even if not from an Objective C application then from a html 5 website standpoint.
Jared Ficklin who builds physical solutions for technology. His inventions were incredible and whilst I am not totally into the physical development side of technology, Jared’s enthusiasm and expertise was fantastic. He even taught us something about Mustaches !
The video below shows Jared in action with his Smoke Vortex Cannon!
Overall I really enjoyed Flash on the Beach and I would recommend it to all designers and developers. The speakers talk with great enthusiasm and you cannot help but go away being totally inspired by everything you learn from the event.