Christian Heilmann

Posts Tagged ‘adobe’

TTMMHTM – Rocket Packs, Chiptunes in Ruby, Times People API and Museums and form filling Microformats in YQL

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Things that made me happy this morning

On measuring evangelism success

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

I am right now in Santa Clara, California for the end of the year wrap-up and planning sessions of the Yahoo Developer Network. One thing I am realizing is that it is very tough to measure the success or really the impact of what an evangelist does. As my company does not have any commercial programs that tie with the offerings I talk about (all the APIs are free but some are limited to a certain amount of hits per day and there is no way to “buy” more – BOSS is working on that though) I don’t make the company any money.

What I do though is go out there and tell people about the things we have. On the flipside I get feedback from the outside world and see implementations of our work to feed back into the company. This is worth a lot – you cannot determine the quality of a product if you are the one who did it.

This is the same for every evangelist/advocacy role in any of the companies out there. The problem is that when reporting what you’ve done up the hierarchy in a company a lot of things get lost. Measuring the success of a company is a very tough job and it increases with the size of the company. This leads to terrible decisions being made (there will be another post about this here).

As an evangelist/advocate the hardest job is to tell people exactly what your impact was. A lot of what you do is planting mental seeds and inspiring people to work differently – that can’t be measured in hard figures. Other companies measure the success of an event for example by how many business cards were collected and have a department that follows these up by contacting people. I don’t like this much, first of all because a lot of the people I meet don’t have business cards but follow me on twitter instead and secondly because they gave me the card and not the company.

So in order to measure the success of any developer network we need your feedback and success stories of how what we’ve explained and shown has impacted your work. A blog post like this one on Yahoo Pipes makes me happy, as do tweets like this one.

While I am happily scrounging the web for these gems it is annoying that I need to do that. The biggest problem is that people are not commenting any longer. I don’t know why – personally I love to give a comment on where I found out some information. It keeps my concerns and the original message in context. When I twitter my personal view on something the 140 character limit and lack of original text will lead to information loss.

So my wishes from all of you on behalf of all the people in big companies organizing and supporting developer events (yahoo, microsoft, adobe, sun, paypal, ebay…) are following.

If you enjoy free information, swag, being able to directly reach internal experts and being able to network with a select group of like-minded people:

  • please leave comments on the blogs/announcement pages of the events (in our case the YDN blog and upcoming – a lot of people only look there and don’t have time to scrounge the web for all the info.
  • Use tags we provide at events to tag your photos, blog posts, tweets, videos…
  • Tell us about cool implementations and changes in your company based on what we talked about – we are happy to feature those and send you link love and there is nothing cooler than telling the world how someone else but us have done something cool with our stuff
  • If you sign up for an event – show up (or send a colleague). I am getting terribly sick of spending a lot of money to hire locations and have 150 sign up to the event in the first 10 minutes – effectively blocking out people that should be there – and then 20 show up! This is wasted time and money – and in the current climate that is not a clever thing to do.

I love my job and I am doing quite extensive work to make the IT industry understand that tech evangelism is not a waste of money but that there is a massive need for it. Marketing and PR departments just cannot reach geeks and internal geeks have neither the drive or the opportunities to talk to the world about the great things they do. I am very sure that innovation and change in IT is not coming from top down but from people who dare to talk to the right people to initiate change. As I put it in my talk at accessibility 2.0 geeks that care are the drivers of innovation and I don’t want to lose the opportunities we have right now.

When I started in IT events were massively expensive and I had to negotiate for months with my managers to get tickets. We are past this – thanks to developer networks and evangelists. I’d hate to see this go and developers falling back to being deliverers and not allowed to go out and play.

Flash9 specs are now available and Google starts indexing Flash Movies

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Adobe just announced the new searchability features of Flash complete with a specifications document of the SWF format. Google already announced that they are indexing SWF as of now to a full extend and according to Adobe Yahoo! are soon to follow.

This is splendid news, as it will allow people to write APIs to get text information out of SWF movies in a much easier way. Sure there were several Flash Decompilers already available, but this will make this much more mainstream and people will take adding text information to their Flash movies much more seriously.

On the other hand, this will also lead to more security exploits, but that is to be expected from any disclosure of file format specifications.

Thanks Adobe!

Adobe onAir show in London

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

I almost didn’t hear about Adobe’s on Air conference until it was upon us and the list of attendees was full. Luckily I got hold of one of the organizers and got a ticket that way (thanks Mike !).

I have to admit that I was dreading the whole thing to be a terrible marketing-driven show and tell of out-of-the-box solutions that solve every problem web development throws at you. This was my experience with a lot of large product company shows in the past – I was proven wrong.

The onAir tour was a great experience, both in terms of organization and content. For a whole day (doors opening at 9.15am and the event closing at 6pm) several speakers told us all about Air – from low level command line building via using different IDEs all the way to deployment, automated update and security of your applications.

The schedule was very tight with a few breaks in between and a larger lunch break. There was no feeling of boredom ever as all speakers kept their presentations snappy and hands-on. If you got in a lull, the rock-steady wireless could keep you busy (although I realized that live-twittering what is going on angers folk though).

People already versed in the “Flash/Flex scene” that came to the conference said that for them a lot was not news, but I think the idea of the onAir tour was not to preach to the Flash crowd but to expand the developer community for the product. Talking to several “Adobe virgins” I got the impression they met their goal. Sam Clark for example told me he came with very low expectations but very strongly considers getting into Air development now.

Of course all of this is post-show enthusiasm, but there are a lot of things Air does that really makes it interesting for web developers:

  • you can use the technologies you are already using (HTML/CSS/JS)
  • you don’t have to worry about cross-browser and cross-platform incompatibilities (you work with WebKit, which also gives you alpha transparency, rounded corners and all the other CSS goodies we so crave to have cross-browser)
  • as a JavaScript developer you have reach you never had before – you can access the file system, create and access SQLite Databases or access 10MB of encrypted storage for your application (I remember messing around with .hta and COM objects to do this in JS once, not fun)
  • You have full access to the native windows and menus of the operating system, thus being able to write applications that look and feel exactly like any other the user is already familiar with.
  • The security model is much more sophisticated than what we have to deal with in JavaScript and browsers. That said, the option to be able to re-assign file associations for your application does sound potentially dangerous.

Of course not all is rosy about Air and the only presentation that showed the issues when implementing it on a large scale was the one by the BBC.

  • Air applications need to be installed, which is something that does spook out users paranoid about viruses. Ironically this is the only way to keep them secure – but it is a hurdle. The web installer badges are a nice way to ease this process.
  • The accessibility support is bad, this needs to get fixed, starting with proper keyboard support
  • Air applications seem to take up a lot of RAM when they run for a long time. According to Jonathan Snook this is largely caused by the library that creates growl windows and once this is fixed we’ll have less problems.
  • The installer is only available in English and needs to be i18n ready.

It is very interesting to see how all the web technologies seem to merge sooner or later with the common denominator being JavaScript. Seeing what Flash developers do with almost the same language I’ve used for years but unhindered by browser restrictions is pretty interesting and looks like a good challenge to marry the best practice quality ideas we found in the hostile browser world with this “let’s try if we can do it” attitude.

I also very much like the fact that Adobe promised to release all the presentation videos on their site after the road show and that they even provide an API to access all the media accumulated during the ride.

Of course there was schwag to go, in this case T-shirts and some goodies that were given out using raffle tickets. There was a tad of an embarrassing moment when I won twice, once with my own ticket and secondly with Steve Webster’s (who had to finish a project and couldn’t come). Hence I drew another winner and gave my prize away.

Good job, I am looking forward to the next event.