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Adobe onAIR tour Amsterdam

Last Friday Adobe’s onAIR tour landed in Amsterdam, in the Beurs van Berlage building and I went to see what I could learn about Adobe AIR, since I didn’t do much with AIR after the rename from Apollo. Also the impressive list of speakers caught my interest. The event was organized very smoothly and the location was perfect. They created a gaming-room with Guitar Hero, a Nintendo Wii and a XBOX 360 for some r&r in between the presentations, there was an abundance of free food and drinks, and the atmosphere was great.

Ryan Stewart presented the Keynote speech, which started at 10 o’clock sharp. He did a short and general introduction for AIR and then showed some cool applications, like uvLayer, a new way to watch and share videos with your friends. He also showed the new Google Analytics AIR application, which brings almost all of the features of Google Analytics to your desktop, including the cool site-overlay feature.

Ryan Stewart @ onAIR tour Amsterdam
Photo by Kevin Hoyt

After Ryan, Mike Chambers built the first Flex based AIR application together with the audience. Nothing too new there. We ended up with a very basic Hello World button in an AIR window. This was also the result of the next session about application building with HTML and JavaScript by Kevin Hoyt. Kevin also introduced the Aptana Studio to the audience, a free development environment for HTML and JavaScript, based on the Eclipse environment (also available as plug-in). I’ve just installed the plug-in myself and will try it later this week.

During the break I went to take a look in the gaming area but it was way too crowded so I rejoined the other guys I was with and we ate a quick lunch in the main presenting area. During the breaks it was still a little awkward to see a giant row in front of the mens restroom while the women could walk right into theirs. This is usually the other way around if I’m right. Oh well, another great excuse for women to get into the web business I guess…

After the break we were introduced to the newest user group in The Netherlands, FLUGR, which stands for FLex User GRoup. Next to the Adobe User Group Nederland, which was launched last year it’s a great development in quite a small country. The community is growing rapidly.

Serge Jespers presented the worlds smallest video player (including a dark and evil voice muhaha). He had a dock icon of 16×16 pixels with Disney/Pixars new movie, Wall-E in full HD which was kind of an awkward new video watching experience. Of course the main point was to show the really great integration of AIR with the current operating systems. Great stuff!

Daniel Dura had a very nice layout scheme about the AIR API’s which was very interesting and well explained by Dany. He will post the slides on his blog after the first part of the euro tour.

I didn’t pickup much from Enrique Duvos presentation about leveraging LiveCycle Data Services within AIR, because I was looking into some other things on my laptop and I also don’t really have any interest in LiveCycle at the moment. There are too much other things I want to learn first so one’s gotta make choices.

Peter Elst thought the stage was very suitable for stage-diving but he didn’t want to break any laptops so he didn’t execute his plan and kept to talking about SQLLite, which isn’t the sexiest of subjects (his own words) but he did a great job explaining the simplicity of combining SQLLite and AIR. With only 300 lines of code he created a useful contacts application which saves the data in a single SQLLite file. I was pleasantly surprised by this technique. I will certainly look into this more intensively quite soon!

Sergey Ilinksy presented about combining the Backbase Enterprise AJAX framework with AIR, but after missing the first half of his presentation I couldn’t get into his story when I rejoined to audience. He just couldn’t convince me with his presentation, the slides where not appealing, they contained too much information and he didn’t have any volume in his voice. I had a hard time hearing what he had to say. Least interesting presentation of the day in my opinion.

Chris Brichford is a senior developer at the AIR team and is working on the html rendering within AIR. This obviously is done through the WebKit engine and it was pretty interesting to hear him talking about it. He also talked us through the security model for AIR.

Next up was André Charland, CEO of Nitobi, who presented about leveraging AJAX through AIR. He also showed a lot of interesting applications like sh.AIR, snitter and especially Scrutinizer, which kind of simulates the eye-tracking method to user-test your websites. It blurs the website and only shows about 2% of the site clearly in a sharp blob around the mouse cursor. This blog also moves with the cursor so you can check out your website and see if anything really jumps out or not. Very interesting piece of work!

Lee Brimelow @ onAIR tour Amsterdam
Photo by Kevin Hoyt

The last speaker of the day was Lee Brimelow (who loves fart soundboards, funny guy!), obviously known for GotoAndLearn() and TheFlashBlog. He discussed the API’s some more and had a great low level approach in explaining it with a lot of (funny) graphical support to backup his story. His slides also can be found over here on his blog. One of the most interesting things about the API he told about was the option to handle multiple screens. I didn’t hear or read about that feature before. Lee’s presentation was really awesome!

So that’s about it for my view on this great day and event. It was the best event organized by Adobe which I have attended so far. Everything was organized perfectly and I learned a lot about the subject!