Several months back, I signed up to attend Adobe’s Create the Web tour stop in New York. I really miss New York sometimes, and will willingly use a good excuse or two for a visit (I happened to attend a separate presentation on PhoneGap/Apache Cordova the same day, not to mention get some REAL pizza–something Central PA knows nothing about, sadly).
Shortly after signing up for the New York stop, CPAUG successfully lobbied Adobe to create a stop in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. It’s a pretty impressive feat, considering other stops were New York, San Francisco, and Minneapolis (kudos to to Megan and her crew!). I expected the same presentation, but attended both, anyway, since I felt I needed to help represent the local community. I was surprised to see two somewhat different presentations.
The NYC meeting audience was actually slightly smaller, despite 200 signups. Refreshments included pizza and beer (yes, beer!), and it felt like I was sitting in a pretty experienced crowd. The presenter seemed to come from more of a sales background and immediately started showing off the resource site Adobe had set up. They showed off CSS regions and the CSS FilterLab in Chromium–great stuff, but completely experimental and not currently practical.
This was followed by a presentation on Edge Animate and Typekit. The crowd grew skeptical–even audibly critical, myself included. Someone asked if Edge Animate would continue to output bloated code similar to Dreamweaver. The Typekit demo featured a typography-rich webpage that, as Dave pointed out, would have probably been smaller/more practical as SVG or an image. The presenter was stumped on font file sizes, and I, for one, felt a little bad for him.
In contrast, the Camp Hill event was seemingly more crowded, the food was more diverse (to be expected, given the meeting was at a supermarket instead of a Union Square startup), and, perhaps most importantly, it was presented by developer evangelists. Rather than rely upon the website, they teased Edge Inspect and Edge Reflow, then followed up with some custom-made demos (Harrisburg Senators, anyone?). Based on audience questions, I don’t think the group was as well-versed in responsive design or mobile development as the NYC group. It also seemed like there was more enthusiasm and less criticism.
In the end, it would have been nice to hear more criticism from the PA crowd, but I think the Camp Hill presentation came off better, and I’d directly attribute that to the developers presenting and the organizer preparation.
As for my take on the subjects the presentations covered:
on CSS Filters:
Fun, but nothing practical, yet. Frankly, all the -webkit CSS prefixes bother me. It’s 1999 all over again.
My company doesn’t subscribe to Typekit, most of my clients don’t need the expense, and I’m not keen on excessive external site dependencies, so I wasn’t sold on this. The Source Sans Pro and Source Code Pro fonts are nice, though.
I’ll admit, I’m really excited about this. It’s simple and lightweight, and the extensions manager (Help > Show Extensions Folder) has the potential to be the easy-to-use bundle editor that TextMate lacks. It also includes a browser refresher (like Espresso), though as of this writing, it’s Chrome only. I still prefer the ability to easily open folders as windows in TextMate, as well as the folder and file icons in the tree (instead of Brackets’s tree drop downs). It’s also weird that new files can get created within the hidden contents of the application wrapper (“Getting Started” found in Contents/samples/root/ when exploring the application on Mac).
At this rate, I’m hoping to use Brackets instead of Dreamweaver for my upcoming Interactive Media semester. Hopefully, Adobe follows WordPress’s plugin approach as a roadmap and creates a community site for hosting and rating extensions.
Reflow and Inspect:
I’m not buying it–the tools are Webkit-based, and nothing beats testing on an actual device, even desktop emulators.
Adobe Edge Animate:
I’m really looking forward to trying this out and comparing its output size against a hand-coded equivalent. I expect it to be no contest, of course, but I think there’s a need for an HTML5 timeline-based tool, and it’s bound to save time. I didn’t know Edge had a preloader option. I wished the speakers discussed Flash->Canvas versus Edge -> HTML5, but we can’t have everything.
I also made a request to the presenters to allow users to set the engine file, particularly because Edge Animate always seems to be behind on the latest JQuery version (not to mention animation-specific libraries like Greensock probably yield better performance).
Overall, I felt that both Adobe presentations sugar-coated HTML5-based mobile apps and glorified responsive design without pointing out some of its flaws, but hey, they’re selling software that enables these things. I applaud Adobe for reaching out to their community and educating its user base. It will be interesting to see how they adapt their business model with the non-proprietary code called HTML5.