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Flash: Here, There, and Everywhere

As Adobe wrapped up MAX 2007 in Chicago earlier this week, the company provided a series of sneak peeks of upcoming technologies, with the upcoming release of the company’s Flash Player—code-named Moviestar—integrated into a significant number of them.

Surrounded by a Blues Brothers theme, Adobe’s technologies showcase—which was preceded by a standard legal note that said Adobe was under no obligation to ship any of the technologies it demonstrated—displayed 12 technologies the company wanted attendees to think about how they could integrate into their own creations. Demonstrations ranged from a tool that could easily remove objects from pictures to a voice over IP solution to a beta of a Linux-based Flex Builder application.

As part of several demonstrations, though, the Flash Player was heavily integrated into the technologies, following a theme from the beginning to the end of the MAX conference that Flash, as a development and streaming media integration platform, was set to permeate many of Adobe’s previously disparate technologies. For instance, one demonstration showed off Flash running on a Symbian OS phone, replacing the phone’s entire interface with video and interactive graphics.

In another instance, Visual Communicator 3 was demonstrated. The product, an outgrowth of the Serious Magic acquisition, has already shipped, with a copy of VC3 included in every attendee’s goodie bag. During the demonstration, though, Adobe showed off the ability for VC3 output to be streamed live via the upcoming Flash Media Server 3; with VC3’s three-camera switching, integrated teleprompter, pre-roll of digital video files or still images, and rapid timeline builds, the ability to stream content live puts VC3 on track to compete with NewTek’s TriCaster series of small production switchers.
Adobe also showed off Flash’s integration into Acrobat, at several levels; first, the integration of the Flash Player directly into a PDF, allowing for video or interactive content playback in a controlled environment; second, the ability to notate rich media content in Acrobat, including comments on particular video frames or interactive scenes, leading into a third integration point, as the Flash Player engine becomes part of Adobe Connect—the company’s collaborative tool. As for the Flash tool itself, Adobe also demonstrated features from the next-generation Flash creation tool, which is focused on better video integration, multiple text layers, and rudimentary 3D—complete with nurbs and inverse kinematics that carry over into playback.

The biggest integration, though, comes in a tool that Adobe is gearing into direct competition with Microsoft’s Silverlight technology. The Adobe Integrated Runtime, a desktop application that allows Flash content—created in either ActionScript 3 or Flex 3—to be moved from the web to the desktop with no modification, puts Adobe in the rich interactive application (RIA) business. In fact, with an additional demonstration of C/C++ code being played directly within AIR, Adobe firmly announced its intentions of acting as a multi-platform replacement to Java, .Net, and Silverlight. The demonstration, showing Quake playing directly on the web and on the desktop, overlayed an additional Flash-created dashboard on top of the original ground, but pulling its status information from the game’s C code.

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