Category Archives: Flash

PSCS4 extensibility: Flash, 64-bit

Now that Photoshop CS4 is shipping, let’s talk extensibility.

 

Plug-Ins:

 

  • By and large, your existing plug-ins should work just fine with CS4.  Photoshop PM Bryan O’Neil Hughes reports that when it comes to PS on the Mac and PS on Windows running in 32-bit mode, "Our in-house testing proved early on that with very rare exceptions, ‘if it worked in CS3, it works in CS4.’" Developers like onOne and Digital Anarchy have already issued statements of CS4 compatibility, and I expect more to follow.
  • If you’re running Photoshop in 64-bit mode on Windows (Vista 64 or XP64), you’ll need updated, 64-bit-native versions of your plug-ins.  (The 64-bit version of Photoshop can’t host 32-bit processes, and vice versa.)  We’ve been providing documentation to plug-in vendors for many months, and the 64-bit-savvy CS4 SDK is publicly available for download.  I expect vendors to be trying to gauge the level of interest in 64-bit versions of their tools, so if you’re in that camp, you might want to give them some friendly encouragement.
  • Photoshop on Windows consists of two binaries (one 32-bit, one 64-bit) which can be installed in parallel as completely separate applications.  This means you can use the 32-bit version to run older plug-ins while waiting for them to go 64-bit-native.

 

Flash Panels:

 

  • Support for running SWFs as panels represents a development renaissance for Photoshop & the Creative Suite.  It’s never been possible to create panels for Photoshop in the past*, and developing for other apps meant learning different APIs and writing different code for each.  Now you can create cross-platform, cross-application, non-modal, vector-based, network-aware extensions using Flash or Flex.  This is going to kick serious ass, and the Photoshop Developer Center now features the Photoshop Panel Developer’s Guide.  Look for more examples and documentation soon.

 

If you’re a developer and have questions, feel free to drop Bryan a line so that he can point you in the right direction.

*Unless you were a really clever developer like the guys at Nik Software–and they’re the first to say “Oh yeah, that was awful”; now it’s possible in an easy, reliable way.

InDesign + Flash goodness

As noted recently, one of my longest-held wishes has been for Flash (the authoring tool) to play better with other apps, enabling much richer exchange of documents.  Now, thanks to the new XFL format introduced in CS4, we’re seeing that vision become more real.  In a new segment on Adobe TV, Flash evangelist Paul Burnett demonstrates how InDesign works with Flash. 

In a nutshell, you can choose to export your pages as either SWF (ready to go right into a Web page with animation, no tweaking required) or XFL (ready to go into the Flash authoring environment with content intact*).  The beauty is that InDesign can offer rich direct-to-Web publishing without trying to replicate every conceivable authoring option. (Oh, and members of the InDesign team helped build the rich new text support in Flash Player 10, enabling higher fidelity hand-off between the apps.) [Via]

 

Next up, look for demos of After Effects leveraging XFL export to bring projects to Flash.

 

* One subtle detail is that Flash Player 10 now supports basic color management–more than a little important when you’re working across media and want to keep your images looking good.  I plan to share more details about this support soon.

Developers: Info on driving CS via AIR, Flash

If you’re interested in using Flash or AIR to extend and automate the apps of the Adobe Creative Suite, check out the Quarterly Creative Suite Developer Update Web conference, scheduled for Thursday, August 7th, at 9:00am Pacific time.

 

Amidst the other presentations, Adobe engineer Bernd Paradies will be talking for 15 minutes about a pair of technologies he’s developing:

 

  • "SwitchBoard" (see previous) lets AIR apps communicate with Photoshop and other CS3 apps via JavaScript
  • "PatchPanel" is a library that aims to standardize the scripting interface between Flash panels & the CS apps.  Instead of writing separate commands for each host, PatchPanel will make it possible to write common commands that are translated on the fly for each environment.

 

The session will be recorded and will be available for later viewing if you can’t make it in person.

New Flash Player beta speeds Mac performance

Adobe has posted Beta 2 of the upcoming Flash Player 10 to Adobe Labs.  Player engineer Tinic Uro shares some notes, pointing out that on Mac OS X this new build runs the GUIMark test suite some 3x faster than previous versions.  He posted more details in this comment.  Given that I heard a lot of criticism of the performance of Flash on Mac when I blogged about possibly using Flash inside the Photoshop UI, I thought it would be worthwhile sharing the good news.

The Color & the Shape, in PS & AI

Drive the Creative Suite through AIR

I’m pleased to announce that SwitchBoard, a technology for driving the Creative Suite family of products using applications running on Adobe AIR, is now available from Adobe Labs.  As Dr. Woohoo explains, "SwitchBoard is a Flex library that allows you to extend an AIR app by giving you access to the ExtendScript DOMs for the Creative Suite apps.  Your AIR app can now easily establish two-way communication with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Bridge."  According to the Labs page,

 

Adobe AIR developers can create applications that participate as first class citizens in creative workflows. Each SwitchBoard solution consists of an AIR application written for SwitchBoard, JavaScripts, and the SwitchBoard service that delivers the scripts to the Creative Suite applications. AIR developers only need to include a Flex library called SwitchBoard.swc in their projects in order to send and receive scripts to and from Creative Suite applications.

 

SwitchBoard brings together the power of the automation in the Creative Suite applications with the potential for third parties to extend the creative process with new applications produced using AIR. The result is an extensible, powerful, cross-platform environment that can quickly adapt to today’s rapidly changing creative workflows.

 

Thanks to resident brainiac Bernd Paradies for making it happen.  With the ability to create desktop-based Flash interfaces for the Suite, I’m looking forward to seeing what developers can devise, and I look forward to sharing some examples here soon.  (Oh, and Bernd has more good tricks up his sleeve, too.)

DestroyFlickr! (in a nice way)

The curiously named DestroyFlickr has nothing to do with destruction & everything to do with browsing your images via a desktop application.  Specifically, it’s an Adobe AIR app (essentially a Flash SWF running on the desktop, outside the browser) that lets you navigate your photostream through an attractive, minimalist gray interface.  According to the developer,

 

With the support of both drag and drop uploading and downloading, posting and saving photos is done in one easy motion. Now you can download the highest resolution version of a photo without having to see it first—just drag a thumbnail to the download menu and the download begins. [Via]

 

Smoove.

Dr. Woohoo & the future of the Suite platform

We want to make Photoshop and the whole Creative Suite much more flexible, extensible, and connected. Therefore, we’re looking at letting upcoming versions of Photoshop and–as far as I know–all Creative Suite applications be extended via SWF panels (palettes) created in Adobe Flash or Flex.

 

Of course, this can’t come as a surprise.  I mean, how brain-dead would Adobe have to be not to do this?  The appeal of extending one’s app with lightweight, cross-platform, network-aware widgets is so obvious that we were busy building support in my first app some eight years ago–and we had to build our own Flash Player clone to do it!  The CS3 versions of Flash, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Bridge, and Soundbooth can already be extended in this way, and Photoshop and other apps can run SWFs in a scripting dialog.

 

Our task now is to implement support in as consistent a way as possible across the Suite.  Today, developing for, say, the Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign trio would mean writing six chunks of platform-specific C code, delivering three different user experiences.  In the near future, by contrast, you should be able to write one chunk of code that extends each app with consistent, non-modal (panel-based) functionality.  Want to add peer-to-peer notes, Adobe kuler integration, video tutorials, and more to the Suite in one shot?  We aim to make it easy.

 

I believe the results will be transformative.  When I talk about the need to make Photoshop radically more configurable–letting it be "everything you need, nothing you don’t," person by person, moment by moment–I’m placing a lot of hope in easy panel configurability that can reshape workspaces and workflows.

 

We’ve hired a great developer named Drew Trujillo–better known as Dr. Woohoo–to help prime the pump.  In addition to After Effects<->Flash integration tools, he’s mashed up Illustrator with Flickr, and now he’s busily crafting fun new projects that we look forward to showing off a bit further down the line.  In the meantime Matthew Fabb briefly covers a sneak peek (showing Adobe AIR driving Photoshop) that Drew gave at the FITC show in Toronto.

 

If using Flash/Flex/AIR to extend & transform the Creative Suite is up your alley, drop me a line.  Seriously, we should talk.  I think you’ll like what’s cooking.

Type In Motion

  • Motion graphics firm National Television lays on the delightful treatments in these two spots for British Airways. [Via]
  • Pixar artists put more love into the margins than most folks do into the main subject.  If you like their work, check out Thunder Chunky’s interview with Pixar title designer Susan Bradley. [Via]
  • Typeflash lets you whip up animated text, then share the results.
  • Retro fabulosity:
    • The video for Justice’s DVNO is loaded with old-skool action. [Via]
    • Design firm Laundry lays down some splashy type stylings around their site.  Click the Virgin Mobile (which is not, as I first read it, “Virginmobile”) link to see some diggable animations. [Via]
  • Always hilarious: Tenacious D’s Inward Singing (loaded with profanity, just so you know before clicking).
  • Designers Leroy & Clarkson put type in motion for Bio, the biography channel. [Via]

Flash moving to an XML-based authoring format

Well, I guess the cat is scratching its way out of the bag: as noted Flash author and developer Colin Moock reports on his blog, the Flash authoring tool is moving away from its binary FLA authoring format (undocumented & unreadable to the outside world) and towards an XML-based format.  Yeah!

Why the excitement?  I’ll admit, this seems like a pretty arcane subject, but the possible ramifications for workflow are great.  Colin writes,

Historically, interchanging source with the Flash authoring tool has been virtually impossible for third-party software because the specification for .fla has never been public… [Now, however,] in theory you might one day edit the images of an XFL file directly in Photoshop without disturbing the timeline information also contained in that file. Or you might be able to import a page from a word processing document into a Flash presentation.

I should add the obligatory caveat that plans are subject to change, none of this may happen, void where prohibited, professional driver on a closed course, etc.  Even so, I find the direction really exciting.

Back in 1999, long before I came to work here, I started lobbying my contacts at Macromedia and Adobe to create something I called the "Flash Interchange Format"–some XML representation of at least the basics of an animation (object name, position, scale, etc.) so that I could use Flash and After Effects together.  Unfortunately Flash remained locked to the inscrutable FLA format.  We did devise an XML interchange format that let LiveMotion and After Effects talk, and Dr. Woohoo has done terrific work enabling Flash and AE to exchange data, yet the tools continue to lack an out-of-the-box solution.

Now, however, I hear the sounds of a big door opening, and it’s a welcome sound indeed.

Friday Photos: Slam dunks to Zeppelin

Technology sneak: InDesign -> Flash

“Print is not dead,” says InDesign Product Manager Michael Ninness. “But design for print only is dying.”

At last week’s InDesign Conference*, Myke & Adobe evangelist Tim Cole showed a sneak preview of InDesign handing off a rich layout to the Flash authoring tool, then turning it into an interactive composition.  Terri Stone from CreativePro.com’s got the story and screenshots, while John Dowdell shares some perspective from a longtime observer of designer-developer interactions. [Update: Mordy Golding has posted videos of the demo.]

What’s particularly cool here, I think, is that InDesign isn’t just producing a SWF file.  That approach can be great when you want one-stop shopping, but we saw very clearly in the LiveMotion days that integration with Flash authoring is an essential option.  Without integration, content creators face an either/or choice of tools, meaning that each app ends up trying to do everything you could want. 

By emphasizing integration, Adobe can avoid re-inventing the wheel or stuffing half of Flash inside InDesign; instead, each tool can focus on doing what it does best. InDesign can nail layout, styling, content aggregation, and basic interactivity, while Flash can pick up for richer coding and animation. (As it happens, Myke is a veteran of Microsoft’s Expression/Silverlight effort, before which he was my boss on LiveMotion, so I’m really glad he’s helping shape these efforts.)

For more examples of InDesign-style content taken to the next level with Flash, check out the full-screen, video-enhanced Flash presentation of Reporte Indigo (“Inicia tu experiencia aquí!”) and the page curls of Lovely Magazine.  (The sneak showed page curls being specified right within InDesign, then running in the Flash Player.)  [Via Lynly Schambers]

Tangentially related: InDesign Magazine is offering a free trial issue as a downloadable PDF–no strings attached.

*InDesign now gets its own conference; back in the day, whouda thunk it? You’ve come a long way, baby. 🙂

[PS–On the baby front (hey, how could I resist?), I have to say that it’s kinda bizarre to get back to talking about technology & the usual ephemera I share here. I checked mail on Sunday and saw a CNET headline about the future of digital photography (sounds interesting, haven’t read it yet). I found myself thinking, “Oh yeah… digital photography… people are still talking about that?” What a seismic shift in perspective this whole thing produces.]

Naked saunas, 3D Flash globes, and other infographic goodness

  • My wife and I are nervously quizzing each other on these expert (and very funny) baby care instructions (boosted wholesale, it would seem, from David Sopp’s Safe Baby Handling Tips). [Via]
  • Wable is “a coffee table that displays a user’s web activity via physical bar graphing.”  Yes, I remember pining for such a thing not ever. (Are Venn-diagram kiddie pools next?)
  • Maps:
  • Signage:
  • Blogging software has made self-publishing seem simple, but beneath the covers, a whole lot’s going on.  Wired has a Flash-based diagram showing what all happens when one hits “Publish.” [Via]

Recent Flash goodness in 3D & beyond

  • When is a shopping site… something else?  When it’s this viral site for Dutch chain Hema*.  "It’s like an IKEA catalog was sliced up and fed to a Rube Goldberg machine," says Motionographer. "The magnifying glass bit is brilliant." [Via]
  • Who doesn’t like "secret interactive frivolity"?  Design firm Baker and Hill lavishes attention on the details of their fun-to-navigate company site.
  • 3D action:
    • Don’t let the ultra-retro intro fool you: Electric Oyster’s demo features the beginnings of a nifty Flash-based flight simulator. [Via]
    • National Geographic offers a 3D Atlas of Human History.  Developer g.wygonik from the always-interesting Terra Incognita provides background on the project.
    • This Adobe Japan page features 3D balls gone mad. [Via]
    • The Volvo XC70 site features a fully rotatable rendering of the car, festooned wih interactive touch points.  Stick around through the intro, then hit the arrows to continue.  (Yes, we have kid-haulers on the brain, and I’ll always have a thing for Volvo wagons.)
  • ASLuv busts out the fairy dust with this little particle sprayer.  (Don’t break the glowsticks ’til you feel the beats hit.) [Via]
  • In a sorta related vein, see Lee Brimelow’s YTMND-style Billy Mays tributePuzzling; I can dig it.
  • The Air Pocket Symphony (no relation to Adobe AIR, MacBook Air, wayward heiresses, etc.) features photorealistic objects and a nice, simple sliding animation.  [Via]
  • MyFlashFetish offers SWF bits (particularly music players, it seems) that can be embedded in your site. [Via]

* Tangential: It’s not Flash, but on the innovative shopping front, software maker Panic lets you drag and drop items into your shopping cart.  Slickness.

Putting video inside the Photoshop UI

As I’ve mentioned a number of times, there’s huge potential in extending Photoshop via embedded Flash–something we’ve already prototyped in CS3.  Among the Flash Player’s capabilities, of course, is the ability to display video, including high quality H.264.

The idea of putting video inside Photoshop, however, sometimes draws blanks stares.  "Dude, why would I want to watch Transformers in a Photoshop palette?"  You wouldn’t, of course.  For a more practical example, look to the new MacBook Air.

Apple has posted a set of little videos that show off the gestures enabled by the laptop’s–er, notebook’s–new trackpad.  (Click the little arrow by the pictures of fingers.)  Each clip is short n’ sweet, showing just what’s needed to communicate the idea.

The thing they don’t mention here, though, and that I learned by watching a demo at Macworld, is that the videos appear inside the Keyboard & Mouse section of system prefs.  If you forget how they work, just pop open the controls & get a quick demo.

That’s more what I have in mind for Adobe applications.  Now, as with all the times I mention future ideas, I have to manage expectations: if you like the idea, don’t be disappointed if you don’t see video clips popping out of every dialog box in Photoshop.  Having said that, we hope to do things in a very Adobe way–opening the platform to the community.  Something tells me that more than a few of the savvy educators out there will see an opportunity to enhance the Photoshop user experience.

"Enter The Ghetto Matrix," Flash Panos, & HDR

  • "How to Enter The Ghetto Matrix": Graffiti Research Labs built their own bullet-time camera rig, then used it to make a music video. [Via]
  • Flash-based panoramas:
    • The NYT features a pair of interactive panoramas shot at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.  The audio helps add to the sense of being there, though I’d recommend skipping the built-in animation & instead clicking and dragging to navigate for yourself.
    • Rob Corell passed along these 360° video panoramas, created with the help of Papervision 3D. Go Irish.
  • More high dynamic range action:

kuler RIA comes to Dreamweaver

On the heels of integrations with Fireworks, Flash, Illustrator, Dashboard, and even Visio, Adobe’s kuler hosted app/color community is now integrated with Dreamweaver, courtesy of the good folks at WebAssist.  The panel is a free download from their site.

Seems like there just might be something to this desktop/Web hybrid thing.  Perhaps we’ll get it into Photoshop yet. 🙂

Speaking (completely tangentially) of Color-Related Technologies with Funky K-Based Names™, the color bars of Pioneer’s Project Kuro remind me of kuler.

Flickr phlows, Photo Friday

Recent Flash coolness

Some bits I’ve encountered in recent travels:

  • Mr. Doob is out of hand, creating all kinds of cool Flash experiments, 3D and otherwise.  From the fireworks on the home page to a blog full of examples, the guy is keeping busy.  I especially like this 3D cube and these spheres, both showing off depth-of-field effects enabled by Papervision 3D.  This little fluid simulation is fun, too (reload the page to reconfigure the pieces).
  • ClaraCollins.com presents the fashion designer’s work in a novel way. Mouse over the little arrows that sit above the pages of each portfolio, and you’ll see the images whip by in little time lapses. You can also rotate each portfolio 180 degrees. [Via]
  • Layer Tennis comes to Flash in a friendly clash between James Hutchinson & Trevor Van Meter. [Via]
  • Reminding me why I could afford only 120 sq. ft. in Manhattan (hello, Brooklyn!), 5th on the Park offers 1,800 sq. ft. in Harlem–for a cool $1.6 mil.  I mention it here because of the cool presentation of the building & its units.  You can roll over each face of the structure, clicking any unit to see its floor plan & other details. [Via]
  • Art Is A Gift uses a Flash UI to let you style a little "Baby Qee" critter.  Check out the gallery section, as well as the "About" link that shows kids painting the real thing as art therapy. [Via Jeff Tranberry]
  • Enfant Terrible sets off its shopping site with a cheerful, simple little animated illustration. [Via]
  • Adobe has created a 25th Anniversary Timeline of the company, on which you can see key developments in people, personnel, and the industry at a whole.  I’m undecided as to how successfully I think the sort of "mystery meat" rollover approach works.  There’s also a Flash-based 15-page overview document, complete with embedded video.  (Weirdly I don’t see a downloadable PDF version.)

Tasty new automotive 3D animation

  • Nissan has launched its Rogue crossover vehicle with the help of a really nicely executed drive through a swiftly tilting city.  [Via]  They play off the ad via their Web site, featuring more animation & a fistful of Flash games.
  • Carmaker Mini has launched their Mini Clubman model via some solid Flash video + interactivity. [Via]
  • Joseph Kosinski & Gmunk have teamed up to create the expertly rendered Hummer: Game OnOh yeah, dude–the environment gets so totally pwned!! (Sorry, had to say it.) [Via]
  • Tangentially related: Apparently Joseph will be remaking Tron (PDF).  For Honda’s excellent take on Tron, see previous.

"Flare" data visualization tools for Flash

No, by “flare” I’m not talking about the shiny crap pinned to my old Olive Garden waiter’s getup.  (I lasted 10 days or so before taking my butt to a dotcom.  The horror…)  The Flare visualization toolkit is a set of Flash ActionScript classes for building “a wide variety of interactive visualizations,” including basic charts, complex animations, network diagrams, treemaps, and more.  Check out the cool demo, making sure to hit the Smoke & Distortion tabs at the bottom. [Via Mark Baltzegar]

Seeing these visualizations, I’m inspired to wonder (again) how we could leverage Adobe Bridge’s support for Flash-based UI to present data in more interesting ways.  A SWF running inside Bridge can display any format for which Bridge can generate a preview (as Bridge creates a JPEG cache for each file).  Flash-based apps like Retrievr, the Related Tag Browser, the 3D-ish TiltViewer, and many others demonstrate novel ways to connect a rich interface to a database of images.  Hmm… if you have any thoughts, let ’em rip. (It’s times like these I wish I could code my way out of a paper bag.)

For more inspiring visualizations, see VisualComplexity.com.

Hospitaliano!,
J. (retching)

PS–As I was typing this entry, we got rocked with a nice California earthquake.  Nothing like having all your worldly possessions (including yourself) getting bounced around to put things in a little perspective.

Gigapixel panos through Flash

GigaPan.org is "sort of a Flickr for zoomable panoramas," notes Photoshop engineer (and Photomerge creator) John Peterson. The site makes it possible to upload & browse gigapixel-sized images, then navigate through them via a Flash interface.  Here’s a shot of Adobe HQ, taken from nearby Caesar Chavez park* in downtown San José.  (Bustling, isn’t it? ;-))  The site is labeled "beta," and the viewer currently leaves much to be desired (quit squirming around, dammit!), but it’s a very cool project nonetheless. [Via]

For more in this vein, see previous: Colossal images through Photoshop & Flash; 13 gigapixels or bust; 3.8 Gigapixels of Half Dome.

* I’m sure I walk by it all the time, but until seeing this image I never noticed the deeply gross sign in the park.  Click the second of the two snapshots below the Adobe pano to read it.  I’ll never think of the fountain in quite the same way.

Wicked-cool Wii+Flash-powered hologram-thing

The crew at BLITZ Agency created an amazing interactive video installation for Adobe MAX, using non-traditional input devices to let people paint collaboratively.  As they describe it on their blog:

"Adobe Creativity Conducted" Interactive Wall Experience features a holographic-like projection system on which you can paint images and designs using a Nintendo Wii remote control. This full screen Flash application runs in HD resolution, and was premiered during the primary Adobe party of the MAX 07 Conference in Chicago. The experience ran uninterrupted for the duration of the party (4 hours), and received nonstop foot traffic resulting in 68 artistic creations submitted as images to a Flickr account.

Chek out the video of the system in action, and see some of the creations on Flickr.

I can’t tell you how much stuff like this trips my trigger.  I love the way the project makes drawing and painting a full-body 3D experience, and I love the way the SWF interface synthesizes great-looking art playfully.  One question, though: Why can’t I do anything like this in Photoshop or Illustrator?  What if we could crack open these apps and let people leverage the power of the Flash?  Hmm…  Erik Natzke has an idea of what that might look like (totally fake, unfortunately, at least for now).

Trying, as ever, to cross the streams,
J.

TiltViewer: 3D Flash interface to Flickr

Felix Turner, creator of the all kinds of clean, lovely Flash photo displays (e.g. the Flickr Related Tag Browser, SimpleViewer, and PostcardViewer) returns with TiltViewer, an experimental interface that presents photos from Flickr’s "Interestingness" stream.  Clicking the icon on any image makes it possible to flip it over, see notes, and jump to the corresponding Flickr page (which I did for this groovy shot).  For details of the project, check out Felix’s blog.  For another great way to peruse Flickr, check out PicLens.

viewAt.org: Flash-based panorama sharing

The folks at viewAt.org have carved out an interesting mission for themselves: letting photographers around the world share their panoramas as interactive Flash creations. Citing the ubiquity of Flash over QuickTime, the site creators have devised a system whereby photogs can upload their panoramas, make them interactive (see instructions), and plot them on the Earth via Google Maps.  Site co-creator
Bernard Custard Gascó writes:

This project is totally free for anyone who wishes to upload their
panoramas and has the advantage of offering your uploads in Flash, thanks to a system developed by Denis Chumakov. Besides this, you can promote
your own website integrated on Google Earth.

Needless to say, you have complete control over your own work, and
obviously all rights are yours. By means of a simple code number, you can
insert the panoramas on your web page and authorize those which you allow
others to download.

Click around the map on the main page to view panos from all around the world.  Very cool work, guys.

Full-screen Flash slideshows come to Photoshop

I’m pleased to report that designer/developer Todd Dominey has connected his excellent SlideShowPro Web gallery technology to Photoshop.  SlideShowPro is a highly customizable Flash component that works with Flash MX 2004 and above, enabling Flash authors to create slick SWF galleries that support goodness like full-screen mode (click the button in the lower-right corner of the gallery on the home page) and streaming audio (example).

Now it’s possible to use Photoshop to batch-resize images & generate the XML file needed to power a gallery.  Scripts for Photoshop CS2 & CS3 are downloadable from the site by anyone who purchases SlideShowPro ($29.95).

Adobe "Thermo": Photoshop -> RIA

In my pre-Adobe job, I lost countless hours turning complex Photoshop PSD files into something ready to animate in Flash.  In fact, the pain of that process is largely what drove me to work at Adobe, trying to devise something more efficient.  Flash CS3 marks a giant step forward in its ability to suck in PSDs & turn them into layers and symbols.  That’s great, but what if you’re a designer working with Adobe Flex to build rich Internet apps?  The hand-off right now isn’t so seamless.

The need to turn designs into interactive apps quickly is what’s driving development of a new Adobe application code-named “Thermo” and sneak-peeked at Adobe MAX.  To borrow Sean Corfield’s nice summary:

The much anticipated “Thermo” was next. As expected, this is a designer-focused application for creating Flex applications. Starting with a Photoshop PSD file, Thermo imported this and converted it to MXML. Design elements can then be selected and with a simple right-click they can be converted from artwork to Flex controls. The automatic inference of design-time data sets so you could test UI interactions with “real” data was very impressive. You really cannot appreciate the impact this had on the audience – it drew a huge amount of applause and loud cheers! [Via]

To see the tool in action, check out Aral Balkan’s videos & notes from the keynote.

Update: Here’s perspective from Adobe Chief Software Architect Kevin Lynch:

[Thermo is] for people who are using tools like Illustrator or Photoshop and have a background in interface design and want to create a great experience for someone. But they are primarily a designer… [T]he designer can not only draw what the application looks like, but they can also add the interactivity for how it works.  The magic of what we’re showing with Thermo right now is that you can select elements that are just pictures on the drawing and you can say this actually represents a list box, or this represents a text edit field and we put the logic to convert the picture into a work component.

Use AE+Flash to create interactive video

News about After Effects always proves popular with the Flash crowd that stops by here, so I thought I’d pass along AE Product Manager Michael Coleman’s tips on Creating Interactive Video with After Effects and Flash.  The 40-minute presentation talks about using AE’s motion tracker to generate cue points that tell the SWF what to do, among other things.

Writing this in 2007, I still can’t quite believe that AE’s chocolate is getting into Flash’s peanut butter, so to speak.  Back in 1999, during my previous gig, I started browbeating people at Adobe & Macromedia to make these tools work together, and with CS3 it’s finally happening.  I think this is just the beginning of what AE & Flash will be able to do in tandem.

For more tutorial content on AE, Premiere Pro, Flash, and other timeline-related things, check out Dennis Radeke’s Genesis Project.

Sweet Flash-Flickr-Illustrator mash-up

The effervescent Dr. Woohoo (known to some as Drew Trujillo) has created a nifty integration of Flickr & Illustrator, combined by way of a Flash panel (palette).  You can now search Flickr from within Illustrator CS3, then turn photos into color swatches.  The project can also search Drew’s In The Mod color analytics project, and it enables sorting swatches by hue, saturation, or brightness.  He writes,

[The script] will launch a popup panel and loads the SWF file. Enter a tag to search and retrieve images from Flickr. Select the thumbnail image you would view the color palettes for by clicking on the thumbnail icon. The scroll pane will slide over to make room for the visualization view. If you like the colors and want to add them to your AI Swatches Panel, click on the AI icon in the lower right corner. That’s it!

Check out Drew’s blog post to see a video of the mash-up in action. It’s yet another cool, useful example of what can happen by leveraging the Flash Platform within desktop tools.

For Dr. Woohoo tools or moving keyframe data from Flash to After Effects & vice versa, see previous.  You might also like the way he’s mashed up Photoshop+MATLAB.

Going to MAX? Let's talk Photoshop, AE, Flash…

Greetings from O’Hare, where I find myself en route to this coming week’s Adobe MAX conference in Chicago.  If you plan to attend the show and are interested in talking about the future of Photoshop & how all this stuff fits together, please drop me a line.  In particular, Michael Coleman & the After Effects guys are looking for customers who use AE & Flash together (or who would like to do so).  Drop him a line if you’re interested in that, and hope to see you at the show.

[PS: There will be Birds of a Feather sessions featuring the Photoshop team Monday night. Photoshop is 7:30-8:30.
Suites teams (Design and Web) are 8:30-9:30.  I’m not yet sure about the location(s).]

"Photoshop Express" RIA sneak-peeked today

Today the crowd at Photoshop World got a quick preview of Photoshop Express, a new application currently in development at Adobe.  First hinted at by Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen some six months ago, Photoshop Express isn’t meant to duplicate/replace Photoshop CS3 or Photoshop Elements. Rather, it’s a new member of the Photoshop family that’s meant to make Adobe imaging technology immediately accessible to large numbers of people.

Earlier this year, Adobe introduced Premiere Express, a free, Flash-based online video editor for creating mash-ups and remixes. Anyone using Photobucket, MTV.com and YouTube’s TestTube site can take Premiere Express for a spin.  Photoshop Express, though not yet publicly available, aims to offer a similarly easy, approachable experience for image editing.

I can’t share a ton of additional detail at the moment, but here’s a screenshot of the app in action. Adobe Sr. VP John Loiacono showed that it was possible to adjust an image just by rolling over the different versions shown at the top, previewing the results & then clicking the desired degree of modification.   I’ll post more info as it becomes available.

[Update: You can see the quick onstage demo of Photoshop Express in Terry White’s latest Creative Suite Podcast (direct link to video).  The demo starts around 16:10 mark.]

Image-resizing coolness comes to Flash

The content-aware image resizing technology that I mentioned last week is starting to be put to the test on the Web.  Developer Patrick Swieskowski has created an interactive Flash-based demo that lets you scale an image horizontally or vertically. To prove that it’s not a canned/pre-processed implementation, the Flash UI lets you specify other images to process. (Here’s one I tried.)  John Dowdell links to more good resources, including experiments and info from Henry Yee, Lee Felarca (another SWF-based demo), and Joa Elbert (including source code).

Where will all this lead?  Hard to say, though it’s clearly touched nerves, good and bad. Some photogs are dispirited, though it makes me wonder where, and by whom, the line between acceptable & unacceptable manipulation is drawn ("Skies aren’t that black, Ansel").  Who gets to say that color gels & graduated ND filters are okay while digital resizing isn’t?  Me, I welcome tools that help tell great stories.

New Flash gallery power for Photoshop

Felix Turner, creator of the slick, elegant SimpleViewer Flash Web gallery (example), has provided a SimpleViewer script for Photoshop.  The script makes it possible to set parameters and punch out a gallery right from Photoshop, and it’s a free download from the Airtight Interactive site. 

If this is up your alley, check out the earlier PostcardViewer script for Photoshop (example), as well as the same templates for Lightroom.  Thanks to Felix, and to Jeff Tranberry in Photoshop QE for his help in making these happen.

In related news, the source code for the Flash gallery used by the Adobe Media Gallery extension for Bridge (see earlier announcement) as well as Lightroom has been updated (example).  Gallery developers Bluefire have posted details of the enhancements on their blog.

Flash video goes high-def

Great news from the Flash team: the latest version of the Flash Player (available now in beta form) will support the H.264 video codec, paving the way for hardware-accelerated, full-screen high-definition movies on the Web.  Adobe platform evangelist Ryan Stewart hits the highlights:

Does the addition of H.264 mean Flash Player will support HD?
Yes, Flash Player supports 480p, 720p and 1080p content encoded with either On2 or H.264. Performance will vary depending on the capabilities and configuration of your machine. In general a 2.0 GHz Mac or a 3GHz PC, with one or more processors, will deliver an optimum experience.

Will Flash Player 9 Update 3 support non-FLV files?
Yes, with this update, Flash Player will also support MPEG-4 standard container files […]

So basically you can play full, hardware-accelerated 1080p Quicktime videos inside of the updated Flash Player. Welcome to the next generation of web video.

Indeed.  I knew these changes were in the works, but I really didn’t expect them to arrive so quickly. Flash Player engineer Tinic Uro has the details, while Aral Balkan has a full FAQ. All in all, this is a great step forward for Flash developers, Flash video-creating apps (including Photoshop Extended), and Flash video watchers (y’know–just about everyone ever ;-)).

New Web gallery goodness

Fresh new Web gallery technology:

PS–Due to a power system shutdown this weekend, I won’t be able to post new entries or approve comments until at least Sunday night.  My God, I might actually have to go outside; wish me luck…

Recent Flash goodness

  • Glacéau Vitamin Water features an interesting way to cruise through a set of products.  The visual simplicity belies nice attention to detail (e.g. blurring as objects recede in space).  I could live without the browbeating Brit, though. [Via]
  • Mötto Agency: Umlauts & yodeling, oh my. They even make "mystery meat" navigation work. [Via]
  • Not speaking French won’t keep you from appreciating The Birth of Cornelius. [Via]
  • On Little Deviant, you swat and swipe the gray "Sheeple" to power your Scion ride.  It’s a groovy blend of 3D, video, and interactive elements. [Via]
  • Adobe engineer Rob Corell points out this cool recursive blur technique.  I could swear I did something like this way back in the day using Director.  In any case, I really like seeing Flash continue to evolve beyond the traditional "Flash aesthetic."

Slimbox & more Flash galleries for Lightroom

Matthew Campagna, a kindergarten teacher in South Korea, has modified the slick, lightweight (7kb), JavaScript-powered Slimbox Web gallery for Lightroom, offering it as a free download from his site.  Here’s a sample gallery generated using the template.  The site features installation instructions (straightforward once you know the file path, but something I’d like to make one-click easy in the future), as well as details on hacking the template for more options. [Via Richard Earney of Inside-Lightroom.com]

Elsewhere, LightroomGalleries.com is devoted to just what you’d imagine.  I’m enjoying the LRG FlashFlex gallery.  It has some wonky qualities, and I’m not sure what purpose the draggability of images is supposed to serve, but fortunately it’s possible to tweak these parameters inside Lightroom (e.g. disabling dragging).  Use the installation instructions mentioned above to find the path to your templates folder. [Via]

If you know of other good Lightroom templates, please let me know.

3D cars, in Flash & otherwise

Great new Flash galleries for Lightroom

Here’s a little Friday afternoon treat: the Lightroom team has been working with Felix Turner, creator of the excellent Airtight Flash galleries, to integrate support for the galleries.  Lightroom engineer Andy Rahn has posted three gallery templates on the LR team blog, along with installation instructions.  Here are examples I generated using each one:

What’s really sweet is the way the Adobe Flash Player is directly integrated into Lightroom, so that as you adjust the specific parameters for each gallery (image size, colors, number of rows/columns, etc.), you see the results immediately. With other apps you’d need to set parameters, export, review the results in a browser, go back to the authoring tool, tweak, and so on.

I think this is a sign of more good things to come, and if you’re a Flash developer who’s like to integrate with Lightroom, drop me a line.  We’ll work on updating the galleries to run in the new Bridge-based Adobe Media Gallery (which uses the same engine) as well.  To use PostcardViewer directly from Photoshop, see previous.

Slick search-driven Flash UI

Given that discovering the graphical UI (specifically, MacPaint) was a life-changing event for me, it’s a little funny that I find myself so interested in search as a UI tool.  But as we’ve said many times now, categorization goes only so far.  Once you get beyond a certain number of things (pictures, emails, menu items, etc.), you need some form of type-to-find.

Photoshop UI designer Andrew Lin points out the site for design firm S-W-H, which features a slick, easy-to-use search function (including auto-complete).  Coupled with the blazing fast transition animations*, it gives you a sense of flying through a large body of work.  Bonus: Typing “foo” (and lots of other things) treats you to the sounds of people excitedly going off in Dutch.

For a counterpoint, check out the frankly terrible interface for HBO’s John From Cincinnati site (too bad, as I’m digging the new show’s tripped-out profane-cowboy-meets-longboard lingo).  The site loads by promising a carousel of content, but it then immediately hides said content, making you guess about search terms (kind of hard if you’re new to the show, eh?).

Tangentially related bits:

  • Inquisitor beautifully integrates predictive searching into Safari.  Trust me, you want this (just like PicLens… and Saft).
  • Apropos of time lapses (see recent), Andrew made quite a number during his tenure with a certain fruit company.  Hypnotic, but burning cars & tail lights make me remember why I traded commutes on 280 for a 10-minute bike ride.

* With animation effects in general I’m reminded of a quote  from Alan Cooper: “No matter how beautiful, no matter how cool your interface, it would be better if there were less of it.” A little goes a very long way.

PS–If you know of other cool, powerful search UIs (Flash or otherwise), please share ’em.

How should Photoshop play with Flash/Flex?

Now that we’ve gotten CS3 out the door & made a big leap getting Photoshop files into Flash, we can turn more fully to the future.  So, where do we go from here?

It’s not that we don’t have ideas, mind you; on the contrary, we have so many ideas that we need to stage a battle royale, then make ’em fight it out.  I have some pretty aggressive ideas, but I don’t want to “lead the witness” by sharing them before asking for your thoughts.

In my mind our goals fall into two areas:

  • Speed up the visual design of Flash and Flex projects/components
  • Smooth out the hand-off from design to development

Or, to put it even more simply, “Design quickly, transfer smoothly.”

What do you think?  As you’re working with Photoshop and Flash and/or Flex, where do you run into snags, lose time?  In your ideal world, how would everything work?  I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Thanks,
J.

[Commenting was broken earlier due to a problem with the server, but it’s now working again. Sorry for the delay.  –J.]

Flash gets kuler: RIA in a panel

Ah, I love how all this is shaping up: After debuting on the web, and followed by appearances in Dashboard and Apollo, Adobe’s kuler rich internet app is now available as a panel inside Flash CS3.  Thanks to the efforts of the crew at Pixelfumes, you can now view & search feeds of color harmonies generated using the online tool, then use them inside Flash.  I made a quick little demo video to show the panel in action.  Great work, guys!

This is a great example of how opening a door to online community can enrich the desktop experience.  If you know of other cool, usefully connected desktop apps (via Flash panels or any other method), please share ’em.  It’s very handy to have these on hand as we plan the future.

Share your SWFs, help Adobe, get a reward

Adobe now makes quite a few tools that create Flash content in one form or another.  One size certainly doesn’t fit all, and as you’d imagine the company is always trying to craft the right mix of tools.  To that end, the research team is gathering examples of SWF projects of all shapes and sizes.  By submitting examples, you can help Adobe teams get a better sense of what is (and isn’t) being built & therefore what tools are needed.  To say thanks, participants get entered into a drawing for Amazon.com gift cards.  If all this sounds interesting to you, please read on for details from Customer Research.  –J.


Adobe’s customer research team is collecting an assortment of SWF content. We are looking to get a wide range of content for a variety of purposes so that we can better understand the types of projects people are working on, and better support those projects that are not always posted on the web. We are especially interested in uses of SWF beyond web sites and advertising – such as (but not limited to) presentations, e-learning, character animation, prototypes, games, rich internet applications, etc. We’d also like to get representation of a variety of skill levels, so feel free to submit your project even if you are not an ActionScript user.
 
For every 50 submissions we receive, we will select one at random to receive an Amazon.com gift card for $50 (US dollars). You can submit as many projects as you like!
 
For each submission, please send the following to flashresearch@adobe.com by July 6, 2007:

  • Your SWF or a link to your project or a screenshot of the project
  • A brief description (3 to 4 sentences) describing the audience and purpose of the project
  • Descriptive tags to categorize the project’s content and purpose – Use as many or as few tags as you like, and feel free to make up your own. Some examples tags are included below.
  • Percent of all your projects that are SWFs
  • Percentage of time you spend writing ActionScript
  • Percentage of time you spend using the timeline
  • Your name
  • Your job title and company
  • Your phone number (so a member of the Adobe’s customer research team can contact you for a quick 15 minute phone call if they need more information)

Please feel free to forward this message to others who might be interested or post it on your blog.
 
We are looking forward to hearing from you!
 
Adobe Customer Research Team

New Flash, HTML gallery engine for Bridge

Feeling overwhelmed by Adobe updates yet? <:-)

Okay, just one more for now, but I think it’ll be worth your while: the new Adobe Media Gallery engine adds Flash and HTML gallery creation capabilities to Adobe Bridge CS3.  By leveraging the Flash- and JavaScript-based extensibility of the Bridge platform, we’ve been able to build a powerful little engine for cranking out both Flash-based and HTML-based Web galleries (here’s a screenshot, as well as Jeff Tranberry’s 4-minute video demo).  Any file that Bridge can preview (which is just about everything in the Suite–JPEGs, PSDs, raw files, PDFs, Illustrator and InDesign docs, etc.) can be included in a gallery.  Finished galleries can be uploaded directly from Bridge via FTP.

To get cranking with AMG, make sure you first update to Bridge 2.1, then download the installer from Adobe Labs.  The site includes a quick start guide, list of known issues, and more.  Developers interested in building on Bridge can view and reuse the code that’s in AMG (e.g. FTP upload).

Thanks to the team at Quality Process for all their efforts in bringing AMG to the world, and to the crew at Blue Fire for making the SWF templates (which have now been open-sourced).  Great work, guys!

See also previous, related posts:

Tips on Lightroom Flash galleries

If you’re interested in wringing the most out of Lightroom’s Flash-based Web galleries, check out the Bluefire Blog.  It’s written and maintained by the guys at Bluefire, the Web developers Adobe hired to build the galleries.  They get down to the nuts and bolts of how the galleries work, revealing hidden settings and more.  Note that you can find the open-source gallery code on opensource.adobe.com.

Flash galleries are a big interest of mine, and I hope to have some more good news to share on this front soon.  Stay tuned. [Related: Flash gallery hook-up for Photoshop.]

Tasty Flash bits: Milk, missives, and grins

I’ve encountered some savory Flash business around the Web recently:

  • Get the Glass features gorgeous illustration & great game play–all in the name of milk. [Via Veronique Brossier]
  • I’m not sure whether Blank Missives has a point, or whether having a point is the point, or… anyway, it sure does look nice.  Dig that typography, too. [Via]
  • The reflective "wet floor effect" comes to the excellent SlideShowPro.  More info is at developer Todd Dominey’s site. [Via]
  • Neave.com features what Bridge engineer Rob Corell calls a "grin-inducing Flash effect."  This kind of thing makes me really want to capture the life and imagination of Flash apps & infuse it into desktop tools.
  • Buzzword is a terrific name for what promises to be a cool product: Flash-based online word processing. Here’s more press on it.

And finally, on a note near and dear to my heart, ZDNet’s Ryan Stewart lists his Top Five Features in Flash CS3.  #1?  Photoshop integration!  [Via]

knowhow: Flash-powered help inside Illustrator

"You know more than we do."  That’s the simple, and powerful, thought behind "knowhow," a new Web-savvy part of Illustrator CS3.

Using a Flash SWF file running inside an Illustrator panel (palette), knowhow is designed to provide information about tools and topics right within Illustrator. The feature offers help information for over 100 Illustrator-related topics—including all tools and panels.  As you use various shortcut keys while using a tool, the appropriate hint term highlights in context, making it possible to find more info about it.

The really interesting part, though, is that instead of searching only Adobe-made Help, knowhow queries social bookmarking site del.icio.us.  Anyone can add content to the knowhow del.icio.us page, meaning the Illustrator community can enhance the info available inside Illustrator. That’s a key part of the vision we’re pursuing as we Flash-enable Photoshop and other Adobe desktop tools.

To see knowhow in action, check out the online demo on Adobe Labs, or bring up the panel inside Illustrator (download tryout); it’s under Window->Adobe Labs.   For the full details, check out the FAQ (PDF) and visit the knowhow forum.

Type as image, color workflows, & more in Design Center

The Adobe Design Center shakes the bottle & lets some new content spray:

New Dialog Box:

New Tutorials:

And as always, don’t forget to check out the Adobe links on del.icio.us. Info on how to contribute links is here.  [Via]

Read this blog, via Flash, right within Photoshop (?)

As I’ve mentioned previously, Photoshop CS3 introduces the ability to run Flash/Flex SWF files inside Photoshop dialogs.  Not only does this enable faster creation of rich user interfaces for Photoshop; it also opens the door to a whole new level of connectedness right within Photoshop.  It will enable–if you’ll let me get buzzwordy for a second–"crowdsourcing": letting users collaborate & solve their own problems, enhancing Photoshop in the process.  That’ll largely happen in the future, but right now we’re shipping a practical example that runs scripts, plays video, and displays RSS feeds.

Now, if you want to take this for a spin and have Photoshop CS3 installed (and if you don’t, by all means please grab the tryout), here’s what to do:

  • Navigate to the Adobe Photoshop CS3 application folder on your machine.
  • Within it, navigate to Scripting Guide/Sample Scripts/JavaScript.
  • There you’ll find FlashUISample.jsx, along with FlashUISample.swf and
    FlashUISample.mxml (the latter being the Flex source code). [For convenience I’m posting them here as well, though you may need to maintain the same relative location in order to run other scripts from this UI.]
  • Drag and drop FlashUISample.jsx onto the Photoshop app icon (Mac) or into the Photoshop process tab on the Windows task bar.  Alternately, from within Photoshop you can choose File->Scripts->Browse, then navigate to the folder/file.

If all goes well, you should see something like this (screenshots 1, 2) running inside Photoshop.  The example can play episodes of Photoshop TV; display RSS feeds; and run Photoshop scripts.

I’m looking forward to seeing what designers and developers can create with Flash in Adobe desktop apps. In addition to Flash, Dreamweaver, and Fireworks (which have supported SWF-based panels for some time), InDesign, Illustrator, Bridge, and Soundbooth support SWF UIs.  I believe this support is just a beginning, and that Flash technology will help transform the Creative Suite experience.