For me FITC Amsterdam started on Sunday, attending the Papervision3D workshop presented by most of the core team. It was really nice to get an overview of what is available in the Papervision 2.0 "Great White" release. Papervision3D workshop

Although it probably wasn't the most in depth technical run through of the framework the information we got was really fantastic and I'm sure the attendees got everything they needed to start doing some Papervision3D projects.

For me Carlos' and Ralph's contribution were the most practical and inspirational parts of the day and convinced me that I need to invest more time to experiment with Flash and 3D engines.

Day 1 - Keynote

The conference kicked off with a keynote by Mike Downey with as major announcement the Flex 3 and AIR 1.0 release.

Serge Jespers was invited up on stage to show off some Flex Builder 3 features -- skinning Flex components from Photoshop, the CRUD wizard, Flex Component Kit for Flash CS3, optimizing file size using exporting a build release, module loader and Flex framework caching. Nothing that wasn't shown before but still pretty impressive demo's.

Finally Richard Galvan, Product Manager for Flash, came on to show some new sneak peek's for Astro (Flash Player 10) and Diesel (Flash CS4). I didn't notice a whole lot of things to see that weren't covered at the Adobe MAX conference last year.

■ Hydra - a pixel shader language that we'll be able to use in Diesel to create custom filters. It was shown working on bitmaps, animated display list items and even video content.

■ z axis, postcards in space - some basic 3D support will be added by adding a z property to display list items, possibly with perspective distortion ■ new tweening mechanism - tweens are created dynamically by simply moving your content or changing its properties, a path is shown for the tween and you can edit it like a bezier curve, you can scale/rotate/move the tween path, copy it onto another instance etc.

■ Inverse Kinematics - author-time and runtime inverse kinematics support, in the authoring environment you draw bones onto your movieclips, there also appeared to be a panel that did a lot of the work to set up runtime IK with user interaction.

What I noticed as new since they showed the Diesel sneak at MAX:

■ Authoring environment interface - at MAX Chicago they still had the Flash CS3 Professional chrome, the build Richard showed today looked similar to that Thermo used when they did sneak peeks for it at MAX and doesn't appear to use any of the standard system chrome.

Was surprised to see they reworked the panel system again, it looks really good but thought the 'Owl' interface introduced in CS3 would be kept for a few more releases so all products in the suite could adopt it.

■ Save tweens - It looked as though there's now a panel where you can save tween paths and easily apply them again to any object on stage. Tweens are no longer linked to a specific instance but can be applied on any stage instance (and I would guess you have access to this from ActionScript as well).

■ Keyframe editing panel - we literally got to see this for three or four seconds, appeared to be a huge panel that showed curves for each and every property of an instance along the timeline. Sort of like the custom easing panel on some serious steroids.


RIA meets Desktop

I was up next talking about the AIR API's, really enjoyed it despite some technical issues and think the demo's went down pretty well. If people are interested I might do a separate blog post about every one of the API's I talked about and explain it in a little more detail.

Data Visualization with Flex and AIR

Nico did a great job walking through some seemingly difficult Flex projects with advanced data visualization and made it look easy. Particularly enjoyed the tree map example loading in 50 sites in AIR HTML components to show site referrals from Google Analytics data.
ActionScript 4??

I was late getting into Colin's session and as you can imagine there were no seats left and barely any standing room. While its definitely a very interesting topic I had hoped for some more practical examples and discussion on the benefits of the syntax features being suggested for the ECMAScript 4 specification.

Definitely read through his session notes if you're interested to see what ActionScript might have in store for you in a future release.

Kaboom!! Flash Pyrotechnics

I can't get over how good Seb's session was -- I've been meaning to see it for the last three or four conferences where he presented at but something always came up, until today.

Simplicity works. From very basic ActionScript code he got us in a mere 4 or 5 examples to the point where we could write a particle system that simulates smoke, just by playing around with the particle shape and tweaking the properties and adding some simple simulated physics equations we got some amazing effects.

Building Red5 Applications

Chris Allen walked us through how to set up Red5 as a standalone application, showed us how to get results back from calling methods on the Java back-end, use shared objects, stream video and set up a chat. Great info on a product I'd love to use more of this coming year!

Chris Allen on Red5

An Intimate Look at Saffron

I've been wanting to see Saffron in action for ages and it definitely didn't disappoint. Sam did a great job explaining the process behind developing his fantastic UML editor. Was great to hear that it supports several other languages including Java and PHP.

Of course the fact its an AIR application is a definite bonus as it runs cross platform on PC, Mac and Linux (coming soon) out of the box.

Sam Agesilas talking about Saffron