After hanging out for dinner with a bunch of talented friends and colleagues (thanks Boulevart!) I called it an early night which unfortunately meant I missed out on the Phlash5 performance. Playing with Pixels

Koen De Weggheleire talking about pixels

Day two started out for me with Koen De Weggheleire's talk. The party the night before didn't seem to have caused too many casualties cause the room was packed and everyone seemed conscious enough to grasp the basic matrix math required to start experimenting with bitmap data in Flash.

I think Koen did a fantastic job explaining the topic and balancing the theory of color matrices, convolution and displacement filters and showing creative uses of these features. Definitely a talk you'll want to catch at a future conference if you haven't explored that area of ActionScript yet.
Coding Jigs - Work Smarter, Not Harder

Was originally planning to go see Lee Brimelow present his "AIR Conditioning" session but decided to join Sakri and go see Branden Hall's talk instead. I certainly didn't regret it. Really like Branden's style of presenting and he had some interesting suggestions on how to optimize your workflow both for yourself and your team as for working with clients.

Tips ranged from little tools for your client to generate and deliver you properly formatted XML for the project, setting up the debug Flash Player to save a log file to disk so you can see trace statements from your SWF running in the browser, having tools to visualize and easily edit data and of course JSFL.

I was really glad he brought it up, its been over a year since I last played with JavaScript Flash even though its such a powerful way to automate tasks in the Flash authoring environment. This is something I want to pick up again and start blogging about more often.

Making Real Music Within Flash

Andre Michelle was presenting in one of the smaller rooms and 15 minutes before his talk the entire stairway was already packed with people waiting to get in. If you've ever seen Andre's work you know why his talks are always this popular and you usually find several rows of people sitting on the floor.

Together with Joa Ebert they're doing some fantastic work with audio in Flash, in their Popforge code library there are classes that allow you to generate audio samples on the fly and an AudioBuffer class that allows you to create endless audio playback.

We saw demo's of 8bitboy, an AS3 mod player, a player that supports midi (still needs to work to complete) and several other experiments like a vocoder and the simulation of a FL-909 Rythm Composer.

This session just blew everyone away, its fantastic to see people pushing the limits of the Flash Player and finding ways to achieve the seemingly impossible. At the end of the session Andre gave away t-shirts to everyone reading "Adobe make some noise", a nice little reminder for them to fix the onSoundComplete event problem and lack of more sound control in the Flash Player.

AIR Applications with Flash CS3

Mike Downey unfortunately had to leave the conference early so Lee Brimelow took over this session on using Flash CS3 Professional to author AIR applications. He did a nice little walkthrough of building an FLV video player that supports drag 'n drop and has a nice little window resize effect to accommodate the video width and size that is being dragged in.

Not the most technically advanced but really liked the way Lee worked his way through the demo doing live coding, that's scary for even the most seasoned presenters. Looking forward to seeing more of his sessions on the on AIR tour when that hits Europe in a couple of months.

Flash 2D and 3D Effects

Ralph Hauwert showed us some of the things he's been working on this last year when he's not knee-deep in Papervision3D code.

The first project he showed was earthmine and its simply amazing -- the company is apparently using some technology they licensed from NASA to take street level images where essentially they capture the exact geo location for every pixel. I first thought it would be comparable to the street view you have for some US cities in Google Maps but its much more than that. You can tag, measure actual distances in 3D space, you can draw a 3D model at any location and it is then able to export it as a KMZ which can then show up in something like Google Earth.

Ralph was also hinting at much more to come so hope this project will soon be open for all of us to explore the world with (or at least those areas they've covered so far).

A very entertaining session and he wrapped up with a quick look at a framework he's been working on that abstracts events in AS3 and works with a concept of triggers. It looked really interesting and will certainly be checking it out once more info is available.

Flash Now and in the Future

Richard Galvan on Diesel

Richard Galvan, Flash Product Manager and Doug Winnie, Group Product Manager for Workflow Strategy, did this session first covering some of the features now available with Flash CS3.

I think it was probably useful for some people in the audience to highlight some of the more hidden features like the ability to export Motion XML to an external file and loading it in using code, or the ability to now see the type of an object on stage based on its border color when selected -- it didn't do that much for me.

What I obviously came for was the Diesel (Flash CS4) sneaks -- Richard went over pretty much the same set of sneaks as in the keynote a day earlier but went into a little more detail and it was great to see how much work had already been put into the product.

One thing you immediately notice is that the property inspector is very different, its much more like what you see in Flex Builder -- a vertical panel on the right side of the screen. Not sure how docking etc. works since the panel system seems to have been seriously overhauled.

Definitely saw the best demo of the changes made to how to set up tweens in the Timeline so far. If you haven't seen it, its simply amazing. I'll just run through the process:

■ Draw a shape on the stage ■ Right-click create motion tween ■ A range of 24 frames gets created in the Timeline which represented 1 second based on the FPS (appears they're going with 24fps as a new default framerate), in the background the shape was converted to a movieclip. ■ Scrub along that frame range, move the object around change any of its properties and the tween automatically gets created. You see a guide path with dots indicating the position at every frame.

The tween is independent of the instance, at any point you can drop or swap out an instance. You can save the tween path in a panel and apply it to any other object. You can scale, rotate, skew, move the path as needed.

Interesting is that all object properties tween independently and now start from the beginning of the tween rather than the previous keyframe you set up. If you don't want that behaviour you can still set up a keyframe manually in the Timeline. Richard confirmed that the tween path will be able to get accessed at runtime through code. Its definitely a huge improvement and can't wait to try it out for myself.

The huge news in my opinion is something they call XFL -- the demo they showed was an InDesign document getting exported to this format and getting imported into Diesel with all formatting etc. intact. No its not not another importer, the FLA format is going XML!

How it works is that this XFL file is basically a zip archive which contains an XML completely describing the FLA document and an assets folder containing all the files used in the project. This will mean that the CS4 products will be able to export directly to Flash files editable in the authoring environment, not just compiled SWF files.

They will be documenting this XFL format and as I understand it making it open for anyone to start supporting it as an export option in their product.

Flex Solutions for your Daily Development

Marco is one of Europe's biggest names in the Flex community and he did an outstanding job presenting tips and trick on how to structure your Flex work and apply some basic design patterns based around the idea of MVC.

Unfortunately it looked as though most of the audience didn't have a lot of experience working with Flex yet and were coming from a basic Flash scripting background. Nonetheless I think it must have been useful for them to get exposed to some best practices in Flex and get a feel for object-oriented code and advanced application development.

This session at 360Flex Milan will definitely be a huge hit!

Shawn Pucknell and the FITC team did an amazing job bring the conference to Europe, the mere fact that this first edition in Amsterdam was sold out a month in advance says it all. I'm really looking forward to seeing it come back next year!