Mark Richards


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Back From MAX

I am now back from my week-long trip to Anaheim, CA for Flex Promotion Conference 2005, formally known as Macromedia MAX 2005. For those of you who do not know, MAX is a developer and designer convention run by Macromedia where dorks go to meet other dorks and talk about dorky computer things. Sessions are held by "experts" on topics related to the various Macromedia technologies. The sessions are a mixed bag when it comes to value, but I see the real value of the conference being exposure to thoughts and ideas that may be foreign or unexplored topics.

I usually only give a rat's ass about ColdFusion and the CF-related topics. That should not come as a surprise considering that I my area of expertise is ColdFusion. I tend to shy away from all the designy crap like Flash and Dreamweaver (and yes, Dreamweaver is for designers, not developers) that I just don't understand. This year was a little different though as Macromedia kept shoving their new pet project, Flex, in your face at every turn.

Flex is a pretty cool concept though. Using the standard Flex XML format, one can create an interactive, data-driven Flash web application. Sweet! Admittedly, I was intrigued by this developer/designer tool at MAX 2004, but at $15,000 a license, learning and implementing Flex seems highly unreasonable. Booooo! At MAX 2005, Macromedia announced its plans for Flex Builder 2. Flex Builder 2 (previously code-named Zorn) is Macromedia's way of answering the question, "How the hell am I gonna learn Flex if it costs 15 grand?" For less than $1,000, one can purchase Flex Builder 2 and develop, compile, and deploy data-driven Flex applications...with no need to purchase an enterprise license! Woohoo! What I like about Flex is that it integrates with ColdFusion smoothly on the server-side, allows for a pleasant user experience on the front-end, and has the feel of a programming language as opposed to a "designer, make things pretty, artsy-fartsy" feel.

Macromedia also announced the launch of Macromedia Labs "to provide early access to emerging technologies." Basically, as Macromedia develops news products and extends existing products, the work in progress will be posted at Labs for users to download and try out. The crap that gets put up there may not work very well since it is only an Alpha release, but this does give users a chance to play around with some cool, new stuff. This is perfect for somebody like myself who wanted to give Flex a try, but could never find a way to do so. I have been playing around with Flex Builder 2 over the last week and it is just a really cool product that allows me to take my web apps to a different level...that is if I can ever really learn how to use the stinkin' thing.

OK, enough of the geek speak. MAX 2005, as always, provided me with many entertaining moments outside of the tech world. Eventually, some of these moments can be re-lived through my photos on Flickr. Until then, I will just have to use other people's pics to give mad props to some of the cool people I met (R-Bizzle, M-Bizzle, Rob, Jim, Cathy).

Finally, my MAX adventure concluded with a trip north of Anaheim to the Los Angeles area. I was happy that I was able to convince both Robert and Cameron to go with me so I did not have to go sightseeing alone. Our tour consisted of walking down Hollywood Blvd., shopping on Melrose, driving through Beverly Hills and down Rodeo drive, cruising Santa Monica Blvd. all the way down to Santa Monica, and walking the Third Street Pavilion in Santa Monica. Being that this was my first time in California, I was pleased with how much of it I got to see in such a short amount of time. I took some good pics of our outing, but they too are not ready yet.

I am tired of writing, so I am done for now.


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