My team at Osellus just built a tool that allows you to access the wholesome goodness of TFS from inside Eclipse. Read Kamal’s post to see more of it.
Category Archives: Tech
I was scanning through my Google Reader Link Blog and noticed the number of new applications being implemented in Flex/Flash.
Flash/Flex is getting some well known names in it’s corner. I am very impressed with the way Adobe has targeted and honed the direction of the Flex/Flash platform after it adopted Macromedia. The Apollo platform that will soon come out is another crucial step in that direction. What direction is that? Flash is no more seen as the delivery tool of the infamous banner ads. It is now perceived as a serious platform for Rich Applications used by the big boys of the internet and increasingly, even in the enterprise.
The two latest examples of companies waking up to the power and potential of Flex/Flash are Google and Trillian.
Google made available the Google Talk Gadget a couple of days back which is a Flash implementation of Google Talk that can be added onto your Google Personalized Homepage. The gadget can be even be added to a blog or webpage so visitors can chat with you right there in the context of your blog. Best of all, I noticed that it has the “Call” button – so you can VoIP with your google talk contacts right there – no need for the desktop client! I chatted up a couple of friends and was pretty impressed with the implementation.
Though I haven’t tried this out, the Google Talk blog also mentioned:
“We worked hard to make the Google Talk Gadget embody the same simple, clean feel of Gmail Chat and the Talk download client–but we threw in some extra goodies too. You’ll notice that your conversations all open up in tabs inside the Gadget. And one of the coolest features in the Google Talk Gadget is the ability to do media previews. When we’re not busy working on new features for Talk, we’re checking out “Ask A Ninja” on YouTube or Friday night’s party photos on Picasa Web Albums, sending around links to this multimedia in our chats, and posting them in our status messages. It was just plain silly that our IM client didn’t know more about photos and videos other than the fact that it was a link. So by scratching our itch, we can now watch YouTube videos and see Picasa Web Albums photos inside of the Google Talk Gadget anytime someone IMs us a link or sets it as their status message. “
Does this mean we are going to see Google employing Flash more and more in their upcoming “betas”?
About a week back, I came across Astra, a version of Trillian‘s popular IM client that is implemented in Flash – for the desktop (it will also have a web client also -also, of course implemented in Flash). And they are quick to point out they are not using Apollo but rather, an internally developed technology they have termed “OS Layer”.
More over at the Trillian blog
Another web app that I am really interested in seeing how it turns out is Virtual Ubiquity that is coming out with what they like to call “the first real word processor for the web“. I believe it’s written in Flex 2 for Flash 9. Their screenshots look great but I really want to have a go at it myself before passing a verdict.
Robert Scoble had a few good things to say about a demo of VU he sat in on a while back -I usually agree with his point of view but he sometimes gets a little too excited about shiny new things – an ailment I am guilty of too.
What I am really curious about is how VU is going to support fonts and font rendering. Given my past experience with Flash, it’s hopeless at Font management and just doesn’t have the wires for it. I haven’t played around too much with Actionscript 3/Flex 2/Flash 9 but I hope they have defined their Font Management capabilities a little better – better APIs, better documentation…I want to take a look at this when I get a little time soon. Anyway this aspect of an online Word processor intrigues me greatly along with a couple of others like support for clipboard operations like copy-paste of formatted content containing images, tables etc…This ultimately will make or break a web-based Word processor in my humble opinion – operations that make desktop applications so powerful.
I *know* they can be done – question is has VU taken the pain to do it?
All in all, happy and exciting days for Adobe. Speaking of whom, -and given the context of this post, I should mention the online version of Adobe Photoshop that Adobe is planning to launch in about 6 months. It will be free and ad-supported – and it will be the best possible advertisement for the Flash/Flex platform’s power. As a developer, there is nothing that screams out a platform’s strength than a complex image processing software implemented in it! Of course, we have to wait and see how many of the desktop version’s features are “descoped” in the online version – I didn’t get an inkling many would be but we’ll see.
Adobe of course very recently launched a hosted video editing tool, Remix that it will be available as part of the tools available on Photobucket.
I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing more and more of Flash based RIAs delivered either in the web browser or in an Apollo like delivery model in the next year or two. I itch to articulate my p.o.v. on the Flash vs. Ajax pseudo-debate that’s been on for the last couple of years but that’s a whole new post.
I am perhaps a little biased towards Flash/Flex because I was heavily involved in designing and guiding Osellus‘s Flash-based interface for it’s IRIS process Automation system. Osellus I dare say was one of the first “serious” companies to recognize the potential of Flash and employ it as part of its enterprise-class product. That’s right! IRIS is an enterprise product currently being used by very qualified process teams in very large organizations – and it’s primary authoring interface is implemented in Flash!!
I am keen to know which other enterprise level products have Flash based interfaces or atleast components. If you know of any, let me know!
Adobe has entered the “lets get it on” (read “social”) rss aggregator fray with myfeedz – “A Social Newspaper”.
To quote Adobe, “myFeedz uses artificial intelligence techniques to show you personalized news about topics you are interested in.”
I am going to give myfeedz a fair chance to get social with me for a few days before commenting on it but a couple of things – especially since my opinion can make or break a “Web 2.0” site :). I’ve been using it sporadically over the weekend.
The first thing that struck me as soon as I took at look at the myFeedz main page was that there were a whole lot of completely unnecessary Flash movies (See screenshot below – the “Adblock” signs indicate where Flash movies are located). All the section headings on the page are Flash movies! This is totally a case of throwing a grenade to kill an ant!!! (Forgive the analogy). Granted perhaps the only way to guarantee custom fonts look the same way on any platform and on any browser is to use Flash but you have your priorities wrong here people. You can have great aesthetic looking section headings without the use of relatively heavy Flash movies. You are Adobe, you have to have a clue about this kind of thing. Use Flash but use it for what it for what it is meant – for achieving complex richness and usability- not for displaying custom font section headings.
Breathe…letting it go…
As already mentioned, myFeedz aims to use an algorithm to judge on your behalf what is relevant and important to you using the rss feeds you ask it to look up. The way I feel about it, if you are a serious enough information hound to subscribe to multiple RSS feeds, you probably like to be in control of the way you go through your feeds – although I would also be interested in the suggestions myFeedz threw up. myFeedz does seem to prioritize and throw up information from other users’ feeds based on my reading habits – which is a good feature – will have to wait and see how well the algorithm does.
The myFeedz page is made of multiple parts:
- It has two tag clouds – my tags pulled from my feeds and hot “system” tags, probably meaning tags popular amongst all myFeedz users.
- It also has two “Top Articles” sections – again one based on my profile and habits, one based on everybody on myFeedz.
- Also has a Recent Articles section listing the latest articles from my feeds – there doesn’t seem to be an option to set how many articles I can see in the recent articles section though.
The user can personalize myFeedz by adding or removing tags that the user might or might not be interested in respectively. The user can also pull tags from suggested system tags and add to his/her own.
While writing this, I realized why I haven’t taken an instant liking to myFeedz. It’s cramming too much into one page, trying to do too many things at the same time – and not in a very elegant fashion. It’s controlling both quality and quantity of my desired information. While I am very interested in the social side of things, I also want an option alongside to be able to go through my feeds in an organized fashion. It shouldn’t be and doesn’t have to be one or the other.
I love being social but myFeedz is like being social after 50 Tequila shots – I don’t know what I am being social about anymore!
[Update] Also agree with the “River of news” feature that Robert Scoble talks about here. I’ve gone through all the usual and not so usual desktop and online aggregators and usually get the itch to change readers after a week or two. I have been with Google Reader for 3 months now and am the most content I have been in a long time.
This was reportedly built by Adobe in 4 weeks flat..no kidding! Says something about the platform of choice which of course is Flex. Very well designed and built App. And the subject at hand is bikes!!
Previously known as Adobe Proxy, the mag has been relaunched now as Adobe Magazine. I like the way content is presented in this magazine. It’s designed and edited for the online viewer rather than the print reader. It’s in the pdf format and serves as a good showcase of the capabilities of this format.
The content is rich and makes full use of animations and the PDF format’s graphical capabilities and the capability of content to be 3-dimensional rather than flat, encouraging user interaction rather than just scrolling through. In future versions though, I hope Adobe will support embedding of video, flash movies and streaming content such as Quicktime movies and Flash video streams in the document itself. Currently, the documents have to link outside to have the browser play video content.
I have always wondered why document tools such as MS Word and Adobe PDF don’t allow the embedding of video formats and Flash movies in documents – and if I was to be a little more long-sighted, allow format plugins! I see enormous potential and use here. From the perspective of a Software Engineer, the ability to embed Flash movies or AVI movies (for example) would allow the embedding of prototypes or proof-of-concept movies in design or architecture documents. This can be taken even further to build modeling tools that generate interactive models and diagrams such as UML diagrams that the user can “explore” from inside a document. That’s just one area where this will prove useful. There are probably far more important possibilities this functionality will bring. What do you think?
You can sign up at :
or download the magazine directly from http://www.adobe.com/special/magazine/adobemag1/adobemagazine.zip
I originally came across this on Adobe Photoshop Product manager, John Nack’s most excellent site
For best viewing, use:
*Adobe Reader 8
*A Wide-screen LCD if possible
*Some links lead to video and audio content that are heard best with good quality speakers