Flash on the Beach 2009 – Day 2

Leave a comment 22 September 2009

After staying for the evening inspirational session with Joel Gethin Lewis, and staying up to write a summery of the day it turned into a fairly late night. However, I managed to drag myself out of bed and onto the train back down to Brighton early enough to catch the whole Elevator Pitch.

Elevator Pitch

I must admit I considered skipping this one to get some sleep, especially after John Davey had said yesterday that the rehearsal was a bit of a mess! But I was really pleased I made the effort to attend and found some of the content very interesting and useful. The basic concept was 20 developers and designers each had 3 minutes to talk about pretty much whatever they wanted. The content ranged from really interesting open source projects people are working on (check out ASAXB and SQLite) to some really creative art created by code. There was a couple of presenters that were trying to promote their company or products which I found a bit irritating, but overall the elevator pitch was a great success and I hope they do it again next year.

Grant Skinner – Quick as a Flash

Next up was Grant Skinner (not to be confused with Frank). I was really looking forward to Grants presentation after watching him last year and I was not disappointed. In fact, Grant’s session alone was worth the money TMW paid for my ticket, as his talk was all about how to optimise code and save on CPU usage. Earlier in the year I read Shane McCartney’s great posts on the same subject and Grant’s presentation followed on from them to an extent. I don’t want to plagiarize Grant’s stuff so for the full presentation notes check his site, definitely worth a read.

www.gskinner.com/talks/

An example from the presentation:

// multiplication
num * 0.25;
// is faster than division
num / 4;

But like I said go read Grants presentation notes and I’m sure you’ll also be able to find tonnes more stuff about optimisation on his blog.

Joa Ebert – Leaving The Sandbox

Next up keeping with the optimisation theme was Joa Ebert. Joa’s talk was about how to optimise your code, but he also went into detail about how Flash compiles a SWF. He went over a few of the tools he’s been working on, including one that compiles a SWF from C# or Java – which brought him a huge 5 minute standing applause from the audience. Very impressive stuff.

Richard Lord – Application Frameworks

After lunch it was Richard Lord talking about application frameworks in the Pavilion (aka the oven as it’s about 5 million degrees in there!). If you’ve read my blog before you may have noticed me mention Richard a couple of times before as I’ve been lucky enough to go on a couple of training courses with him, and I also played around with his Flint particle system on the RAF Augmented Reality job I did. It was definitely a talk worth sitting in the heat for as Richard discussed the similarities and differences between 4 MVC frameworks:

> Cairngorm
> PureMVC
> Mate
> Swiz

Richard concluded by saying each of the 4 had their benefits and he would potentially use each of them depending on the project, but he listed these final thoughts on each:

Cairngorm – good for juniors, easy to get started with.

PureMVC – his preferred choice, has a rigid structure but this is a benefit as it prevents you from shooting yourself in the foot.

Mate – requires a fair bit of learning time, not easy to just pick up and use. Good for big projects.

Swiz – really easy and nice to work with but not as good as Mate for large projects. Can be problematic when used on large projects with many developers.

For more information on this see his blog post or get in touch with him directly as he is a very approachable and nice guy.

Paul Burnett – More than Bending Pixels

Next up was Paul Burnett from Adobe talking about Pixel Bender. I must admit I’ve never even opened Pixel Bender Toolkit, let alone played around with it. I’ve been busy reading books, learning stuff like Papervision and design patterns and to get a chance but after this talk I will definitely find the time to play around with it. Paul said he is going to post all of the code from his presentation on his blog so go grab the files and play around with them if your new to Pixel Bender like me.

Some people probably can’t even find Pixel Bender Toolkit, or maybe didn’t know they had it. Well, if you’ve got Flash CS4, you’ve got Pixel Bender Toolkit, it’s just been hidden away by Adobe! If your on a Mac go to Applications > Utilities > Adobe Utilities. I’m definitely gonna try and find the time to experiment with Pixel Bender and will post anything I create (if it’s any good that is) on this blog.

At the end of Paul’s presentation he welcomed one of the guys from the Away3D team onto the stage to demonstrate some of the new stuff they are doing using Pixel Bender to create better textures. Some very impressive stuff, find out more by heading to the Away3D blog.

Contrast – Unconventional Web Applications

The final session of the day was by 2 guys from an agency called Contrast in Ireland. The talk was about conventions in design and they were both great presenters.

The main point to their talk was this – although some design conventions are good, and it makes sense to follow them, you have to be careful not to get too boggled down by them. The Internet is constantly changing with improvements not only to Flash but the web browser too with HTML5.

I guess my site is a good example of sticking to boring conventions! I’m as guilty as anyone as my site is a standard WordPress blog, using a theme that many other developers use, and you could easily be forgiven for completely forgetting it and never coming back after reading this.

I do think the guys from Contrast made some very interesting points and I think particularly when it comes to sites we are designing and developing at TMW we should be careful not to get stuck to conventions, pumping out site after site that look the same as everything else on the web. They also made the good point that you have to also be careful about breaking conventions, as you don’t want to alienate the user.

Day 2 of the conference has been great, now an early night for me so I can get back to Brighton for Andre Michelle in the morning.


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