A Glimpse Inside Adobe

Posted: August 1st, 2011 under ActionScript 3.0, Opinion.

One of my big goals when looking for a new job was to seek out someone that knew more about Flash than I did. In my interviews I encountered many bright and knowledgeable individuals; however, I believe I struck gold at Game Show Network’s Facebook development team. I am working side by side with a fellow named Rob Dixon, Rob was on the Adobe Flash team from 2003 – 2010 and additionally co-wrote several manuals and language references on Flash and ActionScript 3.0.

I have actually had to restrain myself from bombarding him with questions. I try to filter to the big picture questions that I could not easily test or benchmark. He claims that Adobe operates pretty much how you would think a big company with a cash cow would. A lot of corporate bureaucracy slowing down the works, having to have a series of meetings about any API changes, I could see how working at that pace could become tiring. I am sure that Adobe does try to continually improve its product, with things like Unity3D and HTML5 entering the space they need to keep up. The bigger they get and the wider they span their reach, as well as continuing to support reverse compatibility in the player, they are slowed by requirements and prerequisites to provide new features to developers. Another obvious question that I had was what was coming in CS5.5, what is going on with a ‘half’ release? It turns out Apple’s new OS ‘lion’ had changes that would break the functionality of CS5 necessitating the new Adobe version (As big as Adobe is they can still find themselves at the mercy of other companies, and don’t necessarily increment versions just because they are greedy).

Another series of questions I had concerned how the applications contained in creative suite work together. For example, what was the purpose behind creating the Fireworks program? Adobe already has Photoshop and Illustrator, why would we need yet another graphics program? I jokingly suggested that it was easier to make a new application instead of dealing with all of the red tape associated with editing the existing programs. As it turns out Fireworks has a particular utility for compressing images, even more effective than Photoshop’s save for web and devices.

The next big questions I have tried to squeeze out of him were release schedules. I only received the standard smile that says ‘I can’t discuss that’. When are we going to see CS6? Based on release history I am guessing March or September of next year. I also asked about stuff going on at Adobe Labs, seeing Flash support C/C++ would be a total game changer, an epic leap forward for the platform. I am sure that I am not the only one curious about the ‘molehill’ project status which was supposed to go into Beta the first half of this year (and is now officially late). All I could get is that it isn’t cancelled and we will be seeing it sometime.

The last bunch of questions I had concerned some of Flash’s newer features, since I had been working with Scaleform professionally for the past 2 years, I felt a little behind in the web development world. Questions like, why can’t Adobe decide on a consistent way to organize there reference material? We went from help documentation contained in Flash professional with CS3, to exclusively adobe livedocs during the age of CS4, and now this new custom reader thing for CS5. It sounded like they used the organization hierarchy to make documentation decisions instead of listening to the community or thinking about what would be convenient. I was curious about the new TLF textfields, are any more optimized or easier to work with, it sounds like they were implemented in a way to almost circumvent the flash player – so far we have avoided using them. We have also talked about how the flash player compresses art. I always suspected that setting the render option “allow smoothing” had some cost associated with it, if there is Rob suggests that it is very minimal.

I would like to add that Rob has a blog too, although it looks like his kid and baby on the way has nuked his free time. I would particularly like to call out his link about coding standards. In my new job I have reviewed and bug fixed a ton of contractor submitted code. Maintaining some basic code rules and consistency goes a long way to make your code more readable and look more professional. Coding standards are also horribly boring to write if you are in a lead or senior role, perhaps you can use the open source standards as a starting point. I can’t say that I agree with all of them, I actually like emulating as much of Scott Meyers’ Effective C++ rules as possible for general code practices.

If you or anyone you know has some good Flash questions I will make sure to forward them along and get us all some more answers.

Thanks for reading, and remember, we are all in this together.

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1 Comment »

  • Comment by Project Euler Problems — November 28, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

    1

    I actually dislike Adobe. Since months flash causes my browser to freeze or crash so often when watching videos. I also don’t understand why Adobe reader wants to update so often.


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