Wednesday, May 28, 2008

All that and the Kitchen(Cognitive Heat)sink

I saw a fascinating keynote speech (video, transcript) the other day by Clay Shirky author of Here Comes Everybody where he discusses what he terms cognitive heatsink. Checkout what he as to say about Gin, TV and Wikipedia and where exactly people do find the time. I've been thinking about this speech for a few days now and just the name of the concept really struck home for me and I have it in my notes widget in my Vista sidebar as a constant reminder until I get struck with the next meme to flow through me.

For more on Clay check out Coding Horror's take on him which has a video where Clay discusses some of the concepts in his new book. I especially like how some technology becomes so important to our social interactions that it practically becomes invisible to what we are doing.

If you've seen either or both, what are you thoughts on what Clay talks about?

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Are CDNs for JavaScript libraries a good idea?

I was reading Ajaxian and I see that Google has launched what seems to be a CDN (content delivery network) for JavaScript libraries, in particular the following libraries are currently supported:
The discussion over at Ajaxian has it's share of folks in favor as well as detractors and I understand the potential issues where you'd now be dependent on Google's goodwill and server uptime for your site to function properly, but that you could get a potential speed boost as well some caching benefits as well. I knew that dojo was available via a CDN from AOL already, so it seems at first to be a good idea to "prime the pump" of user browser caches, but I'm wondering if this is really it's cracked up to be.

The Google Ajax API entry specifically calls out speed as a benefit of this service, but the Google Ajax Libraries API doesn't list any real world, or theoretical usage stats. I'm sure Google's data centers are plenty fast, but if anyone has done any testing to back this up, I'd really like to see it so we all can see the potential in this. And if it is a Good Idea™ then I'm wondering if Adobe's Spry should jump on that bandwagon too.

So if you have any thoughts on JavaScript libraries, especially any testing done with CDNs, it would be good to hear from you. Comment away!

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MAXin' and likely not relaxin'

Registration for Adobe MAX North America has been opened and they have posted a bit of information about the tracks and pre-event labs. From folks that I've talked to it seems as this event is going to be quite big, bigger than previous years, where it was damn big. Check out the latest information about the San Francisco event: http://max.adobe.com/na/

I've not been able to make MAX for a few years now, not even when it was in my backyard so to speak last year when it was in Chicago, but I did enjoy the 2005 event in Anaheim (check out video #5, that's me, boy is it painful watching yourself speak, I hope I don't use that many ums and ahs all the time!). I gave a low level view of getting started with Dreamweaver extensions. It is a large event so it can be tough making sure you're able to attend all the sessions and speak with all of the presenters that you'd like to, but it's quite the experience.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Beta get a bucket

Looks like the Dreamweaver and Fireworks teams are taking a more open approach to validating the work they've done so far with the updates for the CS4 release and have put out to the world beta offerings of Dreamweaver CS4 and Fireworks CS4. I also see that there are some videos on Adobe TV, take a look at the Dreamweaver CS4 feature videos. I've not looked much at the Fireworks offering just yet, but the Dreamweaver feature descriptions look intriguing and what was shown in the videos offers a great look into what has been cooking up in the labs of Adobe.

I'm not overly impressed with the new look of the application, but I knew that they would be going that way given what was done with I think Photoshop and Flash among others in the CS3 releases. I hope that I grow used to the all gray all the time look.

I think that of the features called out in the "New Features" list I'll be most interested in the JavaScript code hinting as I've often turned to JSEclipse an Eclipse plug in for editing JavaScript files when I'm working with some library code with lots of objects that I don't know intimately, or that have a good bit of nested object namespacing such as YUI or Spry . I'll also be playing around with Live View, Related files, and HTML data sets, which I assume Spry uses as it has HTML data sets.

So grab a bucket and go check out the betas!

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Starting out on the curve

I've been involved with Dreamweaver since I got a copy of Dreamweaver 1.2 ( for free on a CD that came with a British technology magazine that I don't recall the name of). I think that Dreamweaver 3 was about to come out or that it was just out and the 1.2 freebie was the incentive was to get 3 with an upgrade price. I was immediately struck with how lacking my then svelte Notepad-Netscape 3 driven development seemed so lacking. :-)

From there thinking back a bit, it seems that the learning curve really hasn't flattened out.

After getting Dreamweaver 4 and Fireworks 4 studio I really started looking more at the way that Dreamweaver was truly built to be extended and I rooted around in the configuration folder and learned a ton. I struck up some friendships on the Dreamweaver forums and on the recommendation of Angela Buraglia I volunteered and was accepted to join Team Macromedia for Dreamweaver in early 2002 or so (has it been that long already?). With the Adobe purchase of Macromedia a couple of years ago I became part of the Adobe Community Experts with my primary focus still being Dreamweaver. Along the way I've written a number of articles and tutorials at CommunityMX a great resource site for all things Adobe, contributed a chapter to a book and have been the technical editor for quite a few Macromedia and now Adobe product related books.

I'm working at WebAssist (3 years June 1st this year, time files) where I mainly build extensions for Dreamweaver using the fantastic extensibility layer as well as coding ASP (JavaScript & VBScript), ColdFusion and PHP.

But as with all things, nothing stays the same; so I'm always looking for something to learn to stay on the up good side of the curve (notice a trend here? I'm parenthetical)(he says parenthetically). I've been doing a good bit of playing around and reading up on JavaScript libraries including Adobe's Spry, Script.aculo.us jQuery, and MooTools among many many others and how they can be used to enhance the user experience. When WebAssist had their latest redesign I helped put in some Moo.fx flavored actions. Intriguing also are content replacement/enhancements such a sIFR, swfIR and SoundManager. I've also been thinking a bit about the possibilities that Adobe AIR (and by extension Flex) offers to web developers like me by bringing the technologies I know to the desktop.

I hope to be able to keep on learning new and interesting technologies as well as learn about new ideas and trends, both in the realm of the technology I work with and the greater world at large. So join me and I'll join you in this fantastic learn experience that is life.

Well I guess that's enough linking around, so I'll sign off this initial post.

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