MAX 2008: a recap

It’s now been two weeks since MAX 2008 opened, as it ran from Nov. 17 – Nov. 19, with some pre-opening events on Sunday.  In those 3-days, there is so much information coming at you that it can be overwhelming at times.  Overall, it was solid showing of what can be done (using Adobe apps) without being a three day sales pitch.  Since the majority of attendees were already using the apps, there was a bit of preaching to the choir, but I digress.

A view of the audience and the presentation displays for MAX 2008 Opening General Session

Day One:
Started with breakfast and opening ceremonies. Here they just spoke briefly about CS4 and some of the work that was done using the suite.  One of the showcased pieces was for the Remarkable Women Trail, as part of California Museum’s legacy trail series.  They brought out Maria Shriver (Gov. Arnold’s wife) to introduce and talk about the project’s goals.  Then it was time for the first official round of sessions, lunch and then more sessions.

My big take away for the first day was from the “Designer/Developer Deep Dive,” here Doug Winnie talked about how these two disciplines are not as separate as one would assume.  Even a quick show of hands demonstrated the overlapping of skill sets.  He used a simple polar grid to map one’s skills and suggested knowing where you overlap with others on the team could aid in team dynamics.  He has posted the concepts from the session along with grid templates on his blog.

Day Two:
Tuesday was a long day, with the first session starting at 8:30am and continuing non-stop into the night with the Customer Appreciation Event.  Also wrapped into this day was a second general session, award showcase and sneak peaks into Adobe’s R&D projects, that may or may not make it to production.  These last two had the geeks gasping at one point or another.  All this wow factor to easily be out done by the night’s main event, the appreciation party.  Everyone boarded coach buses and were chauffeured over to Golden Gate Park’s Art and Natural History Museums.  Here we were greeted with an endless assortment of bite size foods and a great environment to roam at will for the next few hours.

I had a number of good sessions on day two. One session that I think everyone could have benefitted by attending was covering usability errors.  Errors that are caused by confusion created (unintentionally) by the designer/developer of the site and how we can improve the situation.  For humor and effect they showed a number of similar usability confusions that occur in the real world (example: doors with both push and pull facing the same way, here’s an example on Flickr ).  One session that I wish my Photoshop only co-workers could of all been at showed off Firework’s design strengths in working with both bitmaps and vectors.

Day Three:
After the big event the night before they kindly started the first session an hour later.  They closed out the conference with a full day of sessions.  Everything seemed a bit calmer on Wednesday.  Not sure if this was due to everyone taking it easy from a late night or that some some of the attendees starting to head back to where they came.

For me, the day started with a session talking about the benefits of bringing play into the design/development process.  They first showed off the biological reasons for this, but also covered the more humanistic benefits and provided some suggestions on how to effectively use play to a productive end. Another session should have been called “The Pimping of Dreamweaver CS4”.  They wowed the audience with some of the new AJAX focused features in DW-CS4.  It’s clear that Adobe is looking to make even the least JavaScript savvy developer be able to take advantage of AJAX with ease.

I’m glad I was able to attend, there was much learned (some forgotten already :P) and I look forward to getting all these learnings together and present them to my teammates that didn’t attend (especially the stuff on Fireworks).  I also had a good time, which is just as important in getting people to return year after year. Till next year…I hope.

Remarkable Women Trail
Doug Winnie’s Twitter
Doug Winnie’s blog
Push/Pull on Flickr