Friday, May 03, 2002

SVG and ColdFusion: Courtesy of Paul Hastings, I was reminded of John Fontana's CF_SVG tags, which accept form data to construct an SVG graph in ColdFusion Server for delivery to the browser. It went online about two years ago and has received about 400 downloads.

This is similar to the approach used in Macromedia Generator, where all data-merging is done on the server to produce a static deliverable file. These days, using a Macromedia Flash approach, you'd usually send a dynamic file which accepts user data and immediately renders the graphic, without needing a reload on the server. I believe this will be an increasingly important design choice over the next year or two -- how much interactivity is performed on the server, versus how much on the client? I'm looking for useful rules-of-thumb on this subject, but it still seems a new area.
Crack count: Of the 100 most recent referrals, 13 are for "macromedia flash mx crack", 7 are for "macromedia fireworks mx crack", 1 each for "macromedia coldfusion mx crack" and a generic "macromedia mx crack", and a whopping 36 for "dreamweaver mx preview release crack" and variants. That link I'm Google-bombing you towards show why you're a danger to yourself and others for installing instructions from admitted criminals... there are people out there who want an army of controllable machines for massive denial-of-service attacks during the current war. Don't give into them... question alien orders!

(I'm still perplexed at the underlying psychological need to crack a preview release which is already free... near as I can figure they're little boys who sublimate their sexuality into software collections, but I'm open to additional hypotheses.)
First week summary: Well, maybe not a complete summary, just some things that come to mind after these first few days of Macromedia MX, part II:

  • Developers and Macromedia-affiliated sites have been fantastic... I've been knocked out by how savvy they are in the newsgroups and lists, the tutorials and extensions that have already appeared. Virtual burritos are now winging their way to ya'll.... ;-)
  • We still had heavy download demand for these big files, even after re-routing things after the Flash MX traffic jams, but those "zero kilobyte" overload alerts have thankfully diminished.
  • Early timeouts of the trial wrapper on MacOS X are still a significant issue. Along with the trial wrapper firm we've identified many of the causes, and I anticipate we'll have this greatly squared away by the time of the actual release versions of Dreamweaver MX and related tools. (These MacOS X trial wrappers are a new area for all of us.) I'm still not sure whether folks affected by a premature MacOS X timeout can use the Mac Classic trial on the same machine.
  • Some Homesite folks wanted Homesite to change and advance in some ways too, but this won't happen, sorry. Dreamweaver MX is now the common path, incorporating elements from Dreamweaver 4.0, Dreamweaver UltraDev, Homesite, ColdFusion Studio, and JRun Studio. I think the combined DW team made giant steps towards making this a handcoders heaven, but I'd be surprised if we achieved complete nirvana in this first effort... we'll be relying on Homesite users to tell us how future versions should evolve, thanks. (Dreamweaver MX for Windows will include Homesite+, which includes Homesite and the previous ColdFusion Studio and JRun Studio extensions.)
  • Flash Remoting is available as part of the Preview Release of ColdFusion, and some have been concerned that this is the only way to use these efficiencies. There's much more waiting in the wings, but I can't pre-announce specifics myself, sorry. All I can ask is to have some faith and give us some time here... the Macromedia MX initiatives rely on open protocols and interoperability with various toolsets, so enabling flexibility here is to everyone's advantage.

This isn't everything that has happened this week, but these are some of the issues that have jumped out for me. I'm pretty overwhelmed on the various lists and have only been jumping in here and there... sorry if I let some balls drop, but thankfully there's a heck of a lot of smart people out there. 8)
UltraDev extensions upgrade: Massimo Foti has very many useful posts, but this one particularly caught my eye... he explains how the extensibility model changes in Dreamweaver MX, and what this means for some existing extensions.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Sometimes, folks just knock me out... doesn't have to be a big thing, but the cumulative effect of many clever minds, distributed through the community, ends up achieving a great deal overall. 8)
Mac preview timeout: We've found one way to reliably kill the trial wrapper on the Dreamweaver Preview Release on MacOS X laptops... if you're plugged into an Airport and simultaneously unplug an Ethernet connection while the Preview is running, then the wrapper sees that as a hacking attempt and shuts off. Quitting the app before changing your network connections is the way to avoid this particular glitch, and the company which makes the trial wrapper will be trying to find a way to enable this in time for the trail of the actual release version of Dreamweaver MX.
2.8 million dollars -- that's one way to earn 14,000 sales for LiveMotion.... ;-)
Daily Rotation collects headline feeds from various sites you specify. I got turned onto it within the past week (I forgot who pointed me there, sorry!), and am already starting to make it habitual. But such a multi-source feed could also use some subject filtering... it's work to parse each writer's headlines to find subjects of interest. Ideally I'd also want to weight articles by author, to highlight people whose words I avidly read and those who are overly wordy. I've been trying to imagine what combination of client-side and server-side interactivity could give the news-finding interface I'd want and use. No conclusions yet, just an ongoing subject of interest, personally and for the Macromedia Designer & Developer Center too.
Pattern recognition in cams: BBC offers article on processing videocam images to detect patterns. There are high-tech cameras and software, so it will be awhile until it diffuses down to cheap wireless cams, but I'd be surprised if such sensors were not pervasive within five years. Servers can monitor data from a wide variety of sensors, note patterns, and alert humans on portable control devices. These won't be centralized applications... I believe there will be a wide range of custom applications needed for such realworld control. (btw, the X-10 automation pages offer some fascinating hints at what some subcultures are doing today... they were wiring homes with sensors and effectors long before they got into popunder ads.... ;-)
Village Voice Nightguide is an interesting web application, from Anil Dash. Maybe it's just spring, but the SWF ad captured my attention before I got into the web app. The idea of giving choice of restaurant to a webapp's delphic whim is Diceman-like fun. But wouldn't the web app itself be more attractive and efficient as a rich internet application, without reloading all those HTML forms everytime someone makes a choice...?
Macromedia MX Hot Issues:

  • Comet Cursor: Threads in newsgroups assert that Ad-Aware utility reports that Macromedia Dreamweaver MX for Windows installs Comet Cursor ActiveX Control, which in the past has been linked to spyware claims. Dreamweaver engineers have been researching with people from the trial wrapper company and the detection utility, and right now it seems as if this is a false-positive result... part of the download contains a string which matches the utility's current identifier for Comet Cursor, but this cursor utility is not actually installed. Not yet documented, but that's the story's current status.
  • Download problems: Server demand is lightening up, and there are fewer reports of "zero kilobyte" denials. Still, it's a big download, so consider using a download manager. There's a report that one download manager removes three-letter filename extension, producing an alert of "not a valid Windows file", but I don't have full info on this config yet.
  • Premature timeout: This is always a problem with trials, moreso in this case because we're pioneering MacOS X trials too. Watch out for any changes to clock or network during a trial... these are frequent triggers for a timeout. There's additional MacOSX-specific info in this technote. We won't be rewrapping the Preview Release, but the goal is to get all these issues squared away before the actual release in May.
  • Fireworks Hot Issues: This is cool... Mark Haynes in Fireworks Support is reporting all current customer complaints on the Fireworks Preview Release. It's a little different from a regular technote, but I think people are really searching for this type of material, consolidated like this.
Daily reminder: If you Google'd here searching for a Dreamweaver crack or macromedia crack or such, then don't be such a bobo... Dreamweaver MX is a free Preview Release, and it will run until we get the actual final release out the door. You gain absolutely nothing by trying to crack it, but run a great risk by willingly running executable code from known criminal sites on your computer! (And you risk hurting everybody else by becoming a zombie machine during this time of war.) C'mon, use your brain, for all our sakes!
TopXML evaluations? Over on Mike Chambers' blog, Mark Wilson posted a link to TopXML, a code repository site. I haven't visited here before, but because they serve 38 gig a month it seems like many find it of value.

If you've used this service before, I'd be interested in hearing how it works for you, what you see that Macromedia could be doing along similar lines. I'm a laggard and don't have commenting here yet, but if you start a conversation in an online group we both frequent, or in the newsgroup, then I'd be interested in hearing your take on things like this. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

DevX on MX: Russell Jones talks about how Macromedia MX "floats above" various platform and architectures, trying to provide value by speeding development in general. The main emphasis of the article is ColdFusion MX, but he also shows how the other MX parts fit together.
Eye-opening article on vector steganography -- how to hide information within a vector file. When I saw the headline I thought they meant bulking up the file with additional control points (high-frequency noise), but they discuss two techniques: rounding existing control points to integer locations and hiding information in extreme decimal places, or inserting extra control points within the curve and using the distances between control points to hold the information. [via SlashDot]
Early timeout of Preview Release: There seem to be multiple causes. Some threads are due to changing system clock or drives -- trial wrappers are sensitive to this. A new wrinkle seems to be on MacOS X laptops which awaken from sleep mode, which seems to trigger a discrete clock change on that OS, killing the wrapper. (To my knowledge this is the first major trial wrapper release on MacOS X, so we're working with the other software company to identify such things... the goal is to get such config-related timeouts squared-away by the time we have the trial version of the actual release version.) I don't yet know whether such MacOS X timeouts can still trial in Classic.

CometCursor with the Windows trial: I've seen 4-6 threads so far about this utility being installed with the Preview Release. This control is definitely not a part of Dreamweaver, but may be associated with the trial wrapper, or may be a misidentification problem on the part of some detection utilities... issue is still under investigation, but from in-house reports it's not part of Dreamweaver itself.

Flash Remoting with PHP: There's a big ol' thread on FlashCoders today, from people who want the efficiencies of Flash Remoting but in an open-source application server. We've just got the first part of that "flash server" approach out in Preview Release now, and there's definitely more work in development, but I can't pre-announce anything myself. Keep an eye on the Macromedia site for further news, and also keep in mind that a big driver for Macromedia MX is to be platform-agnostic, and to work with whatever technologies Macromedia's customers are wanting to use....

100 most recent incoming links:
  • To the person looking for info on Director and MX, they're a little tangential to each other... Macromedia MX focuses on two ubiquitous delivery formats, HTML and SWF. Macromedia Director has a wide web viewership -- greater than any video format -- but it's more for destinations than for interfaces. Still, if there are specific things you want us to deliver, please let the Director team know, thanks.

  • To the 13 people looking for "macromedia flash mx crack", send an email to "". Be sure to include your mailing address so they can send you the manuals too.

  • To the 1 person looking for "macromedia mx crack", we don't create pharmaceuticals, sorry.

  • To the 21 people looking for "macromedia dreamweaver mx crack", it's a free preview release... by the time it expires we'll have the actual final release available. Be careful crossing streets.

  • To the 65 people who came here looking for information, welcome, glad you're in this field, and I hope your work goes well!

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

There's an early timeout problem on some-but-not-all MacOS X Preview downloads. It's under investigation but I don't know that we've identified the difference yet. I do know that we're sort of pioneers in MacOS X trial wrappers here, but we have to nail this down ASAP.
In Toronto? CFNorth conference is this weekend and looks impressive... lots of smart people, the first real public presentation of many new Macromedia MX technologies.
Second part of Tim Anderson interview with Jeremy Allaire. Mentions that SWF6 will be documented as before (no completion date estimated yet)... describes using ColdFusion with Microsoft .NET... SOAP replacing WDDX for many-but-not-all uses....CF being first commercial implementation of Apache Axis web services engine... Homesite, Kawa, and the new Tincan video communication technology.
Salon: We did boom, we are booming, we will continue to boom... just watch for that initial over-boom.

(I'm optimistic myself, but have learned to be more distrustful of frenzies. There's still a lot of infrastructure to be built all over the world... heck, even the United States is behind-the-curve on wireless. Political regimes may be able to limit the movement of people and bulky goods, but communication is harder to limit... I'm optimistic that there's a lot we can do to improve the well-being of all.)
Dave Winer is apparently concerned that Macromedia's cooperation with Microsoft and IBM precludes other types of development. From all I've seen the emphasis is on playing well with other tools, regardless. (During a launch it's important to get context from other toolmakers... if we didn't have quotes from BigCo's then people might worry.... ;-)
David Walker notes how brochureware remains important. The number of documents on the web will continue to increase, even though I anticipate that the number of rich internet applications will increase much more quickly. New channels build atop old channels.
Joel Martinez created a Dreamweaver Object to configure display of an incoming XML feed, in this case the Macromedia DesDev newsfeed. Wild... he abstracted away the handling details, and just presents a simple interface, check the screenshot!
David Becker's "Graphics standard advances" at c|net contains a logical error: "The [SVG] format has slowly built support as an alternative to proprietary standards such as Macromedia's Flash animation player."

SVG, SWF, HTML, PDF... all are file formats. Adobe's SVG Viewer, the Macromedia Flash Player, the Mozilla or Opera browsers... all are distributed rendering engines.The Adobe SVG or PDF rendering engines are no less "proprietary" than the Macromedia Flash Player.

File formats can vary in how they're documented, or how they're designed. Same with rendering applications. The hard thing is to achieve widespread predictable rendering of a file format out there in the world... much harder than writing a file format.
Richard Karpinski in InternetWeek discusses a different angle on ColdFusion MX -- the ability to scale the same application from a low-cost one-off to an existing enterprise-level server. Key concept: Tools should float above various architectures, so we can spend time designing to the task rather than designing to the platform.
Why software thieves are not only morons, but dangerous to others: All right, this is ridiculous... if you check the 100 most recent referring links to this site, you'll see many come from Google looking for "Macromedia MX crack" and variants. At 8am PDT I see 35 out of 100 doing this!

Why are such software thieves morons? Because they're executing unknown instructions. Read the news! The idea behind spyware and trojans is to insert executable code on your drive, either for mischief, or reporting on your behavior, or allowing remote control. Willingly double-clicking executables from an admitted criminal site is stupid beyond belief.

Why are such software thieves dangerous to others? Because they're leaving their computers unsecured. Read the news! We're in a war, and disrupting network communications is a key goal. Controlling the machines of many loser morons would be highly desired by those killer morons who fly airplanes into buildings.

For goodness sake, don't run applications downloaded from criminal sites, whether "warez" or "crackz". If you're going to steal from me and my friends, then swipe somebody's serial number instead -- you'd still be a loser, but at least you'd stop being a danger to others!

(btw, my use of the term "moron" above is not intended to deprecate our brethren who due to physiological causes are two standard deviations below the Stanford-Binet norm, but instead refers to those who don't use the mental gifts God gave them and instead are in a hurry to steal things which are already free, such as this Preview Release of a glorified text editor... sigh....)
Day one, my biggest takeaways:

  1. Glad we can ditch those "MM wants SWF to kill HTM" threads
  2. Surprised at community sites, so many resources, so quickly
  3. The DesDev Center has an amazing amount of new content too
  4. I'm appalled at how many arrive here seeking cracks

Even better: looking forward to what developers will be doing over the coming months.

Monday, April 29, 2002

I like how this InfoWorld analysis goes into how Macromedia MX floats above various architectures, how it offers a common environment regardless of delivery environment. Director was the first multimedia tool to work on and deliver to Mac and Windows... FreeHand was the first graphics tool which worked regardless of platform... the MX family brings this same platform-agnosticism to web service architectures.
Gartner Group talks about the advantages of rich internet applications. If you're reading this blog you know all this stuff already, but this article can help when you talk with your own clients... it's great to point to validation like this when talking with a balking IT or exec staff. [via c|net]
The beta Alexa websearch combines a Google linking engine with Amazon-style user rankings. I don't fully understand it yet, but it looks like a useful way to find and evalute sites, from the same folks who brought us the Wayback Machine. Sidenote is that the Macromedia site is just ahead of New York Times in traffic rank, but we both get beat out handily by ;-) [via Anil Dash]

Jeremy Allaire interview at Tim Andersson's site. Excerpt: (Q) "Is Flash Remoting only a feature of ColdFusion MX? (A) Flash Remoting supports ColdFusion, .Net and Java. The capabilities come with ColdFusion MX, but you can also buy the Flash remoting service standalone.We have adaptors for ASP.Net and for Java, so you can use Flash as a client with any backend."
Helen Triolo has been working on rendering SVG in the Macromedia Flash Player. SVG is a well-defined application of XML, and although the full spec may be too much for such a small Player, it can be useful to use XML-formatted documents to describe graphics. Cool stuff! [via Niklas Gustavsson]
CBS Marketwatch hosts an video interview with Rob Burgess. This is oriented towards people making buying decisions at other companies and at the financial community, and offers a useful high-level overview of the whole initiative, a little bit different from the usual developer-centric perspective.

You'll need Windows Media Player or Real Player to view this. They did some nice video compression. I'll be looking forward to seeing things like this in a single SWF interface, rather than in multiple interfaces requiring system-level installs.
Kevin Lynch discusses Dreamweaver MX and web services in an InfoWorld interview. Offers realworld examples of how this will matter in day-to-day life.

Best quote: "The last year-and-a-half or two years have been pretty rough. The economy has been down and a lot of the dotcom companies hit a lull or fell apart. And people are wondering whether the Internet even really matters. I think that there is far more growth ahead of us that we have already seen. I think people are actually looking to get a bit more excited again. It's time to have another breakthrough here."
Rachel Andrews offers tutorials on XHTML and CSS in Dreamweaver MX, in addition to a paper on CSS best practices at the DesDev Center.
Dreamweaver MX article at PC Review Online which offers a paragraph of text on each of the buzz-phrases, useful.
Ray West and friends offer a new Dreamweaver resource site today.
[link corrected 5/1!]
Symptom: Preview Release asks for serial number.
Cause: Seems to be solely associated with installing a beta, without having used the information available to people in the beta program....
Procedure: If this is not the case, then please describe what else may be unusual about that system in the Preview Release Forum.
More info: Matt Brown's blog.
Drew McLellan offers ten tutorials for Dreamweaver MX, focusing on database connectivity in the new interface.

O'Reilly has a new Web Development Center, articles across many subjects.
Other shoe drops -- Dreamweaver MX and ColdFusion MX are announced, and available in Preview Release. Servers have been rerouted since release of Macromedia Flash MX, but downloads will still be heavy today. Tons of meat available in Designer & Developer Center.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

I'm late finding this, but Kevin Schmitt has an interesting take on why Macromedia Flash MX has a moral imperative to be sucky... he sees it as helping the format itself. I can empathize with the goal, but am forced to confess we did not deliver on the means.... ;-)

He comments on Director: "Director can still do stuff that Flash simply can't. Interactive 3D, almost infinite extensibility through Xtras, and heavy-duty interaction with a variety of video formats are just naming a few... Shockwave hasn't caught on the way Flash has... the CD ROM authoring space isn't what it once was..."

I agree on Director having far more expressive range, and being ridiculously stronger for non-web work, but would disagree with the latter two points.

The Shockwave Player is in the top tier of browser-ready technologies, and is more viewable than any digital video technology. Atop that, within its first year half of all consumers had already updated to the realtime 3D rendering of the current version!

CD-ROM distribution may have declined in hype value, but my understanding is that it continues to increase in real value. CD delivery is commonplace today, taken-for-granted. I don't see as many blockbuster entertainment titles garnering headlines just because they're on CD, but I do see more people creating workaday CD projects, and although the Macromedia Flash MX authoring tool can create a standalone, it doesn't hold a candle to the standalones that Director can create.