Waiting impatiently for Apollo
I have had so many different perspectives of the product Macromedia Central. A few months ago I blogged my thoughts on Central and where I thought it should go in the future.
At the time I was coming off the SNL Merger Model project, and my perspective was focused on the experiences of executing that particular project.
Now though, I feel my tune starting to change. I do think that many of my priorities stand, but I keep reconsidering Central functionality in a different light with all of the Web 2.0 momentum that has building up lately.
I was listeneing to an episode from the MAKE magazine podcast that featured an interview with Tim O'Rielly. It was called: Distributing the Future - Data for Web 2.0
The interview really just focused on all the priorities for Web 2.0 that Tim has layed out in the past. When you hear him speak it though, it almost sounds like a Macromedia Central feature list.
In the past I shot down the concept of applications co-existing, and sharing data. While it is a cool feature, it just wasn't applicable to the priorities of most of the client work we had been doing over the last 3 years, even in the RIA space. With current changes of direction in the industry however, it really starts to make alot more sense.
I think about Flex 2.0, and the fact that the framework is going to be free, and the toolset around it is robust. I think in retrospect, that it was the missing part of the Central puzzle the whole time. Applications can be developed alot faster now, and with the current component set for Flex, consistency would be pretty easy to achieve.
I already have a tonne of little applications lying around that I have prototyped in Flex 2. Many of them are for real client work we are doing right now. One project has involved alot of XML flat files, and I have built a few utility apps that our client has been using to manage the process of creating this content.
Members of our experience design team that do usecases and wireframing have expressed intrest in learning MXML just enough so that they can quickly mock up ideas. When we were working on our Timetracker application internally, they were totally stoked as I was building the frame of the UI right in front of them as we were discussing it.
I feel that I could convince clients to use something like Central alot easier now than I could before, due to the existence of Flex 2, and most of the time it may not even be for the actual project at hand, but rather for all of the supporting work built around a large project.
"Apollo", the "Universal Client" is coming, and the "Adobe Engagement Platform" is starting to be explained for all to see. I am really excited about all this, and I think it is time for Central to be reborn and succeed.
It's a bit of a bummer that we are going to have to wait for Apollo to implement AJAX and PDF into the enviornment, but then again there is no reason to exclude the other approaches to developing RIAs. I just wish I had a new Flash Player 8.5 Central now. I could put that bad boy to work lickity split.
Just ditch the liscencing...