Thursday, September 25, 2008

Melbourne CS4 Launch Debrief

I've just left the Melbourne Adobe Creative Suite 4 launch. I have to say I'm a bit surprised. It was unlike any product launch I've been to in the past. Essentially it was a half hour tour of the top new features followed by an open bar. Some were disappointed by the brevity of the presentation hoping for a more detailed overview of the release. Personally it seemed a clever idea. Everyone there was web savvy enough to go hoem and look up the features that caught their eye and at the end of the day you only need one killer feature that saves you enough time between release cycles (about 18 months?) to justify upgrading. For graphic designers I imagine having multiple artboards in a single Illustrator file could be enough to justify the upgrade. For web developers Fireworks ability to export standards friendly CSS (surely that is too good to be true) or Dreamweaver's many workflow improvements may clinch the deal. For Flash developers the killer feature is less clear. Inverse kinematics and 3D transforms will probably be a selling point for animators. Both of these features will be useful for programmers but hardly killer features. The improved integration with Flex (while not featured during the launch) will definitely be of interest to this group. I was most interested in a feature in Premiere and Soundbooth that was able to create transcriptions from the media audio. This transcript could then be included into the video as metadata with Premiere outputing a player with search capabilities (i.e jump to the point in the video where a word or phrase appear). There were options to customize the size of the text chunks and to choose Australian English (or Korean, or Japanese etc) as the basis for the transcription. Soundbooth was also able to export the transcription as xml (TimedText I think) which will be really useful for creating closed captions in Flash. If this works even half way then it will be of enormous benefit to anyone trying to achieve basic accessibility standards.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Google Homepage Word Count and SEO

Marissa Mayer is one of the people responsible for the Google homepage and I just discovered a fascinating post from her on the Official Google Blog. It seems that a series of emails lead Marissa to become very aware of the number of words that Google uses on it's homepage. This lead them to adopt a 28 word policy. That means they use no more than 28 words on the basic Google homepage. Therefore when they decided to add a link to their Privacy page then '©2008 Google' dropped the Google to become '©2008'.

One of the reasons for Google's success is the simplicity of it's homepage and so you might wonder why more people don't copy this approach. It's more than a little ironic that the answer is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Google determines a pages page rank by 'reading' the content of the page and looking at what pages link to (and from) that page. Therefore having more relevant text and links on your homepage has the potential to increase your page rank and therefore make your site easier to find on Google. So Google has less words on it's home page so more people will use it to find your site and you must have more words on your home page so Google will let people find it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Adobe CS4 Features

Early last week the news emerged of a Adobe special event in late September. The invites were quite secretive but by the end of the week the news was out that this was a "launch" event for Creative Suite 4. Details of the new release are still under wraps but there have been a number of sneak peaks and lab releases offering some insight into this upcoming release. I'd like to claim I've done a whole lot of research and put together a compilation of all the new features that have been previewed but in the course of this research I happened across a page on Wikipedia where the work had been done. Also worth a look is a YouTube video showing some new Photoshop features. A post from Flash Magazine showing Flash features demoed at this years WebDU. A four part series on Community MX highlighting new features from the Fireworks beta. Flashmech has posted a good review of the new Dreamweaver features. You can also download and try the Dreamweaver and Fireworks betas from Adobe Labs.