The outline of the island we had moored by for the night was barely visible when I wake up this morning. I get out of bed, swallow a cup of Vietnamese cà phê, and join the guide to the kayaks that are already waiting for us by the side of the junk.
The air is still and the water like glass as we glide towards one of the islands nearby. There are hundreds of islands in the bay, huge columns of limestone rising fifty meters or more above water, topped by a thick jungle. As the sun rises lazily over the morning haze, birds provide a pleasant musical backdrop. With a few careful paddle maneuvers, we get to the side of an almost vertical cliff covered by vegetation that clings improbably to it. Up close, the size and beauty of these karst formations become more apparent. Looking back towards the horizon, the islands extend, seemingly infinitely, in progressively fading layers.
We turn a corner, and make landfall at our destination, the Soi Sim beach. Our Viet Tai Chi instructor is already waiting for us, dressed in a white silk uniform. After showing us some warm ups, we try to follow along as he demonstrate a form. I struggle to keep my balance on the soft sand that keeps crumbling each time I change my posture.
After this invigorating exercise, I follow some steps, then a dirt trail that climbs to the top of the hill. From there, a majestic panoramic view of the bay awaits.
Once back down, our guide encourages us to take a plunge in the bay. I dip my toes but the water is too cold for my taste. Unfortunately, the water is also littered with plastic bags, bottles, sandals, blocks of styrofoam and other debris. Using a big net, the crew tries to clean up a section of the beach for us, but it’s not very appealing.
Halong Bay is deservedly a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a magical place that invites reverie and contemplation. However, the level of blatant pollution that mars it is truly saddening and spoils what was an otherwise wonderful experience
The following interview was published in a special issue of the Appliness magazine. You can download it from iTunes or the Google Play store.
Hi Arno, can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi Appliness! I live in the beautiful city by the bay, San Francisco. I was born in France and I came over to Cupertino, California for what was supposed to be a short summer internship, but that just kept getting extended. I ended up working for ten years at Apple in the user experience design team, including working on the Mac OS X UI, which was a really fun project.
I recently had my ten year anniversary at Adobe. I did get to work on many great projects, including the first versions of Creative Suite, and now I’m leading the Web Platform & Authoring team.
Our team’s mission is to make the web better and to build the best tools in the world for web designers and developers.
So, part of what we do is contributing to web standards and to open source projects, like WebKit and Cordova, to move the web forward. We also do a lot of work with the web community, such as hackatons and meet-ups. I think you talked to Vincent Hardy recently who leads the team responsible for this.
The other part of what we do is building the tools and services that web designers and developers need. This includes tools like Dreamweaver, our all-in one web production tool; Edge Animate, a powerful tool to create interactive and motion content; Edge Inspect, an indispensable tool to preview, inspect and debug your web content on mobile devices; Brackets, an open source project to build the best code editor for HTML/CSS/JavaScrip; Edge Code, the Adobe distribution of Brackets, available now as a preview and PhoneGap Build, a hosted service to easily build web apps for mobile devices using the PhoneGap framework.
We’ve also just introduced Edge Web Fonts, a new service built on the Typekit engine to deliver free and open source fonts.
And at our recent Create The Web event, we’ve given a sneak preview of a new tool we’re working on called Edge Reflow which makes it super easy to create responsive web content visually, but using standard CSS and media-queries.
We have a lot of things going on!
What are your top priorities for future development? What challenges would you like to answer?
Looking back over the past few years, it’s pretty amazing the progress that is being made on the web platform.
For one thing, the browser vendors are working much closer together to make sure that there is only one web. A consistent implementation of web standards is essential. Content creators want to spend their time designing, not figuring out ten different workarounds to work on all the browsers they need to support. There’s still some work to be done, but it’s going in the right direction. We’re trying to help by identifying and fixing important bugs when we can. Sometimes it’s the standards themselves that are not clear enough or open to interpretation, so we help there too. We’re also very excited about the response we’ve gotten to a series of events we’ve worked on with the community called Test The Web Forward. These are a kind of hackatons where we focus on identifying and fixing interoperability problems in the various browsers. The great thing about these is that anyone can participate and help!
We also want to continue to move the web forward by adding missing functionality to the web platform. There’s a few areas we’re focusing on where we think we can make the biggest contributions because of our expertise. We want magazine-quality layout on the web, including great typography. We want to bring cinematic visual effects so that you can build more engaging user experiences, but also so that you can do hardware-assisted real-time image processing. We also want a strong graphical foundation for the web platform. Some basic things are still missing, like blend modes or compositing! We can fix that. And we also want more and better device APIs to allow web apps and content to integrate better with your devices. We hope that the work we’re doing with PhoneGap and Cordova will be useful for this.
Ultimately, it’s about making the web platform more expressive and more engaging.
Of course, we also want to make it easy for web designers and developers to build those experiences. So we’re also working on building some great tools and services for them.
Adobe Edge Tools & Services is a unique mix of cloud services and tools for web developers. What is its mission and how do you see it evolving in the future?
It’s very simple. We are building the best tools and services for web developers and designers. That’s it.
To guide us, we are following some principles that we’re calling the Edge Principles.
First, we want each of our tools and services to be the best at doing one thing, and not try to do too many things. We’re want our tools to be Opinels, not swiss-army knives. We spend a lot of time narrowing down and getting to the core of what they’re about, and then we craft and polish them until they’re perfect. And we make sure they look great and are a pleasure to use too. We also want these tools to work great together. But we want to make it easy for people who use them to mix and match: if they want to use tools from Adobe, great, but sometimes they’ll also want to use tools from other vendors, or some open source tools or even ones they have built themselves. We want to make that easy.
Second, we want to make sure they evolve and stay up to date as the web platform evolves. We want to expose the latest techniques and capabilities of the web platform to designer and developers and see what they do with it.
Third, we avoid being too dependent on any particular frameworks. For one thing, frameworks are often a crutch, a useful one, but a crutch nonetheless that deals with inconsistencies or gap in implementations. Those are getting fixed over time and you don’t want to be stuck with some cruft you no longer need. Frameworks also sometimes implement some functionality that makes more sense in the standards and implemented by the web engines, because they can optimize them better and integrate them with the hardware platform better. So that’s another reason why depending too much on a framework doesn’t always make sense. And finally, frameworks are a bit like fashion: new ones come along all the time reflecting the constant evolution of the web and the techniques that people need to do their job. Choice is good.
So, we’re going to use these principles to continue to refine the tools and services we already have, and we’re going to listen to the web designers and developers to see what other tools they might need that don’t exist yet, or don’t work very well. There’s plenty more to do.
Adobe has been an active member of the W3C for more than a year now. How successful has it been so far? Tell us more about this exciting experience.
The web community has been great to work with.
Quite frankly, when we started ramping up our engagement we were not sure of what the reaction was going to be. Although we had been participating in the W3C and other web standard bodies for many years, the browser vendors had been a much stronger presence.
But it turns out that the web standard groups have been very welcoming and happy to see a more diverse set of point of views represented. We have worked with many browser vendors including Apple, Microsoft, Google and Opera to define some new proposals. We’re now co-editing the HTML5 Canvas spec. We’re making good progress not only on defining these new standards, but we’re also starting to see implementations in shipping browsers, including Safari, Chrome and Internet Explorer.
In your opinion, why should web developers be excited today? And why should they be excited by the future of web development
How not to be excited!? The web is more expressive than ever. New capabilities are available in web engines today to deliver great user experiences.
The web engines are not only getting more capable, they are also getting faster both at executing code but also at rendering high quality graphics.
The mobile hardware is also making some incredible progress, which is very important because more and more people are accessing the web from mobile devices.
And of course the tools are also getting better making it easier and faster to build beautiful content and web apps.
Your team contributes to defining the future of the web’s graphical capabilities. How do you work with the community to shape this future?
Well, we participate and do our part. It’s really a community effort. There are many people involved in making this happen. The web standard groups are of course essentials to make sure that the web is consistent across implementations: you have to have a clear definition of how things are supposed to work before you can discuss differences between two (or more!) implementations.
The browser vendors and other people implementing those standards are also key in delivering them, ensuring they work well, with great performance, on all the hardware platforms and operating systems that you expect to get access to the web on, which is pretty much everything these days.
The tool vendors, like us, also have an important role to play to make sure that the new capabilities are defined in a way that makes it easy, or at least possible, to build great tools for them. Because if those capabilities are so difficult to author for that nobody uses them, that’s not really progress.
And of course, the content creators themselves have to have a voice. They’re the ones who know what they need. Because they’re the ones using the web platform everyday, they also know what its weaknesses are. So it’s very important that we listen to them, and that we prioritize their input over other things that might seem theoretically interesting, but don’t really address a pressing problem.
At Adobe we have a very special relationship with the content creators. For many years now they have been using our tools. We get to talk to them all the time, and they come to use when things don’t work the way they want. We understand pretty well what they need and want. So, in a way, we can represent their point of view probably better than anyone else, and so we try to be a voice on their behalf.
If you had to give some advice to a web developer, what would it be?
Get involved. Participate.
That’s one of the great things about the web: no one company or group owns it. It is a community effort. If you want to make it better, you can. There are many ways to get involved. You can participate in discussions as the web standards get defined – all these discussions are going on in the open, anybody can join in. You can contribute bug reports or bug fixes or new features to open source projects.
Or you can just create really amazing content and apps that push the envelope and redefine what’s possible. This kind of inspiring work really makes a difference, and motivate us to do even more.
Today in San Francisco, we kicked off Create the Web, a worldwide tour for interactive web designers and developers and partners that will provide us with the opportunity to share Adobe’s vision for the web.
Our mission is to make the web better and to build the best tools in the world for web designers and developers.
We contribute to web standards and to open source projects, like WebKit and Cordova, to move the web forward. We get involved in the community, through hackatons and meet-ups. For example, we have worked with the community to organize a series of events called Test The Web Forward. These are a kind of hackatons where we focus on identifying and fixing interoperability problems in the various browsers. We welcome and encourage the participation of anyone interested in joining us.
We are contributing improvements in a few areas where we have some expertise, including magazine-quality layout (CSS Regions & CSS Exclusions), graphical foundation (blend modes, compositing and transforms), better device APIs and cinematic visual effects (CSS custom filters). We are also making available today CSS FilterLab, a fun experiment to play with custom filters, which even allows you to write and debug custom shaders right from your browser.
We also build the tools and services that web designers and developers need. This includes tools like Dreamweaver, our all-in one web production tool. We are releasing today an update to Dreamweaver with support for new HTML5 elements, faster FTP, a streamlined insert panel, support for Edge Animate and more. This update is available for free to Creative Cloud members.
We’ve also introduced Edge Web Fonts, a new service built on the Typekit engine to deliver free and open source fonts.
We’ve given a sneak preview of a new tool we’re working on called Edge Reflow which makes it easy to create responsive web content visually, but using standard CSS and media-queries.
Following San Francisco the tour continues on to London, Tokyo and Sydney in early October followed by a 30-city international tour of “HTML Meetups” in destinations throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, and more.
Below are a few pics from the event this morning in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Center.
We’re about to begin
The door just opened
Today is about…
There’s some secret stuff under these nice red drapes
Using CSS filters on an iPhone 5 (that’s one of my pics!)
CSS FilterLab is awesome.
Introducing Edge Animate
Sneak peek of Edge Reflow
Screenshot of Edge Reflow
I love typography…
Beautiful new monospaced font, optimized to display code, Source Code Pro. The font i…
Every year at the end of August, a temporary city emerges from the Nevada desert.
The 60,000 citizens of Black Rock City are encouraged to be radically self-reliant: there is no food, water or electricity, and the only concession to this lack of infrastructure are the Porta-Potties. There is nothing for sale; the city is devoted to acts of gift giving. Nothing is organized either: the participants themselves cooperate and collaborate to create this unique experiment. Some create art, some teach, some perform, some build elaborate structures, some play with fires.
And at the end of the week, the desert returns, as if it had all been a dream.
I lead the Web Platform and Authoring team at Adobe. Our mission is to make the web better and to build the best tools in the world for web developers and designers. Our contributions include CSS Filters, CSS Regions and exclusions, Blend Modes, Brackets, Cordova/PhoneGap, Dreamweaver and the Edge Tools & Services: Edge Code, Edge Inspect, Edge Reflow, PhoneGap Build and Edge Animate. I have contributed to many other projects at Adobe, including the first versions of Creative Suite. Prior to joining Adobe in 2001 I was a member of the User Interface team at Apple that conceived, designed and implemented Aqua, the user interface of Mac OS X. I graduated from the Grenoble University. I live in San Francisco and I enjoy traveling from Abel Tasman to Zanzibar. » more...