Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

Observations from MAX 2003

The overall convention was pretty much what I expected—the conference material was largely developer-centric with a focus on ColdFusion and Dreamweaver MX 2004.

The overall convention was pretty much what I expected. There was a diverse collection of people, most of them developers and programmers, with a few design lackeys like myself mixed in. Most were young, most carried PC’s. There were more than a few iPods.

Salt Lake City provided an excellent meeting grounds. The Salt Palace convention center is spacious and comfortable, with large cylindrical fixtures and copious amounts of glass. (More pictures.) There were several great places to eat, and more than enough brew to keep my taste buds occupied. Award for the best name (and almost best flavor, second only to the wheat Hefeweizen) goes to Captain Bastard’s Oatmeal Stout.

The conference material was largely developer-centric. Cold Fusion had a heavy presence. The new “standards-driven” Dreamweaver MX 2004 also saw the spotlight as speaker after speaker lauded the updated CSS features that should have been implemented in version 4. The Flash mothership also dominated, but the design aspect took a distant backseat to the actionscripting and development end. Discussion about Fireworks was minimal; Freehand was almost nonexistent. Methinks Illustrator’s once great rival is all but dead.

Macromedia also introduced their new product Breeze, which is an online meeting and presentation tool. It directly competes with the clunky WebEx, and is an amazing piece of software. Basically, a presenter can give a beautiful, fully optimized, PowerPoint-on-crack meeting to anyone with a web browser. Good stuff, and an interesting direction for the company.

For all the classes I took, I found the non-product related ones the best. I tried to get into as many usability and web standards sessions as possible, and while the speakers largely reiterated best practices in the web design world, there were some nice surprises as well. One speaker from a Boston firm that focused on user testing demonstrated just how poorly Disney’s Flash site is designed. Good times.

And of course there was the highly underwhelming party at the Olympic Oval thursday night. While tremendous amounts of beer managed to dull the noise from the three mediocre “DJ’s,” there just wasn’t much to do beyond watching ice skaters fall on their asses. Next year, the conference will be on the East Coast, and I’m personally hoping for Boston or New York.