A Spark of Flash in Europe

Spark Europe 2005 SpeakerWe finally have a Flash conference of our own in Europe. Spark Europe was a blur of old friends and new, passionate presentations and community, community, community; Open Source Flash, Open Source Flash, Open Source Flash!

I'm on the train to the airport from the wonderful playground that the speakers were staying at; the hugely original Lloyd Hotel, and I still can't comprehend how quickly the past week has flown by and how exciting it all was. I was personally involved in events throughout the conference: Hosting the Open Source Flash workshop on the first day in which leading names in the Open Source Flash community gave presentations on their projects -- John Grden and Luke Hubbard on Red 5, the open source server for the Flash Platform, Francis Bourre (Tweenpix) on his new open source AS2 framework (Pixlib), Edwin van Rijkom on his hugely popular (and recently open-sourced) tool for creating Rich Desktop Applications (Screenweaver).

[Continued several days later]

Having almost shoveled myself out from under all the mundane administrative tasks (not to mention the mountain of mail, junk or otherwise) that had piled up in my absence, I've finally gotten the chance to finish off this post.

First off, and before I forget, big thanks to Stewart McBride, Carolina Stenstrom and the Spark Europe volunteers for making it possible. Not only did they have to struggle with the usual challenges of staging a conference of this scope but also with the unfortunate recent heritage of failed European Flash conferences. And they pulled it off brilliantly. Europe now has its own Flash Forward but with a distinctively European flavor and unique character of its own which I am sure will assert itself ever more forcefully as it matures with future conferences.

Personally, I left Spark recharged and rearing to go. The last few months have been somewhat of a low point in my life, with sweeping changes in my personal life and an extremely demanding yet thankless major project sapping my creative juices on the work front. In fact, I was seriously considering whether I should try something completely new. I still might (I seem to be terrible at having just one thing going at a time), but I know, especially after seeing the OSFlash community in the flesh at Spark (and meeting up with old friends and new from the Flash community), that I love this community and the people in it too much to ever leave. Guys and gals, we seriously have one of the coolest communities in the world with some of the coolest people I know and I'm ever thankful to be a part of it.

This is one of the most exciting times to be doing what we're doing. We had the initial bubble, the burst, the wobbly bit and now it feels like we're on a steady rise, up the crest of finally realizing the full potential of the Internet as platform, as was prematurely predicted quite a few years ago. Technology, tools and broadband are only just catching up to the hype of the bubble days and it's great to see certain applications emerging that not only feature rich interfaces, but are focused, task-oriented, well-layered and impeccably architected.

Flash has every potential to be one of the dominant platforms (if not *the* dominant platform) in this new era of the Internet as it is uniquely suited to the challenges of creating maintainable and scalable rich-client, always-connected and sometimes-connected applications with features such as real-time communication and collaboration. It is my sincere wish that the following months see Flash blossom into a true platform, with open protocols to ensure widespread adoption and support from the greater web community. I know that the Open Source Flash initiative and our passionate, energetic community of Flash developers are working hard to ensure that the Flash Platform has a long, bright future and I know that the wonderful people at Macromedia are working on the same thing with tools such as Flex 2, Flash 8 and the upcoming Flash 8.5 player and AS3.

It's been such a fun ride so far and it feels like the fun is just beginning