Anyone Ever Use Macromedia Central?

  • graphixboy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Anyone have any experience with MM Central?

http://www.macromedia.com/software/central/ It looks like a pretty good concept but it would be nice to hear from anyone who's used it.

Also if you have developed an app with it, whats the catch? Free SDK and Free Player even if it does extend Flash seems like a strange move for macromedia.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • lostinbeta
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I beta tested Central back before it's final release (no I'm no one special, it was a public beta), it was a pretty nifty program with a lot of potential. I suppose essentially it's just a more compact version of widgets like in Macs Dashboard in their OS.

Most people probably won't have a need for what Central can do, but those who do can find Central very useful.

The only thing I ended up using it for was quickly determining what the weather in Elkton, MD was going to be without having to go to any website and check it up. You could store multiple locations in a dropdown in the weather tab. That and at that time it was pretty much the only program that knew Elkton existed.

Enough babbling, I think in general Central doesn't have much use to people, perhaps that is why it is offered for free. It has useful tidbits, but not really anything you can't get for free off the internet with just a tad bit of extra effort. I know I'd use the extra effort to get it for free rather than pay for a program that will do it for me with just a little less effort (but I'm cheap like that...lol).
  • brutfood
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Ok, I'm compelled to join this bulletin board just to reply to this!

Central is a developers release. Not a final product. Unfortunately, it has been a developers release for too long, and consequently lost much of its initial enthusiasm and following.

Amongst the developers who are still on board, there are TWO distinct views of Central that suggest Central should be split into two products for two different markets. Central currently sits halfway and doesn't match the requirements of either camp.

1. Professional/corporate-use/enterprise/branded-application market. Central applications for specific clients, and internal consumption. Central doesn't currently suit the requirements of this market, as developers are concerned about the user's choice of using competing applications, or being presented with irrelevant applications. Central branding is an important, and frequently highlighted barrier to these developers and their customers.

2. Developers like myself are interested in a Central for widespread public consumption. We'd like to see Central launched to the public via Macromedia's allies, Yahoo and AOL. We'd like to see the next generation of chat services, email clients, and internet services written for Central. We want a popular open vehicle, consumer choice, data blasting etc. If the Central Branding helps us sell more applications, then we're happy with it. Central currently doesn't suit our requirements because its user base is far too small to support the cost of developing applications. Developers who develop for Central, do so as a leap of faith, with no indication of when Central will be launched to a mainstream audience.

graphixboy - that's the catch.

Central 2.0 MUST rectify this situation. Technical enhancements won't be enough. Macromedia HAVE to announce their plans to market Central to a mainstream public audience.

I think the best way to achieve this will be to combine it with the next version of the Yahoo or AOL desktop chat client. (Yahoo and Macromedia have collaborated already on the Toolbar/Flash Player bundle). Combining Central with the Chat client would be an awesome win-win collaboration. Rapidly propelling Central to a mainstream audience, as well as bolstering AOL/AIM/ICQ with third party Central application added value.

Central, and Flash on the desktop is also a vital part of the truly ubiquitous services vision, accessible anywhere: Desktop - mobile.


lostinbeta: "just a more compact version of widgets like in Macs Dashboard"

Central is often compared with Apple Dashboard. Yet Central is a very different animal, with a different purpose, and it has the potential to be so much more than just widgets.

Macromedia could learn from Apple's approach though. Apple made clear their intention to release dashboard to the public. They focussed developer activity on a launch date. Developers knew what it was for, and who the intended audience would be.


lostinbeta: "I think in general Central doesn't have much use to people"

I couldn't disagree more.

Lostinbeta, you are not typical of the intended mainstream audience for Central, or the sort of person I've built my applications for. You have the technical expertise to make your own website, flash-site, e-commerce site, database form service etc. Most people don't have the knowledge to do these things themselves. The applications that I've written empower such people to write to the internet, to use it for their own purpose - as opposed to being just a passive consumer of other-people's content.

Also bear in mind, that my version 1 applications are just my first shot at the problem. I have big plans for version 2. As well as taking advantage of maelstrom, these will feature improved interfaces, be easier to use, and more streamlined importing from e2paint, e2draw into e2create etc.

So don't judge Central on what you see now. Once the financial incentive exists for developers to improve and port more applications to Central, you'll be surprised at how rapidly this will happen.
  • lostinbeta
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Post 3+ Months Ago

@brutfood: Thanks for the info. As I said in my last statement, the last time I used Central was when it was first released in beta, I'm sure it's come so far since then and that new and outstanding applications have been made for it (such as those found on your site... good stuff!)

At the time I tested it I believe all you could do was check the weather and movie theater times in your area... and search for new Central applications. I thought that was pretty much the extent of Central, getting local info presented to the user easier or whatever. Nieve opinion at best, but that was so long ago, and I never even bothered to check up on how Central was doing since.

My fault for posting such un-education statements.
  • graphixboy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Thanks for posting brutfood. Your post helps out a lot. Any chance you could tell me some of the key differences to deploying an application with Central vs. witht the flash player or via director? Also when is it an advantage to deploy with Central instead of the other two?

Thanks again for the helpful comments
  • brutfood
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Central has its own user interface component set. Scrollbars, tabs, menus, etc. The SDK has plenty of documentation about using these. However, you don't have to get embroiled in these to deploy applications to Central. In fact, my own applications don't use these.

There's a huge existing resource of browser-based flash applications and services already out there on the internet. If Macromedia provided the incentive - these could easily become Central applications.

It is extremely easy to deploy existing (browser-based) flash .swf sites to Central, with just a few modifications.

1. Include the following functions that Central calls: OnActivate(), OnDeactivate(), onResize(), and getMinimumSize(). - see SDK doc. Also stick in a Central.initApplication(this, this);

2. Central itself sits at _level0, and your application gets loaded on top on this - so you may have to think about modifying some paths in your code.

3. Register and list your application. ( http://www.macromedia.com/devnet/central/ ). Set up a product.xml and installation badge on your website. You may even want to incorporate COLA for handling payments.

That's all there is to it! Although you may also want to take a look at exploiting other Central features such as caching, online/offline detection, file uploads and saving.

Why deploy to Central, as opposed to a stand-alone executable/projector?

Well, if Central lives up to its promise, the most compelling reason would be the awesome market presence of the Central alliance. Yahoo, AOL and Macromedia. This would translate to an awesome number of users getting possible exposure to your (subscribe to use) application. - but as I said before - right now, it's a leap of faith.

Other advantages of Central are that it's Cross-platform, it can work online or offline, and there's the automatic update capability when you release a new version of your application.

Disadvantages? As I said before, some developers dislike the openness of Central. They don't like choice to use competing applications, or the Macromedia branding of Central, as opposed to the fully customised look of a stand-alone application.
  • lostinbeta
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Post 3+ Months Ago

@brutfood: Are Central developers nervous about the Adobe/Macromedia merge? I mean, I know everyone is, but Central is still just a developers release... do you think Adobe will scrap the project?
  • brutfood
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Post 3+ Months Ago

There was uncertainty. Not any more.

Since the merger, Macromedia have made public their intention to release Central 2.0 in their quarterly reports. Central has a prominent place in Kevin Lynch's white paper on the Flash Platform ( http://www.macromedia.com/platform/ ). Also Macromedia started discussions with developers asking them what they want in the next version. (Central dev-list and JD's blog).

So it looks like Central has a bright future. Possibly even stronger with Adobe's weight behind it too.

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