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Name: Joe Bowden
Company: Adobe Systems Incorporated
Title: Quality Engineer for the LiveMotion Development Team

LiveMotionCentral sat down with one of Adobe's Quality Engineer's for the LiveMotion Development Team to see what's what in this latest version of Adobe LiveMotion.

LMC: Joe, first we wanted to start out by saying thanks for taking the time for this email interview. We have been missing you on the forums, and understand that Adobe has been keeping you really busy. We look forward to seeing you again more on the Adobe LiveMotion U2U Forums.

Joe Bowden: Aw, shucks Jon...thanks for choosing me of all people for your interview!

LMC: As many of us see you on the U2U Forums, what do you exactly do for Adobe Systems Incorporated when your not breaking limbs on the slopes?

Joe Bowden: I often ask myself that same question!

But between breaking legs, eating out at Korean BBQs, and the enjoying Dirck Van Lieu's wonderful homemade pies for dessert, I am a Quality Engineer for the LiveMotion development team.

That doesn't necessarily mean that I have achieved a higher social standing than the rest of the engineers (quite the contrary, as my colleagues are so quick to remind me!), but that as part of the LiveMotion Quality Assurance team, I verify that the features and functionality in the product meet certain quality criteria before we ship it. This task is ongoing and lasts for the duration of a product development life cycle and beyond.

Some of the functional areas that I personally work on are export (SWF, QuickTime, Animated GIF, etc.), interoperability with Illustrator and Photoshop, and backward compatibility with previous versions of LiveMotion. Of course, I'm not the sole QA engineer working in all these areas, so if you find a bug out there, it was most likely something the other guy missed...

When I'm not too busy with the quality assurance thing, I like to look in and help out where I can on the LiveMotion U2U, and to a lesser degree, other forums like Flashkit and Macromedia's Flash forum. Will LMC have a forum? You may even see me here...

LMC: What role do you have in what happens in the U2U Forums, we have seen you say that you are just a visitor just like everyone else is.

Joe Bowden: T'is true...I am but a visitor to the U2U forums, just like everyone else! The forum moderators and the sysop take care of most of the day-to-day forum issues.

Unofficially, I guess that I am the Adobe presence in the LM U2U. This has become a de facto role for me that emerged when the LM U2U began operations back in March 2000, during the public beta for LiveMotion 1. During those chaotic days, there was not much of an Adobe presence on the forum, and I jumped in and began helping where I could. I found that not only was I able to help LiveMotion users, but that doing so became an invaluable source for acquiring more real-world testing scenarios and leads on bugs in the shipping product. I use the lessons I learn regularly when testing during the development of LiveMotion. I think this helps make LiveMotion a better product, at the end of the day.

But I'd be remiss if I didn't give my thanks to Lynn Grillo for helping out in our forum. Lynn is a GoLive evangelist, and a regular on the GoLive U2U (that is, when she's not giving GoLive and LiveMotion demonstrations for Adobe product tours and special events such as MacWorld, etc.). And she's way cuter than me, too... Thanks, Lynn!

LMC: As many of us are extremely excited to see the new release of LiveMotion 2.0, we can imagine how hard it was for you to keep it under wraps. How do you feel about this next step for LiveMotion, do you feel that the current LiveMotion Community will be happy with what they are going to see?

Joe Bowden: It wasn't easy to keep quiet! But I think that in this version, we have made a quantum leap in the kinds of things you can make with LiveMotion.

We have full product automation using JavaScript syntax to control every attribute available in the LiveMotion editing environment. In addition to writing scripts that control LiveMotion, scripters can also create Live Tabs that make it easier for non-scripters to reap the benefits of scripting (even ActionScript) in LiveMotion.

We also fully support Flash 5 ActionScript. There's a script editor with syntax highlighting and search and replace that allows you to write code directly to movie clip event handlers. We also have a debugger in LiveMotion that lets you set break points and trace variables to help debug scripts, all within the editing environment.

There is a new text engine based on Photoshop's that supports on-canvas editing and allows you to re-wrap paragraph text on the fly. And of course, we now support the native text tags for SWF, which means smaller file sizes on export.

In the timeline, we have adopted more of the After Effects conventions. You can now hide, lock, and shy objects in the timeline ("shy" means to hide the object in the timeline only, which reduces timeline clutter). We also support time-stretch for keyframes by holding down a modifier key as you adjust the object lifetime. You can reorder the object hierarchy in the timeline with drag and drop, and lasso multiple objects in the timeline with a click-drag. And finally, you can use hot-keys to animate specific object attributes in the timeline (such as "P" to display the Position stopwatch only)- this is another clutter-reducer and time-saver.

There is improved integration with Photoshop, Illustrator, with support for layer sets as well as the latest features of those products. You can now export streaming sound to SWF, so you can synchronize images and sound. You can also export to QuickTime, with full alpha channel support (you After Effects folks know what I'm talking about). Speaking of which, AE 5.5 users can now export their compositions to AMX format, which LiveMotion 2 can open. This creates a whole new world of AE and LM interop opportunities.

There are some features that we couldn't get to for this release, but I think overall, the LiveMotion community will find LiveMotion 2 to be an exciting product. And of course, I wouldn't be surprised to find more Flash users adding LiveMotion 2 to their toolbox.

LMC: Going over all the newer features of LiveMotion, were there any features the LM team wanted to add in this version but could not, such as SVG Export, QuickTime Import, or SWF Import. What kind of effect, if any, do you think this will have on LM2 among the web developer community?

Joe Bowden: There are always features that can't make it into the final product due to schedule constraints. But I think we have added enough value to LiveMotion 2 to make it a must-have upgrade for existing LiveMotion users, and a serious contender to Macromedia Flash.

In the past, many Flash users have said they couldn't look twice at LiveMotion until it supported scripting. I would like to welcome those users now: I think you will find a lot to like in LiveMotion 2!

LMC: With all of the new features that have been added, it is really impressive to see that Adobe has made the Application itself scriptable, allowing users to control the application with JavaScript, and creating Live Tabs. How important were these features to the LM Team?

Joe Bowden: Very important. This is one of the features that sets us apart from Flash.

Users can now script every attribute within LiveMotion. One of the key benefits is you can write a simple script that automates a task, then save and reuse it so you never have to perform that task manually again. Another useful scripting task is to write a script that creates complex, mathematics-based keyframed animation's in LiveMotion- writing a script can actually be easier and less tedious than setting each keyframe individually.

And then there are Live Tabs. A Live Tab is essentially an automation script with a graphical user interface. Live Tabs, which any scripter can write, will allow non-scripters to enjoy the benefits of automation scripting and ActionScript without writing a single line of code. A number of Live Tabs will be provided with LiveMotion 2, and more will be made available for free download from the Adobe Exchange site.

For instance, there will be a Mouse Trailer Live Tab available on Adobe Exchange that will allow users to dial in whatever settings they want for their mouse trailer, such as how many duplicated objects, their size, opacity, speed, and whether they spin about as they follow the mouse, etc. Using this Live Tab, anyone can make a mouse trailer in seconds. There's a TextFX Live Tab that makes it incredibly simple to create complex animation's for broken-apart text (or for any other object, for that matter). There's also a Slide Show Live Tab that takes all the drudgery out of making a slide show - just enter the path to a folder full of images, select the type of slide show you want, then click the apply button to make it all happen. There's a Star Tool Live Tab that allows you to create star geometrics with as many point and radius possibilities as you could ever want, and a Web-safe Color (hexadecimal) Live Tab. And more...

LMC: The program almost looks like the LM Team completely rebuilt the application from the ground up. I would imagine that is what had to be done in order to make the application scriptable. What are some of the more important changes that were made to LiveMotion 2.0?

Joe Bowden: A lot of things were either built, rebuilt or enhanced. Scripting is the most obvious example.

The LM2 text engine, based on the Photoshop 6 text engine, was essentially rebuilt from the ground up. Also, there were major architectural changes made to the import functionality in LiveMotion 2 that will make it easier to add other import formats in the future.

LMC: What kind of effect do you think LiveMotion 2.0 have on the SWF Community?

Joe Bowden: I think LM2 changes the idea of what is viable in a SWF authoring tool. People have more choices now for authoring to SWF, and this release raises the bar for the other applications.

LMC: Do you think LiveMotion 2.0 will have any effect on the MM Flash Community?

Joe Bowden: I hope it will make a very large splash in the Flash swimming pool!

With the addition of scripting and the enhancements we have made in that particular area, I think Flash users will finally have a chance to enjoy some of the animation features that make LiveMotion so easy and intuitive to user: A time-based timeline, rather than frame-based, which makes it a snap to change frame rates without changing animation timing. Object-based rather than layer-based focus, which provides much more keyframing flexibility. Closer interoperability with a suite of Adobe products and file formats.

LMC: After Effects 5.5 Supports an AMX Export, and LiveMotion 2.0 supports an AMX Import. How do you feel designers will be using these two applications in conjunction with each other, what kind of results can owners of both applications expect to see using the AMX Import / Export?

Joe Bowden: After Effects users need a way to add interactivity to their SWFs, and LiveMotion users can benefit from the enhanced keyframing capabilities in After Effects.

I think the immediate benefit will come to AE users who are authoring for SWF. Create your comp, export to AMX, then open the file in LM2 and add interactivity to your comp and export to SWF.

LiveMotion users will also benefit from After Effects visual effects and motion tools to create more complex animation's more quickly.

LMC: LiveMotion 2.0 and GoLive 6.0 are shipping together in the GoLive / LiveMotion Pack! This seems like a very aggressive strategy from Adobe's Web Department, do you feel that this strategy will help Adobe in getting Users of either application to try the other, as well as completely new users, buying a single package to meet multiple solutions?

Joe Bowden: That's a question that might be better asked of John Nack, one of the Product Managers on the LiveMotion team. However, it makes sense to me that with a bundle deal, more GoLive users will end up buying LiveMotion too, and vice-versa. Getting both programs at an attractive price also makes a lot of sense for people looking for better integration between their SWF and HTML authoring applications.

LMC: Any clues on what we should be looking for in future version of Adobe LiveMotion?

Joe Bowden: We'll keep surprising you!

But I think it's a safe bet that we will support even more import and export formats in the future, and continue to enhance the power and ease-of-use of LiveMotion.

LMC: Again Joe, it is always a pleasure talking with you, and thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, we look forward to seeing some of your new gadgets on the U2U Forums.

Joe Bowden: Thank you, and my compliments to you and Tono for all your work on I look forward to seeing all of you again on the LiveMotion U2U and LMC!


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