Feb '08

Adobe Master’s Tour – Munich and Frankfurt

The Adobe Master’s tour through Germany is off and running. Yesterday we had a great crowd in Munich, where about 360 of our closest friends joined us for an incredible 6 hours of fun with Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection, and today about 300 showed up in Frankfurt. Believe me, six hours is a really long time to sit and watch a demonstration, but it seems that everyone enjoyed themselves as they all stayed to the very end.

Unfortunately, even with six hours, there was still a lot that we wanted to cover – but we simply couldn’t fit it all in. And sadly, one of my favorite new features that I couldn’t get to was Spry. (Don’t worry, Spry fans – I’ll be trying to juggle some of the other features in order to get it in in future stops on the tour.) But for my friends in Munich and Frankfurt, I want to fill you in on Spry.

First of all, what is Spry? Well, Spry is an Ajax framework – or in other words, it’s a collection of JavaScripts which we’ve created for you to use to implement Ajax functionality in your web sites. While it is built directly into Dreamweaver CS3, you can use Spry with any HTML authoring tool – yes, even Notepad! But if you are a Dreamweaver CS3 user, before you dive into Spry, make sure to run up to Adobe Labs and download the latest version of Spry – version 1.6. This new version of Spry includes an updater for Dreamweaver CS3, which shipped with version 1.4, to bring it up to date with Spry.

There are several really cool new features in Spry 1.6. First of all, there are a couple of new Spry widgets (or interface elements) like a sliding panel widget which allows the visitor to visually scroll through a lot of information in a limited space. But for me, the best new feature is the ability for Spry 1.6 to overcome one of the shortcomings of Ajax – what happens if JavaScript is disabled?

Up to now, Spry used XML in order to retrieve data – but if no JavaScript is present, no data would display. Now, with Spry 1.6, we have the possibility to read HTML as a data source. What this means is that we can designate an area of the page as “the data”. When Spry reads the data, it automatically hides that designated “data element” and displays the page with the Spry enhancements. When JavaScript is disabled, the browser displays the data element – and with a simple rule or two in CSS, we can hide the empty “enhancements”.

Finally, Spry 1.6 also supports the ability to externalize all of the Spry code – including all of the JavaScript calls – meaning that the entire JavaScript is unobtrusive.

If you want to learn more, check out the sample files and documentation that comes with the Spry 1.6 download – or buy “Mastering CSS with Dreamweaver CS3” (the book I wrote with Stephanie Sullivan), which will be on shelves in a few short weeks (finally). Chapter 6 covers Spry, HTML DataSets, along with the Sliding Panel widget in-depth.

And now, on to Cologne and a nice cold Kölsch… Prost!

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