Designer/Developer Workflow Recap & Slides

Designer / Developer Workflow Conference

Last weekend I had the pleasure of both attending and speaking at the inaugural Designer/Developer Workflow Conference (D2WC), held in Kansas City, MO. The conference is the brainchild of Dee Sadler. For those you who are not familiar with the name, Dee has long been an Adobe community leader. So, it is no surprise that she would create a conference exploring the connections between the designer and the developer.

The conference had many top-level speakers, including Doug Winnie, Adobe Principal Product Manager for Adobe Flash Catalyst, Flash Platform Workflow and WorkflowLab (as he put it: “the longest title at Adobe”); Ben Stucki; Chad Udell; Rob Huddleston; and the dynamic duo of Aaron Pedersen and James Polanco.

Doug Winnie's Keynote

Doug kicked off the conference with a great keynote that explored some very familiar workflows in “The Real Designers and Developers of Kansas City”. I really enjoyed Doug’s presentation, as it was a refreshing change from typical keynotes. Doug obviously understands workflow issues and is passionate about them. Each of six personas were grounded in recognizable situations (almost everyone in the room would nod in agreement as each of the workflow issues were presented). I later found out the ‘Chris’ persona was modeled after me. Thankfully, he chose not to use my photo.

Presenting

I personally had the pleasure of presenting two sessions. The first was “Prototyping: A Component for Successful Projects”. You can read a review of the talk on Doug Boude’s blog. I have placed the slide deck on SlideShare. I am not sure how useful they will be without commentary.

The other presentation was “Practical Design and Development with Flash on Mobile and Devices”. Originally, Scott Janousek was scheduled to present, but business issues forced his cancellation. Hopefully, I was a suitable replacement to talk about mobile development ;). I also have placed that slide deck on SlideShare. In case you were wondering, I once again created a mobile application for the conference.

Some of the great sessions I attended were Rob Huddleston’s “Flash Catalyst for Developers”, James Polanco’s (I never get first billing) and Aaron Pedersen’s “10 ways to please your Flex Dev”, and “Flash Game Design” given by Seb Lee-Delisle. But like any good conference, it is the conversations in the hallways and evenings that truly make the event. One thing I can offer as a piece of advice to any conference attendee, strike up a conversation with the speakers, they usually like to talk about stuff 😉 .

The biggest take away from all the sessions was, “having great communication within your team will solve a lot of problems (world-class tools help too!)”. I was reminded of a workflow issue I had about 14 years ago, but which highlights this so issue so clearly even today. I was working for an educational game company, using Macromedia Director (yes, I called it Macromedia Director!). In that version, image rotation was not possible. The interaction designer was not aware of this limitation, and had the art department (an actual art studio that had produced feature films), create an hour hand and a minute hand. She assumed that programmatically we could rotate the clock hand to the correct position. So the spec was written, the asset list delivered to the studio, then finally it was all given to the development team in massive three-ring binders, who had NEVER been involved with the project until that point (I love Waterfall development!). We quickly identified the rotation issue and informed the game designer. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to formally modify the art assets (version control issues), so a formal change request had to be made to the studio, that request was then placed in the studio’s queue, and 2-3 weeks later we would have a series of clock hands. I know, I know, this all seems incredibly maddening, and it was. It took all of 10 minutes inside Photoshop for the programmer to generate the proper assets and continue their programming of the game. How much time and effort could have been saved by having a developer involved in the process from the start? As you start your next project, look to your team and ask yourself how can you better work together?

Again, many thanks to Dee (and her two key helpers: Leif Wells and Lisa Heselton), for organizing (and inviting me to) this amazing conference. It was a huge success. Hopefully all of you will be able to attend next year and experience a first-class series of presentations and great conversations.

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