Flashback…

Published January 15th, 2006

So after a nigh-on four-year break, I’m working with Flash again. I wish I could say ‘it feels like yesterday’ but in truth, it feels like…well, four years: I’ve forgotten so much it’s depressing, and what little I do remember is mostly redundant.

There have been three new versions since I last spent any time with Flash (MX, MX2004 and 8 ) and Actionscript (AS) — which was really only just starting out in Flash 5 — is now on version 2 and looking much more like a ‘real’ (OOP) programming language. However I was surprised to find that it still feels rather like the integration of AS and the rest of Flash (ie. the timeline, movie clips and so forth) isn’t quite as tight as one might have expected: AS feels like something that has been bolted on afterwards. Having said that, it would appear that Actionscript 3 — currently in alpha — will finally achieve true integration. I look forward to trying it out.

In the meantime, I’m still finding my way around the quirks of AS2 in Flash 8. In some ways, I feel that having been away for a while — and developed my skills as a programmer — has in fact been an advantage. For one thing, I now have more discipline when it comes to planning complex projects. And I’m more familiar with OO practices, so instead of trying to make a Flash app with OO trimmings, I’m trying to make Flash work like I think an OO app should.

But I also feel a bit sad to see how far Flash has come. Back when all one had to play with was movieclips and buttons (in Flash 3) , there was real fun to be had using one’s ingenuity to achieve things that no-one would have thought possible. With the addition of constructs like loops and conditionals in Flash 4, there was even more scope for lateral thinking. But now that Actionscript is capable of controlling virtually every aspect of Flash, and Flash itself has become more powerful, much of that feeling has gone. Well for me, at least.

Of course I’m just a sad old geek harking back to some mythical golden age (all of six or seven years ago!). And now I’m doing this stuff for a job rather than just for fun. And I don’t have the free time I once had to tinker around, just for the heck of it. It is still interesting to get back into Flash, even if only for a short time — very different than hacking PHP for a living. I’m not sure if I’ll be inclined to stick with it once this project is finished, although it might happen — you never know, I might even write a new tutorial or two!

But don’t hold your breath…8)

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4 Comments

  1. Phantom on January 17, 2006

    I too, have had to go back to Flash for a small work project after a similar amount of time – can it really be 3 years??!?? Time flies when you are having..erm..something.

    Personally, I have not enjoyed it. Like you, it seemed to take me ages to get ‘back in’ to that way of working.

    In order to speed up the process of completion on a tight deadline, I simply stuck to Flash 5 instead of using one of the newer versions.

    I remember now, why I stopped using Flash a few years back. Added to which, flash sites are so cliche’d these days, I am not enjoying the results.

    P~

  2. Stickman on January 17, 2006

    This isn’t for a web site, so it’s a bit different.

    I went for Flash 8 because I wanted to take advantage of the new OO bits. It’s not perfect but it’s an improvement — I’m actually quite happy with the way the project is shaping up. If I had more time, I might well get back into writing tutorials and widgets and things.

    But it probably won’t happen…

  3. ring bereer on February 8, 2006

    YO IM DOING a stick man thing at the moe do u have eney tips for me ???

  4. Stickman on February 10, 2006

    Umm…learn to spell?

    I’m sorry, I’m more a code guy, animation isn’t my thing. The stickman combat animations have nothing to do with me.

    But anyway, best of luck with it.

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