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)