Flash: going cold turkey

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Flash: going cold turkey

Postby webyarns on Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:04 am

After having completed one piece without using Flash http://www.ABCsofUFOs.com, I am trying it again. Anyone who has used Flash knows how versatile it is. The empty canvas of the Flash stage offers limitless possibilities as to what can be created, and it is not fussy about how you get there. Throw down some digital "paint," and does Flash ask if Internet Explorer will be able to see it? Mix in some code, and does it beg (like Internet Explorer) for another snippet or two even though no other browser in the world requires it? Flash is forgiving, and Flash is not at war with the rest of the world, like IE is. A Flash file always works in IE (as long as the player is installed), but when it comes to html/CSS/Javascript, it's another game entirely.

Which makes it so difficult to leave Flash behind and work in HTML/CSS/JavaScript. In this realm, it's a daily struggle to make things happen that, in Flash, would take ten minutes. You name it--tweening, swapping images, adding sound, shaping text--in Flash it's, well, a flash.

Another thing that bothers me is that in html, it's all essentially squares and rectangles. Sure, you can make a shape, but positioning it on the page is nowhere as easy as in Flash, where it's basically just drag and drop. Am I alone in this? Do I know so little, having traded quite a lot in Flash for the miniscule amount of what I know in html/CSS/Javascript?

Right now, my frustrations are tempered somewhat by the few successes I gain. But it's difficult, and I am not sure html/CSS/Javascript is up to what I can imagine for the page.
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Re: Flash: going cold turkey

Postby dreamingmethods on Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:23 pm

Thanks for this post Alan. I think your thoughts and sentiments about Flash are shared with a lot of digital writers at the moment - it's a tool that has provided an amazing canvas for so many great works of electronic literature (including most of the short listed New Media Writing Prize entries, plus both actual winners so-far) and yet the fact that it is unsupported by Apple and being pushed out by HTML5/Javascript remains, in my opinion, very under discussed in this scene.

I would be interested to know what you think of Adobe Edge - have you tried the free preview of this? Sure, it's lagging behind Flash by several light years at the moment, but for basic open source animation and interactivity, it's quite promising. I'm waiting for the software to be able to handle HTML5 video and audio - then I might give it a serious run for its money.

Personally, when developing in open source, I do not even worry about what my work looks like in Internet Explorer! Explorer is just endlessly frustrating, even at version 9, with its own bizarre behaviours and quirks. All other browsers give a consistent result - give or take the odd padding or margin difference - so I'd rather develop for Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Opera before going back and seeing what IE is willing to make of my creative output.

Developing in HTML used to be extremely squares and rectangles based, but it's much less so now with HTML5 Canvas and absolute positioning. But there are still no massively reliable tools - the Flash Professional software equivalents - for drag and drop building of HTML and Javascript as far as I'm aware.

I found the move from Flash extremely frustrating and difficult at first. jQuery was the only thing that made even a small amount of sense, but now that I've invested a lot of time learning it, I'm not too keen to go backwards. Javascript and Actionscript share a basic similar command syntax. Although it starts at the absolute rock-bottom, I've found http://www.w3schools.com/ to be a handy place to learn from.

Anyway. One of the main reasons for the existence of this forum is - at least I hope - to help each other out - as digital writers - with the barriers and frustrations of technology when we are trying to realise our creative visions. So if you are hitting stumbling blocks when developing your latest work - please post here!

What else does anyone think about Flash versus HTML/Javascript? Anyone else making this transition?
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Re: Flash: going cold turkey

Postby crissxross on Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:41 pm

Alan & Andy, thanks for your thoughts on 'Flash v. html5/javascript'. I've been learning html5 & javascript/jQuery but, other than starting to use it in a workaday fashion in standard web sites, I haven't tried to do anything creative with it yet. I've been impressed and encouraged by what you've both achieved.

However, I still have a lot of hope for Flash, largely because of games development. As I'm sure you know, Adobe has repositioned Flash as a technology for games and apps. Delivered via AIR, it's a cross-platform medium for mobile devices too, including iOS. Since my personal creative work is developing in a more game-like direction, I'm hoping that the Flash+AIR combo is really going to stick. I haven't tried to publish via AIR yet but I intend to do so soon(ish :-) ). I'll let you know how I get on.

Since getting my iPad, I've found that, for me, it's the ideal device for reading/playing e-lit (or would be if there was more e-lit available for it). It means I'm not stuck at my desktop computer 18 hours a day. Which reminds me, have you tried iSwifter for iPad? It's "the world's first cloud-based Flash browser" - http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/iswifter ... 57173?mt=8
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Re: Flash: going cold turkey

Postby dreamingmethods on Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:33 am

Hi Christine,

Thanks for this. Interesting to hear your thoughts.

Yes indeed Flash is changing from something that is handy for animated/interactive bits of web content - which jQuery/HTML5 has pretty much replaced - and concentrating on what it does best - super rich media/games. Because of its new Molehill/Stage 3D capabilities, I'm intending to use it with 'R' as an alternative where browsers do not support WebGL. So I'm not abandoning it entirely by any means.

I have spent quite a bit of time looking into the mobile potential of AIR/Flash and I don't feel all that convinced. There seems to be a lot of re-scaling involved for different screen sizes and the procedure for getting anything from Flash to native iOS (admittedly I'm using Windows) is extremely - unnecessarily - complicated. I've had Dreaming Methods iOS apps installed provisionally on my iPad and they've staggered like hell performance-wise. Very disappointing.

I'm experiencing good results at the moment via HTML5/jQuery in combination with AppMobi - a browser-based app development environment that emulates devices, allows easy cross-device testing and can also compile to native apps if required. There are a few technologies along these lines - another one is PhoneGap, which also looks hugely promising, and I think Adobe have acquired recently.

Anyway. All of these technologies have their benefits and pitfalls - so I guess in some respects it doesn't matter what you use to realise your work, as long as you reach the platforms you want to reach, you enjoy making it, and the work itself represents your vision as best possible.

iSwifter is good yes - cool to be able to experience Flash-based e-lit on the iPad. Most of it works frighteningly well too, and looks great. What a shame it's not natively supported; with so much Flash-based e-lit around, I'm sure if would have helped it reach the wider audience it deserves and fight against the daft parallel world that seems to be opening up between digital writers and publishers.

Andy
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Re: Flash: going cold turkey

Postby webyarns on Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:53 pm

Thanks for the insightful comments, Andy and Christine. You've given me a lot to think about...

An FYI on iSwifter. It is a great step forward, but as you've probably noticed, it doesn't do so well with mouse-over events. Otherwise, it's very nice to see a little Flah on an iPad!
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Re: Flash: going cold turkey

Postby jim@vispo.com on Sat Mar 17, 2012 10:39 pm

Hi Andy and Christine,

HTML 5 is nowhere near as powerful as Flash. And it's very annoying that Apple is not supporting Flash. Flash runs fine on my Android.

I'm currently trying to learn PhoneGap. PhoneGap, which was developed in Vancouver, where I live, is a tool that lets JavaScript developers create mobile apps with their JavaScript code that can go in the app stores.

Phonegap supplies two basic things. An API via a .js file that lets you access things like the mobile accelerometer, camera, and so forth. The hardware associated with mobile devices. But, also, it supplies a compiler in the sky. The compiler in the sky cimpiles the code to iPhone, Android, Symbian, Blackberry, and maybe something else.

Haven't really understood all this crap yet. But will be teaching a course on it in July so best get at it.

Mobile apps are clearly the buzz these days. I'm not very interested in buzz, but it's also where there is a little bit of interest, money, and action. So we'll see if the old dog can learn a new trick. :roll:
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Re: Flash: going cold turkey

Postby dreamingmethods on Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:37 am

Hi Jim,

Thanks for this. Really interested to hear you are looking at PhoneGap. I've been curious about that technology for a while - but haven't quite got around to giving it a go. It would be great to hear more about your experiences with it on the forum. Could be a good solution.

I've been tinkering with AppMobi http://www.appmobi.com/ - specifically their Hybrid Mobile Apps XPI. It's completely browser based and has a similar claim to PhoneGap in that it compiles 'native' apps in the Cloud. Again, yet to give it a true test due to lack of time, but really optimistic about the approach.

Are you looking to compile to Apple iOS via PhoneGap? You'll still need an Apple Developer account, probably. Let me know if you want to borrow/share mine for testing purposes, happy to let you have access.

I would be coming to your course in July if I lived a bit nearer, I tell you :)

Best regards,

Andy
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