A Hybrid’s Fear

The title’s a statement, but to me it’s a question. Maybe I have low self-esteem and don’t know it, but I could of sworn that someone who comes from Java, and has a year experience in Flash vs. someone like me who comes from Rollerblading and a brief stint in Director is certainly worth more than me. In what context is worth? In terms of marketability to an employer for a “Flash Job”.

This by no means implying that they, a Java programmer utilizing Flash, is better than me at accomplishing a task set before them. Anyone feels the need to test my skills, I reply with a “Bring it the *beep* on, sucka!” However, they do have many advantages, the key mainly being comfortable with OOP, design patterns, and experience in another mature language to give their new world context to compare things to. My compensation to that is to lay down some timeline skillz with design funk, drop some audio talent, and crank the video utilization to create a top notch presentation; the Rich in Rich Internet App.

Now, it’s not fair to clarify and attempt to nail down a recent job title in the technology world, especially the progressive one we’re in. However, it’s what I have to work with, time is short, and we need to move forward towards a point. The work people are doing with Flash has been diversifying since the days people started screwing with it. Animations, banner ads, prototypes, alternative graphic format, devices, web applications, Flash panels, stand alone fat client’ish applications, integration with other fat/thin clients, web meeting platforms, interactive videos, kiosks, eLearning… all are marketable job positions, excluding alternative graphic format. That, to me, is given to SVG. That’s how every firkin retarded article starts. Blah, blah, blah… vector render via XML, blah, blah, blah…

The same java programmers I’ve been answering questions for the past 2 years suddenly get to my level, and then start surpassing me. Granted, it’s funny to see them wielding around terms like “abstract classes” and bitching about the limitations of interfaces this, and frame delay that only to scream like a little girl when they have to do something timeline related. The pleasure is short lived. I see on the horizon an upgrade to Flash satisfying my soldiers in arms, the designers. The only reason I program Flash is so I can hang with designers. Granted, my last 2 jobs I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to work with some insanely talented and intelligent developers from all disciplines in which I siphon as much knowledge as possible before I get shot by the duck with the gun. Regardless, my technology is successful for one reason: my stuff is cooler than the regular stuff. Period. Point-blank. I look cooler than you, and even if I don’t work as well, the user thinks I do. And that good looking candy has spawned Flex to satisfy the bored Java developers who already have a phat language but lame ass GUI… until now. “Son of a…”.

So, uh… the new Flash WILL have developer improvements, but I’m not sure how many developers will stick around. I mean, Flex has cooler stuff than Flash has; a few extra controls, fixes, layout classes, etc. The development paradigm is largely familiar to most developers it seems, form based which I hear is popular amongst them, and has already taken off with some great fanfare. Difficult to see a rocket launch into outer space here in Atlanta since Houston, Texas is faaaaarrrr away, but I know it happened, listen to the news, and see it on TV. Same with Flex. Hell, if people like Darron Schall can make money, and have positive things to say about Flash forms, I’m clearly missing part of the picture.

And finally, the point. People seem to think I don’t give myself enough credit, but as far as I’m concerned, I have about 6 months left to be “complacent”. It’s only natural that as a technology becomes successful, supply seeks to balance out the demand. As an early adopter, however, my door prize is merely a head start. I feel I am valid in my worry about needing to ensure other areas of my technological knowledge and talent base are covered, mainly towards those experienced, “true programmers” who have embraced Flash. Maybe there’s solace in coding Flash 4 on a Palm Pilot. …naw, heck with that. I like competition, don’t get me wrong, but it seems the fear isn’t valid via others’ questioning, but I think it is.

BTW, 6 months is merely a guesstimate on past timeframes of technological vs. business need changes in terms of what is in demand.

Mention of Flex’ positive response, near bottom.

13 Replies to “A Hybrid’s Fear”

  1. One thing I notice from ‘real’ coders is that they freak out as soon as the code needs to handle graphics. THey have the logical side of the app down, but ask them to code a transition and oops!

    I’m the only full-time flasher at work but 3 other peeps (including one frikin’ genius) are coding in AS on a regular basis. But as soon as a project is beyond the ‘show a form, show another form’ stage, I’m the one who inherits all the work. Maybe they’re just scared or plainely uninterested. Only time will tell…

  2. That one’s easy; uninterested, hence my 2nd paragraph (which I just added so you might of missed it). A good looking image is nice to look it… and, that’s it. I’ve seen it in a few of their eyes. They go, “Cool.” And then go back to something more interesting.

    The ones that frighten me are the ones who do appreciate it… but they are few that I know of, thankfully.

  3. There was a time when some guy had the habit of telling me that the coding part should be a pice of cake as all the graphics been already made, my only answer was(more than a few times, till he learned)… “yeah sure, let me see what your stuff does besides the eyecandy…and btw, I can do the eyecandy too, you know?”, now that guy is my employer and pays me for the coding and the eyecandy :).

    I am the flash/audio/video master at work, and always, if it is more complicated than “gotoAndPlay()”, or makes noise, or have video, the other 3 guys (2 designers and 1 programmer) ask me to help with the work, and everything we do have some amount of that stuff, as we work for advertising firms all the time.

    So who worths more?, my guess is: the ones that make the real things happen? :)

    As we keep our own gears oiled and updated everything will be fine.

  4. make flash fun again, do it how you feel it, standards kill our creativity, we broke more ground when we didn’t know how it ought to be done ….

  5. My Brother, why let fear take over you! Do not think of the consequences, do as you would do, the consequences are the result of what you do.
    I know you would not really understand the meaning of the image on the followinig page (see link ahead), but it is something extracted and re-minted from Gita, a very sacred book of India; http://indiammug.com/archives/000093.php
    [btw, I went to learn java four years ago just to do actionscript]

  6. The user couldn’t give a flying crap about how elegant the code is — the only thing that really matters is how worthwhile they find the app. Oop, design patterns etc are only to make the developers life easier, but who cares about those people. If someone is a jerk, an easy to remember phone number won’t make them more popular.

    One of the best ways to tell the difference between those who can come up with things that others like, and those who can’t, is to divide them into two groups — people who have spent a lot of time rollerblading, and people who haven’t. I mean really, rollerblading is almost hockey, which is more enjoyable than sex itself. Hard to be dull after that.

  7. I hear that !

    The reality is, that MM needs the extra hands to make their stuff widespread in the enterprise. And as we all know that is where the big cheesecake is.$?

    But ever since the division of the designer and developer roles in Flash, it has become the ‘Other’ skills that the employers are more interested in.(And it has become more annoying:()

    [ie. In most cases, to get a good Flash job you need 4 years of Java, 5 years of ASP, MCP, MySQL, 4 years of PHP, 6 years of Photoshop, Illustrator, 100 years of whatever, etc…]

    I think what we need is alittle more focus on Flash. What do you think?


    wp

  8. I have to agree with Robin except on the rollerblade aspects. You shouldn’t get worried about stuff Jesse. These new/old programming techniques are just there to help you. Those things are great, but if they don’t benefit you don’t use them. It’s good to understand them, just cus it might make your life easier, but don’t feel that you HAVE to know them or use them. FLEX is a great tool, but it is somewhat more restricting than Flash because you loose the ease of the timeline. I don’t see it replacing it, just working with it. Flash is to strong a tool with the timeline to see it disappear (I think that is one it’s oddest yet most powerful concepts). Just have fun at what you do. Now… stop rollerblading and start skateboarding, that’s the real dilemma that you face ;).

  9. Let me tell you my case…I hold a Masters in Software Engineering a gold medalist and a very good programmer, but I didnt like programming I loved Design I started my carrer not as a programmer but as a Designer. Time went on but ActionScripting was in more demand than design and the pay was atleast double than Graphic Designer, now Iam doing ActionScipt back to square one, but let me tell you now I repend for it, Design was more satisfying as a carrer and I never went home tired even after long hours, I had a great deal of self satisfaction when I was a Designer, but nomore I have that satisfaction.

    Its doesnt really matter what you are doing (programming or design) what matters at the end of day is are YOU satisfied with what you are doing. And beleive me there is no profession which is superior or inferior than other, a programmer in no means is a big guy than a designer.

    On a side note I felt so happy to see so many people comment on this and encourage you and boost your confidence, we have a strong cohesion in the Flash community and I beleive thats one of the key factors for the success of Flash.

    Cheer up my friend there is nothing really to get bothered so much about.

  10. Thanks everyone, it’s nice to get others’ perspective. Every seems to be in alignment on “relax”, “your fine”, and “no worries mate”.

    Even reading through some 2 year old job proposal emails I had laying around in a resume folder, as sobering as re-reading those is, it’s nice to know I have a good foothold on this industry, and others agree.

    …I still think I need to learn a crud-load more, though.

  11. I think it’s time designers, who are as important as developers in determining a project’s success, were paid the same as developers for their talents. While elegant, scalable, reusable code is important, so is the client’s acceptance of a good GUI. These are equally important.

    My job involves all aspects of web development, from server-side programming to GUI development. One difference I’ve noticed in the area of design is less contention about what’s right and what’s wrong than is true for programming.

    Why is this? After all, visual designs can be every bit as “wrong” as code solutions. I thought about it, and decided it was a difference between programmers and artists. I’ve come to the conclusion that all programmers think they are geniuses and that is why they view each others’ work with such disdain.

  12. I don’t think I’m a genius; I think I’m just a normal guy in over my head. It’s fun, though.

    Following your logic, though, it’s tough as an employer to place a price on good design if you can’t nail down right and wrong vs. code that works and code that doesn’t.

    This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface pertaining to Information Architects, Usability Experts, etc.

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