8 Replies to “ActionScript.com Asks Me 10 Questions”

  1. I’ve been reading your posts for a couple of years now through fullasagoog, etc. and you seem to be knowledgeable concerning Flash and Flex. I love Flash (live and breath it) and I’m always confronted with a nagging question when I visit your site and in fact all of the well-known Flasher’s sites: why don’t you use Flash for your own site?
    I assume you’ve chosen HTML over your ‘Platform of choice’ because if you used Flash, your site would not be Searchable, bookmarkable and the BACK / FWD buttons wouldn’t work. Now if that’s the case, how can you propose to a company that they should use Flash?
    And the truth is, Flash can be Searchable, bookmarkable, etc (see http://www.sympleton.com).
    Shouldn’t we as Flash / Flex devotees be spreading the word through example? Shouldn’t we be trying to make Flash more mainstream thereby giving Flashers many more opportunities?

  2. To me, Flash Player is a great platform for building ubiquitous applications, offline and on, as well as accurately, branded portals.

    While I personally do not like developing applications in the Flash IDE anymore, I love doing it in Flex. I am no longer in online/offline (CD-ROM) artistic multimedia anymore, but if I was, I’d still be using Flash to do it. I also think, from what I’ve experienced, that Flash has a lot of great potential on devices, Japan non-withstanding.

    You’ve answered some of your own questions in your comment.

    First off, MoveableType outputs HTML, not Flash. So, by using MoveableType, I’m pretty much forced to utilize HTML, CSS, & JavaScript unless I do some serious re-work. If wanted to build my own blogging platform, I wouldn’t have installed and continued to use MoveableType. I did have to utilize Flash to prevent comment-spam, but that was the extent I’ve used Flash to modify MoveabeType.

    It works. Entering & formatting text works in the web interface they provide. If you’ve ever used a Rich Text Editor in Flash, they suck; they don’t work like you’d expect, they are slower than regular HTML form text, and the formatting isn’t as rich as it can be, nor does it support the suite of HTML tags you have at your disposal.

    My blog is a series of documents that discuss technology, mainly focusing on Flash & Flex, programming, and other personal interests. Those are written documents, linked together with the ability to respond and link to via trackbacking.

    Flash text support for reading is not optimum. While Flash 8 has Saffron, there is no easy way for me to get my MoveableType blog content to display in Flash 8 SWF’s; I’d have to build that and I don’t have the time to do that; I have a job to do.

    Secondly, while Flash 8 could display the text better, interaction with it brings new issues. HTML support is sub-standard, and the HTML 1.0 implementation has some display bugs. You cannot open a link in a new tab. Hyperlinks do give the option of opening in a new window, but that’s not why I use Firefox; it has tabs, and so does IE 7.

    Selecting text for copy is wonky; because of Flash being a plug-in with it’s own focus as well as focus within it, sometimes you can easily copy text, other times you can’t.

    It has it’s own right click menu that is not the standard browser one. This is confusing, and not overly useful.

    There is no way to control the font-size without copious amounts of ActionScript & JavaScript. I can hold Control + Middle Mouse, and change the font-size in both IE, Firefox, and Mozilla. You can’t do that with Flash without coding. My site uses CSS for controlling layout; making SWF’s obey that is hard, has a lot of overhead in components and time to ensure it parses your styles correctly. Even then, it doesn’t obey them all. Using something like DENG is a feat unto itself; why learn a Flash display engine when HTML already works?

    I can select an entire HTML page by dragging, you can’t in Flash (although you can in FlashPaper, but it’s slow). Printing Flash is wonky, whereas HTML prints easily, and is easy to port to PDF & Word for use in other areas; Flash text isn’t.

    I can right click on HTML elements to interact with them; like saving an image, opening a hyperlink in a new window; you can’t do that with Flash without coding.

    Image embedding in Flash’s TextField’s is extremely buggy, with little layout control; HTML has CSS & the box model.

    HTML is low-resource usage for displaying images and text and streams well. Flash is high resource usage.

    Navigating in HTML integrates with the browser’s history, and is usually bookmarkable. Flash requires a lot of coding and is challenging to make cross platform/cross browser.

    For documents, you expect to go forwards and backwards via the back-button; with Flash, you are usually creating applications, or handle the navigation internally, thus breaking the user’s expected way to navigate. Solving those usability problems can be done either by design or code… but again, it’s done for you in HTML.

    Because my site is static HTML, I’m extremely linked well in Google. While there are plenty of ways to get Flash indexed in search engines, why try? It’s easy with HTML; almost no effort is involved.

    Searching Flash content is also a joke; some SWF’s have static content in them, others don’t. Getting at that content forces you to view it in the SWF whereas HTML can be repurposed and screen scraped into other areas (Google Cache, Technorati, Blog trackbacks, etc.).

    To answer your 2nd question, Flash to me is great for those wishing to create multimedia content, video advertising on the web, and applications from small widgets to enterprise implementations.

    The catch-22, and why Slashdotter’s will never be satiated is that the best uses of Flash are usually put on Intranets and CD-ROM’s; therefore, you can’t link to them to show them. So, if you worked with me and saw the projects I get to work on, sure, you’d see great examples of usage, and understand why Flash & Flex are so useful to companies.

    Obviously there are some niche cases that use it well on the public facing web: Yahoo! Maps, Google Finance, Macromedia’s Weblogs, You Tube’s use of Flash Video, Jumpcut, Flickr’s photo apps, and other sport sites that use Flash as a sophisticated way of getting live data feeds, just like a lot of Stock trading sites do using real sockets vs. polling like AJAX usually does.

  3. I don’t see how the Slashdotters would think otherwise. It seems that most of Flash’s most visible proponents seem to agree with them that Flash (and therefore Flex) is nice and cute for ads, showing video, CD_ROMs and Intranets – but anything meaty and important that is going to be ‘public-facing’ should be done in HTML.
    I wonder if that is Adobe’s stance as well. Maybe it is. They certainly don’t use Flash on their site (nor did Macromedia) for anything other than pretty little displays.
    Anyway, thank you very much for your detailed response. I may soon have an opportunity to recommend (or not) Flex to a major University and I appreciate your thoughts.

  4. The 1 setence answer:

    If it is a website, it should be in HTML, CSS, & JavaScript. If it is a web application, Flex / Flash is a possbility.

    Granted, there are a myriad of ways to combine the two. A great example:
    – my website = HTML + JavaScript + CSS

    There is no reason why MoveabeType’s back-end administration couldn’t be done with a Flex front-end with the back-end done in Perl.

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