The Practical Take on Platforms

theFWA has a great set of quotes from leaders in the creative industry about what transitions like the one from Flash to other technologies really mean. Beyond the rhetoric, these are the tools of a community, and it is the creativity that is the real strength, not the platform. Also, a great Freudian slip in the use of the word “canvas” :

…”The relevancy of Flash and potential of HTML5 both lie in the hands of the creative community. More importantly, the future of the Internet remains a vast and exciting canvas so long as we seek to continually provide the most engaging and effective user experiences possible.”

Jared Kroff, Creative Director, RED Interactive Agency

2D GPU accelleration in flashplayer 11

Adobe has made every effort to embrace the huge landscape of user interaction with data devices and because of their close connection to the developer community and open source aproach, they are able to bring some excellent solutions to all developers quickly. The turn-around time is really quite astounding. (although, like any good new feature, we all wanted it yesterday!)

One of highlights of the new FP11 is the use of the GPU accelerated 3D api for 2D rendering, focused specifically on 2D games. Lee Brimelow has a great starting tutorial here. I am a big fan of write-once, deploy anywhere, and that has always been a core concept of Flash Player. Adobe has embraced platforms beyond browsers and beyond the Flashplayer itself, and this flexibility and lack of ‘ego’ make them a solid partner for designers and developers.  Some other great features in FP11 include native extensions, integrated runtime environment (basically no separate AIR download needed) and of course Stage3D (in cooperation with the best community-built 3D libraries!) and some good solid Flex UI components for mobile. So enjoy the new capabilities and the fact that Adobe does listen and cooperate and stay agile despite it’s strange position in a market with no direct competition but a constantly moving target.

Flash Optimization for iPhone

Flash’s strength has always been the write-once, deploy anywhere capability of the player. Fortunately this has carried over to the mobile realm reasonably well, although I personally don’t like using Flash (or any plugin, like HTML5/javascript) within a mobile browser since using a smaller screen works best with fullscreen interaction, and multitouch interfaces can present coupling and ambiguity problems.

That said, writing once and deploying as an app to multiple devices come with two prices – an incomplete API, and performance issues. The latter can be greatly affected by how code is written and what techniques are used or avoided, and any source of experimental results, like thie one below, are more than welcome. Still, Adobe has not only persevered but done an amazing job taking up the task of becoming not just browser independent, but mobile independent, leaving much of the quality risks and rewards to the programmers and designers:

The Software Event Model

This article by Ruben is a nice, jargon-free explanation of the AS3 event model, which applies to other languages in concept if not in syntax. It’s worth getting a handle on this powerful tool and also to keep in mind that it is not the only way to send signals between loosely couple objects in a software project. In fact the Signals and Slots methods used in other platforms such as Qt are very useful extensions of the event model. John Lindquist has a video tutorial using the AS3-Signals library for AS3 here. There is also Senocular’s post on the technical details of using the Event Model to handle how an event moves through you application

Museum Secrets interactive site

Some simple but effective  interactive learning going on at the Museum Secrets show site. Not pushing Flash to new functional limits, but a solid, curiosity-satisfying,  attractive presentation. The site as a whole has a good ‘my discoveries’ aspect which is essentially a list of deep links a user can collect from throughout the site content. What you might notice is the same recurring exploration interactive methods such as: “Choice and Outcome”, “Timeline explorer”, and “Hotspot Explorer“, and “Slideshow”. This demonstrates that modularity and variations on a theme can make for deeper, more  engaging interactive content.
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