A News Flash 4 U

In Hindsight...

Today we take Flash sites for granted. Some of us love them, some of us loathe them. Flash is a great power and this power can be harnessed for good (creative interactive user interfaces) or for bad (ads, banners, intros etc).
I used Flash from the early days, and I loved it, but the further the Flash development went the further back I was left. From being a simple animation system, Flash today is an amazing world that is more of a scripting environment than a simple tween-the-ball system. Amazing. When Flash 4 was released I was quite impressed, I wrote this article in 1999-06-19, a lot has happened since.
Oh, and Macromedia has released a Flash Plugin for *nix systems, but there's still no native 64-bit x68 version, which means that machine at home, despite available workarounds, doesn't run the Flash plugin.

Well, how should I start this one...

I know: FLASH 4 ROCKS! There now... I remember Flash 2, it was really cool. Simple, cool. Compared to 'normal' HTML, you got full control, you got scalability, and you got buttons and sound. We all know that sound does suck on a normal HTML page. So does all the mouseOvers too. So flash 2 was pretty beat. Then we got Flash 3, which was a very good evolution of Flash 2. Flash 3 featured animated buttons, multiple actions per frame. Tell Targets, load movies and much much more. So, onto the stage waltzes Flash 4. WOW!

Flash 4's biggest news is...

forms and variables and basic programming features. WOW. Now you can throw away your sucky <FORM>:s and you buggy JavaScripts. In theory you can do a complete site with forms, chats, puzzles, games, information, websearches, you name it, in Flash 4. ASSKICKIN!

Design nerds might want to point out that you can now have cool palettes and you can include music in MP3 format, that's all cool improvements. But, the real improvement is the variables, text boxes, loops, functions and aaaaall that!
Macromedia has also improved the GUI a bit, not as much as I hoped for though. You can now edit your symbols in place, you can organize your libraries, you have support for multiple monitors, better timeline, with drag-n-drop features, auto-this-n-auto-that, and a few other work-faster-improvements.What I do lack from the new version is plug-ins and macros. Now wouldn't that be great, you could write your own plug-in, just like for Photoshop, you could also record your own macros, like the Photoshop actions. Now wouldn't that be really cooooooool! Next time Macromedia, next time!

With your favorite backend script, PHP, ASP, Perl, CF or whatever, you can now create a dynamic-totally-up-to-date website that that streams down to you audience, scales to perfection, includes working buttons, background music, sound effects, drag-n-drop. Even with asskickin DHTML, JavaScript and C:o, you cannot get a website as smooth as with Flash.
Downsides? Sure, It is, has always been and, probably, will always be a plug-in. We cannot change that. The browser versions will change in different pace than the Flash Plug-in. All operating systems/browsers won't have the Flash plug-in. When you encounter a smooth flash page with your browser, the plug-in must load and initialize and so on. It is not a part of your browser. The good part is that the plug-in is reeeeeeallly small, for my Win98/IE5 computer, it's only 160kb!
Another really bad downside is that it is not 'text-text' like this text is. 'Text-text' is searchable, indexable and for peoples with disabilities, you can have 'text-text' read to you by a machine or whatever comes handy. You will not get that from a Flash page. Sorry.

The question is, will the die-hard UNIX users accept that their computer is not capable of showing them the coolest Net-contents? Will they h4x0r your site 'cos you don't respect them? I have a friend, Mr. D, who says that he won't get the flash plug-in, because it is a plug-in. Now, how do I convey my message to him? Sorry, Mr. D, Flash rocks.

So, what will happen now? Well, probably some really cool nerds get to do awesome sites in Flash 4, they will get a bad liver from going to all kinds of web awards ceremonies and they will be rich and famous for their work in Flash 4. Good luck to yer, fellers, I'm jealous!

Mr D has answered this article, listen up!

Hey hey hey, hold your horses...
I'm the mysterious "Mr. D" that the Jokster is writing 'bout. The reason I don't like Flash is that most sites, that use it, forget that it's CONTENT we want, not flashy animations that takes forever to load or to watch through. I've seen my fair share of Flash-enabled sites, and most
of them just scroll around some text, and eventually you get to choose something... I usually don't get that far... File->Exit.. :)
Another reason I don't like Flash, is that it's not that good on Linux and Solaris, which is the operating systems I use most. But that's probably just a matter of time...