Thursday, 4 December 2008

5 tips for Flash developers in 2009

I've got lots of unused holiday to take this December, so I'm starting the end-of-the-year posts early. I have consulted my magic crystal ball, and here are my tips for Flashers in 2009
  1. Get out of the Flash ghetto. While I predict that Flash will own the plug-in space until at least 2011, it still seems like an exciting time to learn something new. One place to start might be learning C# - which you can use with Flash competitor Silverlight, XBOX360 game development framework XNA and the amazing Unity3D plug-in (which also lets you target Wii and iPhone). The spirits tell me that Java will also be having a renaissance, with the emergence of Flash rival JavaFX finally bringing native sound, video and vector graphics to the Java plug-in, along with a new scripting language JavaFX Script - which is spookily similar to ActionScript. If you really want to try something different (and you own a Mac) you could check out iPhone development and its scarily alien language Objective-C where square brackets are function calls! [yikes]! Not scary enough? With the mind-boggling Alchemy tool for Flash, could it even be time to learn C or C++?
  2. Learn some 3d modelling, animation and maths. PaperVision3D skills will still be in high demand throughout 2009, and of course CS4/FP10 brings limited native support for 3D, so expect even more gratuitous cover-flow interfaces on websites. I expect both Away3D and PaperVison3D to gain some new APIs for character animation, like the new bones support for Away3D. I'm increasingly of the opinion, however, that Adobe should not rely on Flash developers to do their work for them, and that an ActionScript-powered 3D solution will never be good enough compared to next-gen engines like Unity3D. The next versions of both Silverlight and JavaFX are going to have native 3D, and if Adobe doesn't pull their finger out soon, and beef-up the player with support with native 3D models, they are heading for an old fashioned ass-whooping.
  3. Listen to Grant.
  4. Learn Regular Expressions. When I say you should learn regular expressions, what I really mean is I should learn them - they've been taunting me ever since AS3 launched, but I've never got round to it, other than a quick /n here and there. Of course, you should use, not abuse, regex.
  5. Be a better engineer. As both the scope of Flash projects and the size of Flash teams get bigger, it is increasingly important to write readable, well-structured code, and in 2009 we should all take the time to try and improve our understanding of the core principals of object oriented programming - while not forgetting the creative side that makes Flash so much fun.
Have an awesome 2009 everyone! Remember to leave comments if you (dis)agree with me.

Creative Commons image by ambergris


Circstar - Derek Knox said...

I like the ideas. I personally am glad I learned AS3 and in looking at other languages I feel confident in learning them. OOP seems to be the underlying element within many of the languages available and I will continue my education of OOP and Design Patterns. I'm also digging PV3D and have for a while now, I just recently came across Unity and it is pretty sick as well. So much cool stuff, I just have to choose wisely so what I learn can better suit me in the future. Have a killer holiday.

wonderwhy-er said...

I must completely agree with you here. I am starting to feel strongly that Flash become to big for it's own good and starts to have problems. Or rather Adobe is not fixing some old ones and adds new ones with new features... And I am starting to grow tired from lame Flash IDE actions panel and many other small but bothersome problems.

Tough there are still reasons for me to stick with Flash and Flash IDE...

1) No real alternative... Silverlight is too green and Java for now has a bad reputation among noob web surfers... But C# and Java languages/platforms are like haven and earth in terms of software development process.

2) Then Flash IDE it self is the best solution I've seen to date to be able to do design till the last pixel and program in same place. Not perfect but best I've seen. I know Flex a little and worked in Java for a year and for desktop applications I use .Net but no IDE ever lowed me to design visual behaviors with such ease and depth.

3)Well flash is most popular platform so far so suits best for my current half time job as RIA developer.

4) Another one I can mention is that Flash is Adobe product and thus with each version it gets better and better integration with whole range of Adobe design products which allows to work with designers faster and more fluent. And that is something that .Net and Java may not "period"...

Anonymous said...

good lord! do you really think flash will be dead by 2011??

Wazoo said...

to @anonymous:

No he didn't say Flash would be "dead", he stated that Flash would simply own the plugin space until then..

Perhaps by 2011 Java or Silverlight will have a much larger piece of the pie than it does now.