Enabling Deep Linking in Flash – Changing my mind on experience sites in general.

I have been developing flash long enough to become jaded in regards to getting sent links to the newest hot Flash sites out there. Big deal. We have seen enough tweens and clever perspective tricks. Integrated video? How 2005. Blurs and dynamic dropshadows. *yawn* Granted, yes, the art is fantastic. The blurring of lines between video effects and Flash is awesome. But, the drawbacks have long been enough for me to say that a site should primarily be built with HTML and only have smatterings of Flash throughout it.

Where does this lack of enthusiasm come from? Partially from the fact that navigating a large monolithic 100% Flash based site is cumbersome. It’s impenetrable by search engines. It’s impossible to bookmark. Sending a URL for a specific screen/scene in a movie to a friend. Fuggeddabouddit.

Anyway… I’m starting to warm to the idea of some of the projects I have going at work because of some great new scripts coming out that allow us to get around some of those issues. The brilliant SWFObject was a great first step in solving the non-standard compliant “” tag issues. It serves up Flash, the alternate content and helps search engines by
providing a bit of meat to latch onto. The even newer SWFAddress is also a fabulous innovation by eschewing the deep linking issues inherent in a 100% Flash site.

I have a couple of projects currently inflight that will be deployed some time this quarter that will be using both of these libraries. I’m excited once again by the prospect of producing a Flash based site for a client. These scripts have freed me from my typical “killjoy” anti-flash stance by helping me be able to produce more accessible multimedia.

Looking Forward to in 2007: Industry

A little less personal than my last “Looking Forward” post, but also important. It’s difficult for me to sometimes separate the work I do, and what I am interested in in my spare time. I really like what I do, it’s true. So when things like this are set to happen, it just spills into everything else in my life.
So what I am I looking forward to in the year 2007 for the web design and multimedia world? Here you go.

  1. New OSes! - Woot! So OSX and Windows both have new versions coming out. Vista is out, OSX Leopard to follow in the spring. New OSes mean new features and new ways for people that consume the media I produce. This is almost always a good thing. The OSX Dashcode beta and the new Vista sidebar have lots of cool possibilities for new delivery platforms for the desktop RIA and cool widget-y toys everyone loves. It’s just a matter of time before clients start wanting custom apps made to run in dashboards and sidebars.
  2. Adobe CS3 – The first Adobe branded version of Flash will be coming out this spring/summer. I have dabbled in Flash 9 or CS3 or whatever they are planning on calling it and I have to say I am excited. Looking forward to Actionscript 3 and hoping that some other cool new designer features make it into the app. The authoring possibilities for mobile devices and the fact that the Nintendo Wii browser comes with Flash and the iPhone is also going to play Flash and I am pretty psyched to put some content out with this new toolset.
  3. Adobe Apollo Platform and FlexBuilder for Mac - Its a bold new world for the SWF. Branching out into RIA development a couple years ago with Central was a good try. Sort of. It had licensing issues and the runtime situation was confusing. Add to the fact that developing Flash RIAs with the Flash IDE isn’t easy and you have yourself a situation. The Adobe Apollo project looks like it will solve those problems and allow us to develop full fledged apps for the desktop without an external tool like Zinc (which I do use). Hardcore developers have long been using MTASC and Eclipse to develop apps and advanced SWF charting, etc. I guess I just wasn’t hardcore enough. I found using external compilers and opensource IDEs to be confusing and a little more than clunky. Did I not give it a good enough try? Maybe. I think its more likely that I just had too much bilable work to do to spend a few weeks testing out new workflows. Flex builder helps me (being a pretty mainstream Flash developer) get things done quickly without having to cobble together an IDE and complier setup. It just works. I have played with it and can’t wait to use it on a client project.
  4. Webkit Everywhere - The Engine used to render HTML in Safari is an opensource project called Webkit. Webkit is pretty decent. Fair rendering of CSS, nice typography (Drop shadows, etc.) The iPhone most certainly uses it. Adobe’s Apollo uses it. The opensource project looks to have some steam building up and it most likely will only be a matter of time before additional vendors use it. The more devices with browsers that are good, the better.
  5. Web2.0 Buzz subsides - Will the craze of gradients and rounded corners ever die? Sure. Will the thought that if you tag an item or add a taxonomy to a site give way to a dose of realism that not everything has to be social. I recently tried out me.dium. Blah. I don’t think I want to chat with other random nerds out on the WWW. I know enough nerds in realspace. I like that people are excited about the web again. I worked in 1999. It was fun. 2001-2002 pretty well sucked to be a web designer. Don’t want to go back there, but can we please not have to say, “it’s like flickr mixed with digg but with a folksonomy layer delivered via webservices.”

Anyway… thats some of the products/events, etc, in the web world I’m looking forward to. How about you?

From Digg: A List Apart: Quick CSS Mockups with Photoshop

I am kind of torn on articles like this. I realize photoshop/illustrator is a very useful tool for producing designs. A necessary tool, even. I also realize that Imageready/Fireworks are needed to compress the images to make them web friendly. I’m not above using Dreamweaver when needed to bang out a quick design or two as well… but call me old fashioned. I don’t like the XHTML/CSS output by design tools like Imageready.

Using the argument that this is for mockups/prototypes will only get you so far, in my opinion. Why not just send a JPG? An HTML page with a JPG placed on it? A flash prototype, anything… why am I so against this… I guess it’s cuz I know most people just won’t go up and clean up the CSS or the HTML and we’ll just end up witha junk markup, non semantic, non search engine friendly page.

Dreamweaver 9, you better be good!

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