links for 2011-01-31

links for 2011-01-29

What Flash Needs to Remain Relevant in 5 Years

A word of warning: This isn’t your Grandma’s Flash bitching post. Now, that understood. Let’s begin.

I’ve been designing and developing in Flash since version 3. I love Flash. These days, it’s not easy to say that without being strung up or causing a Twitter riot. As the RIA and experience site market starts to evolve beyond the idea of using a web plugin, where does Flash fit in? How can it grow to expand into new markets and stem the tide of shrinking markets? As a designer/developer in the Flash and larger interactive world for over a decade, I’ve seen a lot of tech come and go. I’ve used Flash in a lot of non-traditional formats and delivery methods. Some for better, some for worse. Increasingly, as experiences become richer, smaller, more connected and constantly evolving, I’ve noticed a number of areas that Flash falls short and we have had to use tools like Cinder, Processing, Unity and others to accomplish the clients goals. Additionally, the bottom end of the Flash market, slideshows, simple animated headers, photo galleries, etc. are increasingly using JavaScript to provide a very equivalent experience without needing a plugin.

So, if you’re a Flash designer, you may ask yourself… and Adobe, for that matter… Where does the Flash platform go and what does it do to remain relevant in 2015? I have a few ideas. Open your mind and let’s explore.

  1. Ability to target BIG ass canvases: simulatanesous displays, digital signage, installations – Right now, Adobe is Flash pretty much unusable at 1080p+ resolutions for any but the simplest efforts. I could never consider using Flash for a high end signage or installation piece. This effectively cuts Flash out of billboards, Time Square or even museums and exhibits for that matter. I know some may argue this point, but consider this. I can use Quartz Composer or a tool like Processing and create a rock-solid GL accelerated experience that barely touches the CPU, runs at 60FPS+ and pretty much never ever crashes in just as much time, or perhaps less that I can with a Flash platform project. When you factor in all the awesome C libraries out there like OpenCV, Box2D and more that add fantastic capabilites to these pieces and you can see quickly that Flash has a big issue in this area.
  2. To eat it’s young to survive: PDF, JPEG, Mp3 encoding – Roll it into the player as core API functions. Yes, I realize these libraries may cost money. Yes, I realize that they will add to player size. But, here at this point 2011, it should be self evident with the number of community projects out there based around simple utility classes and libraries like AlivePDF, that people want this functionaity in Flash Player. The player size argument is pretty much irrelevant at this time as well.
  3. To add a CLI Language interpreter for wider developer accepatance – I know what you are thinking, “This could also be accomplished by using Alchemy“. Not so fast… that’s not what I am asking… I’m not looking to using C/C++ in Flash, I want to be able to use Java, C#, Obj C or any other number of languages to write SWF content. Think about the instant developer support you’d get if you could compile something like Python or Ruby to Flash. I know of the community tools popping up around this, PySWFTools, Haxe, etc. The market for this is the new to Flash developer or the expert ActionScripter who has outgrown AS3 and wants to branch out… Twitter is full of developers like this. Some of the more well known Flash superstars have moved on because of this. A related thing they could investigate would be making a simple version of the Flash authoring tool for gradeschoolers. Flash LE or something… Work with some CS and Learning pros and build a elementary school curriculum around entry level programming. Flash is so visual, kids love it! Get developers hooked young and build a lifelong affinity for the brand!
  4. Purchase/Adopt a highly performant renderer like Cinder/OpenFrameworks/Processing to augment it’s performance and buy market share for high end applications, data visualization and rich media displays. This might not be purely just Flash… It is related to item #1, but at this point, asking Adobe to turn Flash into a Ferrari like OF is probably too much. Perhaps a new tool is needed. A new output format… A revitialized Shockwave using new guts from a high performance toolkit, if you will. Something totally new. Whatever the case… I want to use Adobe tools to target 20,000 pixel wide canvases and multiuser, multiscreen experiences. Do you see Flash being used on Cable news networks to power election night graphics? How about all those new Digital Signage systems in airports and restrooms? No? Why not? Adobe needs to be there.
  5. To get over its iOS loss and move on. Target the devices via Apps and HTML5. We’ve been hearing it for two years now. Use the iOS packager, don’t use it. Use it. It is getting better. It is almost usable. Hmm. Well at this point, I can’t see myself recommending using this for any commercial work. It’s too slow, too clunky. No native control options and poor and inconsistent API access make it a non-starter for me. I think they’d have better luck turning Dreamweaver into a PhoneGap authoring tool. That’s not really even a joke.
  6. Fix its LLVM – platforms are expanding. iOS may really only be the first to shun plugins. Why wouldn’t Google kick Flash out of Android or Chrome at any given moment? It’s inevitable that more mobile systems will arise that could use a cross platform toolkit to target them. Why not Flash? Why not AIR? In this case, Adobe needs to learn how to make a far better LLVM if they want to target all of these emerging platforms.
  7. Stop bundling crapware with the player – Adobe, you are trading your credibility and any shred of resepct and decency you had when put some anti-virus, browser toolbar or some wack download manager on a computer just to install Flash. Weaksauce, indeed.
  8. More seamless micro patches: ala Chrome and Firefox – 10.1 took how long?A year? A year and a half? Why not do 10.1.x on a regular basis? I’m not talking about just security updates… tweak performance and address browser bugs. Maybe even add some utility functions like unloadAndStop sooner rather than later.
  9. Get Nokia and MS back on board with their mobile efforts – As we’ve seen already… Adobe isn’t always great at treating it’s partners great, witness Nokia. Nokia and Adobe were kissing in a tree for years, yet the recent MAX keynotes were delivered in the Nokia theater and everyone got Motorola Droids. What the what? Well, if Adobe really wants to take Apple on, they need mobile ubiquity. Android is a start, but RIM, Nokia and MS need to be there as well. In some regards in the mobile world, it’s Flash vs. Webkit. At this point, Webkit is more widely available on more handsets than Flash. Until Flash is as ubiquitous as Webkit, it will remain marginalized in the mobile web.
  10. Buy Laszlo – Or at least offer a similiar toolset with the Flex Framework… Laszlo‘s a bit of a fringe player (geeks love it, but your mom doesn’t know Laszlo), but it is solid technology. Why doesn’t Adobe have this capability? Output and render MXML as HTML5. Like Wallaby but for Flex.

So yeah… there you have it. 10 ways Adobe can help Flash remain relevant after the Mayan Apocalypse and in the days of iPhone 8.

Did I miss anything? Am I way off base? Feel free to comment here. Flame-bait and Trolls will not be approved.

Rock Show… You came to see a Rock Show.

Don’t miss this tonight. Wowzers.

For a lot more info on this event… check out the official page.

I’m so proud to be faculty at a University providing great activities to students. Especially when these activities are novel, engaging and produced by our students in the INteractive Media department where I teach! Sweet!

Looking Forward. Mobile Communications in 2020.

I love these kinds of forecasting videos. This one is entertaining. Not sure I agree with their event for 2016. I guess we’ll see.

Top Web Design/Dev stories for 2010

So, last year I put together a post outlining the top web stories for the year… Read it here. I thought I’d spend some time doing the same here for 2010. There certainly were a lot of big things that happened.

Those are some of the biggest ones in my opinion. Some other notable things that took place in 2010 were the launch of the iPad and the subsequent launch of Flipboard, Tumblr’s growth even while plagued with outages, Chrome OS’s continued bumbling (yes, i have seen the new devices and I just don’t how the fill a gap) and the ongoing upward climb of Facebook.

What are some of the other news stories you liked in 2010? I’d love to hear em.

My Top 20 Albums for 2010

This post isn’t code or web related… but here we go… the twenty must buy albums for 2010 from my point of view. It’s been a while since I pulled a list like this together. It was fun. I judged it on play count in my iTunes and iPod and the likelihood that come 2011-12, I’ll still be spinning the tracks from the album. The XX nearly made the list for me, but I realized while making the list that the album actually came out in ’09. Black Meteoric Star also nearly made the list, but really that was just because I never noticed the album last year.

  1. Sleigh Bells – Treats
  2. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
  3. Crystal Castles – II
  4. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening
  5. Hot Chip – One Life Stand
  6. The Black Keys – Brothers
  7. Social Network – Trent Reznor
  8. Massive Attack – Heligoland
  9. Underworld – Barking
  10. Chemical Brothers – Further
  11. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy [Explicit]
  12. Broken Bells
  13. Tron Legacy Soundtrack – Daft Punk
  14. Mathew Dear – Black City
  15. M.I.A. – Maya
  16. Interpol – Interpol
  17. Yeasayer – Odd Blood
  18. The Bird and the Bee – Interpreting the Masters Vol. 1 – A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates
  19. Scissor Sisters – Night Work
  20. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Round and Round

Look who RIM bought…

Anyone thinking RIM is standing still, wel… look no further. This Swedish outfit, TAT, just go picked up by the Blackberry maker. This should give them a much needed shot in the arm in the UI department from a creativity standpoint.

via Wired.

links for 2010-11-30

links for 2010-11-20

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