Why Learn Flash?

August 16th, 2011

Why is it, that in 2011, one would want to learn how to work with the Adobe Flash authoring software–particularly as the trend moves us steadily toward a more mobile web experience where Flash is quickly being supplemented with HTML5 and CSS3 interaction or being dropped altogether? There are a number of reasons that learning to work within the Adobe Flash authoring environment remains a good idea.

To begin, developing a familiarity with working within a timeline-based framework will expand your ability to work with a variety of media types. This is quite different from working with procedural or OOP techniques.

Flash remains at the present time the primary vehicle for delivering quality compressed video and audio over the Web. It will be with us for a while as we transition toward native HTML support with HTML5.

We also are moving steadily toward a more ubiquitous computing culture with tablets and smartphones. Many of the native applications for these devices can be developed using the Flash platform and then ported to Android, iOS, WebOS and Blackberry OS.

Many companies continue to develop and support applications developed using Flash–this remains an employment opportunity for Web professionals. It also broadens your scope of practice and is a good skill to include on any resume.

Adobe’s suite of Web design and development products (Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Flash) have been tightly integrated, and Flash plays well with these other popular programs. So any project that includes Flash-based content will benefit from a smooth workflow when jumping back and forth between applications.

The Adobe Flash design/development interface is a very mature dashboard that has been refined over many years with feedback from a very large user-base. So developing a familiarity with the Flash timeline and scripting tools will allow a developer to improve their interaction design and animation skills, rather than battle with a poorly-designed interface. And as popular as Flash has been, even Adobe knows that there is an expiry date on the .swf format and it is developing similar products, like Adobe Edge that output HTML5 and CSS3-based interaction and motion graphics.

So a designer/developer’s Flash skills will find new life as they happily output their timeline-based animations and interactive widgets as standards-based scripted DOM elements–that will play nice once again with Apple’s iOS devices.

In short, Flash is a tool. Any tool can be used with grace and elegance in the right hands. Understanding how to use a timeline to craft compelling motion graphics is a skill that will always be of value–and Adobe Flash continues to set the bar in terms of a mature, well-designed user interface.

2 Responses to “Why Learn Flash?”

  1. Robert Malitek Says:

    Hello Scott,
    Well written and to the point. Flash is a tool indeed and any discussion or comments against it are mostly based in narrowed vision of the commentator.

    Robert Malitek

  2. Scott McCrindle Says:

    I’d like to add that since this was written, Adobe Flash can now be extended with CreateJS – a plugin that allows Flash projects to be output to HTML5/CSS3/JS that can then be modified outside of the Flash IDE after being exported (http://www.adobe.com/products/flash/flash-to-html5.html).

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