I changed jobs; Infrared5 site; The Flash IDE *can* rock \m/
Ok first bit of news is that I’ve joined up with the Infrared5 team finally and I couldn’t be happier about the move! I’d been working with Tom Snyder Productions for a while now and that’s been a MUCH needed break from agency work. They were awesome to say the Least. I love those guys and they really helped me out. Marc Hughes and Eric Hilfer was especially cool, and if you have chance to work with them, I sincerely suggest you do it. You won’t regret a moment of it.
The very coolest thing about this is that I’m working for Chris Allen and Dominick Accattato of Red5 fame. They’ve been there since the first day I called for help in starting the project and now, it’s awesome to see that the server has had so much success, that these guys have created a very successful business around it and have been able to hire me full time along with Keith Peters and Andy Zupko. That’s AWESOME! To see an Open Source project reach a level like this is just a huge blessing and the chance to work with a few of my best friends is just killer.
The second bit of news is that I did a site for the first time in probably 2yrs and it was my first task for my new employer – Yay! Bad news was that I had 5 days to do it. Good news is, the design rocked and I was able to do it all in Papervision3D with the anticipation of adding one killer feature that we haven’t released yet 🙂
Now, over at Keith’s blog, you might have read about the release of the site. You might have also seen the comments that followed. For the most part, I know these guys, and their comments are taken very very well – their intention is to encourage best flash practices and it keeps me sharp/on my toes for sure. Tink is especially generous when it comes to stripping down what is and what isn’t a good idea and I love him for that – sincerely.
However, what really struck me about the comments is that they missed a few key things that made this site cool and I believe its because of a “ActionScript-only” approach we’ve embraced for a bit too long in my opinion. I hadn’t felt a need to point it out until now, when something I’ve produced had been scrutinized and decompiled immediately (I love the fact that it was btw).
“Ok mr. rockonflash.com, why do you think it’s a cool example of flash/flex work?!?”. Glad you asked.
First, it DID start out as an ActionScript project, but 2 days in to the project, there were future requirements that made using the Flex framework and obvious choice, so I switched it. ‘Nuff said on that I think.
Why not more dynamic?
Second, the site had copy layout requirements from Rebecca that were pretty strict. Rebecca Smith Allen is one of the partners at Infrared5, and she’s a great designer and is very picky ( like all designers I’ve ever known ). Yeah I could have loaded all content externally from XML blah blah blah – that would have taken longer to deal with than just copy/pasting the copy into text fields in the Flash IDE – for which I did that very thing. Let’s remember – dynamic isn’t always necessary, and in many cases, is no different to maintaining a site then editing an FLA. In this sense, the FLA is maintained by the staff of Infrared5 and all have access to it to make edits visually. From a designer’s stand point, this rocks. To a developer’s stand point, this rocks. So, using an FLA is just fine and dandy and SHOULD be considered in a situation like this. It’s not for a client, it’s not designed to be editable by some low level functionary who can barely understand XML – which in this case, an FLA might actually be better.
On top of that, i think it rocks that the entire site is under 500k fully self contained, including a 3D engine, Flex framework and all assets combined. Yeah, that sometimes IS cool, right?? If you miss the cool factor for this, then maybe what you think is cool isn’t that cool (maybe?). I mean, SOMETIMES, it makes sense to be able to give the marketing guy who travels alot a copy of the site. Or maybe for use at a booth at a conference? Or maybe as a teaching tool that requires you only have a single SWF. Simplicity rocks sometimes.
The one thing I’m encouraged by is that no body really complained about 3D being used here. It seems to have been used in a way that never caused anyone to question whether or not it was really necessary. yay!
We have a feature coming that necessitated it obviously. Plus, animating the pages separately and giving them depth was alot of fun. Not to mention tossing out the Polaroid and Rolodex cards with a bit of faked physics – I think that rocks personally. It’s CPU friendly, it’s completely PV3D interactive, uses code tweens to simulate physics, and even with all of that included, it’s still simple, elegant and you’re never confused about where you are in the site or what to do. It does it’s job very well in that sense.
So, why do I say “chill”?
Because I think now that we’ve had a few years of MTASC, Flex Builder, Eclipse under our development belts, we’ve forgotten one of our first loves – the Flash IDE. Ok, so you might think and say “OH I hate the flash IDE, I’m so glad I can do all things without it”. For that I’d say – you’re being foolish. The Flash IDE rocks +11 and if you don’t agree, it might be time you go back and give it a fair shake and take a look at what time it probably can save you. I was able to work with the fonts and anti-alias levels with the IDE visually and that saved me TONS of time and I was able to achieve a level of quality that made the designer happy. Also remember, that copy is at an angle in a Papervision3D planes, so my work in trying to get things “dialed in” was a bit more intense. The Flash IDE saved me hours if not days.
The work flow rocked \m/
This was a Flash/Flex hybrid application and the work flow rocked. All materials for Papervision3D were created and maintained in the Flash IDE and were completely accessible via code at runtime. Later, when we do add pieces that we feel require the flex framework, it’ll be as easy as pie. OH, and IF we decide to make one of those sections dynamic, that’ll be cake too. However, take a moment and realize that the copy on this site is not likely to change. Why make it dynamic if it’s not going to change? You have to weigh the time savings, the work flow and the maintainability by others in your decision to make something dynamic. Sometimes it makes loads of sense, but in this site’s case, I would argue that it didn’t make sense and would have been counter productive – not to mention that it would have wasted much of my time mucking around with XML formatted text etc blah blah blah – ick.
Yeah, it’s true, the Flash IDE has issues here and there, but for 98% of it, it does a damn good job. A job, I might add, that it’s been doing for several years now, and is only getting better especially along side tools like FlexBuilder, FlashDevelop, FDT/Eclipse and the like.
I think it’s time everyone who’s not been in the Flash IDE since Flash 7 go back and start seeing how you might actually improve your work flow, improve your quality of work and in some cases, performance / file size gains.
Hope you like the site 🙂