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What did Macromedia do that was so bold? They broke out of the browser. Now Flash is a browser on its own. We don't need no stinkin HTML, DHTML or whatever. And they support XML-RPC and SOAP 1.1. Nice.
What is he talking about? Anyone know?
[edited by: tedster at 4:40 pm (utc) on Mar. 29, 2003]
Later today Macromedia will announce a new product, one I've been wanting for seven years. I'll wait until the press release runs before explaining why it is so important, why it will be controversial, and why the controversy won't matter.
Looks like you've found it, Jeremy. I look forward to Winer's comments.
One site I am involved with could really use something like this, it could dramatically improve the interactivity and perhaps enjoyment of the user interface for some of the web services.
In the past, I worked on a site that had some downloadable flash games - which were hugely popular for well over a year. After seeing the success of that, I have been very interested in flash, but use it only sparingly in design - as I think online it works best that way.
Extending a web site to a user whilst offline - in the highly interactive fashion that only flash can do could be make the web a very exciting place, even offline.
Thanks for remembering that Macromedia was set to announce the flash extension - looks like they are calling it Macromedia Central. ;)
Just think - Flash has the potential to become a browser. What this means is that we can finally use any font we want and have it smoothly rendered. But more importantly, Flash looks the same in all browsers! Because it uses the same engine, you don't get problems web designers face every day, such as large differences between browsers in layout, spacing and usability.
Flash offers the chance to finally rid ourselves of the browser battles, which get worse with every new version release.
You can also have a layout that the user can resize depending on their screen size. It works so well too, because Flash is based on vectors. Naturally, this makes shapes easy too - no need for SVG plug-ins.
Accessibility has been improved in Flash MX and will surely be strengthened again in the future. XML support is already there, so database connectivity is possible, along with network support. I believe forms are also able to be used.
What do we need to make this happen? Obviously a translator to take HTML code and display it in Flash. Or perhaps we should now be producing our code as pure XML and serving it to Flash or a standard browser (as XHTML) as required?
I had the idea for a new language - FHTML - Flash HyperText Markup Language. This would be basic at first, dealing with headers, paragraphs, images, links and so on. But enough to translate simple web pages into Flash.
An option might also be built in to allow for small screen sizes such as PDAs, plus font and colour choices.
Forgive me if I'm barking up the wrong tree here. If I've lost the plot big time, let me know. Only I've considered this to be an inevitable route for Flash to take. Exciting stuff.
We design some major sites and have been sucked into the Flash trap on numerous occasions (clients want it). Every time Flash has been central to a project the user satisfaction has not been as high as would be expected. Users get put off by things that 'Don't work like other sites'.
We tend to use Flash as icing on the cake when a user has reached the destination on a site. It's ok to have a Flash movie to illustrate the benefits of a product, but (D)HTML is best used to lead them to the product in the first place.
Designers love Flash because it lets them play at being games developers.
I love (D)HTML built sites because there are common design conventions that you can use so that your audience 'gets it' quickly and doesn't have to stop to think about whats going on. Ooh - hark at me! I sound like Steve Krug..
It is also interesting to look at this in light of other GUI platforms like Mozilla XUL that are now extensible, Internet enabled and launchable.
From the software developer perspective, I know a lot of people who feel Flash's movie origins make it less suitable for application development than working in more traditional software development tools.
What I think is really interesting is how, or to what degree, any of these non-browser GUI applications can combine to be part of an overall Internet user-experience. Up until now, there contiues to be something of an "either/or" dynamic of online browser experience vs desktop application.
Flash, as potentially being better suited for creating "virutal world" experiences than other GUIs, may be able to do something no one else can in facilitating a way to maitain and possibly extend the "cyberspace" user experience between the browser and the Flash player.
If you could take folks from your sites into a richer experience, what kinds of things would you want to do besides whizzy drop-down menus and streaming a/v?
At best, this is a great opportunity to soak corp clients who always want eye-candy closed source stuff everytime they have some budget money burning holes in their pockets!
Macromedia Central will be free and available for end users this summer. Some Central applications will be free, while others will available for purchase. Developers interested in creating Central applications in advance of the product's availability can contact Macromedia for access to a Macromedia Central Software Development Kit (SDK), due for an April release.
Nothing new from Dave Winer today.
It might be better to focus on a limited, more specific interface. I was interested to see on the BBC News recently a graphic of a map which was drawn over with lines and symbols. Strangely, they chose to show the device that was used to draw over the map, being a small screen with a series of about 6 buttons at the base, and 3 tabs on the screen. From this, the user was able to select various graphics with a pen. I thought why aren't browsers like this? Do we need all the redundant buttons and wasted space? Look at the toolbars, restricting the viewing window.
Having said that, sites that offer their own navigation buttons are a turn-off.
Kai's superb interfaces are a possible source of inspiration. The rounded menus and smooth Helvetica fonts seen in Bryce for example make me lust for a browser like that. Or one with a whole new interface design. Do we really need to continue to emulate Netscape 4?