Pixars Brave

Learning Flash

Where do you get the ideas for your experiments from?
They can literally come from anywhere. Sometimes from seeing someone else's work, sometimes from seeing something in the environment or reading about some mathematical formula or physics concept. There's an old joke that lists "You know you're a Flash addict when..." My favorite was, "when you start looking at everything around you and saying, 'I bet I could do that in Flash."'

What/who are your sources of inspiration?
When I was starting out in Flash, my two biggest influences were Joshua
Davis (www.praystation.com) and Jared Tarbell (www.levitated.net).
These days, I often have to go beyond Flashers to see stuff that really
impresses me. There's some great Java stuff happening out there too.
Some great links are at www.proce55ing.net.

What would you say to those who want to learn advanced  ActionScript? Credentials? Programming experience?
The thing I always tell people is to get the basics down cold. A lot of
people dive into these advanced open source fla's and try to figure out
what's going on. I would say get a copy of ActionScript, the Definitive
Guide and read it cover to cover. When you don't have to worry and
think about commands and syntax, and they are just second nature, then you can start playing with it and getting creative. Also, learn as much math and physics as you can. I peruse every bookstore I go by, looking for interesting titles, but most often you can find more than enough information right on the web.

Which books would you recommend, if any?
As mentioned, ASDG by Colin Moock is the bible. Others would depend on which particular area you want to get into. I think Robert Penner's
Programming Flash is pretty good as well.

Which features/tools do you use most in Flash? What's your favorite ActionScript function/tool?
I think my favorite new features in Flash MX and the ones I probably
use most often are createEmptyMovieClip and the drawing API tools. Many of my movies consist of nothing but code, all graphic elements being created on the fly. It is about as pure as you can get from a
programming point of view.

What would you like to see in the next Flash release?
Hmmm...there is so much in Flash MX, that I feel I've still only
scratched the surface in the last year. I'd like to see a command line
compiler that would create swfs from pure ActionScript files. Maybe
better bitmap handling.

How do you feel about Friends of ED shutting down?
It is sad. Of course I had contributed 5 books to them and another one
was just about to go to print, so it hit me personally. There are a lot of other people I know who were in similar positions, not to mention the people who worked there. But of course the bigger issue is that the titles may not be available to the public now. I do think they may have oversaturated the market a little bit, but still, there were some excellent books there. It's sad to think there won't be Foundation and Studio books for the future versions of Flash.


> What music do you secretly listen to when no one is around...?
That 80's new wave stuff! Lately I've even been digging up some old
70's stuff that I'd totally forgotten about. Brings you back.

What other programs are you avidly interested in besides Flash?
Mainly I've been getting into Java. I think it's a great next step for
someone well versed in ActionScript. The structures are close enough to
make you feel comfortable but it's much more disciplined. And once you
experience the speed and power you can get out of Java, Flash starts to
feel a little "clunky".

Where do you see the future of Flash 5 years from now?
That's something I think about a lot. Nothing lasts forever. Flash is
the big thing now, and I don't see its death coming any time soon, but
I think it's important for anyone in the field to keep abreast of any and all new technologies coming out, and not keep all their eggs in one basket. As far as where Flash will go, it seems to be heading more and more in the rich web application direction, components, and communication. A far cry from where anyone would have thought back in the more "flashy" days of Flash 4 and 5. Also remember that Director is alive and continuing to develop. Unless they somehow merge, this will always put a limit on the areas that Flash will expand into, in order to keep these two applications separate.


Thanks again to Keith Peters (bit-101) for agreeing to answer the questions we all had for him. Thanks also to the moderators thoriphes, vts31, ilyaslamasse, eyezberg, and the rest who helped provide the questions for this interview.

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