April 30, 2010


This is a bit of a Silicon Valley type post, to give you fair warning. Not sure how many of you readers are old enough to remember what the web looked like until Flash came around. For those who don't, here's a screenshot of Netscape's homepage I took... I don't know why... back in 1994. Yes, Netscape... Mosaic... AOL... Mozilla... FireFox. Those guys:

What about Flash though? A little "flashback" might be in order... it started as FutureSplash... a neat little plug-in that allowed you to create and display vector animations. Animations that downloaded really fast over those slow dial-up modems. It became Flash when Macromedia bought it. They were king in tools for making interactive CDs at the time. And yes, one could actually play tiny little videos over the web... using Apple's QuickTime mainly... that's if you were a coding and video compression Ninja. But you never knew how or even if it would play. It was trial and error. Just like everything else about making pages for the web. Needless to say graphic designers, who are by nature control freaks, were not the early adopters of the World Wide Web.

Flash allowed designers to design once and play everywhere. Something that Java promised, but never delivered. It is also the simple reason why (click on link if you're not familiar with it) YouTube succeeded, which... and you'll find that hard to believe... started out only 5 years ago. What was it they offered that had never been done before? Simple... your video would play! You uploaded it and no matter what format you sent it or who you sent the YouTube link to... they were able to watch it. Anybody could just post a video now and it could be seen by anybody, anywhere. Guaranteed. It wasn't about standards or technology, it was simply about predictability and removal of the need for expert skills. Come to think of it... not unlike the Mac in 1984. Ironically it's the iPhone and iPad that are the only platforms your Flash video won't run. Interesting though that Apple didn't ban YouTube also. Wonder why that works ;-).

Now Adobe... these are the guys that gave us Illustrator and Photoshop. Adobe... who has been making the best graphic design tools for 20 years now. So if HTML5 is really the present and the future, where are the graphical authoring tools? I've you've seen them, please let me know. I did find aa MUST SEE design tutorial video (in Flash of course) on YouTube if you want to get a head start on the future...