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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Flash Resurrection

Macromedia’s running a Flash Lite Contest, with a TV and iPods on offer for interactive mobile content. There should be some impressive winners.

Flash Lite is a cut-down version of Flash designed for mobile ’phones and PDAs. It’s something I’ve eagerly waited years for, but when Flash Lite arrived I was… underwhelmed. It’s fairly good. It’s OKish. Slightly disappointing, to be honest. Why? Well, aside from the usual mobile technology headaches (restrictions, incompatibilities, distribution, etc.), the main snag is with the ActionScript.

Flash 3 was a good animation package with very simple scripting for basic interaction (stopping and starting animations, triggering things with buttons, etc.). Flash 4 added lots more interaction but overstretched the syntax, resulting in horrible, clunky-looking code. Flash 5 scrapped this mess and opted for ActionScript which closely resembles languages such as JavaScript. Flash MX has improved the object-orientated features and client-server communication.

So which version of ActionScript is used in Flash Lite? Yep, it’s version 4, a rotting zombie rising from the grave. I realise Macromedia had to keep everything small and fast, and I’m a fan of simple technologies, but they’re asking developers to regress an awfully long way. Even Spectrum BASIC had arrays and simple functions.


Yuppers, you're right, this teenier player is built on older code. Right now there's work being done in the shop to merge the generations, but I'm not sure when this will be either deliverable or widespread. It's a priority, though, agreed.

John Dowdell, 10th Dec, 10:39pm

Ah well, in the meantime I might grit my teeth and have a go with ZombieScript 4; it's a good excuse to get a shiny new 'phone:…

Matt Round, 10th Dec, 11:46pm

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