Is This A Good Time To Start Learning Programing In ActionScript Or Is It To Late?Is This A Good Time To Start Learning Programing In ActionScript Or Is It To Late?


The biggest question of most developers i encounter is this: this a good time to learn flash? is it to late to join the party? Is the next party going to be in flash or a different language is swiftly coming to take over (JavaScript?HTML5?)?

I know knowing things is important but what is the most bang on the buck? I'm going to attempt to prove how and why flash is still king when it comes to the most fun,profitable, and time effective platform to work on. Does that mean HTML5/Javasciprt is out? no not at all Flash isn't in the same play ground as Javascipt is and we will look into what that means as we explore a personalized perspective of web/dev history.
Detailed explanation

Note:Warning I'm deliberately skipping the real grainy details about programing history you can find the real deal online but more flexible one for what's important to get you started working with flash.

Lets start from 0, What are file types:

A file type refers the identifier that lets our OS and/or our applications know what type of information they should expect to find in the file(kind of helps us as well ;). Some operating systems automatically hide file exentions and I recommend undoing that if your planing on working in the world of design and programing as its critical for you to always know what file types are in front of you. File types are normally identified with a 3 char combination at the end of the file name starting with a ".".

For example:
myFlashFileName.swf - The 'swf' is the file type - The 'mov' is the file type

Flash with the years accumulated many file types and i have a feeling many more will come in the future but throughout the years there have been some critical file types we need to pay attention to : SWF, .AS and .FLA.

Lets take a Break from File types and talk about the computer and how it works

You probably at some point in your life had someone tell you that computers store only bits(0,1). There is a magnetic + or there isn't. Computers are that simple the complexity comes to how to save complex data in this format. One of the biggest challenges of a modern computer(and a non modern one as well is infinity such as 0.333333333333333333333333333333(forever) - computers can not create such a value even if our minds can as its not physically possible to store an endless amount of information. I'm Drifting a bit but in a good way The old days where developers where actually telling the computer what to do in every bit seam like a very far history(there a few Brains out there that still are capable of doing that I hear) but with the years modern programing languages and programmers have shifted away to hide the details of how the computer works.

When building applications that where 'close to the hardware' there was a great amount of detail that the developer needed to develop and it only worked on specific systems (not even operation systems) at some point the OS was developed and many people became very rich as they came up with a tool that cut down development time dramatically now developers didn't need to worry about every single computer in the world and if it would work on it but only needed to worry about making it work with the OS that it was targeted at.

Things where booming program where ruling the day and more and more features and capabilities where added with richer and richer fantastic applications. Now developers just had to program to a few operating systems validating it worked on them. A natural evolution to that would be to create a tool or a way to share the exact same code throughout multiple Operating systems and then came JAVA a fantastically agile tool that seamed to sweep the world - now it wasn't the OS that was defining the language to code but a 3rd party that validated that there 'interpertator' would work on all major operating systems.

What had to change for JAVA to work

When developing applications for a specific OS the compiling process basically takes the human readable commands(or we tend to call it programing language) and changes it to be the minimum information it would need to translate that data down to 0,1,0,1 for the computer that hosting the application. leaving the OS to do the final adjustments as the application is running to translate to the computer the commands. You might be thinking why not leave it as is? Its a really good question and you might be surprised to hear that modern web developers are having the 'fight' these days in 2010(we will get back to that soon).

So now When JAVA or our interperator language came into the picture instead of finding the lowest denominator for one OS the 3rd party application had to come up with a way to deal with the information and be capable of translating it on a pc,linux or any other device(such as mobile) The only governing rule that the Translator application would need to be preinstalled on the system that wanted to run that application.

You might be thinking now that well that sounds perfect. Well its very close to that it had only one problem it demanded more resources from the system as now these new applications need to do more work to translate the data down to the OS that would then translate the data to the the operating system there was actually one extra step involved in the whole process. p Not to bad if you can cut down your development costs to fractions.
So how does flash get into all of this?

In the early days of the web there where some big fits on the web Internet Explorer/ Netscape wars(sounds kind of familiar right?) JAVA was primed pimped and ready to rule the web when users started to ask for more then just a few lines of copy and maybe a clickable image. users wanted more and JAVA was there but it had some major limitations(computers where slower back then and JAVA was really designed back then to work with applications) it was just not a fun experience if you can flash back in time you will remember running sites that would crash on you or that just took forever to do something locally (i think there are some government sites that still are running that way ;)

Without breaking into the history of flash it gave flash the perfect storm eye it was small very flexible and only know how to do a very limited amount of things it was then created to work mainly for we browsers at the time and just as JAVA it complied the information to a mediator file format(.SWF) that was then uploaded onto the web and as long as the user had a flash plugin on there browser they could enjoy the same content through out there devices.
So what's happening now(Personal perspective)?

Some are jumping and running around in the streets yelling that flash is dead but is it really? Is the need for a 3rd party tool that would mediate between multiple browsers and now operating systems. mobile devices, tvs, time square billboards and many more micro technologies .. is the need to be capable of knowing one language spend one budget and get it to work as far as you can get it to as much devices and operators suddenly not needed now that there is one or two devices that are very popular that don't support flash? we are living in a break through in pushing the basics of web pushing our content to more devices then ever known before is that really what would break flash? when applications and web are starting to become very blurry is this the time we can say goodbye to a tool that enables us to cut down the amount of hours we need to spend to get it to work on multiple devices?

Yes flash is about really pushing the web visually but that's just one portion of what flash is its about enabling you the developer to each the most possible users with the least amount of efforts. With that said Yea Flash player has been so popular that it might have needed a good wake up call and it looks like it got it and the energy is back to the basics of why flash is so great getting your message to as many users as possible in the most engaged way possible that would work on any device that flash has its footprint on... the web will continue to evolve as computers get smarter so will flash get smarter and now with the challenges of mobile devices it looks more then ever that if Adobe plays there cards right there future would be brighter then ever.
is JavaScript a real competitor to ActionScript?

The Big key is Time. Time for your development is one and the second is the time it takes your browser to translate your code. Yep your totally right you can make a slide show in JavaScript and probably make a few other fantastic things but your limited by two factors How long it takes you and how long it takes the end users device (if its a mobile phone or desktop). There have been major improvements throughout the years to javascript but end of the day its not compiled and controlled by one group -So the whole original idea behind getting flash player is still around that did not change. There are other roamers about that its one company that controls the player yea that's how you want it to be in that way you know it will work as close to the same exact way(because its the same company same developers same leaders) in all devices. the less you need to think about how it works differently and the more you can focus on saving time and spending time to push the envelop and providing your users the best experience they want/need.

When your running a JavaScript application you are dependent on every interpretation to it and in a world where there are more and more companies fighting again to have the browser you can be safe to bet that more human errors more coding issues will continue and pop throughout the web - one of the major reasons flash has been a supper power when it came to web experience throughout the years its because even if flash has a bug its only one provider you don't need to worry as much about browser or OS specific issues.

Enough history at this point you should be so buzzed and ready to learn flash and the first thing I want you to learn is file types get ready click on the video (visit our youtube channel and our web site for many hours of free videos and lets have some flash fun).

Lets learn flash at I'll see you there.
by Ben Fhala
References and Bibliography
_ Ben Fhala Flash/AS3 School  || Follow  @everythingFLA || NEW! Youtube Channel P.S. If you want to call my attention twitter @everythingFLA and a link where you want me to visit.
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