Posts tagged "Stage 3D"

May 15, 2013

One educator at MAX and three blog posts: Part 3: Interactive is Active

(I finally got off that airplane. And graded final project and papers for two undergrad and one grad class…and five independent studies and five practicums students. And did graduation and a birthday party and mother’s day. And slept. Oh, sweet sleep! And then I got to this third and final post about MAX. You can read my two other blog posts about the social aspects of CC and Adobe’s move to the subscription model if you missed them. Or not. I split this into three parts in case you want to read a la mode.)

The third aspect of MAX that I want to comment on as an educator and front-end developer is Adobe’s very smart strategy to support some great open-source solutions, better web tools and a good direction for Flash.

In November, I did a talk at the Adobe Education Summit in Toronto that discussed the HTML5 v. Flash debate. I do both. I love both. It’s tough to straddle both worlds and stay up-to-date, but when and because I do, my students get jobs. Not because I’m a great teacher that knows everything (but I am and I do). They get jobs because they not only know multiple solutions but how to evaluate and use the best solution for the challenge at hand.

Flash is not dead. It has, in many ways, the biggest and best support in the interactive arena. You can read the stats Adobe has out there on this. What’s killing Flash is not the reality, but the fear. One instructional multimedia designer at a university with thousands of online students told me that even when he argues that the best content-delivery solution for a specific problem is Flash, administrators just turn off immediately and shut him down.

Nonetheless, Flash still has a place. There are many companies in the Cincinnati area, particularly large companies that do their in-house training using Flash. There are more jobs in Flash in Cincinnati right now than in HTML5. It’s not easy for a large company to retrain their designers and front-end developers and rethink what’s already and still working.

I did see there was a session at MAX on what’s new in Flash Pro. I missed it because I was, ironically, at a PhoneGap/HTML5 session. One attendee told me it was all about Stage 3D, Adobe’s answer to moving gaming performance to the GPU for a faster, better experience. This is a good thing that Adobe has been pushing for a year now, but this year, they made it better by coupling it with Feathers, Starling and Dragonbones. All are free-open source solutions. Feathers is a JS framework for button assets that anyone can read and use. Starling is a great JS framework for 2D gaming with so many gaming methods and classes readily available. Dragonbones is an open source sprite generator that works directly with your assets in Flash Pro. There’s also Away 3D which brings to 3D what Starling brings to 2D. All are accessible. Under Michele Yaiser’s session, we used Flash Builder to construct and compile a game for both web and iPad. With Tom Krcha, we built a platformer with Flash Pro, Flash Builder, Starling, Dragonbones and the Citrus Engine. With the performance boost and multiplatform capabilities, Flash should hold their own in gaming at least for a little bit.

What I found particularly interesting and exciting was Adobe’s support of several free, open-source projects, namely CreateJS and PhoneGap Build. Never has Javascript, HTML5 and CSS3 been more creative. CreateJS offers four libraries and tools for a rich interactive experience on the web. EaselJS capitalizes on HTML5 canvas. TweenJS allows for animation and interactivity. SoundJS and PreloadJS improve on audio and preloading experiences, respectively.

Being a Flash developer, I got really excited when Grant Skinner, founder of CreateJS and CEO of gksinner.com, demoed a game he and his team were developing with CreateJS. When he showed us some of the code, it felt so right. While being true to JavaScript standards, it played on Flash’s conventions. Additionally, unlike many open source projects, the documentation is excellent and there are tutorials and examples to spare.

I just finished teaching my Media Scripting for Interactivity course this week—Flash Actionscripting for gaming—and I’m looking ahead to next spring. While I haven’t ruled out Flash, particularly in regards to jobs in the Cincinnati area as I mentioned above, I am considering the next wave of employer demands and I see frameworks like CreateJS at the forefront.

And, of course, there is PhoneGap Build. Accessible through Dreamweaver CS6, PhoneGap Build is also available online as an open source solution for compiling HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript assets into native applications for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, webOS and Symbian. I’ve played with PhoneGap with my responsive web students last fall and we had fun doing simple apps. This year, we’ll expand on that by tackling the PhoneGap API and device features more deeply. While ultimately maybe not as powerful as native development, PhoneGap gives Media Informatics students who tend toward front-end development a great entrée into the development world, particularly when we share best practices in programming and development with them.

That said, Rainn Wilson may have given the developers a lot of crap during Sneak Peaks, but this is going to be the year of the front-end developer. Mark my words. Or don’t. We’ll talk more about this later.

My last MAX concession: I told Claire Erwin I would blog once a week this summer. I’d say this more than counts for my first week considering I’m only two days out of the semester. I’m taking requests: What is media informatics? What’s in the media informatics curriculum at NKU? What should I do for my communication studies PhD dissertation since my committee keeps rejecting my ideas as too technical? (Seriously, help me out here…) Anyway, happy summer. It’s all good when it begins with an exciting MAX.

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