You said Flash?

So for a little while a post on hacker news took the number 1 spot (it is gone now because well…)

Flash Is Responsible for the Internet’s Most Creative Era
posted by Vice on Oct 9 2019

hacker news comment here

I don’t have the strength anymore to answer half the bullshit I saw there


a little later Boing Boing reacted to this article and posted that
Adobe Flash was good, actually
on Oct 14 2019


Here what everyone is missing: it is not really what Flash was good or bad for, what was Flash responsible for great or nefarious stuff, but it was something else completely

look at the web today, what is the default?

the default is a WordPress hosting using a Bootstrap HTML/CSS/JS kit

non-programmers or beginner programmers have no room to explore
and yes it is boring (and some might say it is a good thing)

creativity?
lol shut

room to explore?
roflmao all gone

there is no such things anymore, mind me I’m talking about the non-dev and beginners;
if you are already working in the industry sure you know enough to extract a bit of creativity with whatever tech stack you got.

so what is everyone is missing about Flash?

the people and the spirit


Let’s start with the people

few decades ago, whether you started with Macromedia Flash using AS1/AS2,
or Adobe Flash using AS3, the deal was pretty simple: you got a toolbox and you could
pick any crayon or colors and start to paint stuff, like right away, and see the result the next second.

You could be a total beginner or noob, or a fierce experimented software developer,
you could use timeline and barely any actionscript, or do everything in actionscript while snobing the timeline, it was the same; you could simply create stuff with what was there by default in that toolbox.

The setup was just perfectly balanced.

The visual tool, eg. Flash as the software to edit SWF file, acting as an IDE
but with the default tools of a Photoshop or Illustrator, and animation front and center with the timeline.

And the thing produced, the SWF file, simple all contained, easily distributable and so naturally viral, so when people were creating stuff they could easily show them to others as “look what I did!!!”.

And what people do with such setup?
they create, they go wild, they don’t feel they are being judged
they feel they are free to explore in whatever direction they want to go

there is no standards, or best practices, or “you have to program things like that”,
or “if you want to be hype you have to use that latest framework”

if you do use code, it has a real purpose, participating into the creation of whatever you are creating: playing a sound when you click there, going back to that part of the timeline, looping here, etc.

Simply, it was open for anyone, whatever your background or experience.

And so people created, created, created …
and then people shared, shared, shared …


That’s what created this very special spirit

see, when you created something cool, you wanted to share it and show it to others
it was that very old school way of getting street creds by inventing a cool trick
A impress B which impress C which impress D, etc.

everyone had access to the same toolbox, with whatever original skills you had,
either more artsy or more cody, you could mix and mashup and bring to life new stuff

the same wow effects that people got from the old demo scene, you had that with Flash;
in a different way as it was not only pure code, but still the same principles applied there

everyone wanted to impress everyone else

it pushed everyone to get better at art, programming, sound, video, anything you could mix into the lot and more

and one special entity you also wanted to impress was the vendor of the tool
how many times Macromedia, then Adobe got this reaction
“ho shit, how is that even possible they did something like that with our tools?”

numerous countless times

even the providers and creators of the tools were not expecting such creativity

anything, literally, could happen
it was exciting


people and spirit, that what made Flash so special

that does not diminish the great features the tools and tech was bringing on the table
but similar tech that could do similar things well…

let’s just say they were not generating as much excitation

Flash was like a breath of fresh air telling you

Whoever you are, you can break the rules and be as much creative and crazy as you want


So yeah, today HTML5 may be at the same technical level than Flash, but then show me the crazy contents? the endless creativity of people?

nope, no such thing

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I’ve met a few computer scientists who are also artists. Their opinion is always that Adobe Animate is a breakthrough tool for creative artists looking to get into app development. I have to agree. I’ve helped some artists and the work that can be done together with a programmer is amazing. Trying to get something similar done in any other development environment would be a nightmare and would take forever in comparison.

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