Stepping off the Timeline

I thought it was interesting that Jeff brought up layers and time lines in class today. I’m by no means an expert with Flash or Photoshop, but I use both of them both personally and at work. Recently, I’ve started using a new program called Adobe Flex. Its the same general (ish) idea as Flash, but instead of animation its really more intended for application development.

Flex does not use a time line or layers, not exactly anyway. I would call what Flex uses more of a “level” than a layer, as you can manipulate in the code which objects are located on top or underneath. Why do I bring this up?

The idea of the user being somewhat limited by the technology in front of them is very interesting to me. When a flash video is displayed on the internet, or FRAPS is used to capture a game video, people do that because its established, and its easy to use. I find myself constantly trying to learn new technologies, and new ways of doing things. Obviously there is someone, or a couple someones, who does something “newer” and “cooler” (as seen in some of the earlier videos in class today) and then other people emulate it. I find it really interesting though, that the people who take the time to create these videos, and believe me, if you have never tried to edit videos together like this it can take a LONG time, don’t try and do more innovative things out side of their comfort zones.

Coders and Application designers seem to be the people who really drive technology forward. I get that. But the people who do some of the most creative and innovative things WITH THAT TECHNOLOGY are the people who are in the background who never seem to get a hold of it early enough to really drive it out into the open.  I understand that usability testing uses people from a lot of different fields, I just don’t understand why these internet gurus aren’t getting snapped up by microsoft and other companies to help drive forward the technology in new programs.

True Story:

An Everquest guild existed some years ago called Fires of Heaven. The guild leader was named “Furor.” The FoH webpage was treated as a blog. Basically, Furor would get on the blog and he would LITERALLY rip Sony (the makers of everquest) a new butt because of problems, bugs, mistakes, exploits or anything else. Essentially, it was a running strip of why FoH was kicking Everuqest’s ass.

Skip ahead a few years. Enter Blizzard and World of Warcraft. Furor, whatever his real name is, is now a Blizzard employee. He was hired to help design high end game content for WoW because of his experiences in EQ. I realize I mentioned everquest in a previous blog, and I apologize for crossing content but this was an example I really wanted to tie into this entry.

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2 Responses to Stepping off the Timeline

  1. tdbowman says:

    Good post Mike. I agree, it is very interesting to think about the corporations or persons producing the tools vs. the user who takes the tool and does something unexpected with it.

    I am very interested in ‘mashups’. For me it is interesting when a user takes 2 ‘unrelated’ data sets and combines them into a useful application framework. In one sense, it is great that this data is being utilized in creative, new ways presented free to the public. In another sense, it is interesting to see the influence this has on the direction of desktop apps and a company’s use of the mashup for profit.

    If you don’t know what a mashup is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mashup_(web_application_hybrid)

    If you want to see some examples of mashups:
    http://mashupawards.com/

  2. Dave Roedl says:

    I like that you have brought up the example of Flash vs. Flex. Jeff discussed some of the ways that the Flash interface ‘designs’ the activity of Flash developers, resulting in a distinct visual language of flash designs. He used the example of amateur movies, but I think a similar analysis could also be leveled at professional Flash websites.

    The creation of Flex is to some degree an outcome of traditional web programmers complaining about bad usability of the Flash IDE. Since Flex has a completely different interface and architecture, it will be interesting to see what visual languages arrive in professional Flex applications and how they differ from ones created with Flash. Jeff’s concepts of from-scratch, primitives, and components are sure to apply in different ways.

    It will be a while before Flex development matures, but it still might be fun to start the comparing: Flash vs. Flex

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