Hi Party People! Today I wanted to talk about Flash!
Yes, THAT Flash.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Flash is a technology platform for the Web that enables vector graphic animations and interactivity. Flash objects are embedded on a Web page much like a video and it’s up to you to install the Flash plugin for your browser before it can load up the media.
Flash is still out there but it is no longer as ubiquitous as it was back in the late 90’s/early 00’s. Back then every other “cool” site used Flash in some way. Typically, Flash was used to create interactive images with clickable hot spots and complex animations and transitions. If you’ve ever seen Flash’s interface all you have is a “stage” area and a series of timelines that you would drop keyframes in to set and animate objects on the stage. The earliest versions I used were unforgiving to new users and it took me the better part of a week just to get a circle to move from one side of the stage to the other.
Let’s talk a little history before we go further.
Flash was developed by a company called Macromedia. Macromedia was quickly making a name for itself as the producers of Web-centric software which already included Fireworks (the first full featured graphics package aimed specifically at creating and optimizing images for the Web), Director (a program similar to Flash except instead of vector graphics Director worked with raster graphics with an emphasis on movie-like productions) and Dreamweaver (the original “Swiss Army Knife” Web editor for anyone who was serious about making a living creating Web pages). Each of these programs were amazing tools in their own right, but it was Flash that turned Macromedia into a household name in the nascent Web industry.
Macromedia went on to produce other great pieces of software and they did very well maintaining the programs that were key to the foundation of the company. Fireworks, Director, Dreamweaver and Flash saw meaningful and powerful updates for a time… and then IT happened.
Macromedia was being sued by Adobe who claimed that the UI in Flash, Dreamweaver and Fireworks was directly stolen from Photoshop. Specifically, Adobe had a problem with Macromedia organizing their tools in floating boxes Adobe called “palettes” (or some such thing) whereas Macromedia did the same but called the boxes “panels”.If you got a screenshot of the latest versions of Fireworks and Photoshop around the time of the suit you’d agree that they did indeed look very similar in their arrangement and organization of their tools.
SO FUCKING WHAT??
Personally, I thought this was a bullshit suit and Adobe was pursuing it as a strategic attack to rid themselves of their biggest rival in the digital creativity space. I also think its asinine to patent your UI, but that’s another post.
This was around the time I started to hate Adobe.
Fortunately, sounder minds prevailed and Macromedia was not destroyed. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before that actually happened. Adobe ended up acquiring Macromedia and this is why you see Adobe [ruining and] distributing programs like Dreamweaver and Fireworks.
This was also around the time I started to wish Adobe would crumble into financial chaos.
I really got off track there… but you see where I’m coming from? You may think I’m foolish to feel strongly about stuff like this, but it matters! I think if Adobe hadn’t decided to snuff out Macromedia Dreamweaver may not be the massive pile of shit it currently is! That program would be years ahead of where it is now! Adobe has no idea how to maintain it except bloat it with useless features under their slick UI. Am I the only person who remembers Adobe GoLive???…That’s enough for now. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post where I get back to my original point.