The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Friday, September 01, 2000

Flashy Interfaces

I got together with Rob (another Rob, not my roommate), a graphic designer to help him design an interface in Flash-5. One of the things we worked on was sending information from the server back to the Flash … animation? Interface? Thing-a-ma-bob? I'm not entirely sure what to call it … applet maybe but that's usually reserved for Java.

While Flash is an interesting application (even Mark is doing Flash) it really isn't suited (in my opinion) for major user interfaces like what Rob is trying to do; there are still too many bugs in the Flash-5 player (for instance, variable text can't be rescaled on the fly) and the Flash-5 development environment.

And Mark's assesment that the Flash-5 development environment as being annoying is true—I had a hard time figuring out how to navigate my way through the system (“Okay, where was that code we just wrote? No, it's not that button … @@%##$@$@# select the text box you #@#$@#$@ … okay where's the list of objects again? Okay, there's the list now where is the text box? Aaaaiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee!”).


Rob the Graphics Designer was amazed at two things I did while at his house. The first is my ability to log into my home computer from anywhere on the Internet (that, and the ability to retrieve files from my home computer from anywhere on the Internet). Rob has never really used a multi-user system before and I think the concept of controlling a computer remotely isn't in his experience. Then again, he is a graphics designer, not a computer programmer or admin.

The next thing he was amazed at was my writing code. He was amazed the last time Mark and I coded on the fly (as it were) and this time he was equally impressed (fifteen minutes to write a C program to feed his Flash-5 interface he was developing, including time to type the code in locally on his machine, uploading it to my server, compiling and testing).

I was equally impressed with his setup: a dual headed Windows box (I had no idea Windows could support multiple displays—X Windows has had this ability since 1987) on a nice fast machine. I was also impressed with his ability to navigate through the arcane interface of the Flash-5 development environment.

I guess it's easy to be impressed with stuff you aren't familiar with.

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