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Is it ta-ta for Flash?

Interview with a Flash Harriet

Of course. So what drew you into Flashland?

Long story. Do you remember Jakob Nielsen, usability pontificator and owner of a famously migraine-inducing website?

Uh-huh.

Back in 2000, he wrote an article declaring Flash "99% bad". I suspect I wasn't alone in applying the "my enemy's enemy" principle: if Jakob didn't like it, it must be worth a second glance.

So you were one of the pioneers, were you?

Hardly. The first Flash-building tools were aimed at graphic designers, and were all about simple animations - no thought of Rich Internet Applications then. It had a really terrible scripting language containing the comparative operators lt and le for < and <=, presumably reflecting the popularity of Perl and FORTRAN among the Photoshopping community.

But then Macromedia added a version of JavaScript, 'ActionScript', to Flash.

JavaScript? An interesting choice of language in those pre-Web 2.0 days.

Yes. Back then, rather than being underpinning of the future, it was regarded as an unreliable nuisance that barely enabled a depressed HTML-cutter to animate a depressed button. I suppose they wanted to 'fit in' with ordinary web programming.

The result was messy. If one wasn't careful, the logic of the code that one wrote got scattered into dozens of little event handlers concealed all around the animation. Think of a whiteboard covered with post-it notes, with fragments of your program written on some of their undersides, you get the idea.

Still, great fun to program, I bet.

Early Flash featured the fourth worst programmer's editor I have had the honour of using, and the least wieldy debugger ever.

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