Commentary

My love-hate relationship with Flash

It all started when I met Adobe Flash CS4 last semester. We were briefly introduced in graphics class. Our mutual friend, my teacher, told us how much we had in common and how easy it would be for us to get to know each other. I nodded distractedly, wanting to get across the party to Facebook. Flash smiled an ominous smile, but I didn’t think much of it.

It wasn’t until this fall that I ran across Flash again. I had started an immersive learning project for the semester, and my role as a journalism graphics major would be to design much of our project’s Web site. I would be working with Flash to help create 13 different online interactives. Remembering what my old teacher had told me, I didn’t think it would be too bad to learn more about Flash.

I started seeing more and more of Flash as the leaves turned brown and the wind started biting. And things started getting tense. Flash was sleek and sexy, and he had so much potential to create amazing Web animation. But I found myself harboring frustration at his temperamental, teenager-esque attitude:

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“You want to create a text button? You’ll never find that ‘selectable’ option. I’ve hidden it so well, it’ll take you three hours of searching Google to find it.”

“You want to make a new page? You should add a frame. Ha – sucker! You should actually add a keyframe. Bah ha! You fell for it again! Add a blank keyframe, genius – that’s the only way I won’t mess up your next page.”

“Drop shadow? (snicker) Well, what’s the magic word?”

Even though my good friend Adobe Illustrator often smoothed things out between Flash and me, Flash’s touchy, unpredictable attitude was killing any romantic feelings between us.

But as the time I spent with Flash wore on, I started to understand him a bit better. We didn’t fight as much. And I realized it wasn’t his fault, really, that he was so moody. The fault was with his parents, Adobe and ActionScript, who designed him that way. Surely, they could have done something to make Flash happier and easier to get to know. That would have saved me lots of heartache this semester.

Right now, Flash and I are getting along fairly well. There’s still a lot for us to learn about each other, but we’ve grown to at least a level of humble toleration. We sometimes even share moments of joy at the completion of a project. I suppose there’s still a chance for a Flash friendship, but I doubt there will ever be a romance. At least, I hope ActionScript and Adobe can raise Flash CS4’s younger brothers to possess better social skills.

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