Yesterday I was supposed to convert several pages into Spanish, and no I don’t speak Spanish. The new text was provided for me. The needed changes included a Flash menu and numerous pictures with text embedded into them. To update either of these things I would need to get their original files, an .fla and a .psd. So I went to our archive drawer to find the files. I found the company listed in the book of archive contents and found a total of 4 discs of content. So after popping them into my computer one after one, I only found a lot of useless PDFs and some psd files for some mystery item, which was possibly a new custom web design or a print design of some sort. I reported that I didn’t have the files and after some further investigation I was informed that we didn’t even make their website.
I would have to tried to recreate these items, which means that though I may be able to come close with some luck, there is no way I will be able to exactly match the previously used graphics. For many images I will have to scour the image dealer websites to find something that resembles the existing images. Who knows how that will go since similar arrangements may not even exist. Luckily with the Flash menu, I was able to use a trial version of some Flash decompiler software. The trial version was limited in what it would provide me, but the menu I had to recreate was simple enough that it wasn’t hard. Luckily the decompiler gave me the graphic elements of the swf, even though it gave me them in a very disorganized way. I just had to make some buttons with rollovers that link and have a little sound effect. It required nothing but some very simple Flash programming. This may not be quite so easy with the Flash elements that people make these days. It may not be a couple lines of code or a simple animation to be recreated. It might end up being a project in itself to recreate it. Our company had even started using encryption software just so that a decompiler can’t be used and I’m sure other companies have started to use this as well. It would be near impossible to replicate our work if someone needed to without being able to use a decompiler.
The moral of the story is that it is hard to edit some things that you don’t have the files for, so it is usually best to stick with one web company if you may want updates to your old site. Therefore you should pick wisely. If you are going for a full website redesign though, that is your chance to get out and go with a new company since it is like starting from scratch.