Went Camping

Well, I didn’t go camping, per se, I went to camp, specifically, Flash Camp.  Now I know I’m not a flash programmer, I don’t even have a copy of flash on my system here at DDA, but what I do know is that the future lies in rich Internet applications, which means, Flash, Flex and Air knowledge.  So, I hauled my programmer self down into the world of design where I don’t normally have a place at the table, paid my $45 and spent my entire Saturday listening to people talk about things I had no idea about.  Now don’t get me wrong, I learned things, and it reinforced that I am working in the right direction (even if slow in getting there). In fact, I watched a simply awesome presentation about Adobe Catalyst.

As we all know, I am not a designer.  I have no training in working with design, but I know good design, and we have some great designers here.  I am not one of them.  I do know how to build forms in HTML and CSS to make them look relatively pretty if standing outside of a great website design, but I generally build fast and ugly and let the pretty people do their thing.  Our designers are not programmers.  They don’t know the code to get things to work like I do.  They make things look nice, I make them work nice.  There’s not much overlap.  Adobe knows this and is in the process of putting out a new application called Catalyst.

This weekend I saw a demo of its simple awesomeness.  What the demo did floored me.  Now I don’t generally know how one goes from Photoshop to website with all the image cutting and such, but what I saw was simple brilliance.  The speaker took a Photoshop document with all its layers and beauty and simply imported it into Catalyst.  Then, they clicked on some items and assigned events to them (clicks, rollovers) and pow:  Flash file that worked.  All the basic timeline, resources, Actionscript and flex was written.  The next cool thing was the ability to quick prototype (build the ugly).  Starting with Catalyst, the demo built a basic “form,” some text boxes and a button.  They then exported the button, imported into Illustrator and could then apply the styling of the button in its various states and it auto-magically updated the prototype with the new “image.”

Maybe it’s just me and not knowing the current process that one goes from Photoshop to flash, but to me, this was jaw dropping.  It made my head swirl with ideas on how we could use this at DDA to rapidly build form prototypes (since we’re completely heading into the flash-based interface rather than standard html/js) show them to our clients and get function approval, and then easily go back in and make the changes necessary to pretty things up.  Now I’m not going to say the solution is perfect, and there are some drawbacks with how the files are created and will be used at DDA (like lack of flex knowledge, which I was desperately trying to jump start in going to this day long event) but I saw the future this weekend and it made me really excited.