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Flash MX unveiled.
March 4, 2002 7:15 AM   Subscribe

Flash MX unveiled. Here are the top 10 new features.
posted by ludicdruid (48 comments total)

 
The Interactive Feature Tour(requires, obviously, Flash) gives a better in-your-face scope.

It's amazing. I can't help get geek-horny when they release stuff like this.

There are many interface and Flash usability issues that have been addressed on this one... I just hope those who keep saying that Flash is 99% bad will now have to shut up once and for all.
posted by betobeto at 8:10 AM on March 4, 2002


I wonder if this means Director is finished?

With video support now, I don't see why Flash wouldn't make sense for almost all mutlimedia authoring... Macromedia rocks....
posted by mattpusateri at 8:14 AM on March 4, 2002


Macromedia is highlighting a hotel site as an example of how Flash can improve usability. It looks pretty good, and in comparison with most hotel reservation system, it is easier to use. I like the instant feedback.
posted by DragonBoy at 8:18 AM on March 4, 2002


The updated ActionScript looks pretty tasty too. I'm looking forward to this.
posted by jackiemcghee at 8:18 AM on March 4, 2002


What's with "Design for multiple mediums"? "Mediums" are people who communicate with the dead. Macro, uh, media wants to say "media".
posted by rodii at 8:23 AM on March 4, 2002


Fantastic! More utterly useless, bandwidth clogging technology. Flash doesn't actually do anything that can't be done without the necessity of plugins (and probably with more efficiency) some other way.

To those who disagree (betobeto), please - name one instance where Flash does something that is or was impossible otherwise. That's aside from, of course, the masturbatory intro screens which are so popular and provide absolutely no function.

Flash is nothing but hair in the drain of the internet.
posted by Electric Jesus at 8:30 AM on March 4, 2002


I wonder if someone is trolling for an argument.
posted by Hildago at 8:35 AM on March 4, 2002


The hotel reservation interface didn't seem that usable to me in a lot ways, not to mention that I couldn't find a single room available under any date, which leads me to believe that it doesn't really work.

That said, the new features sound cool.
posted by xammerboy at 8:36 AM on March 4, 2002


So, just because one can code a message board with php and perl, should be throw out perl, Electric Jesus?
posted by trioperative at 8:46 AM on March 4, 2002


Well Electric Jesus, looks like you want to throw a hard one.

Flash intros suck. I hate them as much as you. Stupid intros aren't Flash's fault - is the developer's. It's like a carpenter blaming on his hammer for a lousy job done.

Sure you can do a lot of stuff Flash does using DHTML and Javascript, but at the expense of endless testing and graying hairs most of the time. Plus, the learning curve is way shorter for the developers, and the plugin thing, while I admit is a neccesary evil, at least ensures you won't have to go through all those frustrating testing rounds across browsers.

Of course, not all pages need Flash and I know many that would be better off using plain HTML/XHTML. It all boils down to a matter of common sense and know-how on the developer's side.


I wonder if this means Director is finished?

Not likely in the near future. I have thought several times before if there would be a convergence of Flash and Director at some point in time, but there are still many areas where Director still holds an edge, particularly on its handling of bitmaps and big-ass files destined for CD-ROM authoring. But as about replacing Director, not likely. At least not until everyone and their mother have DSL on their households.

Besides, there's a reason why Shockwave plug-ins still are a pain in the ass to download: more features means more player resources. Add to that the fact that it will take a matter of months if not years to have users switch to the new plugins.

Still, I can't deny the future sounds exciting.
posted by betobeto at 8:51 AM on March 4, 2002


So, just because one can code a message board with php and perl, should be throw out perl, Electric Jesus?

Lousy argument.....you'd have a valid point if all Perl functions could be accomplished by other means, in which case Electric Jesus would have a point.
posted by Mach3avelli at 8:54 AM on March 4, 2002


xammerboy: not sure what you are talking about, as I just tried it out and was able to book 3 nights in march without a problem.

I was impressed by how fast it was to book a reservation (although the form fields didn't really show that you could input data). I will definately be looking at this for my next project.
posted by smcniven at 9:02 AM on March 4, 2002


"Flash MX" makes it sound like a race car. Zoom!
posted by Succa at 9:07 AM on March 4, 2002


betobeto - and the plugin thing, while I admit is a neccesary evil

Actually, the argument is that it is an unnecessary evil.

So, can I bookmark arbitrary screens in a flash sequence now? If not, try selling it to somebody else.
posted by NortonDC at 9:11 AM on March 4, 2002


NortonDC:So, can I bookmark arbitrary screens in a flash sequence now?

According to the Macromedia official documentation :

"Develop usable user interfaces and applications that ensure the best experience for your viewers. With named anchors, Macromedia Flash MX content can now be bookmarked, allowing for the use of the browser Back and Forward buttons."

I wonder if that can be assumed as a "yes" ... they still don't give much detail on the bookmarking part.
posted by betobeto at 9:19 AM on March 4, 2002


So the developer must explicitly enable it? An opt-in approach? Poor.

Good info, betobeto, but unfortunately the reality it represents is poor.
posted by NortonDC at 9:29 AM on March 4, 2002


"Design for multiple mediums" must have come from the same person who wrote "Please select a search criteria".
posted by jjg at 9:33 AM on March 4, 2002


Too much analysing of the latest GeForce4 lineup keeps on flashing the idea that the latest Flash is deficient in pixel/texture shaders for some reason..

I still haven't got to grips with Flash 5 yet.. Ah well.. Technology moves on I suppose..
posted by Mossy at 9:45 AM on March 4, 2002


The interactive feature tour gives details on named anchors. It looks like a frame label only it's a bookmark, and unless there's one on the desired screen, inserted by the developer, it won't help. I'd bookmark the section on bookmarking only the macromedia folks didn't name the anchor. (!)

Anyway, you don't have to like tacky intros or be an actionscripting guru to celebrate this release: I think the video capabilities are being overlooked. Too many video clips are embedded on the web and the audio tends to be terrible. Since video is natively supported in Flash Player 6, this means that purveyors of video content can get their ad revenue from the viewing console and still feed good quality video, and hopefully keep it free. Since there are scripting capabalities associated with the video (see top ten features) a clip can be followed by a menu and new content loaded in the same interface without closing the window, finding a link on the main page, then launching a new window, etc...

And finally, I'm sure there are lots of I Hate Flash threads in here for those who aren't interested in MX and want to fondly revisit all those penetrating observations.
posted by ludicdruid at 9:58 AM on March 4, 2002


This is definitely a positive step forward for Flash, and demonstrates that Macromedia has been listening to its critics. But I have to agree with NortonDC -- too many of the UE enhancements depend upon whether the developer has the time (or the inclination) to implement them.

On the other hand, these things were just plain impossible with Flash before, so at least those who place a premium on the quality of the user experience have some options now. But I think we'll still be stuck with bad Flash for a long time to come.

Anybody know whether the MX player will support copy and paste?
posted by jjg at 9:58 AM on March 4, 2002


Man, you MeFites can't be downright bitter about Flash sometimes. Someone pass out the lollipops.
But then when you've seen so many obnoxious intro pages, I suppose there's call for resentment.

Even so, I second ludicdruid. One of the bigger coups of the new Flash is the video support. Now I don't know about you, but, as a guy who screws around with DV, an embedded video plug-in is ass-ugly. With Flash MX, it looks like they've found a solution that allows flexibility in manipulating video precisely where you want it, a compromise between Flash and Director that makes a good deal of sense and without the clunky interface of something like Windows Media Player. As someone who intends to put out DV stuff onto the Web in the coming months, something offering this kind of control, making the content more palatable and (here's the key word) usable, would be completely up my alley. The question is whether FlashMX will run as smoothly as Macromedia's other products.
posted by ed at 10:17 AM on March 4, 2002


not being snarky: what does the MX mean?
posted by panopticon at 10:23 AM on March 4, 2002


You people realize that widespread adoption of whole-site Flash implementations are a threat to the viability of MetaFilter, right?
posted by NortonDC at 10:53 AM on March 4, 2002


Blah, blah, blah, Flash sucks, blah, blah, intros, blah, eye-candy, blah, blah, bandwidth, blah blah blah.
posted by jackiemcghee at 11:28 AM on March 4, 2002


re: video & flash. If you used Quicktime you could embed your own Flash controls and turn off the default buttons (since Quicktime 4.)
posted by tj at 11:37 AM on March 4, 2002


You people realize that widespread adoption of whole-site Flash implementations are a threat to the viability of MetaFilter, right?

no, i didn't realize that. please elaborate.
posted by chrisege at 11:40 AM on March 4, 2002


jjg, you can copy and paste with the Flash 5 player.. it just has to be text in a certain type of text field. I can't find an example of a piece that does this (without self-linking) but if you're interested, email me and I'll show you.

And I don't understand why requiring developers to explicitly mark 'bookmark' points is a bad idea. . .how's the Flash plug-in supposed to know where the appropriate place for a bookmark is? I'd be more concerned about how Flash handles bookmarking in non-timeline driven pieces, or in movies-within-movies-within-movies.
posted by muta at 11:49 AM on March 4, 2002


Ah.. I found one. You can copy and paste text from this chat application on moock.org.
posted by muta at 11:51 AM on March 4, 2002


Except it crashes your browser half the time.
posted by rodii at 12:48 PM on March 4, 2002


chrisege - MetaFilter depends upon having links directly to particular story or page. HTML makes this capability available as a default. Flash does not.

muta - I don't care if a dramatic reduction in utility is a natural extention of the decision to use Flash, I care that the use of Flash results in a dramatic reduction in utility.
posted by NortonDC at 12:53 PM on March 4, 2002


I think a big issue will be how long it will take before the majority of people will have the new flash player installed. The press release didn't really say much about it (unless I missed it amongst all the sub links)
Does windows xp have the new player?
posted by keithl at 1:00 PM on March 4, 2002


NortonDC -- Good point. I suspect that we will soon see just how important cross-linking really is to bringing traffic to a site. The market will determine itself in the end.
posted by Hildago at 1:25 PM on March 4, 2002


Flash is just a tool, people... it is not the be all end all of anything. It is not a religion, it is not a car wax, and it is not a desert topping. It is just a tool that some people choose to use to acheive certain results. That's all. It doesn't mean you have to give up your other tools, and it doesn't mean a different tool for a different job is inherently superior or inferior. It is just a tool, and there are people that use it. And since it is a tool I happen to use from time to time, my 2 cents on the matter of this impending upgrade is... HELL YEAH! THIS LOOKS AWESOME!!!!
posted by spilon at 1:49 PM on March 4, 2002


I second that. Emotion carried.
posted by Kikkoman at 1:54 PM on March 4, 2002


Flash == Less Eyeballs:
Due to the frequency in which IE security holes are found, I have totally switched my main browser to Opera. This is what I get when I try to download the new plugin from the tour.

"We are unable to locate a single Web player that best matches your platform and operating system."
posted by jusx at 1:54 PM on March 4, 2002


So the developer must explicitly enable it? An opt-in approach? Poor.

...MetaFilter depends upon having links directly to particular story or page. HTML makes this capability available as a default. Flash does not.


Forgive me if I'm misremembering..... but isn't the very nature of HTML the fact that I have to explicitly enable (i.e. code) it? HTML does not enable the capability to go directly to a particular story/page on default. The developer does - by dividing the content amongst several pages, providing content anchors, etc. It's just a big indexing system.

As a developer, I have to explicitly code a separate page or provide anchors within a page for my content. How is this any different? The onus is still on the developer to provide usability - where it always has been.

Now, I wouldn't code up my entire site as one big page - not anymore. Why not? Because we've moved past that phase. And it'd be silly. Not when there are other simple alternatives.

Which is what I feel Macromedia is trying to provide us.

I am still seeing people reference content on MeFi by giving me a page link and then directing me to scroll down to the 5th sentence, 3rd paragraph from the bottom... Sounds like much the same problem. That problem being that a developer didn't give me an anchor to link to.

We're still a long way from standards for browsers anyway. So why isn't this being seen as a major step forward for Flash?

I am no Flash lover. I railed against it consistently in my former life as a web developer. But I applaud Macromedia for embracing progress and trying to address the issues people have had with it's products.

Now if we could just work on that price point.... Guys? I mean Futuresplash was barely even $100 when you bought it....
posted by dgallo at 2:49 PM on March 4, 2002


MetaFilter depends upon having links directly to particular story or page. HTML makes this capability available as a default. Flash does not.

that's a pretty weak excuse. for one thing, if you read the features list, you'll see that flash 6 (mx) gives you the option to bookmark/link to/access a particular bit of information within a flash file. granted, you have to program the ability to do that into the site, but that seems like more of a minor detail than a major stumbling block to me.

so what you're expecting to happen is that the majority of all websites will be switching over to flash, and that the majority of all websites will employ piss-poor developers who don't bother to add bookmarkable/linkable anchors to their flash files, and because of this, not only metafilter, but the entire hyperlinked web will disappear?

sounds like a bit of a stretch to me. i think it's more likely that flash's presence on the net will stay about the same, while offering a much better and more usable experience. and as always, it'll depend on what people do with it. you can hardly blame a hammer for a poorly built house, can you?
posted by chrisege at 3:08 PM on March 4, 2002


dgallo - HTML does not enable the capability to go directly to a particular story/page on default.

Sure it does. Any navigation link in an HTML document is available to anyone else for linking by default, hence MetaFilter.

In Flash this is disabled by default. Big, enormous difference.

chrisege - so what you're expecting to happen is that the majority of all websites will be switching over to flash, and that the majority of all websites will employ piss-poor developers who don't bother to add bookmarkable/linkable anchors to their flash files, and because of this, not only metafilter, but the entire hyperlinked web will disappear?

sounds like a bit of a stretch to me.


Sounds like a hideous misrepresentation of my comments to me. I never said I expect it to happen, I warned against the consequenecs that would result if it did happen.

ludicdruid - The interactive feature tour gives details on named anchors. It looks like a frame label only it's a bookmark, and unless there's one on the desired screen, inserted by the developer, it won't help. I'd bookmark the section on bookmarking only the macromedia folks didn't name the anchor.

People's exhibit #1.
posted by NortonDC at 7:05 PM on March 4, 2002


Sounds like a hideous misrepresentation of my comments to me. I never said I expect it to happen, I warned against the consequenecs that would result if it did happen.

but that is the nature of the threat you described, isn't it?

and if you don't expect it to happen, how is it a threat?
posted by chrisege at 7:18 PM on March 4, 2002


I'm arguing against it. If I believed it was a foregone conclusion, I wouldn't bother.
posted by NortonDC at 7:27 PM on March 4, 2002


flashmagazine.com has a lot of good information. (requires Flash...duh)

Personally, I'm looking forward to it. A lot of great, and well deserved features (greater when you consider that the plugin will be about 200k).

I really don't understand this bitterness towards Flash. I agree that content oriented sites should Flash if possible... but what about sites like flight404? or presstube? What about interactive games and cartoons? What about complex infographics like they rule ? Or innovative navigations? You'd be hard pressed to achieve anything like that in compliant xhtml.

As someone mentioned, Flash is a tool. I see a lot of hacks cough up lens-flare filtered "art" on Photoshop... but I don't argue that Photoshop is evil as a result. I might argue that lame warez h4X0rs are, but not Photoshop.

Besides, the Flash format is much more than just web-sites and internet doo-dads. It's already being embeded on PDAs, and interactive kiosks. It's often used for navigation design in games and DVDs. I've made CD-ROMs in Flash (a much simpler task than Director... depending on what's needed).

It's all about context.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for compliant xhtml, and css layouts where it's ideal (content/text heavy sites, like Mefi), but I don't pidgeon-hole my internet experience into being all about textual information.
posted by mkn at 8:40 PM on March 4, 2002


...Any navigation link in an HTML document is available to anyone else for linking by default, hence MetaFilter.

In Flash this is disabled by default. Big, enormous difference.


Okay, so an html document - which can be defined in its basestas a set of html and body tags - will automatically be available to be linked by anyone? Only as far as a page is linkable.

Considering that you have to put flash within an HTML page, then flash has the same feature.

If I choose to enable an anchor tag in HTML, I am including it as part of my usability structure as a developer. Just as I would in the new version of Flash, yes?

Like someone else said, these are just tools. But there is no substitution for planning, development and testing. If there aren't any sites out there that include these features then blame the developers.
posted by dgallo at 11:01 PM on March 4, 2002


Flash is being pushed as a viable means of coding entire sites. This prospect, having all navigation for a sight happen in a single flash app at a single URL is where the threat to MetaFilter crops up. Having the norm become to build large, multi-page sites built with a tool that by default limits navigation to the front page is a real threat to the viability of MetaFilter.
posted by NortonDC at 6:59 AM on March 5, 2002


I wonder if this means Director is finished?

According to Macromedia's Generator FAQs, it means that Generator is finished.

WebMonkey has a Flash MX overview.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:33 AM on March 5, 2002


Having the norm become to build large, multi-page sites built with a tool that by default limits navigation to the front page is a real threat to the viability of MetaFilter.

i hate to keep harping on you, nortondc, but haven't we repeatedly been over the fact that one of the key features of flash mx is one that gives you the ability to structure your single-file flash site much like a multi-page html site? compare the people that make their flash site without that feature to those who put their whole html site in one file.

couple that with the fact that macromedia is in no way pushing it as a replacement for html and i don't really understand why you keep arguing this same point.
posted by chrisege at 11:05 AM on March 5, 2002


Wrong.
posted by NortonDC at 1:49 PM on March 5, 2002


nice response.
posted by chrisege at 1:56 PM on March 5, 2002


For an outfit not flogging their tech as a stand-in for the html-centric web, they're flogging it awefully damn hard:
Vision of Flash-based Web raises doubts
posted by NortonDC at 12:34 PM on April 1, 2002


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