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Flash Reference Guide

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What is an Interactive Developer?

Last updated Aug 22, 2003.

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There is a rumor that a new breed of software engineer exists. This particular species of engineer is part designer, part programmer, and part video/audio editor with an active and growing interest in 3D technologies and the ability to pick apart the construction of a font glyph. Who is this new person? It is the interactive developer.

As an interactive developer, I can say from personal experience that it’s the best job in the business because we get to play with all sorts of great stuff. One minute we’re editing video and the next we’re binding Web Services to a Web Application or streaming video and a collection of images to a client app that looks like it should be on a desktop not in a Web Browser.

Flash is often presented as the only platform for the interactive developer. The truth is that you have plenty of tools at your disposal. Yes, Flash is certainly the most widely distributed platform for the interactive developer, but you can also work with AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), Adobe’s PDF format, and Microsoft’s new Windows Presentation Foundation. Each of these platforms gives you, the interactive developer, a rich foundation upon which you can let your imagination run rampant.

What to Expect from the Interactive Developer Guide

The focus of the Flash Interactive Developer Guide is on Flash development. Without doubt, there are more Flash interactive developers than any other group of interactive developers. This doesn’t mean I’ll ignore the other groups-I’ll cover them in the Flash blog. I will, however, place the main focus of this guide on Flash simply because the Flash technology platform is very large and to include other technologies would dilute the value of the guide.

Future of the Interactive Developer

If you’re reading this guide, then you’ve made a choice to begin understanding Flash. I have to tell you, you’ve made a very exciting choice.

But, first, a little history. The interactive developer has actually been around for a while. Macromedia introduced interactivity years ago with CD-ROM technologies such as AuthorWare and Director. Macromedia eventually acquired FutureSplash from FutureWave, renamed the product Flash, added a programmable layer to it, and continuously expanded the rich functionality of the tiny plug-in.

Today, there are nearly one million Flash developers building solutions with Flash. On the Internet, there are over 600 million computers with the Flash Player installed and nearly 100 devices from cell phones to MP3 players that also run the Flash Player. Put simply, if it has a screen, then it’s likely to support Flash. It is this ubiquity that makes it fun to develop Flash applications because you know that whatever you build can be run and used almost anywhere.

Companies using Flash today include Cnet,, Weather Channel, ABC, and even Microsoft. The list just goes on and on.

What this means to all of you interactive developers is that the future never looked so good. In addition to Flash, technologies such as AJAX and Windows Presentation Foundation are creating a massive thrust propelling the need for richer, easier, and more fluid Web Applications. The day of the page refresh is going away.

Put your creative hat on because anything is possible-you just have to think it up.