First Director, Now Flash?

February 3rd, 2010

There was an interesting post on the other day asking if Flash was nearing the end of its life. It starts out mentioning how Director used to be king.

During the CD-ROM era of the 90s the only real game in town was Macromind Director. The program first started life out as an animation program bit with the boom in multimedia Director gained a programming language called Lingo and had a loyal following. Then the damn web came along and ruined it all: There was a web version of Director called Shockwave, but due to the overhead of bitmap graphics another program called Flash started to build rapid momentum. Macromedia would acquire Flash and rumor has it that Director is still around but the notion of getting a Lingo gig is history. And now that it’s the year 2010 I’m seeing the same thing slowly start to happen to Flash all over again.

I continue to wonder if Director is dead. The total lack of support for Shockwave on OSX 10.6 is really starting to feel like a nail in the coffin. Expecting casual computer users to flip the browser to run in 32-bit mode is something that just won’t happen. Since I’ve devoted the past fifteen years of my career to creating educational content for Shockwave I’m starting to feel I need to give it up and let the software gods pull my old Director 4 CD from my cold dead fingers.

In a thread on the Adobe Director forum malcomvincent said this:

In the education community, cross platform is more than a nice-to-have, it’s beyond important. If Shockwave isn’t available on the standard Mac setup it’s useless. If the Director IDE isn’t being actively developed for the current OS it’s not a dependable thing to predicate a development programme on.

We had this for a while with Rosetta / Firefox / OSX and after a fraught period of fighting with clients using Safari native for everything else and Firefox with Shockwave in Rosetta, everyone just gave up and we had to drop Mac support.

Director 11 / Shockwave on Macs was the only chance we have of staying with Director at all. To find that we are left high and dry with no solution again after six months of usable time in 10.5 is criminal on Adobe’s part.

The shockwave install on PCs is bad enough … it’s only saved because of the MSI version.

When OS X first came out, Safari was the problem browser, at least Firefox / Rosetta / Shockwave was 90% dependable. Now Firefox / Shockwave is 100% undependable and all we have is Safari / Shockwave which is at best 90% dependable. To find that Adobe have taken that away is unbelievable.

Get your act together guys. Adobe appear to be killing Director as a product without admitting to it.

You can kill it by saying you are killing it, or you can kill it by starvation. At least owning up and saying you are stopping development would give us a clear path, we could cut our losses and make a decision on what to do next.

Giving a little bit of encouragement and then taking away all hope repeatedly is a very immoral thing to do.

Education Software Developer

That sums it up. Every day I wonder if the End-Of-Life statement for Director will be released. I’ve been spending a lot of time learning ActionScript. I just haven’t been able to become a fan. I think Lingo ruined me. I didn’t have to worry about case. If I missed a little bracket I wouldn’t be presented with bizarre error statements. I could say ‘i = 1’ just by typing that. In AS3 it requires about fifty lines (maybe that is a minor exaggeration).

The reason Flash has become such a hot topic in the past week was the introduction of the iPad (please…no jokes about the name). The iPad does not support Flash. This has the web community rather split. Some say who cares, others think Flash is the only thing worth seeing on the web.

I’m somewhat neutral on the topic. I use FlashBlock on Firefox to avoid most everything, but there are some specific things I want to see (such as what I create). But on the iPad, I have an opinion. I want one. I plan to order one as soon as I can. It will be able to do all the typical things I do in the evening. Browsing, reading, catching up on email, an occasional game, etc.

I also played with GameSalad the other day. It took me about 25 minutes to make a small educational app for my iPhone (or iTouch or iPad). I found the interface simple and straightforward. I felt comfortable with the program. When I first started playing with Director back in 1994 I found that easy to use. It became my favorite toy, and then my career.

Will GameSalad become my next toy? Will my career turn towards the iPhone/Touch/Pad? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to get that iPad in my hands and see what I can do with it.

Or maybe Director will rise from the dead. What are the odds? What is Adobe thinking?

Entry Filed under: ActionScript,Daily thoughts

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Steve Jobs  |  February 3rd, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    “I can’t wait to get that iPad in my hands and see what I can do with it.”

    I’ll spare you the suspense. You’ll be able to do some of the things you can already do on your laptop, except the iPad will be a lot slower. And after a few months, you’ll wonder, “What the hell was I thinking?”

  • 2. Raman  |  February 4th, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Something tells me “Steve” is wrong 😉

  • 3. CC  |  February 4th, 2010 at 2:13 am

    Yeah, unfortunately, I am coming to the same conclusion. I’m actively honing my Objective-C skills for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad development now, with some Actionscript on the side when necessary.

    The last Director project I did professionally was Science Pirates, and we started that, what, 4 years ago? Between Unity and iPhone, with Flash a distant third, I just can’t make the case to keep using Director.

    Part of me holds out hope that Adobe’s leadership will come to their senses and realize that with very little investment, they could create and dominate the web 3D market. Every quarter that passes without a revamp to Shockwave3D being announced makes me lose more and more hope.

    Anyway, Raman, forget GameSalad. Start learning Objective-C and check out Cocos2d for iPhone. Seriously, Objective-C is easy to pick up for Lingo expats. It will seem a little confusing at first, and then a light will go off, and you’ll be slinging out iPhone content quickly. It wouldn’t be difficult to start creating Gizmos for iPhone.

  • 4. Raman  |  February 4th, 2010 at 9:36 am

    I’ll play with the Objective-C. I played with it a bit and love all the samples Apple provides. And the Getting Started manual seemed pretty nice. Maybe Flash CS5 will be nice…but with Adobe…who knows.

  • 5. Yuhong Bao  |  March 4th, 2010 at 3:44 am

    Flash is far from dead, there is a Flash Player 10.1 beta available now.
    And with Shockwave at least this time the performance penalty is much less. I mean, running PowerPC software though Rosetta comes with all the penalties of binary translation, while running 64-bit software in 32-bit mode just runs the same software in a different mode on the same processor, which means that the performance penalty is much less.

  • 6. Dmenn  |  March 30th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Director is Dead – but Flash is just getting stronger. Flash CS5 will compile to iPhone and iPad… I suggest honing your AS3 skills. Then, even if Flash dies, you can bridge to Java, C#, and others very easily. AS3 is great… give it a chance.

  • 7. Jammy  |  August 21st, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    I am not sure if Flash has such a good future itself, or at least a future on the mobile front. Apple have never supported Flash, but now the same can be said for Android. Even Adobe themselves admit that they are no longer making Flash mobile compliant.

    And as for my thoughts on Director, I think it died out a long time ago. Not to say that when I was using it I enjoyed every moment for it was very very powerful application, but there is just no need for it anymore!

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