DHTML vs. Flash/Actionscript

25 Jan 2006 - 5:06pm
8 years ago
24 replies
644 reads
russwilson
2005

I've been using Flash/Actionscript for rapid prototyping
of various new features/functionality in our products.
It has been successful and I'm happy with the flexibility
and power that Flash/Actionscript offers.

I just saw a demonstration of a pretty slick prototype in
DHTML, including numerous interface widgets and interactivity.

Are there any strong opinions as to the superiority of one
over the other? Is it just a matter of one tool versus another
and personal choice?

Just curious...

Russ
Russell Wilson | Director of Product Design | NetQoS, Inc. |
512-334-3725

Comments

25 Jan 2006 - 5:21pm
Kyle Cooney
2006

I tend to fall on the side of EMCAScript(aka JavaScript), only because it's
an adopted, open W3C standard. I've strayed away from Flash precisely
because it's a proprietary format, owned and maintained by Macromedia, and I
tend to prefer my languages be free.

That said, from what I understand, Flash has made inroads towards
accessibility, and firms such as Adaptive Path (Measure Map) have started to
convince me that small amounts of Flash, used in moderation, may have a
place in online web applications.

Also, from the last data I've seen, both technologies seem to enjoy equal
market penetration(90%), so as long as your comfortable with a minority of
10% not using your technology, then I say use whatever you're comfortable
programming.

Cheers,

Kyle

On 1/25/06, Wilson, Russell <Russell.Wilson at netqos.com> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> I've been using Flash/Actionscript for rapid prototyping
> of various new features/functionality in our products.
> It has been successful and I'm happy with the flexibility
> and power that Flash/Actionscript offers.
>
> I just saw a demonstration of a pretty slick prototype in
> DHTML, including numerous interface widgets and interactivity.
>
> Are there any strong opinions as to the superiority of one
> over the other? Is it just a matter of one tool versus another
> and personal choice?
>
> Just curious...
>
> Russ
> Russell Wilson | Director of Product Design | NetQoS, Inc. |
> 512-334-3725
>
>

25 Jan 2006 - 5:31pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi Kyle,
Am I wrong here, (Russel?) but wasn't the original question about
prototyping and not out to the live product?

Standards and Accessibility don't seem to be issues in prototyping unless
you want to be testing accessibility that is, no?

-- dave

<admin>Please trim your posts. I.e. Don't just leave the entire message of a
person you are replying to.</admin>

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org/
Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

25 Jan 2006 - 5:45pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

I believe he was asking about prototypes, not production code.

-r-

On 1/25/06, Kyle Cooney <kyle.cooney at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> I tend to fall on the side of EMCAScript(aka JavaScript), only because
> it's
> an adopted, open W3C standard. I've strayed away from Flash precisely
> because it's a proprietary format, owned and maintained by Macromedia, and
> I
> tend to prefer my languages be free.
>
> That said, from what I understand, Flash has made inroads towards
> accessibility, and firms such as Adaptive Path (Measure Map) have started
> to
> convince me that small amounts of Flash, used in moderation, may have a
> place in online web applications.
>
> Also, from the last data I've seen, both technologies seem to enjoy equal
> market penetration(90%), so as long as your comfortable with a minority of
> 10% not using your technology, then I say use whatever you're comfortable
> programming.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Kyle
>
>
> On 1/25/06, Wilson, Russell <Russell.Wilson at netqos.com> wrote:
> >
> > [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> > material.]
> >
> > I've been using Flash/Actionscript for rapid prototyping
> > of various new features/functionality in our products.
> > It has been successful and I'm happy with the flexibility
> > and power that Flash/Actionscript offers.
> >
> > I just saw a demonstration of a pretty slick prototype in
> > DHTML, including numerous interface widgets and interactivity.
> >
> > Are there any strong opinions as to the superiority of one
> > over the other? Is it just a matter of one tool versus another
> > and personal choice?
> >
> > Just curious...
> >
> > Russ
> > Russell Wilson | Director of Product Design | NetQoS, Inc. |
> > 512-334-3725
> >
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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>

25 Jan 2006 - 5:59pm
Austin Govella
2004

> I believe he was asking about prototypes, not production code.

Sure, but the segue would be: prototype using the same technology you
produce in so you save time later.

That's the same argument behind HTML wireframes. (Note: I think this
argument is a crock and you should prototype in what works best,
fastest.)

--
Austin Govella
Thinking & Making: IA, UX, and IxD
http://thinkingandmaking.com
austin.govella at gmail.com

25 Jan 2006 - 6:03pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

I also think you shouldn't use prototype code in production, but I know many
companies do. It's a bad habit. Prototype code is a hack half of the time.
It's built to throw away.

If anything, I think prototyping in a different language would help force
people to thow it away and not use it in production.

-r-

On 1/25/06, Austin Govella <austin.govella at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > I believe he was asking about prototypes, not production code.
>
> Sure, but the segue would be: prototype using the same technology you
> produce in so you save time later.
>
> That's the same argument behind HTML wireframes. (Note: I think this
> argument is a crock and you should prototype in what works best,
> fastest.)
>
>
>
> --
> Austin Govella
> Thinking & Making: IA, UX, and IxD
> http://thinkingandmaking.com
> austin.govella at gmail.com
>

25 Jan 2006 - 11:56pm
russwilson
2005

Dave,

Yes, you are right. I'm talking exclusively about
rapid prototyping (with interactivity).

________________________________

From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com on behalf of David Heller
Sent: Wed 1/25/2006 4:31 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] DHTML vs. Flash/Actionscript

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

Hi Kyle,
Am I wrong here, (Russel?) but wasn't the original question about
prototyping and not out to the live product?

Standards and Accessibility don't seem to be issues in prototyping unless
you want to be testing accessibility that is, no?

-- dave

<admin>Please trim your posts. I.e. Don't just leave the entire message of a
person you are replying to.</admin>

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org/
Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

________________________________________________________________
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26 Jan 2006 - 6:22am
Dave Malouf
2005

> Can you comment more on #3 below? What do
> you mean by "screen map"?

>> 3. Architecting your prototype is heavily facilitated through
>> the screen map that you create.

If you have been working in flash for a long time you might not be using the
new object called "screen". You see them if when you open a new project you
say application.

But a screen is a nestable object, and thus has a sense of hierarchy and
flow. Screens are an easy way of making changes in view (i.e. moving between
pages), but also making changes in "panes" in subsections of your primary
screen (that's where the nestable area comes in).

When I start a project I'll use the screen heirarchy which is made visible
through the screen selection view as a means of architecting my prorotype.
Laying out relationships.

I have a lot more tips and tricks for maximizing Flash as a wireframing and
prototyping environment.

It has one HUGE drawback as a wireframing environment and that is it is
difficult to do printing of whole screens.

Anyway, I hope that answers your question.

-- dave

26 Jan 2006 - 6:46am
Baldo
2005

is there anyone using "ruby on rails"?

(I use dhtml with photoshop to draw static parts of prototype)
(does anyone can post one flash example and tell us how many hours did it take?)

--
Baldo - baldus a gmail.com
www.sanbaldo.com

26 Jan 2006 - 11:16am
russwilson
2005

Dave,

Regarding #1 below, I believe that the capability to draw
in Flash is a significant advantage over other IDE's. BUT,
I've also been somewhat disappointed in the Flash drawing tools.
I resorted to Photoshop to draw and then import into Flash.

Now, this may be my own shortcoming in not knowing how to better
use the drawing tools in Flash. (and by draw, I mean the capability
to easily create beveled irregular areas/buttons, textures, etc.)

Any comments on this?

Thanks,
Russ

-----Original Message-----
From: David Heller [mailto:dave at ixda.org]
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 4:16 PM
To: Wilson, Russell
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] DHTML vs. Flash/Actionscript

On 1/25/06 5:06 PM, "Wilson, Russell" <Russell.Wilson at netqos.com> wrote:

> Are there any strong opinions as to the superiority of one over the
> other? Is it just a matter of one tool versus another and personal
> choice?

Yes! There are strong opinions, and here is mine. ;-)

Here is why I prefer Flash (come to the IA Summit and see my panel on
Wireframing to learn more .... Heh heh heh ... Others on the panel will
talk about different wireframing/prototyping techniques including
xHTML).

1. I can draw in Flash. Benign objects like custom buttons and
configured components can be done IN Flash itself. With DHTML I have to
use another piece of software and constantly move between them. My
graphical components therefore reside plainly in my development
environment.

2. Layering and many common behaviors are built into Flash's score, or
screens

3. Architecting your prototype is heavily facilitated through the screen
map that you create.

4. Complete browser/platform independence. I work on a Mac, my boss
works on a PC. (btw, this is why I print to PDF for documentation.)

In the end though, there is one and only one reason to really pick a
prototyping environment. Do you know the tool(s) and like using
it(them).

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org/
Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

26 Jan 2006 - 11:20am
Dave Malouf
2005

Ah!
Yes, at a certain level of fidelity in your prototype it is definitely
necessary to go outside of Flash for graphical elements.
However, if you use Fireworks (which is actually much better than Photoshop
for GUI component drawing, since it was meant for this), instead of
Photoshop, it is more integrated. You have both tools open, but you can say
"edit graphic" and it will put it in Fireworks automatically and then when
you finish using save, it puts it back right into the library where it was
and updates all the instances of that symbol where appropriate. So it is
still like working in one IDE.

-- dave

On 1/26/06 11:16 AM, "Wilson, Russell" <Russell.Wilson at netqos.com> wrote:

> Dave,
>
> Regarding #1 below, I believe that the capability to draw
> in Flash is a significant advantage over other IDE's. BUT,
> I've also been somewhat disappointed in the Flash drawing tools.
> I resorted to Photoshop to draw and then import into Flash.
>
> Now, this may be my own shortcoming in not knowing how to better
> use the drawing tools in Flash. (and by draw, I mean the capability
> to easily create beveled irregular areas/buttons, textures, etc.)
>
> Any comments on this?
>
> Thanks,
> Russ
>
>
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: David Heller [mailto:dave at ixda.org]
> Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 4:16 PM
> To: Wilson, Russell
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] DHTML vs. Flash/Actionscript
>
> On 1/25/06 5:06 PM, "Wilson, Russell" <Russell.Wilson at netqos.com> wrote:
>
>
>> Are there any strong opinions as to the superiority of one over the
>> other? Is it just a matter of one tool versus another and personal
>> choice?
>
> Yes! There are strong opinions, and here is mine. ;-)
>
> Here is why I prefer Flash (come to the IA Summit and see my panel on
> Wireframing to learn more .... Heh heh heh ... Others on the panel will
> talk about different wireframing/prototyping techniques including
> xHTML).
>
> 1. I can draw in Flash. Benign objects like custom buttons and
> configured components can be done IN Flash itself. With DHTML I have to
> use another piece of software and constantly move between them. My
> graphical components therefore reside plainly in my development
> environment.
>
> 2. Layering and many common behaviors are built into Flash's score, or
> screens
>
> 3. Architecting your prototype is heavily facilitated through the screen
> map that you create.
>
> 4. Complete browser/platform independence. I work on a Mac, my boss
> works on a PC. (btw, this is why I print to PDF for documentation.)
>
> In the end though, there is one and only one reason to really pick a
> prototyping environment. Do you know the tool(s) and like using
> it(them).
>
>
> -- dave
>
> David Heller
> http://synapticburn.com/
> http://ixdg.org/
> Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
> Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
> AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com
>
>
>

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org/
Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

26 Jan 2006 - 11:37am
russwilson
2005

Good point.

I'm interested to see how the product lines will
evolve given that Adobe has purchased Macromedia and
there is some overlap among both product sets.

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
David Heller
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:21 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] DHTML vs. Flash/Actionscript

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

Ah!
Yes, at a certain level of fidelity in your prototype it is definitely
necessary to go outside of Flash for graphical elements.
However, if you use Fireworks (which is actually much better than
Photoshop for GUI component drawing, since it was meant for this),
instead of Photoshop, it is more integrated. You have both tools open,
but you can say "edit graphic" and it will put it in Fireworks
automatically and then when you finish using save, it puts it back right
into the library where it was and updates all the instances of that
symbol where appropriate. So it is still like working in one IDE.

-- dave

On 1/26/06 11:16 AM, "Wilson, Russell" <Russell.Wilson at netqos.com>
wrote:

> Dave,
>
> Regarding #1 below, I believe that the capability to draw in Flash is
> a significant advantage over other IDE's. BUT, I've also been
> somewhat disappointed in the Flash drawing tools.
> I resorted to Photoshop to draw and then import into Flash.
>
> Now, this may be my own shortcoming in not knowing how to better use
> the drawing tools in Flash. (and by draw, I mean the capability to
> easily create beveled irregular areas/buttons, textures, etc.)
>
> Any comments on this?
>
> Thanks,
> Russ
>
>
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: David Heller [mailto:dave at ixda.org]
> Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 4:16 PM
> To: Wilson, Russell
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] DHTML vs. Flash/Actionscript
>
> On 1/25/06 5:06 PM, "Wilson, Russell" <Russell.Wilson at netqos.com>
wrote:
>
>
>> Are there any strong opinions as to the superiority of one over the
>> other? Is it just a matter of one tool versus another and personal
>> choice?
>
> Yes! There are strong opinions, and here is mine. ;-)
>
> Here is why I prefer Flash (come to the IA Summit and see my panel on
> Wireframing to learn more .... Heh heh heh ... Others on the panel
> will talk about different wireframing/prototyping techniques including

> xHTML).
>
> 1. I can draw in Flash. Benign objects like custom buttons and
> configured components can be done IN Flash itself. With DHTML I have
> to use another piece of software and constantly move between them. My
> graphical components therefore reside plainly in my development
> environment.
>
> 2. Layering and many common behaviors are built into Flash's score, or

> screens
>
> 3. Architecting your prototype is heavily facilitated through the
> screen map that you create.
>
> 4. Complete browser/platform independence. I work on a Mac, my boss
> works on a PC. (btw, this is why I print to PDF for documentation.)
>
> In the end though, there is one and only one reason to really pick a
> prototyping environment. Do you know the tool(s) and like using
> it(them).
>
>
> -- dave
>
> David Heller
> http://synapticburn.com/
> http://ixdg.org/
> Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
> Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
> AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com
>
>
>

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org/
Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help ..................
http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription Options ...
http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home .......................
http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

26 Jan 2006 - 11:47am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> I have a lot more tips and tricks for maximizing Flash as a wireframing
> and
> prototyping environment.

Can you list out some of them? I'm interested in seeing what kinds of tricks
you've picked up.

-r-

26 Jan 2006 - 11:51am
Dave Malouf
2005

I¹m sorry to tease a bit, it is not my way to do so, as many list readers
know here.

Russell asked for this as well.

What I told him is that I¹m creating a presentation for why/when I use
Flash. It is part of a greater double panel at the IA Summit. When I have
more details for that panel, I¹ll post a summary of it in my blog for people
there.

... http://synapticburn.com/

-- dave

On 1/26/06 11:47 AM, "Robert Hoekman, Jr." <mmbeta at gmail.com> wrote:

>
>> I have a lot more tips and tricks for maximizing Flash as a wireframing and
>> prototyping environment.
>
> Can you list out some of them? I'm interested in seeing what kinds of tricks
> you've picked up.
>
> -r-
>
>
>

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org/
Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

26 Jan 2006 - 11:54am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> Now, this may be my own shortcoming in not knowing how to better
> use the drawing tools in Flash. (and by draw, I mean the capability
> to easily create beveled irregular areas/buttons, textures, etc.)

If you're using the Flash 8 Professional authoring tool and publishing for
Flash Player 8 (which is likely fine for prototypes most of the time), you
can use the new Filters. They include drop shadows, bevels, glows, etc - all
very Photoshop-esque. They look great and they're super-easy to create.

-r-

26 Jan 2006 - 12:00pm
Stacy Westbrook
2006

On Jan 26, 2006, at 8:54 AM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:

> If you're using the Flash 8 Professional authoring tool and
> publishing for
> Flash Player 8 (which is likely fine for prototypes most of the
> time), you
> can use the new Filters. They include drop shadows, bevels, glows,
> etc - all
> very Photoshop-esque. They look great and they're super-easy to
> create.

So far, I've been pretty impressed with the filters in Flash 8. Gone
(largely) are the days of building something in Photoshop and
importing a PNG! And with bitmap caching, vector animation
performance improves significantly. There have even been a few cases
were a complex graphic was easier and faster to create in Flash than
it was in Photoshop. I never thought I'd see that day.

Now if we'd just upgrade at work...
Stacy

26 Jan 2006 - 12:50pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> Now if we'd just upgrade at work...

I got crafty about it - I ran a Brown Bag lunch discussion on a Friday
afternoon and made sure everyone in charge of buying decisions was in the
room. I went through all the benefits of working with Flash 8 and talked
about how much faster and easier it was to use than previous versions. I
never once recommended we upgrade - I just talked about the "cool new
stuff".

Three weeks later, we all had new copies of Flash 8 Pro. :)

-r-

26 Jan 2006 - 12:53pm
russwilson
2005

So, based on these comments, do you need Fireworks?
(and yes, I have Flash 8 Professional)

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Stacy Westbrook
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2006 11:01 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] DHTML vs. Flash/Actionscript

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

On Jan 26, 2006, at 8:54 AM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:

> If you're using the Flash 8 Professional authoring tool and publishing

> for Flash Player 8 (which is likely fine for prototypes most of the
> time), you can use the new Filters. They include drop shadows, bevels,

> glows, etc - all very Photoshop-esque. They look great and they're
> super-easy to create.

So far, I've been pretty impressed with the filters in Flash 8. Gone
(largely) are the days of building something in Photoshop and importing
a PNG! And with bitmap caching, vector animation performance improves
significantly. There have even been a few cases were a complex graphic
was easier and faster to create in Flash than it was in Photoshop. I
never thought I'd see that day.

Now if we'd just upgrade at work...
Stacy
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help ..................
http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription Options ...
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Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home .......................
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26 Jan 2006 - 1:04pm
Stacy Westbrook
2006

I haven't used Fireworks in, oh, six years. But maybe it has its uses!

Stacy

On Jan 26, 2006, at 9:53 AM, Wilson, Russell wrote:

> So, based on these comments, do you need Fireworks?
> (and yes, I have Flash 8 Professional)
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
> Stacy Westbrook
> Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2006 11:01 AM
> To: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] DHTML vs. Flash/Actionscript
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> On Jan 26, 2006, at 8:54 AM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:
>
>> If you're using the Flash 8 Professional authoring tool and
>> publishing
>
>> for Flash Player 8 (which is likely fine for prototypes most of the
>> time), you can use the new Filters. They include drop shadows,
>> bevels,
>
>> glows, etc - all very Photoshop-esque. They look great and they're
>> super-easy to create.
>
> So far, I've been pretty impressed with the filters in Flash 8. Gone
> (largely) are the days of building something in Photoshop and
> importing
> a PNG! And with bitmap caching, vector animation performance improves
> significantly. There have even been a few cases were a complex graphic
> was easier and faster to create in Flash than it was in Photoshop. I
> never thought I'd see that day.
>
> Now if we'd just upgrade at work...
> Stacy
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
> ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help ..................
> http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription Options ...
> http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home .......................
> http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ........... http://
> resources.ixda.org

26 Jan 2006 - 1:15pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>From what I've heard, it generates horrible code, so it's probably perfect
for prototypes.

:)

-r-

On 1/26/06, Stacy Westbrook <stacy at thoroughlymodern.com> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> I haven't used Fireworks in, oh, six years. But maybe it has its uses!
>
> Stacy
>

26 Jan 2006 - 1:29pm
Dave Malouf
2005

For graphics work (not for code generation) I'm a HUGE fireworks fan. I love
its object model so much more so than Photoshop.

It isn't great for everything (like creating printable pages), but for doing
GUI like grahics, it is really amazing.

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org/
Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

26 Jan 2006 - 4:00pm
ian swinson
2005

If I were still in the consulting world I'm sure Fireworks and Flash would be in toolkit. When each new project requires a majority of custom work the tools need to be as flexible as possible.

My current position is at a web-application company and all final assets are java-generated HTML and Javascript. Since that's my design palette, I've recently created a widget library of code chunks - HTML pages, CSS, toolbars, navigation elements, headers/footers, javascript, etc.

The prototype environment runs on Apache with PHP. All development/design is done in Dreamweaver. I've got a web server under my desk so all the UI designers, UE analysts, PM's and Dev can review the current state of any prototype.

To put all the pieces together we're using Dreamweaver templates for the standard page types and using simple PHP includes to reference specific page elements. All of the CSS has been properly coded so switching a single <body class="thePageYouWant"> class will change the icons and colors on the page.

Having build out the library, it's trivial to put together new pages. Grab a page type - e.g. an admin page - duplicate the html widgets you want to customize, tweak those pages, tweak the includes to point to new html widgets, and you're done.

Recently, we've been doing a lot with session variables to easily mimic application behavior for linking between complex workflows without having to code multiple, slightly different, versions of a page.

Having said all that - it would be awesome if I could have a Flash-like timeline overview for controlling the different states of various HTML pages. Dreamweaver can do this with the animation tools but I've never really exploring using it for our specific purposes - maybe that's my next project.

Ian

---------------------------------
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26 Jan 2006 - 4:09pm
Dave Malouf
2005

> My current position is at a web-application company and all final assets are
> java-generated HTML and Javascript. Since that's my design palette, I've
> recently created a widget library of code chunks - HTML pages, CSS, toolbars,
> navigation elements, headers/footers, javascript, etc.

Ian, that is VERY impressive indeed.

That must of had a huge ramp up time.

One of the reasons we are NOT going that route (I work in a web-application
environment as well), is for the following reasons:

1. We NEVER want our prototypes to be used as code for development.
2. We NEVER want the design process to be held back by existing frameworks,
standards, or guidelines.

I think it is VERY important to differentiate the difference between these
various states:
Designing
Communicating
Documenting

For Designing, I like the openness and freedom.
For Communicating, I need more constraint.
For documenting its gotta be "right" (fit to the solutions final
environment)

Also, Ian, as more and more "new" patterns are being added to the
web-environment through AJAX-type interactions, aren't you having a hard
time keeping your library up to current availability?

This change rate is increasing, and not decreasing.
Today it is AJAX, when IE 7 comes out it will also be Canvas (as other
browsers already have it).

It seems like you put a lot of work (good work, I'm sure) into creating
something that then is now a new product, no?

-- dave

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org/
Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

26 Jan 2006 - 6:27pm
ian swinson
2005

Hi David,
Thanks! We're pretty happy with it...so far :)

Ramp up time wasn't bad because it's an easy environment to evolve. We recently went through a complete redesign of all the application pages from the ground up to address a few issues - smaller code footprint, 508 compliance, web standards, nifty CSS and updating our look-and-feel. Since the application exists, and I can run a local instance (all but the DB), or just log into a browser, if I ever need a new page for the prototype I just launch the app, navigate to the page, save off the source HTML, run a couple queries (.dwr files in Dreamweaver) to search and replace and cleanse the doc, rewrite the include - and voila!

All the files that are generated by each designer get saved onto the shared web server so we're all actively building the library.

I too believe that prototypes are for display/play only and should never be used for production code. That's the cool part for us - we can steal from our app and all the existing patterns and layouts to quickly mockup new features. This yields a prototype that, for all intents and purposes during the usability cycle, appears just like the live application.

To address the limitations of the existing framework, when a novel pattern comes along we can either code up something fancy or just embed a gif into a standard framework. Heck, we could even embed a Flash movie should we need to show some advanced interactivity.

The prototype environment is attempting to address the real-world requirements of software evolution: enhancing existing features through evolution and small-scale revolution, leveraging existing patterns (we don't want to reinvent the wheel - unless it stops spinning), and allowing for interaction design explorations that feel like a real product.

When it comes to pure innovation - while it's more difficult, it's still very possible. If we need a new header - design one and swap out the include. Where this will become limiting is when we decide to complete re-architect the entire interaction design experience. Given the size of our user-base that's going to be another process of evolution.

I like your Design/Communication/Documentation breakdown. It would require a little more thought and a bunch more typing :-) to map our process to these phases but I think they sync up.

The change rate issue is very interesting and something that's been on our minds from day one. Our framework is intentionally skeletal when you look under the covers. It's easy to carve out a particular widget or series of interactions into a separate project and then embed that entire project into the existing framework.

And yes, we have created a new "product" of sorts...but I'm no engineer. I've made a reasonable facsimile that works perfectly for testing, communicating with the team, validating my ideas, etc. AND, when we fold those new features into the platform they get coded by professionals for release. Once they're released I can then fold those back into the proto environment.

At the end of the day we've got to ship a product that's going to be backward compatible with older browsers (mercifully no more IE 5.5 and NS 6.0), stays as cutting edge as possible, and degrades gracefully...oh, and works with our on-demand "platform". Easy :-)

I could ramble on for (too long already?) ages...
You raise great points and I'm going to keep them on the whiteboard of fear and obsolescence.

Cheers,
Ian

Ian, that is VERY impressive indeed.

That must of had a huge ramp up time.

One of the reasons we are NOT going that route (I work in a web-application
environment as well), is for the following reasons:

1. We NEVER want our prototypes to be used as code for development.
2. We NEVER want the design process to be held back by existing frameworks,
standards, or guidelines.

I think it is VERY important to differentiate the difference between these
various states:
Designing
Communicating
Documenting

For Designing, I like the openness and freedom.
For Communicating, I need more constraint.
For documenting its gotta be "right" (fit to the solutions final
environment)

Also, Ian, as more and more "new" patterns are being added to the
web-environment through AJAX-type interactions, aren't you having a hard
time keeping your library up to current availability?

This change rate is increasing, and not decreasing.
Today it is AJAX, when IE 7 comes out it will also be Canvas (as other
browsers already have it).

It seems like you put a lot of work (good work, I'm sure) into creating
something that then is now a new product, no?

-- dave

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org/
Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

---------------------------------

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27 Jan 2006 - 12:58pm
Chad Thornton
2005

I agree with Dave about the usefulness of Fireworks. One of our newer
UI designers at Google had been using it in a previous job, and he
convinced me to try it out. It's so much easier than Photoshop. I
still don't use it for all production graphics -- Photoshop has
better filters -- but for everyday mockups, I use it all the time.
Several other designers have also switched.

One big bonus for teams is that the native file format is PNG.
Fireworks embeds the layer data in the file, so it's a little bigger,
but it also means you don't have to export from PSDs for online
presentations (we show most of our mockups in a web browser, for
obvious reasons) and that others on your team can just grab the
graphic in their browser and get to work without hunting for your PSDs.

I hope Adobe takes Fireworks seriously as a product. It doesn't have
the biggest audience, but given Microsoft's work on Sparkle, Acrylic,
and Expression, hopefully Adobe sees a potential place for Fireworks
in its product lineup.

- Chad

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