Worth it to learn Flash now?

28 Jan 2012 - 4:29pm
4 years ago
2 replies
1864 reads

Hello. I am considering taking some interaction design courses (probably online) to build some needed skills in both design and design tools. However, in all of the courses I've examined so far, the main (and perhaps only) design tool involved is Flash.

I already know earlier versions of Flash and ActionScript pretty well, and I'm not opposed to learning more of it. My concern is that Adobe seems to be giving up on Flash (mobile for now, but I assume the rest will follow, won't it?), and I do not want to put effort into learning something that will soon be obsolete.

Is that concern valid, do you think? For those of you in academia, do you know if schools are perhaps considering switching to other design tools, if they haven't already? (For example, I think CIID emphasizes Processing.) Basically, I'm wondering if it might be a bad idea to take Flash-based design courses now, and instead wait a year or so to see what happens.

Thanks in advance for any advice on this.


8 Feb 2012 - 11:29am

Full disclosure: In addition to UX/UI design I was a Flash developer from 2000-2008 and a Flex developer from 2008-present.

You are right to not care about Flash for mobile - Adobe doesn't, you shouldn't either. But this means Flash-lite and Flash-player plug-ins for mobile browsers. Adobe is committed to delivering tools that allow Flash/Flex developers the ability to leverage their skills for building apps for Android and iOS - and some of the most popular apps on both systems have been built using Flash or Flex (via AIR).

Flex remains a powerful tool for developing RIAs and desktop apps - perhaps moreso now that its completely open-sourced and managed by Spoon and Apache.

So to answer your question - it depends. If you want to be an RIA developer or a web developer - learn Flash (and by Flash I really just mean AS3 and OOP). But you should also learn HTML5 as it is taking over lots of things you used to only be able to do in Flash and it is the most flexible and viewable on all devices (w/ a compatible browser). I've had many clients ask for Flex web apps and I've steared them towards HTML5 because for what they were doing that was the better choice. That said, HTML5 is at least 5 years behind Flex in lots of areas - not the least of which is ease-of-use, meaning, it's easier to build something quickly in Flex w/ very powerful features than it would be to attempt the same in HTML5. In 5 years that'll probably not be the case - but Flex will have evolved in other ways too - so I imagine HTML5 will be behind the curve for quite some time yet.

Now, with all THAT said - it is a poor artist who blames their tools. You can build awesome stuff with just about anything. The tools don't matter so much as the artist/builder wielding them. I say learn as much as you can about as many things as you can - you'll be better positioned against 1-trick ponies that only know 1 set of tools and will be a much more rounded and objective designer/developer.

I still don't think there's anything out there as good for rapid prototyping as Flash - perhaps Axure, but I've never used it, so that's just hearsay.

Best of luck!

9 Feb 2012 - 12:09pm

Thanks for the reply, Wraevn. I feel less uneasy that developing my Flash skills would be pointless, now. :-)

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