Tom Ortega II

Flash: Can get you rich and/or provide a better UI

In Business, Flash*Flex*AS, Programming, Technology and Software on May 30, 2007 at 10:10 pm

This is why I love the Flash platform. Jeff Atwood has two good posts (Yes, more Jeff, I tend to “catch up” on blogs when the post count gets high in the Google reader)

Post 1: How to Get Rich Programming

This is something that I hope to do someday. Hopefully, I’ll be as successful as Paul Preece with his Desktop Tower Defense. To be honest though, monetary success isn’t even a requirement. I’d be happy doing something like Snowcraft. That little game had me playing for hours back in the day, and still takes up too much of my time when I open it. (Yes, I realize that it was made with Director, but the same could be accomplished in Flash now.)

Flash is so incredibly good at creating fun little games. Heck, Flex can even let you build games as Joe’s Connect Four shows you. I think that’s why I like being a Flex programmer. While I may be programming “serious” apps during the day, I know that all that time put into coding is going to pay off someday. I’ll be playing with my boys and wham! Inspiration is gonna hit. I’ll quickly jot down the idea and all my flexy flashing knowledge will later help it take shape. Now, if I could just find where I last left inspiration.

Post 2: Zoomable Interfaces

This post deals with something that I’ve always felt is missing in UIs, zooming. I have to agree that it is by far the most intuitive thing to the human mind. We manually zoom to objects in our daily lives by walking up to them. Movies and photos all take advantage of zooming to play with our emotions. It’s just something we know intrinsically.

Adobe Lab’s JamJar app utilized zooming to create an ever expanding workspace. The best use case for this type of interface though is best explained in Aza’s talk at Google. He demos this little experiment that you should take for a spin. An hour into the talk is when he shows the tool. During the demo, he talks about how his dad was helping a company work with the medical field. Nurses were given a tool that let them zoom in and out from patient’s medical charts. When the zoomed in far enough, they were able to edit. It took the nurses 45 seconds to figure out how to use the system. That’s is sickly fast and all apps should dream of a 45 second learning curve. The nurses themselves then began thinking higher and said, “Don’t stop at just charts, zoom out to see the room, zoom out to see the ward, zoom out to see the floor, zoom out to see the hospital, zoom out to see the chain of hospitals.”

I’ve currently got two experiments going on in Flex. When I finish those two things, I’ll move onto a zoomable experiment. I can’t wait to do my take on this UI concept. If you know of other examples that use zoom very well, please post links in the comments so I can check them out.

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  1. Healthcare software is in desperate need of tis kind of thing — the current state of usability in this space is abysmal…

  2. Hi Tom,

    Great to see other Flash/Flex developers thinking about improving UI in Flash, particularly with the help of ZUI. I’ve collected some thoughts, examples & links regarding ZUI on my blog.

    Check it out…
    http://gasi.ch/blog/category/ui/zui/

    Regards,
    Daniel

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