Flash designers, developers gather in SF next week
By Brad Gibson
As some 2,000 designers and developers converge on San Francisco for the
conference beginning Sunday, the changes and advancement of Macromedia Flash in just the past year and the synergies between programming and design will become center stage.
and produced by well-known author Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin of
United Digital Artists, the west coast conference promises to build on the legacy created by flashforward2000 events held previously in San Francisco, New York, and London.
“Flashforward is primarily an educational conference dedicated to supporting the Flash community of designers and developers,” Weinman told MacCentral. “There’s a certain spirit and feel to this conference unlike any other I’ve been involved with. This is really just a group of people that come together who are willing to go out the edge of the envelope and test their intelligence, creativity and technical savvy. When you hear them talk in the halls, you can see the energy level is very high. It’s amazing.”
The meeting of Flash aficionados at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium features more than 60 presentations by some of the world’s top Flash designers, programmers, and educators. The event offers hands-on training and how-to sessions, networking possibilities, and several pre-conference workshops that are open to the public.
The San Francisco conference includes beginner, intermediate, and advanced workshop tracks, along with the popular extended Q&A sessions. Session topics include, but are not limited to, Animation Essentials, Flash Usability, Advanced ActionScripting, using XML, Flash and Generator, and Scripting for Music and Drawing.
One of the highlights of flashforward2001, the Flash Film Festival celebrates the 50 best Flash creations on the Web. The gala awards ceremony will take place on February 19. Flashforward2001 will also feature the fourth annual Flash Film Festival, celebrating the 50 best Flash creations on the Web. The gala awards ceremony takes place on the evening of February 19.
One of the conference highlights will be a tribute to a major player in the development of Flash, which Weinman said should be “an emotional moment.”
In addition to the main conference and Flash Film Festival, two separate pre-conference workshops will also be held this Sunday — a conference first. One seminar will focus on action scripting with another on Flash fundamentals, both primarily for intermediate to advanced users.
The conference was born out of a need Weinman and Heavin found nationwide for in-depth Flash training a number of years ago. “There was no conference on the subject matter and it seemed to us like it was a very important topic to a lot of Web developers,” Weinman said. “We really didn’t realize that it was going to have the amount of demand that it ended up having. We were going to be happy if we got a thousand people to the first conference, and 2,500 people showed up.”
Flash trends changing
As Weinman opens the second-annual San Francisco conference, she believes a trend is developing that is changing the landscape of how designers and programmers are using Flash. While the product has tools to support drawing and animation, Weinman sees a growing contingent that is programming interactivity and motion via scripting.
“I do see different trends,” she said. “Last year, action scripting was fairly new to Flash. In version five, it got a whole lot more powerful. I’m personally surprised there is such an attraction to the programming side of Flash. I’ve found a lot of people are using programming, or scripting, in their design. So rather than moving art work around with a timeline, they would move it around with a script.”
This scripting trend is crossing a boundary few other tools are accomplishing, Weinman believes, but she feels the fine line between programming and design is blurred and that is catching some Flash users between a rock and a hard place.
“I’m finding a lot of Flash users need to learn the benefits of these new scripting tools and once they do that, they can better determine which direction best fits their needs, whether its using the animation tools or the detailed but powerful scripting tools,” she commented.
Weinman said the conference will focus technical sessions on how to integrate action scripting with other standard Web technologies like XML, databases, and Java script.
“We find many of our attendees are technically very far advanced. So we tend to offer more technical sessions this year then we did the first year, although we still have a lot of artistic sessions,” she said. “I think it’s an interesting mixture this year because Flash is so artistic and people who are artistic are so drawn to it.”
A lot like past Macworld Expo conventions, Weinman believes the flashforward conference concept has a certain community spirit and feel that is more of an ‘incubator’ for thought and creativity.
“I think everybody who attends flashforward walks away a little overwhelmed, but that’s really our goal. Flash is a really a deep, rich tool that requires you to think outside the box and open your mind to the possibilities and that’s so much of what our conference is about.”
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