Brendan Dawes

Analogue + Digital


Flash as an attitude not a platform

Many years ago, when I was in a mind numbing job working in a factory, I did a night school course in Pascal programming. I'd grown up playing around with the ZX81 and ZX Spectrum, writing little programs here and there, but I wanted to learn more about how to write code.

So I started on this course one night a week after work and I really loved it. Somehow all this code stuff seemed to make sense to me. I remember one time we were given the task of writing a program that would pick out vowels from any inputted sentence. Rather than just do what was asked, I created a visual animation to show each letter being sent into a vowels pile. At this point my tutor started to think that I had done programming before and that I had been planted in the class to test him. But that wasn't the case – I was just fascinated by the possibilities of code.

That first program I wrote in Pascal still sticks with me to this day. Not because I want to code in Pascal but because of what it taught me. It taught me that coding is not about syntax but about attitude. Any idiot can learn the syntax. What makes a great coder and particularly a great creative coder is the "don't give a shit" attitude.

And that's what Flash was always about for me. It encapsulated that spirit of just having a go. Play around with stuff and see what happens. Unit testing? Whatever. I couldn't give a fuck. Syntax and correct ways to code? Fuck you. This was never what Flash was about IMHO.

But I don't just practice that attitude in Flash. I can take that and apply it to anything. Right now at mN we've almost completed a huge HTML 5 site that does things you're not meant to do in a browser. And that approach is totally born out of what Flash has taught me and allowed me to practice.

So right now, to everyone moaning about Apple and Adobe I say take the attitude of the Flash approach and apply it to other stuff. Crank up Xcode and apply it to make iPhone apps like nobody has ever seen before. Make people's heads spin with crazy arsed HTML voodoo. Learning new things is cool. Stop being a flash developer / designer and be a maker instead.