Flash Where It Should Be Used

Flash Where It Should Be Used

I have Flash turned off on my browser. I use Flock and have a few addons that I can't live without. But it kept slowing down on me, so I trimmed a few things. I learned how to use about:config and turned off all Flash until I click the play button to start it. It wasn't until then that I realized how many Flash ads are out there.

And some people build their whole sites out of Flash. If you're a designer, photographer, or your site is only supposed to be a business card floating in the ether of the internets, Flash was probably a good choice, but if you expect your site to get read for content, look elsewhere.

Plus if you are looking to add a few interactive element to your site, AJAX is probably a better choice. It's fast and doesn't rely on third-party plugins.

So up to the last week, my basic opinion of Flash was that it was worthless to me and I am never going to give it another thought, similar to my opinion of Facebook. I can do without. If I am handicapped by that choice, so be it.

But then I ran into a few online apps that kicks any other apps ass. And I ran into them literally in the last week. And they run in Flash. And they are as complex as some downloadable software.

Many online apps are really trimmed down. I use Picnik because it does what I need while I am using it, but I still have to go to Photoshop to slice an image for a theme. And Google's apps, please. Then I found a few apps that could potentially replace some of my desktop software. Don't believe me, check out these (if you want to, you can request a beta invite from each. I got right in all of them):


Database software. I am a data junky. Didn't used to be. When I thought I had the time and money to get a degree, I wanted one in computer science. When I checked out pay, database developers made the most. Boring! No going to do it.

Then I realized the power of data. It's through the use of data we get contextual ads. It's through the use of data, you can build huge sites from scratch with totally unique content as long as you know how to fit all the data together in a new way. It's through the use of data that I was able to finally cut the time I spend affiliate marketing in half. I track it all and have for about a year now. I know where hits come from, how long visitor's stay, and how long it takes them to purchase.

I have used mysql a while. I was hoping someone was going to come up with a better UI for it. Do get me wrong, coding from scratch will build faster apps, but I just want to move data around sometimes and don't need all the flexibility.

I am really excited to see where Blist goes, if it can become as flexible and useful as Filemaker. Or maybe it could interact with a mysql database for a website. If so, watch out database developers. Pretty soon the average person may have the same power as you.

I mentioned that I use Picnik for simple editing. Aviary pretty much kicks Picnik's ass. Not only that, it kicks it through the uprights and out of the stadium.

I am currently a beta member of the Phoenix tool, but just take a look at all these tools. There is not only graphics software listed there, but video and audio editors. I was going to list them here but there is a lot.

Okay, Phoenix doesn't have any slicing functions, but there are layers and just about anything you would see on Photoshop, just trimmed down a little. In fact, Photoshop can be intimidating and Phoenix is just about right for what I use Photoshop for. It has layers and filters. I just wish I could slice things, but maybe that functionally is in Owl, another one of the amazing amount of tools Aviary has developed.


Building a sprout is easy. Choose from dozens of pre-built templates or start from scratch. Drag-and-drop shapes, text, images, video, and more. Then add components such as slideshows, jukeboxes, and countdown clocks, as well as interactive services such as chat (Meebo), phone (Ribbit), fundraising (ChipIn), and more. Once you've got your content in place, use advanced editing and navigation tools to perfect your sprout.

This thing is freaking awesome. Create your own widgets by dragging and dropping. Instant access to countdown timers, calenders, etc. that you drag to your widget. And when you go to create a widget, you can choose a template from a list of commonly used sizes, like Adwords blocks or create your own size.

It took me about 5 minutes to create this widget. It doesn't really give you an idea of the potential of this tool, but it does show how quick and easy it is to use.

So if you have an idea for a widget that you think can go viral and have no idea where to start, start with Sprout.

And if any of you have spotted more of these cool desktop killer apps, make sure to comment.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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