The end of an era


It was June 11th, 2004 when a 17 year old kid would discover Flash. While at the time it seemed like a cool little toy to play around with, this would turn out to be the most important experience of his life and it would eventually define the future and aspirations of this kid. Almost 10 years later, he wrote this blogpost.

I actually looked it up. Yes, I actually wrote down the exact date when I first used Flash. That was how excited I was about it. June 11th, 2004. I was 17 years old. I was building my first websites and Flash was the natural next step in the process. I still remember that day as if it were yesterday.

My best friend, Nick, would show me how to animate a word using the timeline to make it look like it were spinning. I was blown away by the ease and simplicity with which this was possible. You just click a few places, hit CTRL+ENTER and there it would be: Your word, just spinning around. Fascinating…

It was the time of Macromedia Flash MX. I started learning animations and only weeks later I’d be making banners for clients already. I got 15€ per banner I delivered. Not much later I was totally obsessed with Actionscript and within a month I’d be building my first Red5 powered application to stream video’s and creating chat rooms.

Never had I touched anything and moved so fast in so little time. I had only been toying around with this for about 6 months but I felt like I would spend a lot of time with it in the future. Now, almost 10 years later —a decade of gotoAndPlay() later —, I’ve come to the conclusion that I haven’t really done anything in over a year with Flash.

It was not a choice. It just happened. I guess the mobile revolution just slowly killed Flash while empowering HTML5 to become the next big thing. It makes me a wee bit sad. Not because I miss Flash and I think HTML5 is bad or anything. But because Flash was what made my current life possible.

To most it’s just a plugin that’s finally become obsolete. But to me it has been the key to knowing what I’d want to do with my life. It was the reason I chose to go to Kortrijk and learn about client-side development. It’s the reason why I discovered so much about effects, about off-screen rendering, about multiplayer logics, about animation performance, about motion detection, about sound analyzing, about building crazy stuff. When it brought me to Kortrijk, it brought me to a new life with fantastic friends and eventually led me to live with a fantastic girlfriend. Flash allowed me to excel at something and really use my mind to create anything I could think of. It gave me the opportunity have an impact on people. It enabled me to become a member of FlashFocus and be part of a fantastic community and know so many people.

I still remember working on my first real Flash site that was heavily inspired by Xeo Freestyle. I worked my ass of to create a cool intro-animation. I was so insanely proud of it. That was probably the most time I ever spent on a personal project.

I also worked on these countless render engines to immitate the Nokia Non-stop-living loading effect. To this day, I still thing that thing held up quite well. While the implementation was nearly unusable, the concept of off-screen rendering enabled me to do some crazy stuff and build some awesome components.

Then there were the countless soundspectrum experiments, all of them pretty fascinating. The one I really pushed to get the best result was this Windows-media-player like tunnel. When I started I thought, I’d never get close. In the end I got right where I wanted actually.

Not to forget the countless particle engines… I mean: Everybody built one at some point, right? I still think Particle Engines should become the new “hello world“. Who cares if you can trace some text?! People wanna make shit move!

Then, my baby: Playr (seeing the site like that reminds me how long it has been since I checked in…). While it’s really obsolete today, I’m still very proud. The damn thing worked like no other. Easy, reliable, fast, flexible and most of all: EASY. That stuff was so cool, half of the students in my classes were using it when deploying music in their project. I even got interviewed about it.

That crazy night when I was working on this timelapse engine where I went on a tangent to create an engine as fast as I could make it work. The result was so mindblowing that it actually captured my amazement on camera. You can’t fake that kind of awesomeness.

And then there was that time I was at the Adobe Usergroup meeting in Antwerp and I showed a guy this motion detection engine I was working on. All of a sudden a whole group of people was standing behind us, looking what I was doing. Later that day, Peter Elst en Koen De Weggheleire gave me tips to improve on it. And it worked really well.

Of course all those conferences we went to, to talk to other people about Flash and everything else that somehow relates to it. Adobe Live, Multi-Mania, FITC and of course the beloved AUG meetings in Ghent and Antwerp.

Oh and I totally forgot about Preso (which I discontinued not too long ago). That was a pretty awesome project as well. Afterwards I had a hard time believing I actually managed to build that all by myself 🙂 Preso enabled me to give a pretty kickass demo when we were visiting Momentum Design Labs in San Francisco which afterwards resulted in the CEO handing me his business card to get in touch later on.


As you can see, quite a few memories… And those are just the ones that pop up right away as I’m typing this. So yea… 10 years ago this started… And it seems it has come to an end. I really loved my time with Flash and I think it’s a shame that we’re just walking away from it like that now.

But then again: it’s time to move on. So I guess this is where I conclude this blogpost. It is said that if you don’t know how to say something, you should rely to quotes of great men who’ve said it before you. However, I’m not sure if Abraham Lincoln has any relevant quotes about Flash which I could use here.

It has been quite an adventure and you never failed to amaze. But it’s now time to move on to something new. You will never be forgotten as I will always be thankful for the opportunities you have given me. So long, old friend.

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Ronny is a freelance frontend developer with a wild passion for creativity and a relentless hate against flat design. Ronny spent years as a Flash developer before moving to HTML5 and rediscovering fun and happiness.

1 Comment Join the Conversation →

  1. BD

    Nice trip down (Flash) memory lane! Recognize a lot of things. For me it started about 15 years ago, I remember the big (2.5 MB+) intros, the cool Flash games (Get the glass, milk game!), the buzz on Flashfocus. I still use the authoring tool to draw stuff, I love how it lets you sort / arrange things into MovieClips. But the output is almost never SWF these days… I hope Adobe doesn’t kill the authoring tool anytime soon so I can keep using it to spit out (non SWF) illustrations.


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