Flash Without Adobe – Long Live Open Source


Are you interested in Flash? Would you like to create a flash box that cycles through a series of images? (aka Image slider, Image Rotator, slide show, image gallery, etc.) Woud you like to do it without buying an Adobe Flash Product or one of those other do-it-yourself flash widgets? If so, let me assure you that it can be done.

For those that do not know, Adobe Flash is a platform for creating Rich Internet Applications (RIA) in digital media. Adobe is pretty much the leader in online video delivery and animated web content. We see Flash everywhere when surfing the net in banners and sidebars. Flash is a zippy name for the motion (animation) we see in those interesting ads or photo galleries. Most Flash developers use the Adobe CS5 suite of applications to create Flash (Creative Suite 5 Production Premium software – list price $ 1699). The CS5 applications output a file with an SWF extension (eg. Myflashfile.swf) which is then embedded into a web page using java script and html.

I became interested in Flash in the summer of 2009 when I decided to create my first web site. I really wanted to have some Flash animation on my site. However, I had to find a way to create the Flash content without buying Adobe Flash or paying anyone else to create the Flash. Like many people, I had a limited budget and buying Adobe Flash was too big of a stretch for my pocket book. I considered buying one of those low cost programs that create Flash effects (eg sothink), but they are very limited. What I wanted to do with Flash required me to purchase several different modules and that gets expensive too.

I spent a reasonable amount of time searching for ways to create Flash, but I was running into one obstacle: Adobe! After about 40 hours of research I was convinced that I had to buy an Adobe product to create Flash and Iave up my quest. Emotionally, I was crushed and a little angry at Adobe. Adobe had a corner on the market and I felt like they were charging way too much for the software because they do not have any competitors. Fortunately, that anger and sense of injustice did not go away. It kept eating at me as I worked on my web site.

A couple months later, fueled by what I perceived to be an injustice, I decided to dig further. My quest became a mild obsession. I could not put Flash out of my mind. I had to create Flash content for my site. I owed to myself that I would figure out how to create Flash without buying an Adobe product, or any other product, and I would let others know how I did it. The public needed to know.

This is my favorite part. Yes! I figured it out! I learned how to create flash without buying anything. Even more surprising and ironically, I could not have done it without Adobe. Adobe provides the Flash compiler free as part of their open source initiative and there is an incredible open source Integrated Development Environment (IDE) called FlashDevelop. FlashDevelop combined with Adobe's Flex SDK creates the Flash files (SWF) which are then embedded in an HTML page. The IDE is so amazing that I keep thinking I'm going to be billed for using it, but its open source which means it's free.

There is a catch. Do not worry, it is not money. The catch is that programming is required. The programming language is Action Script 3.0. The good news is that there are tutorials available on the web to help you get started. Below is a list of the items you will need. To learn more about each item do a Google search.

Java – latest version
MS.NET Framework 2.0
Adobe Flash Player – latest version
Adobe Flex SDK – latest version
FlashDevelop IDE
ActionScript 3.0 (AS3) Books and tutorials


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