Foundation XML for Flash
8 comments | Posted: 6 February 06 in Books, by Nathan Smith
My to-do list has just become a little bit lighter. This past week I read through Foundation XML for Flash, written by first time author Sas Jacobs. For being her debut book, this one turned out to be pretty helpful. It is full of insightful tips and tutorials on how to harness the versatility and simplicity of XML for use in your interactive projects. While XML itself is simple, it is not always understood.
Far too often, we see Flash abused through intrusive advertisements. Sas gets back to wielding it redemptively to enhance the user experience. According to Macromedia, the original purpose of Flash was to produce Rich Internet Applications, dubbed RIA. If you have ever been to Flickr, you have probably seen this in action. Other examples are SlideShowPro and anything at Airtight.
My only qualm with this book is that it bears the “Mac/PC Compatible” mantra on the back cover, typical of most Friends of ED books. While you certainly don’t need a PC to work with Flash or XML, most of the examples in this book center around using Office 2003. Additionally, she makes extensive reference to ASP.NET and Altova XML Spy which is available only for Windows.
To be fair, she does make mention of some PHP, Mac and even Linux alternatives. However, if you’re the type of person who likes to follow along step-by-step with the examples, expect to do so in a Microsoft environment. I think this book could have benefitted from instructions on how to do comparable things with OpenOffice, because it can read and write Office 2003 XML format.
Generally, most tech-savvy users will probably already have their own way of dealing with XML, such as Notepad++ on Windows or Textmate on the Mac. Anyway, I will not belabor the point, but it would have been nice to see a more platform agnostic / neutral approach, especially considering that XML is considered to be such a universally applicable and open-standard format.
That being said, this book is quite a valuable resource for a variety of possible XML applications. There are example tutorials on making a Photo Gallery, MPEG Layer 3">MP3 Player, RSS Reader, as well as consuming web services to display data like current weather. This book got me to thinking about the possibility of making a robust, dynamic environment that could be powered by an open-source CMS.
I remember seeing a restaurant site that was quite classy and well done, the front end of which was presented in Flash. To my surprise, I found that the admin side of things was handled through Textpattern. It is this type of thing that interests me, using Flash’s potential in conjunction with dynamic content.
If that intrigues you too, along with the possibility of having rich multimedia that is easy to update, you might want to consider reading this book. As W3C standards continue to gain momentum, the popularity of XML is only bound to increase. As designers, we must stay abreast of these advancements in Flash.
Discuss This Topic
Comments closed after 2 weeks.