HTML Zen Coding is a plugin for many popular HTML editors that gives the web developer many tools for quickly building out HTML pages. If you are comfortable (and enjoy) CSS selectors popular today in many frameworks (such as jQuery) then this may be for you.
When we build HTML documents, we are always building code that is repetitive, and we have ways of making that better. Creative copying and pasting usually. Sometimes I feel like I’m playing music on my keyboard when I do my copy paste and edit keyboards commands over and over.
With Zen Coding the process is much “simpler”. You need to learn the syntax, which is straightforward for most selector friendly folks — but it will shorten your workload and let you do some things that you may have avoided before.
I’ve asked myself the Flash or Flex question recently and wanted to post my thoughts.
It’s a good idea to think about platforms when building web applications ahead of time. Factors I traditionally use, but will not reference here, are the current employee skillsets, ability of the team to learn, and cost to update software. I know — it’s good to get updated software in a company, but sometimes it just doesn’t make sense for a company to spend $1,000 for 5 users, to maintain a project that only costs $5,000 to build. If the company is already equipped with Flash but not Flex — it may make sense to choose Flash even though the project doesn’t lend itself.
That being said, here’s the breakdown of Flash and Flex
Flash has always been the tool used by develops wanting to create vector animations on the web. Recently Microsoft has introduced Silverlight, we will be ignoring that option for this scenario as I don’t believe I have the expertise to judge Silverlight.
- Comes with standard Adobe Creative Suite Bundles
- Timeline based animations
- Hand animated assets
- Standard Animation
- Self Created Vector Assets
- Highly customized interfaces
- Animation / Design leaning IDE
- Familiar environment, as it is the standard way to deploy SWFs
- Not meant for AS3 development
- Becomes a basic text editor in most Object Oriented development exercises
- Timeline approach means maintenance is more expensive long term
Basically Flash is the ideal environment for development if you are doing things such as banners, animations, logos, or any other visual type of project. It leans itself towards graphic design and animation.
Flash is found in the Adobe Creative Suite 4 Web Premium
Flex is the newcomer to the vector animation IDE’s from Adobe. Flex is primarily targeted at developers working in the Flash environment. Flex 3 Builder is a modified Eclipse IDE. The Flex platform was built to enable developers to adapt better to Flash, and be able to create Flash O-O applications.
- Developer friendly IDE
- Built in components for standard GUI elements
- Meant for highly interactive applications
- Performance tools
- Maintaining code
- Can leverage SWFs
- Can leverage AS3 code
- No Timeline
- Not for designers
- May seem “cryptic” to traditional Flash developers
- Not visual
- Requires learning new MXML code
- Complex working environment
Flex is meant for application development. The IDE lets developers work in a familiar environment, separate from the graphical tools designers are traditionally used to. Flex will give developers the tools they need to rapidly prototype application interfaces, with standardized tools and interface elements.
So which one should I choose?
Ultimately both Flash and Flex compile into the Flash SWF format. That means they are both capable of the same functionality and same graphical quality. The major difference is in the individual building the SWF, as well as the goal of the SWF. If your goal is for a design oriented SWF, then go with Flash. If you want an application, or a complex interactive interface then Flex will most likely be your tool of choise.