Flash for the open source lover

I may be a number of months behind the game in this one, but in my meanderings about the web, I ran across the beautiful “swftools“, which is a collection of open source (GPL) tools for doing stuff with SWF files. In other words, Flash… and you don’t need any piracy shenanigans to do it. (That’s been the one hurdle that stopped me from making Flash content before… I don’t have the money to buy the official software, and I refuse to stoop to piracy for it).

Being a bit of a programmer, my favourite part is definitely the “swfc” component, which lets you do some nice scripting to make stuff happen. Rock on… I might manage some web-game development yet!

From a serious educational point-of-view, I think this could be great for folks learning programming, especially if it’s in a games/media setting. We see plenty of Java floating around colleges and universities, but seriously, when was the last time you saw a good web application coded in Java? There are certainly some, but most of the time, it’s SWF. It’s not exactly the conventional ActionScript development that Adobe would probably want everybody to do, but nonetheless, it can be used to produce something that is relevant in a modern context… and that’s got to be good when trying to encourage folks to face their fear of computer code!

As a side note, I have seen various other neat (and free) bits of software out there which can automatically generate SWF files, be it for image slideshows or interactive graphs. All this has happened since Adobe opened up the format back in May this year. Shame it took so long to get there, but I salute the decision! 🙂

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