Ask A Scientist

What is the best and cheapest flash animation program?

Asked by: Owen Cobb
School: Maine Endwell Middle School
Grade: 6
Teacher: Kevin Wagstaff
Hobbies/Interests: Hobbies: Video games and stargazing Family: Older sister Alyssa and younger sister, Lucy  
Career Interest: Video game art designer

Answer from Gerald Hovancik

Web Developer

Family: Wife, two kids, dog
Web page address: geraldhovancik.com

Hello, Owen. Adobe Flash is used to create interactive, digital environments, both online and offline. It is a vector (line art) based program that can incorporate photos, audio and video. Flash files can be exported and embedded into webpages, which is the most common use. Standalone desktop applications can also be created with Flash. Adobe’s free Flash plug-in, installed on 99% of Internet-enabled PCs, was the backbone of YouTube’s early success, due to its video capability. Adobe Flash is the “best and cheapest” program to create games that run within an Internet browser. Microsoft’s Silverlight is a direct competitor and another application focusing on creating interactive, digital environments that can incorporate photos, audio and video. It requires a plug-in to view content and Microsoft’s Visual Studio to create content. Silverlight was introduced in 2007, so market share is heavily weighted in Adobe’s favor since Flash was introduced 11 years prior. There are some issues you should be aware of when using Flash to create content for the Web. The Flash Player plug-in is required to access content and needs to be updated often. Accessibility is another issue with Flash files. Users with hearing or visual impairments will often use applications such as JAWS or NVDA to browse the Internet. These screen readers often have issues with Flash files, so the end user does not always receive all the content in the right order. In addition, Flash content is inaccessible with certain Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Web technology is changing rapidly and there is no telling where Flash will be in five years. Designers/developers are creating some beautiful, interactive websites with HTML5, which is the next version of HTML. The team at Google created thewildernessdowntown.com, which incorporates HTML5, Google Maps and Google’s own browser, Google Chrome. Sites that use HTML5 do not depend on plug-ins to function, are fully accessible by screen readers and successfully render with Apple mobile devices. One warning when using HTML5, users must have a modern browser, such as the latest versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Apple’s Safari. 

If your interests lie in creating games for game consoles like Sony PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox or Nintendo’s Wii, you may want to look beyond Flash. A video game art designer may create game concepts or sketches of characters and/or scenes for video games. This would only require a good imagination and a sharp pencil. Good luck!

Last Updated: 9/18/13