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swingliner's avatar

From limited HTML knowledge to Flash Developer - how long does it take?

Asked by swingliner (245 points ) March 7th, 2009

How long would it take someone to get a grasp of Flash when starting from scratch? At the moment my computer knowledge is so limited that I only know the very basics of 1990’s-style HTML (I currently still have trouble using the tags on Fluther. ) But learning how to design brilliantly animated, interactive websites really thrills me. I’m currently 22. At what point would I be knowledgeable enough about interactive design applications to go out for a career in it? 5, 6 years?

Where do I start?

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8 Answers

StellarAirman's avatar

Don’t worry about a career in it, just have fun and start experimenting. There are tons of Flash tutorial sites out there as well as books available at any book store. Just do a Google search for Flash Tutorials and start reading. Or go buy an introductory book. And just remember, a lot of sites are finally figuring out that Flash really sucks for complete site designs, so that skill may be of somewhat limited use outside of making video players and Flash-based games.

swingliner's avatar

@StellarAirman – Thanks for the tip. Then what programs are interactive design and web development studios using for clients? Or what are the best programs to use? How long do they take to learn?

StellarAirman's avatar

I’m saying that flashy, animated whizbang web sites with fancy animated crap all over the place in general have declined from what they used to be. There are many drawbacks to having a complete web site made in Flash. If you must make such a site, Flash is still the standard.

There is no magic time that it takes to learn, unfortunately. It’s completely up to your ability to retain the information, your desire to learn it and dedicate time to it, your natural talent in using the technology, etc.

If you have trouble figuring out how to use tags on a web site, I’d say you’ve got a very long road ahead of you. :)

funkdaddy's avatar

@swingliner the career portion has more to do with being able to formulate and execute designs than the technologies used. If Flash offers what you need to create the site of your dreams, then use it. It is still the standard way to get animation on the web and studios and individuals can certainly make a career of being proficient in Flash. (2advanced Studios and Paul Neave for example will always find work)

What makes their work stand out though is that it’s well thought out and uses the strengths of the technology (flash) while minimizing the shortcomings (file size, slow loading, tendency towards concentrating on effects rather than effective presentation)

I’m way off track here, your question is where do you start. Well, do you have the software to make Flash movies? If not you’ll need to get a copy of Adobe Flash, the newer the better but really whatever you can afford. You may want to go ahead and get a copy of an Adobe Creative Suite so you’ll have some of the supporting programs like Photoshop (or Fireworks) and Illustrator that you’ll use to create graphics for your site. (a recent discussion on student copies of the various software may help)

Once you have the software, it really depends on how you learn best where to go from there. I’m always most motivated if I have an idea in mind and want then learn how to create that particular idea. I would dream up a site that did some of the things I wanted to learn and then go through piece by piece to learn those parts. If you know some HTML, that will help. Maybe grab a book on Flash so at least you have some lessons to get the basics down. The Adobe website also has a number of tutorials that start with no assumption of prior knowledge, so start there if you don’t want to drop cash on a book right away.

Will you be turning out great work in 30 days like some of the books claim, probably not. But the key to making great sites seems to be just keep making sites and learn a little bit on each one. As long as you don’t start just falling back completely on what you know you’ll progress and get better. Give it a shot, the 5 or 6 years you mention is a lifetime for designing on the web right now. Styles changes pretty fast. If you constantly have a least one project you’re working on, you’ll probably be surprised how quickly you develop your own style and skill set slanted towards the types of projects you want to do.

Above all, enjoy it and good luck.

Zaku's avatar

As with most computer programming or scripting skills, it depends on how easy it is for you to figure out computer stuff, and the particular flavor of computer stuff you’re trying to learn.

cwilbur's avatar

If you want to be an actual software developer that understands the hows and whys of what he’s doing, four to six years.

If you just want to make websites that beep and honk and dance, you can probably get fluent in Director in six months or so.

lefteh's avatar

I know this isn’t your question, but I would say don’t learn Flash to create brilliantly animated and interactive websites. Learn and master JavaScript, CSS, PHP, and SQL instead.

jackfright's avatar

much less.

people who i often find in this field tend to come from 2 different backgrounds; designers and programmers. while flash and the like tend to be a mix of the two, you need to identify your core discipline first. i can only assume you’re more of a designer since you’ve only mentioned basic html and haven’t mentioned any proficiency with other programming languages.

that’s good. i come from a design background myself as well and started playing with actionscript when i was 17, about 9 years ago now. give yourself a year, if you’re passionate about it, you’ll be amazed at what you can do by then. if not, then it’s probably better to focus on other aspects of web design.

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