Why RunPee is Built Using Flash and Not HTML

I’ve been asked many times, “Why is the site built 100% with Flash?”

There’s a very simple answer for that: I’m a Flash Platform developer. I don’t know any other way to build it.

I had the idea/concept for the site years ago – after watching King Kong. At the time I didn’t know how to build a Flash site that integrated with a database. Last Spring ( 2008 ) I began doing Flash development using the Adobe Flex framework, which greatly simplifies that workflow. I taught myself a bit of PHP and a lot of MySQL and began working on RunPee.

While I was hopeful that it would be a useful site, my primary goal was to work on a project that would give me practice with these new skills. In that regard it has been very successful. Now most of my projects involve some sort of database integration and it’s the core of my freelance work.

While many people may decry the use of Flash, my clients come to me requesting that I use it to build their sites. I don’t have to sell it to them and I don’t have to look for work. It’s in high demand.

It’s a valid point that the site has a high initial download. There are many reasons for that. One is that the Flex framework is pretty hefty by itself.

While I have optimized by using what’s called Flex framework, caching the site download is still about 224k. Some of what makes the size so large are things like using the Google Analytics API for visitor tracking, embeded font, a few graphical assets and such. The good news is that once you have downloaded the site, everything should run very quickly. The only thing left to do is make data requests to the server, which are tiny little chunks of data. There is no page refreshing at all.

So think about it this way, if the site were HTML, and you visited 3-4 pages at RunPee, then it would probably equal out.

There is no doubt that RunPee could have been done easily in HTML. But, I gave up working in HTML back when I was pulling my hair out trying to build sites for IE4/NS4. I love working with Flash. I love the Flash community. And most of all I love the fact that the primary limitation to using Flash is my imagination and not the Flash platform.

In addtion I can now create desktop applications using Adobe AIR. There is no way I was ever going to learn something like .Net. But now making a desktop app is pretty much the same workflow as making a Flash/Flex app – I just get an extended API for working with SQL-lite, local files, etc.

As an example, check out pixDIF. It’s an AIR app that I created to help measure pixel distances and check to see how an implementation of a design compares with the design mockup. That app would have been a real challenge for an advanced .Net developer. But it was fairly simple for me to create with AIR.

So Flash it is. Because it’s my passion.

10 replies
  1. Kevin Hoyt
    Kevin Hoyt says:

    FWIW,

    224 kb isn’t really that big. The Amazon.com home page, when I checked just now, weighed in at just shy of 700 kb. And that’s a light day. It generally runs upwards of 1 Mb. RunPee isn’t Amazon, but the point is that there’s generally a lot more to an HTML/Ajax site than most people think about (your page refresh remarks as an example, JavaScript libraries and logic as another, CSS and other styling assets as yet another).

    Kevin

    Reply
    • polyGeek
      polyGeek says:

      @Kevin, true’nuf. Some webpages out there are HEAVY. I’m really surprised that Amazon is so large. I wonder if they do a test to see if you are on broadband so that they can send all the bells and whistles and then send a light weight version to those on dialup?

      There is certainly this misconception that Flash is all big files. Well media assets take up a lot of k. But the actual code part is tiny. Take a look at what people could do with Keith Peter’s 25 lines project. Amazing stuff.

      I posted this because someone commented on this blog about the large download. And he’s right in the since that I forgot to factor in the actual Framework cache files. If a user has to grab those as well then you can add in another 523k. So yeah, for someone on a non-broadband connection they are going to have to wait for a bit. Sucks, but there’s nothing to be done about it.

      Reply
  2. Saskat
    Saskat says:

    i honestly dont think there is a problem with having a flash web site. Why do people get so aggro about it? ive never understood this… never… I can remember going backa few years when i was in high school.. about 8 years ago i guess.. Flash was the ants pants. Everyone was using it. You couldnt go to a site that wasnt flash. why the sudden change of heart?

    Reply
    • polyGeek
      polyGeek says:

      @Saskat, yeah, I don’t get that either. I’m so sorry Flash has made the web a much better place. I remember when the NFL.com had RealVideo and it was a huge waste of time. Now they use Flash video and the site is amazing.

      Reply

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