There is a deepening chasm in the Flash world between those who understand and use ActionScriptin their work and those who don’t. We sometimes erroneously call this the difference between“designers” and “developers.” The assumption is that “designers” do not understand code and“developers” do not understand design. This is, at best, a convenient oversimplification.The labels “designer” and “developer” may have sufficed in the early days of the Web when we wereall still trying to make sense of this new and exciting medium. More than a decade since, we havediscovered that the medium is not entirely new and that it does not exist in a vacuum, separatefrom all that came before it and all that exists alongside it.
Today, the “designer”(Flash Animation) and “developer” labels do not tell you much about what a person is or what aperson does. And yet they are frequently used to describe both. As a description of job function, these labels are woefully inadequate in detail. What type of designwork do you do? What is your function on the team? Do you do graphic design, or motion graphicsdesign, or information design (architecture), or object design (modeling)? By lumping graphicdesigners, information architects, animators, and illustrators under the huge catch-all category of“designer,” you strip that label of any meaning whatsoever. The role of the “developer”—at least in a Flash context—appears to be somewhat better defined. You can assume to some degree of accuracy that the person’s job involves building user interfacesand, more than likely, programming.Where these titles lack the necessary granularity in describing job function, one thing is certain: They are overly restrictive when it comes to describing who a person is. “I am a designer,” for example,is often used to justify time not spent learning to program. Similarly, “I can’t draw a straightline” is an oft-used excuse by “developers” to rationalize a lack of invested time in learning thebasics of graphic, motion graphics, and user interface design. (Contrary to popular belief, many ofthe best graphic and motion graphics designers in the world couldn’t draw a very impressive straightline either if given an easel and brush; similarly, some of the most talented artists I know couldn’tdesign a passable user interface layout to save their lives.) No, at the personal level, you should accept no less than the title of “artist” and aspire to earn theright to carry the title. And earning this right is influenced not so much by your accomplishments asby your approach: a relentless pursuit of perfection, where the journey is the destination. Like it or not, we are the artists of our era, and this crazy and wonderful conglomerate of digitalmedia are our easels, palettes, and brushes. We can create beautiful things, thought-provokingthings, things that can make a difference. And we can potentially reach more people in more waysthan has ever been possible in the past.