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What is Flash?

Today I was interviewed by my local paper, The Noe Valley Voice. At one point, the reporter asked me "what is Flash?" At first, I said it was hard to sum that up in just a few words. I thought for a moment and replied that Flash was a "powerful animating and programming tool".

It got me thinking again, about how we present ourselves outside of the Flash Community. With a lot of what I work on, explaining what Flash is, seems easier to explain that what I use it for :-)

I wonder what has happened with What Is Flash? Granted, I've been very busy lately and haven't kept up with many things, but I haven't seen any activity on that front in a long time.


I have problem defining what Flash is to my company as well before coming up with this definition:

"Software that allows integrated and interactive delivery of image, audio, text, video, and data in the Web"

I think this should be able to describe the nature of Flash from animation tool to RIA :)

How about a simple definition - "FUN!"? :)

That's hard for me, because the one-word label "Flash" refers to a whole family of technologies, used for an even wider range of purposes. Nailing the label down a little tighter can help when asked to provide a definition.

The Macromedia Flash Player is the most widely-distributed piece of software on the internet, with startlingly rapid update rates.

The Macromedia Flash authoring tools are one way to create SWF files.

People create lots of different things in SWF files, taking advantage of its predictable interactivity, multi-media capability, ability to retrieve fresh data without reloading the interface, the most popular video codec... different projects emphasis different aspects of the engine deployed on consumers' machines.

If a reporter asked me "What is Flash?" and I couldn't question back to find what they were really seeking, I'd probably go with "the standard way to do interesting things in web browsers" or something like that, but I'd be a bit uncomfortable until we could both agree on what the reporter was really seeking.

We have a tough time describing Flash to each other, and we're all in the industry ;-)

But to folks outside of it, they want a quick, simple picture. The interview was about the event we're having, and we were talking about what GalaxyGoo is (which is also difficult to explain)and what I do with Flash. So I think the explination I gave was good for that context.

Hey John! I need to talk to you about something, would be kind enough to email me? The last time I tried to email you I got kicked back by your spam filter. :(