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Thread: The failure that is AS3 - time to act

  1. #1
    Yes we can tomsamson's Avatar
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    The failure that is AS3 - time to act

    Yeah, its time to act people!
    Several known guys in the flash scene speak up so maybe with united voice we can get Adobe to listen.
    Have a look here:
    http://blog.andre-michelle.com/
    http://blog.joa-ebert.com/2009/08/06...is-an-outrage/
    http://ncannasse.fr/blog/the_failure_of_as3

    What do you see as problematic? What would you like to see and what are your suggestions?
    If you have an own blog maybe post your own thoughts there, else reply on one of those posts.
    Its important that Adobe gets a wakeup call and realizes many want some changes so every voice counts.
    Last edited by tomsamson; 08-10-2009 at 05:20 AM.

  2. #2
    Say hello to Bob Kakihara's Avatar
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    Havent posted on here in a loonnngggg time but ill throw my two cents in.

    The main problems with as3 are addressed in those blogs so need to go over them again but the main issue for is the fact that something that was incredibly simple to do in as2 is now downright horrendous to do in as3. One case i find repeatedly frustrating is that say i have a menu system setup in one holder clip dynamically attached at runtime, and this clip has a timeline animation for visual effect AND clips that need to be set to certain frames on the fly, well the fun begins. I find that in these typical cases which popup a lot in big games that the nested clips take forever ok exaggeration, maybe half a second) to init at runtime and visually this results in ugly flicker as the clip merrily plays through all its frames before its ready to go. Now why not set it to invisible you say? Well i would but im not allowed to set a clip thats not ready to do anything or as3 insists on killing execution there and then. Why not use the attachedtostage event? Well i find that is all but useless and never works unless you are working with ONE clip and ONE clip only. No nested clips or it thinks its loaded when in fact everything inside is still loading. How do you solve this? Well the only solution ive found is to setup an enterframe event and check if every nested clip is not null (yes EVERY CLIP) and if any are then break out and continue to loop. Once all are loaded set them and remove the event. Now call me crazy but there has to be an easier way of handling this without constant errors. There may be in fact a better way maybe involving loading in clips at runtime but when dealing with visual menus and such any uglyness or slowness is unacceptable. I have had to come up with some highly inventive and quite frankly ludicrous ways of putting together complex menus which in as1 and 2 would have been soooo easy.

    Massive bulk of text there and i apologise but i thought id put one of my main gripes out there and get the ball rolling.
    If our body is a clock ticking away and if while we experience all that this world has to offer time has still continued to pass, are we living or just experiencing a slow death?

  3. #3
    Zombie Coder EvilKris's Avatar
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    Love to have a say but I think this is a situation where it's better to let the 'smart people' talk.

    My style of programming is very blue collar, meaning I can get done what I need to get done but I have no idea what is running under the hood.
    I've no doubt in my mind that Andre Michelle and the other system engineer bods have a good handle on what we all would like to see out of AS4/5 and probably can illustrate it in a more technical perspective far better than if I were to say "Sort out those MouseEvent...addListener thingies"

    If there's anything criticism that I could contribute without getting into specifics it has to be said it's that Adobe have swung too far from the artistic side of flash design and instituted a strong programming language that doesn't negotiate at all well with what is actually on the timeline. The strength of AS2 was that most people could at least get a mc traipsing around the screen without getting a headache. Asteroids was a one day project, now an impossible target for the typical noob. Whatever they do, they have to somehow revert to that kind of pick-up-and-go methodology. Back to simplistics.

  4. #4
    Say hello to Bob Kakihara's Avatar
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    Good point. Have to say myself that i have a half decent understanding of what goes on under the hood but nothing compared to the knowledge i expect guys like Andre have so they should certainly be at the forefront of any talks.

    Though there is certainly nothing wrong with any average coder mentioning things they find very difficult in as3 that they found easy in as1 and as2. This fits in with what youre saying kris as its those very people we are likely to lose from the scene because AS has lost that pickup and go friendliness which was its main attraction. I know plenty around here have noticed a drop in good new developers coming through and the way the language works now certainly has something to do with that.

    I found the transition from as2 to as3 took me a good few weeks and this was largely down to how many errors i would get before i was able to find my feet. In many ways this is good as it forces people to be better coders but there are so many times when i have to take the long way around for no other reason than as3 considers it good practice to do so. It wouldnt be half as bad if as3 error reports were better in certain situations. It has improved immensely since flash 5 days but there are times when i could do with a bit more info than just 'something in your function is null and we killed your program, btw we know what the object is but were not going to tell you, good luck lolz). Why not let me in on what is null? If not how about a line number? Would be a lot nicer than having to put in endless traces in my code just to narrow it down to the area the null call is occuring.

    Im sure there are countless more people could come up with. I wont even get started on arrays but its not fun looking for a missed comma or bracket in big arrays for say level maps when im almost certain a check could be done on compile to say 'hey heres a closed bracket, theres another element after this but no comma, maybe i should mention that', instead of coming up with completely unrelated error reports that send me all round the houses.

    In short error reports could do with improving and the ability to handle movieclips at runtime with ease like you used to be able to do as kris mentioned
    If our body is a clock ticking away and if while we experience all that this world has to offer time has still continued to pass, are we living or just experiencing a slow death?

  5. #5
    Senior Member tonypa's Avatar
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    I am glad to see some high profile Flash bloggers have raised discussions about AS3. Took them 3 years, better late than never.

    I know many people love AS3 and consider it best thing ever happened to Flash. I dont. I think it rubbish and pretends to be something much more then its worth. I hope there will be additional, much simpler and more logical layer added on top of AS3 that takes away the pain from most users.

    Even when you read the articles and comments, its obvious how Flash userbase has grown into widely different directions. Its impossible to make everyone happy, the programmers who dont use Flash IDE have completely different needs and wishes compared to designers who want to have simple and clean language. AS3 falls directly in-between, its not powerful enough for programmers and its not easy enough for designers.
    Last edited by tonypa; 08-10-2009 at 02:50 PM.

  6. #6
    Custom User Title Incrue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonypa
    I hope there will be additional, much simpler and more logical layer added on top of AS3 that takes away the pain from most users.
    Quote Originally Posted by kakihara
    but there are so many times when i have to take the long way around for no other reason than as3 considers it good practice to do so
    I used to do that, but it doesnt worth.Today i say: to the hell flash events, to the hell the garbage collector, to the hell any good 'coding practice' that will help me to solve the problems i DONT have
    I have found my own way to do any of those things and you all should do the same.
    No hope for anything good comming from adobe, unless they gave up on creating a beautifull language and do like the Unity guys did, you code in anyway you like the most and internally mister Unity converts it to whatever he needs to make the game work

  7. #7
    Yes we can tomsamson's Avatar
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    All good points there, just wanted to add another blog post link:
    http://www.peterelst.com/blog/2009/0...-actionscript/
    as i think it sums up a lot of good points, too.
    Well, i think we´re at least getting some good discussion going on many big blogs now so chances for getting heard are raising

  8. #8
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    i think every language has its issues.

    part of the reason there's a lot of concern raised publicly is because as3 has given people a foothold enough to do stuff that just wasn't in the projected plan. adobe wanted the language to create a serious means to create applications and people did exactly that. responding to community interest takes time and planning and there's no way to make everyone happy. it does, however, seem as if they weren't expecting people to want to do more. To push the boundaries on things. And of course they do. The response is retarded because adobe's off to the races on the concept devised back when flex 2 was released. this works for the people that fit the mold of their new target developer audience, but not too well for anyone else.

    my biggest issue is alchemy. i think it's easily the most interesting and awesome thing anyone's done in flash's history. and it's such a neat tool for weaving existing libraries into our lowly vm. but therein lies the problem. it performs BETTER. way better. why? because our compiler sucks. it's not a coincidence that the people raising the flag are involved in things involving compilers, compilation, precompilation etc. the facade of openness coupled with an outright **** compiler is certainly justified cause for complaint. joa had posted something interesting where he got pure AS to run close to the performance of an alchemy thingy that ralph hauwert made. while he did get very close, the takeaway is that it's joa's intimate knowledge of the compiler's downfalls that allowed him to do this.

  9. #9
    Senior Member realMakc's Avatar
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    nothing but same old b1tching.

    they worked just fine with as3 these 3 years, they can keep working just fine.

    my biggest issue is alchemy
    non-issue: Adobe is not making a product out of it. and imho the complication it brings is not worth of speed. if speed is your problem, that's your application design fault: you simply should not be doing this in flash.

    being 3D fan myself, I still think you should just stick to affordable low-poly 3D - if you know flash will not render the scene you have in mind - don't go for it. and ffs don't go b1tching about it.
    who is this? a word of friendly advice: FFS stop using AS2

  10. #10
    Custom User Title Incrue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by realMakc View Post
    nothing but same old b1tching.
    No, its not the 'same old *****ing' because many times Adobe itself admit they did a mess and fix it.Like senocular, who works for them, said in another thread

    they worked just fine with as3 these 3 years, they can keep working just fine.
    Wrong again, since first day as3 cames full of crap, and they DONT work fine with it, take Andre Michelle for example, its been a long time since he started to talk about the crap adobe made with sounds
    being 3D fan myself, I still think you should just stick to affordable low-poly 3D - if you know flash will not render the scene you have in mind - don't go for it. and ffs don't go b1tching about it.
    It was Adobe who start selling that stuff as fast and good enough for 3d.Now we even have a lot of 3d classes, just to find out that in real world what it does is stuff completely useless for games, even worst than what pre historic Director could do 10 years ago
    'As3 is good, but if you want something good, dont use it'.I cant see the point of that.
    Last edited by Incrue; 08-19-2009 at 06:47 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member realMakc's Avatar
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    again, it is biatching, and you're guilty.

    Andre Michelle worked fine with what he had at the moment, using hacks at first, and when they stopped working, he used java supplement. he was biatching, though, and when adobe did "made some noise", he went biatching again. he just loves biatching about adobe stuff.

    to sum up, if one "cant see the point", he should neither use as3 nor biatch about it.
    who is this? a word of friendly advice: FFS stop using AS2

  12. #12
    n00b yellowman's Avatar
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    Whoa..

    A good way to change something(hopefully to the better) is to point out what´s wrong and come up with suggestions of how it should be or how it can be fixed.
    You think that´s biatching and that everyone should just be quiet and happy with what they got?

  13. #13
    Senior Member hatu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Incrue View Post
    Wrong again, since first day as3 cames full of crap, and they DONT work fine with it, take Andre Michelle for example, its been a long time since he started to talk about the crap adobe made with sounds
    Full of crap? Come on now, Flash has taken giant leaps with AS3 in the recent years.
    A lot of those blog posts have very good suggestions though, hope Adobe listens.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member hatu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kakihara View Post
    I found the transition from as2 to as3 took me a good few weeks and this was largely down to how many errors i would get before i was able to find my feet. In many ways this is good as it forces people to be better coders but there are so many times when i have to take the long way around for no other reason than as3 considers it good practice to do so. It wouldnt be half as bad if as3 error reports were better in certain situations. It has improved immensely since flash 5 days but there are times when i could do with a bit more info than just 'something in your function is null and we killed your program, btw we know what the object is but were not going to tell you, good luck lolz). Why not let me in on what is null? If not how about a line number? Would be a lot nicer than having to put in endless traces in my code just to narrow it down to the area the null call is occuring.
    Still it's vastly better than it used to be in AS2. Have you used the debugger? Even in Flash IDE it will give you a breakpoint when it crashes and you can check which variable is a null by hovering over it.
    It always does give a line number I think.
    Flex Builder on the other hand has a full fledged debugger so look into that if you're serious about coding.

    It would be awesome if the compiler could say "looks like you forgot a bracket here" but I don't think any language has that.. probably much more complicated than it sounds.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member realMakc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowman View Post
    You think that´s biatching and that everyone should just be quiet and happy with what they got?
    there is jira where you submit and vote for bugs/feature requests. keep in mind, however, that adobe has no obligation to act on the basis of your votes, since they are private company not some democracy.
    who is this? a word of friendly advice: FFS stop using AS2

  16. #16
    Custom User Title Incrue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by realMakc View Post
    again, it is biatching, and you're guilty.
    Guilty for complain at something that is perfect, hum?If thats the case, why since the first day,ADOBE ITSELF bother to came with fix after fix for his beautifull work?

    Quote Originally Posted by hatu
    Full of crap? Come on now, Flash has taken giant leaps with AS3 in the recent years.
    But the final result is still worst than 10 year old stuff made with other things

    You know what, i dont care anymore, and if adobe wants to keep loosing money is their problem not mine

  17. #17
    Senior Member realMakc's Avatar
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    i dont care anymore... adobe... is their problem not mine
    a step in right direction
    who is this? a word of friendly advice: FFS stop using AS2

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    It's funny to see that high-level gurus "dare" criticizing as3.
    Sometimes it's good to try thinking independently, far away from the managers litterature and official Adobe newsletters.

    Right from the beginning, as3 Adobe team showed sign of autistic attitude: by simply ignoring the fundamental features of Flash (for example gotoAndStop(), see for example this bug, as mentionned by Kakihara).

    It was a bad sign for the (rare?) people who are both designer and developper.

    Note: regarding the gotoAndStop() bugs, I've been watching them for months on the infamous https://bugs.adobe.com/flashplayer/, and none of them shows the slightest activity from Adobe. Bugs are possible in a software. However, the problem lies in the fact that:
    • those bugs are related to core features of Flash paradigm (nested clips, gotoAndStop)
    • those bugs have not been fixed in 4 years.

    Another example is the "blank keyframe" (which practically equals to removeMovieClip()) : although Grant Skinner had posted in 2006 an insightful reflexion about the implication of garbage collector, Adobe could only add "patches" for dealing specific cases (addition of unloadAndStop(), which works only for loaded SWFs).

    It seems that experienced as3 developpers have concluded that the timeline is essentially "dead". Some of you may think "But timeline is *error prone* !!"

    I'm not speaking about "timeline programming", I'm speaking about simple use of it, putting clips , nested clips, blank keyframes, gotoAndStop(), play().
    Typical design stuff, but controlled by or related to as3 scripting (in external Classes, if you prefer).

    But as a programmer, I also want to extend MovieClip and put instance in a timeline "by hand" and not by programming because it's related to graphic design choices and as a result is better done in the timeline.
    Unfortunately, gotoAndStop() bugs when it comes traversing MovieClip instances though the timeline.

    Another funny example showing that devs testing of play() was.. approximate. The play() function stops the sub-clips for 1 frame! (it's usually unnoticed because of high framerates, but in video game a frame is important .

    As it at been mentionned in this thread, graphic designers are not very noisy regarding as3 and those bugs don't get many votes.
    Thus it seems probable that the get the least priority by Adobe: "only" 1500+ bugs will have to be fixed before !!

    As a result, using the timeline in conjunction with as3 is very tricky, not reliable, subject to unexpected (bad) surprises, and I observed that the most "broad-minded" as3 developpers (those showing consideration and interest for graphic and animation stuff) have devised their own "best practices" (the most extreme being re-coding custom MovieClip classes) regarding the timeline but it results as a loss of creative freedom.

    Being VERY noisy, or knowing personnally some Adobe devs, beta-testing future versions of the crappy CS4, struggling to test the basic stuff Adobe can't or doesn't want to test, overall: working for free for Adobe, apparently gives no result.
    It only helps Adobe releasing an over-priced "product" (not to mention what I think about the IDE... I'm quite pessimistic about CS5.)
    Last edited by gludion; 08-20-2009 at 10:30 AM. Reason: more clarity

  19. #19
    Hype over content... Squize's Avatar
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    Very good post gludion.

    It's always been obvious that as3 is flawed, although it can't help but bug me that a lot of people bitc'hing about it now ( Not necessarily just the blogs linked to ) were people who jumped on the bandwagon at 8.5 and who declared it was on par with the second coming, are now wanting to have their moans be heard 3/4 years down the line.

    Maybe it's just my built in dislike of people being sheep like, that when someone who is a "name" says something a 100 people appear to say "Yeah I thought the same, I'm glad you said it I love you" that switches me off from this new found noise.

    The next version of Flash will give us some things we want, skip lots of things that drive us insane and that will be it. F10 was like F7, a nothingy release, so hopefully with F11 we'll get something good again.

    In a way I hope very little comes of this, as it concerns me that less than a dozen people could have so much sway about which problems with Flash get fixed first, no matter how valid the issues may be.

    Squize.

  20. #20
    Senior Member hatu's Avatar
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    Still it's hard to say what are the real biggest issues with your average dev, I for one have no idea what percentage of Flash developers do games for example. Apparently not very many because Adobe doesn't seem to pay any attention to that.
    A lot of people act like their personal annoyances are THE biggest issue in the Flash platform.

    If we can get a big discussion from everywhere on the spectrum from banner makers to hardcore game/ria devs, hopefully it'll create some good results.
    Last edited by hatu; 08-21-2009 at 07:11 AM.
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