Web Technology

  • May 14, 2012

I’ve been developing for the web since 1994, and in that time I’ve seen technologies come and go. Some have been truly bad ideas from the start (like the blink tag). Others filled a genuine need (like Flash).

Back in the mid-nineties, I dabbled a lot with Macromedia Director. I spent countless hours building a thing I called the ColourZoomer, which loaded an image and then let you interactively change the colours, zoom and crop it. I learned a lot about OO programming doing that.

I also built an application called “The Alchemist“, which was like a ColourZoomer on steroids. It let you load images and videos, and layer them together and do nifty things like move them around independently while leaving trails of pixels behind. Here are some images I made with it:

[tn3 origin=”image” ids=”31,30,25,1,36″ width=”640″ height=”480″]


It also could load images from and update itself over the web. I was convinced this was how all applications would be one day.

Sadly, these days my ColourZoomer and Alchemist apps are non-functional (unless you happen to have a very old PC or Mac lying about) because they relied on proprietary technology (Shockwave for Director) from a single company (Macromedia). Over time, that company was bought by Adobe, and priorities changed. Director was dropped, and plugin and runtime support followed suit.

The moral of the story is, don’t buy into a single vendor’s marketing about how their technology is a sure bet. Companies with shareholders to feed are always going to drop any proprietary technologies, no matter how vigorously they’ve promoted them, when it’s in the interests of their shareholders to do so.

That’s why I always use standards-based technology where possible and am loving the resurgence of interest in, and the new power of, HTML(5).

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