I had heard of Flash Catalyst ever since I went to Mix09 in Vegas. There our appetites were whetted with the promise that a new interaction design tool would be coming out of Adobe, with the power of Flash but much easier to use. The actual thing was a mystery, but it was interesting to wait for it.
Our company recently upgraded to CS5 and now I have it. I was completely blown away watching the tutorial videos and learning how to do some neat little "Hello World" type of applications.
This has some serious potential I thought, and began to tell my team about it.
Then, this week, I began to try a serious proof of concept with it. It would be an interactive demo of the newly developed mobile app for the Time & Expense entry system for our company, which our developers were working to build on Android, iPhone, and Win7. The initial clickthroughs were already done by a team member on the UX Design team (which I lead) using InDesign and turning it into a clickable PDF. I thought this was a good roadmap to base my POC on.
I imported the PSD into FC and began working away. That's when the dissapointment hit.
- Simple things that you should be able to do, like assign the hover, focusIn and focusOut states on a text field, you can't do.
- I wanted the "username" text in a login box to disappear when you clicked into the textbox, and learned that there are only two states, active and disabled.
- I learned that you have to create a custom component to try to emulate the other states, which I tried to do, only to find that it produced an error when I ran the project
- I learned that the project wouldn't run, and found the MXML error in code view, but couldn't edit out the line that was causing the error. In fact, there's no editing of any MXML file at all in FC. You have to jump over to Flash Builder to fix one teeny little thing.
- I now face the prospect of never knowing how to get my project to run, except to start all over, because FC won't let me undo past the point of where I might have introduced the problem.
- I learned that normal hypertext is not supported, and you have to jump through similar hoops to just click on text to show a PDF.
- I learned that you can't rearrange the order of states so that you can change which is your start screen, and though you can create a default screen state for any state, it makes no sense visually to have it in the middle of your list of states, when it should be the first state in your states blocks.
Too many problems.
Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of power there, but Adobe has missed the boat and turned FC into what the military might call "a flying gas can." It gets off the ground, and can show you some nice sights, but it can't really DO the job of hitting targets.
So, unfortunately, I may have to give in and turn my sights on Microsoft's ASP/.net -centric Expression Blend and see where that takes me.