I've been having a very tough time with the transition to the Spark components. I've already authored another post about trying to skin spark components with Flash, but I'm going to give this another shot. First, let me say that I am not exclusively a designer or a developer, but rather I have to do both ends of each project. With that said, this new spark skinning is creating an impossibly long and complicated workflow for me.
I used to use the combination of the Flex Component kit in Flash and CSS to modify the appearance of all my components. I like it because from the design side, I knew exactly what my component would look like and if I wanted to modify it's appearance, I could use the Flash drawing tools to modify it, recompile the swc, and everything was just fine.
While I understand the performance gains of the Spark architechture, I just think that it has come at the expense of smaller designer/developers like myself who have too much work to do already than to spend tons of time coding to modify the appearance of components. I know I am whining, which is probably because I'm more of a designer than developer, but the only solution I keep hearing is to use Flash Catalyst, which is no solution at all. The interface stinks, and the more I use it, the more I feel like a developer because it's like Flash with training wheels, and about as useful.
I have only a couple of questions, now that I am done whining:
1. Is there a workflow that exists between Illustrator or Flash and Flex for the purpose of skinning spark components (other than Catalyst) ? and:
2. Is there a resource that can make sense of spark skinning and how to streamline the process ? (Learning how to create them and use skins) ?
Flex 3 seemed so intuitive and my development time was so much quicker, that I am condsidering going back. I like to actually design my applications using design tools (Illustrator, Photoshop, and Flash). The notion that you can acheive the same result while using skins is absolutely crazy, and it doesn't make any sense. I'm not minimizing the benefits of spark in terms of performance and applying effects and animations on the fly, but the drawbacks far outweigh the benefits for me personally.