Imx Fix in my experience
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November 11, 2003 4:11 AM

Please forgive the comment recycling here, but this Leapster thing reaffirms my decision to pick up Flash as a web development skill...
I'm picking it up for the application development possibilities (as opposed to the design possibilities, which are imho, anemic).

I know javascript and because of that, I figured learning ActionScript would be easier. I've been doing pretty well so far, but have indeed encountered difficulties in wrapping my head around the way Flash does things. The timeline metapohre doesn't translate well to non-movie Flash projects.

More daunting though has been learning truer object oriented programming ("truer" for me equals using classes, methods and instances). This is a programming problem and not a Flash problem, so I can't fault the application for that. Getting on board with that will be helpful back in the Javascript world where I've never really done anything as fully abstracted as a class.

As a learning project, I'm working on an application based on Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology which is a collection of interleaved poems about the townspeople of a small Illinois town, where everyone is dead. Each (relatively short) poem is kind of an epitaph and they usually make a reference or two to some other person from the town. You can then go look up their poem and read it to learn more about that person and their relationship to the referring poem/person. It's an interesting, if morbid, concept.

(For the record, I have an English degree and wrote a paper in college about Masters, which should explain why I'm using his anthology as my subject)

The idea of the application is to make reading the anthology easier, and the relationship matrix understandable, by showing the poem (with a dynamic text box, that scrolls if neccessarry) and a references box which lists who is related to the current poem. Also, there will be a full list of the people/poems to read so you can read it in linear style if you want.

I'm representing the anthology as an XML doc so I can learn the XML() object and it's methods.

I also have to do the design, but that's sort of ancillary to the main point of learning the system internals. It should be interesting.

Now, back to the Leapster; the opportunities and possibilities offered by that sort of product are two fold for the web developer who cares about usability and interaction design. Learning materials are all about interaction design and information architectures that are so well designed that they are transparent. "Leveraging" that thru development skills is good fun work that pays well. Too bad much of my recent work has been of the Systems Administration persuasion.