Imagine if you could somehow take Google and place it inside a man’s brain then have that man spit out the answer to almost any question you put to him. Well such a person does exist. His name is Dave and I had the great pleasure of working with him for four years at WeeWorld right up until his recent departure for pastures new.
Dave’s the kind of guy who masters almost anything he attempts (shhh, let’s not mention his attempts at violin ;-)) and knows more programming languages than I’ve had hot dinners. I’m not exaggerating when I say he could choose to work for any company in the world using whatever programming language he likes.
His career to-date has included all sorts of impressive stuff such as the development of a Flash player for mobile before Macromedia/Adobe even had one available. But it’s where things headed approximately two years into his employment with WeeWorld though that might start to interest you.
After chomping through several Java and Dot Net projects, Dave was asked to help with some Flash work that was in danger of not making its release date.
At first I was a little apprehensive. Flash was still very much frowned upon by more serious developers and I was unsure if someone of Dave’s ability would actually find ActionScript 2 engaging. There was also the issue of the Flash IDE and whether or not he’d be interested in the very designer-centric drawing and animation tools provided by Flash.
The truth is Dave embraced Flash, design tools and all, and after a few months was easily a better Flash developer than I could ever hope to be. He didn’t look back and soon found himself a more-or-less full-time member of the Flash team where he stayed for the remainder of his time at WeeWorld.
I suppose Dave was also WeeWorld’s first cross-skills success story. When we eventually adopted scrum he was in an ideal position to take-on just about any user story that was prioritised for his team. At the time he was the only person who knew both Dot Net and Flash, and his ability to jump onto other developer’s user stories and help them out paved the way for more developers in the company to get vital cross-skills training.
I must admit that I thought Dave would tire of Flash very quickly and seek employment with another company doing something like C, C# or Java. But when he did eventually decide to move on I was astounded to find out that he had chosen to take on another Flash position.
So why was I so surprised by this? Well to be honest I think maybe three or four years ago anyone with a skill set like Dave’s would probably not be the slightest bit interested in Flash. In fact I have met my fair share of talented programmers over the years who have been rather dismissive of Flash and ActionScript. But the last couple of years have seen quite a shift in opinion towards Flash. More and more CVs that land on my desk are from individuals with strong programming backgrounds in Java and C.
So why is this? Well for a start I think Flash has simply grown up. ActionScript 3 is proof of that. The more developer focused work flow provided by Flex/Flash Builder has also probably done quite a lot to encourage programmers to try Flash. Let’s face it, previously most programmers were scared off by the Flash IDE and its design orientated UI. But probably the biggest reason is that these days Flash is everywhere. It’s hugely beneficial to have it on your CV and if you happen to work for a company producing content for the web then it’s almost a certainty you’ll be exposed to it in some shape or form.
Dave’s career path over the last three years and his role within his new company is, to me anyway, proof of Flash’s success to date. His replacement at WeeWorld is, like him, another talented dude who comes from a very heavy Java and C background. He too is excited by the opportunity to learn more about Flash and ActionScript 3 and I’m sure there are many more talented programmers out there like that who are now finding that they can no longer afford to ignore Flash.
I think I’ve rambled on enough. But before I go I’d just like to wish Dave all the best in his new job – I know you’re reading this post dude because I suspect you’re the only person who actually bothers reading my blog 🙂 Thanks to the wonders of Messenger and Twitter I don’t really feel like you’ve actually left WeeWorld, merely transformed into the force like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn.
May the force be with you.