Over the years, I’ve gotten to know some Flash programmers who have mastered an arcane art:  How to use a tool so cumbersome that it provides full employment on projects that could be done in a fraction of the time in Hyperstudio and then exported to HTML5.

This all came home to me when I was asked to help edit some e-books using Adobe Flash Pro.  Those of you who remember Macromind Director, and the adage that a camel is a horse designed by a committee, can imagine what the interface looks like.  You have libraries of resources that you import to either frames or libraries (and be sure you never get them confused).  Animations made from still frames can be made in only five times the time it takes to do this in Quicktime.  But the real time sink comes when attaching everything together.  Heaven forbid you need to duplicate a frame without duplicating the frame’s inheritance since once you edit the “new” frame it will replace the contents of the one you copied it from as well.  Of course this is all fixable by a series of crafty maneuvers that only take a half-hour to learn.  Next comes the linking of sounds to images, but I’ve made my point.  Once you have your e-book project finished in a month or so you then need to compile it for every platform on which you want it to run.  “Voila!” (which is French for “my wrist hurts,”) you are done at last.  See, full employment for even the simplest of projects!

Hyperstudio, on the other hand, handles the same project this way.  First, create a background screen with the major navigation buttons and a text frame.  Make as many cards with this background as you need (this takes 20 minutes, if you include a 15 minute coffee break.)  Next, and this is the tricky part – drag and drop the images and text for each page onto each card.  If your images are movies, then drag and drop works just as well. Of course, if you are in a hurry, all you need to do is create the original template card with the navigation buttons and the text object marked as group objects, you can then do one “New Group Card” action (Edit menu) to start a group, and then just drag and drop the entire folder of images on to the HyperStudio icon in the dock.  This will instantly create as many additional group cards as you have images in this folder.  This skips the many steps of dragging and dropping each image individually on to each new group card as you make it.  What makes this step tricky is how you create the illusion that it takes days, not minutes, to assemble these pages.  Next, attach sounds as needed so that when (for example) you click on some text, the narration plays.  Finally, there is the matter of exporting to HTML5 which is done by choosing Export and HTML5 from the menu.  The result plays on virtually anything.  Put a fork in it, you are done.

Now how you explain the next 29 days of R&R is up to you.

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