Stalled on Flash Catalyst

After seeing Flash Catalyst, I thought it looked really sweet.  So on my current design project I stopped making the prototype directly in PowerPoint and started making it in Photoshop CS4 instead.  From Photoshop, the plan was to move them into Catalyst and add interactivity.  However, I have yet to launch Catalyst at all.

The reason is that I really don’t actually make prototypes, nor do I want to.  What I make are storyboards.  I tell the product story through a series of screens to describe the interaction and experience details.  So adding interactivity would be antithetical to my needs because I do not want the audience to click around; I want them to watch the story as I am describing it.

In terms of specific interaction design, we have patterns in place that work well and I don’t want to specify something different accidentally in a new tool.  Being in Photoshop means I have to be alot more speciifc because engineers will assume that it is “pixel perfect”.  As always I feel the “pixel perfect process” of throwing a design over the wall to engineers is slow and flawed.  It is much better to iterate in real code and refine interaction as a partnership with the real developers.  Many companies, unfortunately, do not allow this and end up with sub-optimal results.

Of course, one might say, “But in my company, we have to do XYZ because….”  That is fine.  I am not trying to say Catalyst isn’t cool.  All I am saying is that I can’t use it myself.  It would take me backwards, not forwards in building awesome products based on my circumstances.  Sorry Rachel.  (Rachel is good Adobe folk and probably will comment that I am in the minority and am clearly insane.  It’s OK, she is likely correct)

4 replies on “Stalled on Flash Catalyst”

You’re not insane Glen. But it would be nice if you’d actually tried the software before writing it off. 😛

The problem is I don’t want to let anyone use the output. I want to walk them through the design, not let them click wherever they want. I think the tool is still cool, but you have to WANT to build a prototype versus a storyboard.

I suppose in theory I could use it as a storyboard tool. The main benefit of that is to be in Flash versus Powerpoint which makes it web friendly. Hmm. Not that compelling. I think the usage of the tool looked fine. It’s the ends, not the means I am not good with.

I agree with you Glen (i think). If you are showing a product than you can either show the actual product or you can show something the tries to explain what the product will do. You can’t properly explain a product by showing a psuedo-project and having people think it is like the real thing. Either its clearly real or it clearly is it not. However, having better interaction options may allow you to explain something more clearly.

Maybe it is like the idea of having those images in your presentations. The images don’t actual show a product, but can be used to illustrate a point. Having a better interaction experience might be like that, it just helps to explain whatever it is your want to explain. Of course, I really don’t know what I’m talking about. I sell concepts, not products, so I need to find whatever ways I can to get the audience connected to what I’m selling on a personal level.

Glen — Now that you’ve explained a little more I think I see why you’re stalled. Flash Catalyst is not primarily a storyboarding tool.

One of the key use cases for FC is a little later in the development cycle — when you’ve got your artwork created and you want to make a functional user interface.

Up to now, as you yourself said, that process involves an ineffective & frustrating handoff: throwing artwork over a wall to a developer. FC lets you iterate faster and more effectively because you can start to build the interactions without having to be a developer yourself.

Whatya think?