Trying Out Wallaby and Thinking About Tools

Late the other night, while reading method and craft and having recently listened to the creative coding podcast, I put two and two together and wondered if Wallaby might be useful for the “invisible” deliverables Dan Mall mentioned in his article.

Dan mentions that he sometimes prototypes animations in Flash that will JavaScript in the end product. The prototypes are handed off to a developer to make the JavaScript magic happen. I’m willing to bet he’s not the only one. A lot of designers out there are good at animating things in Flash, which has a timeline, a stage, and all those handy things. But, there isn’t a tool out there yet that really lets you animate with a timeline for CSS3 or HTML output. That’s a bit of problem.

My crazy idea was that Wallaby could possibly be helpful for handing off a Flash animation prototype from designer to developer. That maybe it could help slightly automate the process, obviously with some editing and finessing by the developer.

I thought it might also be useful for helping people used to animating on the timeline to adapt to animating with code, whether that’s CSS3 or JavaScript. Kind of like peaking behind the curtain.

These were seemingly good ideas at 12am. However, upon actually trying to test them out, the answer is: No, at least not yet. I was a little underwhelmed with how Wallaby worked when I tried it out. But it is a *preview* after all. I’m sure it will improve and I’m curious to see how it ends up. ( I do think it’s great that Adobe put it out there for the community to give feedback on, fully noting they don’t have a set plan for it yet. )

While I doubt a straight .fla to JS/CSS conversion tool will ever really create the results we want, something that helps us along the way is still a worthwhile tool to have. Actually, I don’t want a mysterious black box that just makes my .fla into “HTML5”. I’d much rather have a tool that let’s me have more control and takes care of the boring parts for me. Anything that promises to do all the work for me tends to a much worse job than an actual human would anyways.