It’s that time of the year where you look at all the areas of your life that could use improvement and set some goals. Of course, you have the obligatory eat better, lose weight, learn to play the trombone, etc. However, one area that’s often overlooked is your professional skill set. A good friend/colleague of mine, Danny Patterson, once said:
We often spend so much time cutting down trees that we forget to sharpen the axe.
While he might not be the person who coined the phrase, it’s good advice. In 2012, make a goal to add one or two skills to your repertoire or sharpen the skills you already have. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Learn how to make an eBook: Whether you’ve designed a novel, short story, instructional brochure, or reference document, companies are going to eventually (if not already) want their printed materials available on Nooks, Kindles, iPads and other eReaders. For a number of years, InDesign has been able to publish “ePub files” and other digital formats. You aren’t learning a new tool, just a new medium.
- Get to know the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite: It’s digital publications on steroids. By now, most people have seen the Wired Magazine demo or other digital publications. With InDesign, designers can incorporate audio, video, image galleries and other interactive elements into their existing publications. These publications can be published to iPads, Android Tablets, and BlackBerry PlayBooks. It’s a great way to deliver rich media without writing a single line of code!
- Get up to speed with HTML5/CSS3: While they aren’t standardized yet, there are a lot of nice features in HTML5 and CSS3 that make web design a whole heck of a lot easier. Keep your web design skills fresh by knowing the latest techniques, the hottest features, and what’s supported in each browser.
- Learn how to use Class Files and Libraries: I know, I know. You HATE ActionScript. Undoubtedly, you’ve encountered crazy AS or SWC files that you can’t figure out how to get working. If you learn how these files are created and how they work, you will become infinitely more powerful.
- Code in Flash Builder: Once you understand a Class File, you can use Flash Builder to write all your code. It’s a MUCH better coding tool and offers a lot of help to developers.
- Keep moving forward: By now, hopefully most Flash/Flex developers have recognized the drama back in November about Adobe’s isn’t really changing anything. Flash is still a VERY relevant technology and will continue to be around for years to come. Adobe is pumping out LOTS of new features and capabilities. Make sure you’re keeping up.
- Go Mobile: Make a goal in 2012 to create a mobile application with Flash. Whether you’re using Flash Professional or Flash Builder, it’s important that you understand the entire mobile development process and how easy these tools make the transition. Since you can publish your Flash content to iOS, Android, and the BlackBerry PlayBook, it doesn’t matter which platform you choose. Pick one, and publish the app to the app store. Bonus points if you publish the app to all three!
- Understand the Flex framework: If you’re a traditional Flash/ActionScript developer, it might help you to learn about the Flex framework. While, it’s not necessary for every project, it can make web/mobile application development A LOT easier.
- Start using jQuery: There is a time and place for Flash content. If your client wants an image gallery to rotate between a few product shows, you SHOULD NOT be using Flash. This can easily be done with jQuery, and that way, it will work on devices that don’t support Flash. Learn when to use Flash and when there is an easy alternative.
Finally, the shameless self-promotion
Having the discipline to teaching yourself a new skill is, well, a skill itself. Tutorials aren’t always as helpful when you have a question or are stuck. Easel Solutions offers a number of classes across all these technologies. You’ll find industry experts teaching industry-leading techniques delivered in-person or remotely. Have a team of people or a very specific need? We can design a custom course to teach you (or your team) EXACTLY what you want to know.
Here’s to a prosperous and exciting 2012!