This is a quick commentary on why some of those programming tasks that seem “easy” are never quite what they seem, especially in new, more object-oriented programming packages like Flash.  I hope this helps some of you out there plan better when you are trying to budget projects.

First, its important to understand how most OO programming works.  These days, most web code is done in “snippets” meaning bits of code that are attached to an object.  This is great in that it creates more efficient code, that is easier to read when you open the object, and when it runs, the only code executed is the necessary objects.  All makes sense, right?

But what happens when you go to edit such a file without knowing the “object-model” – that is the way the objects are put together?  It used to be, with procedural code, you could open the top-level file, look at the files it includes, open them, and then search through all the files to find functions you had to edit.

Now, with OO coding, if you don’t know how the objects are put together, say in a Flash file that has 150+ objects, some executing code, some not, then you have to sort out which one is connected to what, how they are named, what their instances are, where the code lives and what objects it activates when.

Sound complicated?  It is.  And its why some of those changes that seem “simple” like “just adding a few animated graphics to a file” can actually be hard and time consuming.  Adding those graphics means finding the right layers in the file where the graphics belong, locating the objects that are animating the graphics, sorting through the code for those objects, finding the arrays that are animating the graphics, and then adding the appropriate details and linking in the graphics properly.

So, when you are trying to budget your web development projects, consult with a pro.  Certainly, you could be a “pro” – if you know the complexity of the object model for your source files.  But if you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, chat up a pro about how hard it is to do something.  Give them a detailed description of what you want to do, as detailed as possible, and let them look at the files.  In some cases, they might need some consulting time to properly gather requirements.

What are requirements?  I’ll talk about that next time.  Check back in a week or so…