January 24, 2009 – 11:21 pm
It’s been ages since I tried using a decompiler, but I did tonight, just because I was quite intrigued how somebody had solved a problem. I tried Sothink’s (no link cos I’m *really* not recommending it!), and it was absolutely no use. It’s not really a surprise – decompilers have a pretty impossible job – but it was actually a little comforting.
Generally, if we’re honest, then people use decompilers to try to steal code. Most of us did it when we were first learning AS, but only to be somewhat let down by the rubbish delivered to us, and realise that we actually had to learn it. The code compiles, of course, but it’s of no use to anyone by the time it has been re-re-assembled.
I hope there’ll be some new Flash developers reading this so I can save them some pain. If you want to get hold of somebody’s code, there’s no shame in it – personally I take it as a great compliment when I am asked, and I’ve asked for other peoples’ code more than once – and you can also gauge a lot from the response you get when you ask, as well. Obviously I’m talking about snippets here, as opposed to sending you the full source code for a project.
Some people just flat out refuse. While this may be seen as understandable, I see this as being an awful ethic. The people who I have met who keep their code “secret” tend to be the same ones who complain about other people’s code the most. If you’re not helping others to learn, then you’re the part of the problem.
Others ask you for money. Unless you’re actually asking for a complete working model then I’d say it’s never worth it. You’ll learn far more by working it out yourself, and again, people who charge just aren’t helping, and their code will probably not help much more. However, if somebody’s helping you, and there’s a “Donate” on their site, then don’t be selfish – they’re helping you to earn more, and to make your life easier, so do the right thing, even if it’s a small amount!
Some give it away, unrestricted, without asking. At least, I’d guess there are people like this, although I’ve never come across any…
The rest will give you advice. Maybe send you a snippet, or point you in the right direction. This is the most useful kind of person you’ll ever find in your work – whoever wrote it knows some stuff you don’t, so you really should listen to them. And treasure your micro mentor!
As a freelancer, I’d like to walk into projects and find them in a good state. This just doesn’t happen, though, which is the nature of the beast. A lot of AS3 coders in London at the moment are just winging it, and scarily often they’re happy to admit it to other developers, but as employers generally have no way of judging coders until the project’s due, and agencies never care who they put forward for a role, they keep getting re-employed and making life more difficult for those who have to sort out their mess. In the past 6 months I’ve met 4 AS3 contractors who only code within the Flash IDE, which pretty much sums it up.
I’d equate learning ActionScript to a decorator pattern – there is a very definite, solid base to learn, and from there you can expand in any directions you wish (video, performance, 3D etc). Many developers have moved over from AS2 without bothering to learn encapsulation, best practice, and patterns etc. It’s a whole new world, but there’s a definite bleed from the old.
Over time, some developers will drop out, and others will surprise. In the meantime, then if you know something, then be happy to share it, and help others to learn it. All programmers are still learning, and the best ones are never worried about asking advice from their peers. Just make sure you don’t ask unless you need to!
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