I’m a reasonably regular attendee of many of the community events and user groups. I believe firmly that the uniquely strong community spirit that exists in the Flash world is one of it’s great strengths. I know I would never have been as successful a Flash Platform developer as I am without the selfless help and advise I received over the years from countless friends and colleagues.
And that spirit is contagious. I now give back to the community myself through things like going on to forums and answering as many questions as I have time for, attending user groups and running community events like PokerCoder.com. This all helps raise the general level of expertise within the industry and is good for all of us.
I recently discovered a London Flash user group based in South Bank University run by a very nice guy called David Wright: The London Flash Developers and Designers user group. It’s a stone’s throw from Elephant and Castle tube station. It has around 350 signed up members – though obviously not all of them turn up 😉 and it’s actually been around for quite a long time.
But wait, I hear you say, there’s already the London Flash Platform User Group (LFPUG) run by Tink in Clerkenwell Road and the Flex London User Group (FLUG) in Brick Lane run by Mike Jones and Drew Martin. Both do an awesome and tireless job in showing what boundaries people are pushing in the Flash Platform world, so who needs another Flash user group? …Right? …WRONG!
LFPUG and FLUG are both high end development groups, catering for those who know the Flash Platform well and want to explore the higher end of it’s capabilities and methodologies. The very nature of the people who attend and run these groups ensures that they are advanced user groups and I know I find them very informative, but no one group can be all things to all men.
What’s been missing for a very long time is a group that caters specifically for beginners and intermediates: those who want to learn or improve their understanding of the Flash Platform (Flash, Flex, FMS etc) in a development and design capacity. Those who are trying to swap to Flash platform technologies, those who are learning them on their digital media courses but want real world experience or those who have mastered many of the basics but now want to move on to real world application of that knowledge. This user group is the nursery for user groups like LFPUG and FLUG. It also caters for designers as well as developers and as I believe very strongly that Flash platform developers should have an appreciation of both development and design, this seems like a well balanced beginner and intermediate group.
If you want to understand things like:
- moving from AS2 to AS3,
- how to begin using Flex,
- how to start to work with video and audio in Flash and FMS,
- how XML and E4X work,
- how to do your first Augmented Reality piece,
- what best practices you should follow,
- how to work with 3rd party hardware like the Wii,
- getting started with 3D,
- code for designers
and much more, then this is definitely the group for you.
Better still, make a request for a topic to be covered (design or development). There’s a lot of sharing goes on to, with people being encouraged to show the group any work or solutions they have made. It’s an open and friendly forum. No judging and lots of support.
The group meets once a month, normally around the middle of the month. They have a fantastic set up: meeting rooms, over head projectors and several networked labs at their disposal. The group can and will be running workshops along side presentations so you’ll be able to get your hands dirty with real code and design and take them home to play with after. There are prizes to: Apress/ Friends of Ed have kindly agreed to give us books on Flash platform technologies to give away on the night.
The beginner and intermediate community is huge and poorly catered for. This Meetup group group addresses that gap. If you want to learn or improve your Flash-craft then go check out the group. Sign up, and come along.