So recently I had the opportunity to give FlashMoto CMS a test-drive from the kind folks at FlashMoto.com – And I have to tell you that it was probably the least frustrating flash related thing I have ever done.
Unless you are working with flash sites and building them from scratch day in and day out, working with flash, exporting the swf, uploading it to the server, testing it, and repeating every-time you change any little thing is very time consuming and frustrating at times.
If you are like me, you really like how flash portfolio sites look. They are a beautiful and sleek way of showing off your skills if done right. But also, if you are like me, you have found that creating those sites, and keeping them updated, is a HUGE pain in the butt.
Flash sites require a lot of moving parts, and knowledge of Flash, Actionscript, HTML, etc. Most people that use flash sites just need a Portfolio site, or a site displaying information about their business, typically sites that they want to come across with visual appeal. Meaning sites that are typically small scale, are often not worth the effort to put all this work into. Large sites make more since, but still, as I mentioned before, a Pain in the butt to do in flash and keep updated.
Enter FlashMoto CMS.
What is FlashMoto?
FlashMoto content management system is a powerful and easy to use application designed to simplify the publication of Web content to Flash websites. It allows content creators to submit content without requiring any software, technical knowledge of HTML, Flash and other programming languages.
My first thoughts on FlashMoto before I even tried it, was “I have seen some crappy Flash CMS’s” so I didn’t expect much from it. Once I logged into the system, I was very, very, VERY surprised. It has a sleek, stylish interface, which was very nice. I quickly realized as well, that everything is clearly labeled, and easily changeable!
As you can see, the user interface is fairly simple and straightforward. If you have used Photoshop before (Which I am sure if you read this blog regularly, you have used a time or two lol) or even any WYSIWYG editor like Dreamweaver, or even Microsoft Word, you can probably figure out what is going on just by poking around a bit!
One of the things that interested me about FlashMoto is that it is based on ActionScript3(AS3) so it takes advantage of all the latest and fancy flash technology. I had my doubts about flash and SEO, but flash has taken huge strides to improve its SEO, FlashMoto is actually taking advantage of that as well, so it is actually pretty SEO friendly!
So lets get to building! When starting a new site in flash its kind of hard to find a good starting place, but here you really don’t have to worry about anything except for what you want your site to look like. So I just dived in a created a simple page layout.
Within a few minutes of poking around I have a simple layout for a flash site, with header, navigation, text and a placeholder for a video – perhaps put a showcase reel of work from your portfolio in a video there. All of these things are easily editable within a single click!
I was however slightly disappointed with how primitive some of the options are, but FlashMoto is still in its infancy, and I am sure they are constantly working to get everything up to par.
I had some issues uploading images and fonts, but I am sure that this is just a limitation of the demo on their site. However the simple fact that it will let you upload any font you would like, is pretty impressive. Another nice feature is the ‘modules’ are prebuilt to allow you to easily add video, music, navigation, and even Photo galleries, which will definitely save you some time and frustration since you don’t have to do it from scratch in flash.
As you can see, within another 10 minutes or so I was able to scrap the whole other design, and re-do it with a gallery module in place. Creating a slideshow gallery has never been easier, just upload your images, and add them to the gallery with a name.
You can modify the slideshow effects as well. In fact most everything can have an effect added to it to add some of that flare that flash is known for. I was able to quickly create this page and wrap it in a nice curvy shape to make the content pop. The shape was very easy to add and modify with just a few clicks. Again, I was a little disappointed by a lack of options on the shapes, and making gradients isn’t really as obvious as it should be, since gradients are a staple of web design these days.
Other than that it was very easy to slap it together, save it, and preview it in the browser with all the fancy flash effects built in and looking good! Literally looks like I spent several hours on the effects alone, but in reality the whole thing only took about 30 minutes.
All in all, FlashMoto is a very well designed rich internet application, that serves a very useful purpose. That purpose, is to save you time. However, by no means is FlashMoto going to replace building sites directly in flash by the hardcore flash lovers out there. At least not yet.
I believe that FlashMoto is on the right track, and they have a fantastic product right now, but it is only going to get better from here. There are limitations to what you can do, but what you can do now is pretty impressive.
I have built many a flash site in my day, and they were all pretty tedious to manage. I have to admit that FlashMoto, if I had it back when I was building those, would probably have saved me a lot of frustration.
But it’s not quite a builder, as it neither provides tools for creating an animation, making flash cartoons or games, nor provides some Photoshop advanced features (the gradient issue). You can’t edit the background as it is a part of a template, you may only upload another picture and place it above the existing background.
FlashMoto is from the same series as, for ex., WordPress or Joomla, but for flash websites.
Roughly speaking, FlashMoto can be seen from two sides: as a control panel (aimed at the end users) and as a website engine (with its API; aimed at flash developers).
Here is what FlashMoto Shines at, and should be used for.
It IS for building very fast, and very interactive flash sites out of the box.
It IS for people and businesses that want a flash site, but have no idea where to start.
It IS for freelancers that just want a nice, sleek portfolio for their work.
It IS for everyone that wants a simple flash site solution, that is easy to manage.
Another point I thought I would mention is that if you really don’t want to build something from scratch even while using the CMS – then they have templates available for the system that are easily customizable and editable – so that is probably the best bet for most people. Just grab a template, and personalize it. Done.
So what is the verdict? If you want a flash site that looks like you spent a ton of time slaving over it, that looks awesome. Grab FlashMoto. It will definitely be worth the time that it will save you.
I hope you guys enjoyed this review! Please leave your comments, thoughts, and questions below!
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