Flypaper: Helping the Average Joe Get Flashy

Flypaper Flash SoftwareAfter reading an intriguing highlight of a new piece of software called Flypaper on CNET this morning, I had to take a test drive of a free version of this do-it-yourself Flash production studio.

The reasoning behind the product is simple — Flash is complicated to use, forcing businesses who want the kind of rich multimedia presentations only possible in Flash to hire a professional Flash developer. The question is whether there is a critical need in the marketplace for more Flash animations, especially by amateurs DIYers who lack the technical expertise to use the core Flash tools.

One CNET commenter summed up my initial reservations:

The client buys a finished production … or they can buy a handy cam and shoot it themselves. We don’t have a problem with this, because we know that the next time they want to do a video production, or a Flash animation, they’ll come back to someone who knows how to do it right.

And there you have it. Just as Dreamweaver does not a web coder make, so Flypaper does not a skilled and creative multimedia producer make.

That said, it is a pretty cool piece of software that in the right hands has a lot of potential. I just worry that it won’t stay in the right hands.

Let me put it another way.

Flypaper is designed for standalone presentations and NOT for Flash pieces meant to be on the web.

I can’t stress this enough. I have a terrible feeling in my gut that dozens of businesses are going to grab onto this tool and have Sally in accounting whip up a template-based website using the software, and feel that if they plop it up online they are destined for success.

No, no, no!

BUT… Say you want something that looks a little, shall I say, “Flashier” than your traditional Powerpoint for your next business meeting. Now you may be in luck.

Flypaper (Free, at least — I didn’t test the pro version) does make it astonishingly easy to make complicated Flash animations based on a stockpile of templates, with a lot of customization available for people who want to get their hands as dirty as this software will allow.

This is very much a Powerpoint-inspired piece of software, and as easy as it is to start dragging and dropping things, it’ll be well worth the time to understand how actions and animations all go together. Ten minutes into it, you’ll soon discover that there’s a lot more you can in Flash than in Powerpoint.

I’m curious to see how this product starts to get used and by whom. The analytics and CRM features available on the Pro and Enterprise versions will doubtless attract fans in the business world, though again doubt clouds my mind — if you’re not willing to pay to have a professional develop a multimedia piece for you, do you really want your customers looking at it?

Flypaper is definitely cool. I just worry that it’s powerful enough to be dangerous.