The Designshift Sketchpad was really created just as an experiment. There are other similar Flash “mini-applications” on the Web, and it doesn't take Flash developers long to start wondering, “How did they do that? Let's see if we can make one.” Then, as the basic drawing functionality came together it became obvious there were little things missing from some of the others, like transparency or something as simple as making a dot just by clicking. Some of these features have been added to our version.

Please take a moment to check out the Sketchpad in action. And when you do, consider that the complete download size of the Flash movie is only about 8KB. Considering what it does, this is tiny — about the same as a not very large static image on most web pages. Ironically, the landscape image at the top of this page is almost twice the file size of the Sketchpad that created it. In fact, our Sketchpad has been described as “The Smallest Flash RIA [Rich Internet Application]”.

By the way, if you create something interesting with the Sketchpad, take a screenshot and send it to Designshift. We may want to display some of the results.

Of course, there is still much that could be done to make the Sketchpad more functional. How about a real undo feature? (With the current version the only way to undo is to click ‘redraw’ and then stop it before the part you want “undone”.) But yes, a real undo is do-able. Or what if you want more colors? Right now there are only ten color choices. Could we have slider controls to let users create their own colors? Of course. But for now the Sketchpad is just an experiment, and a fun example of the potential of Flash.

But what good is it?

Is there actually a way something like the Sketchpad could be more than just a novelty? There are lots of possibilities. It could be used in a variety of children's educational activities — make your own artwork, color in a template, etc. Some sites now offer prebuilt greeting cards you can personalize with your own text. Why not give an option to add to the artwork as well?

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