Counting down to Christmas in Dreamweaver and Flash

December 2013

It all started with my annual search for fun, non-chocolate advent calendars for my children, however old they were getting. In 2008 I'd missed any that may have been around, so I decided to try a digital solution just for the family. The next year I opened it up to friends of all ages and I haven't stopped since.

The challenge that I set myself was that the contents should be collections of real objects, so in 2009 I presented Christmas preparations in our dolls' house. I set up miniature scenes to photograph and even went to the NEC Miniatura exhibition with a shopping list of objects still needed. I used Dreamweaver to produce the calendar, moving an image map through the numbers every night through December to link to a new animated gif for the next day. The house, as it appeared before any windows were open, made a good Christmas card that year as well. 

The Dolls House Christmas calendar
The dolls' house calendar is listed on this archive link. You can still open Christmas day

2010 saw a big leap in the size of our collection of reindeer Christmas tree decorations, which continues to grow every year. I used a miniature glass tree decoration from the dolls' house to build it all on. I was relieved to find the obvious star reindeer for the top of the tree two weeks into December that year. Having been on a training course to use Adobe Flash software, I really wanted the reindeer noses to flash red on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately Flash files are not advisable file forms to use on the internet any more, so there is only a mobile mp4 version left at this link to show you what happened.

Reindeer advent calendar
The first reindeer calendar is listed on this archive link. You can still open Christmas day

The next year I got carried away with Flash and had a lot of fun with various interactive techniques for the 2011 Christmas cracker collection. I transferred music and sound effects from a keyboard via an iPhone. The water pistol shot water, marbles clinked together, the magic trick sparkled and the party blower sounded out. It's a great shame that Flash has become unsupported and out of date now. A lot of creative work on wonderful websites has been lost, or has needed converting to different file forms for reworking as a result. I had needed to have a method to transfer the artwork from the Photoshop master file to make an html version as well as the Flash one, as mobile and iPad use statistics couldn't be ignored and the Flash wouldn't work on them, but that meant the rollovers were sadly lost.

The calendar looks very busy, but the interactive version was great fun to do and it got the most page views yet. It also gathered over 90 Facebook followers that year.

Cracker calendar
The cracker calendar is listed on this archive link. You can still open Christmas day

In 2012 I tried an experiment and sat a big Happy Christmas message underneath the collection of decorations on a Christmas cake. The Flash version carried my tinkly keyboard rendition of the Sugar Plum Fairy. It did look better at the beginning of the month, getting a bit cluttered by the end, but Christmas cakes always do look better before they're cut...

Cake calendar
The cake calendar is listed on this archive link. You can still open Christmas day

Then I found out about Drupal…