Snorkl Report October 2012: New Beginnings

Dear Readers,

Just want to give you all a little (ok, long-winded) update on what I’ve been up to in recent months and what’s on the horizon. Its been awhile since my last post and I’ve been dying to officially share with you some tremendous news.

I have recently joined the team at GreenSock and have been crowned Geek Ambassador. In this role I will be churning out tons of free training material, building full course curriculums,  representing GreenSock at conferences, stoking the flames of the rabidly loyal GreenSock community and doing my best to offer world-class support in the forums.

If you have 10 minutes to spare and want to learn more about my journey, here goes…

When I started this blog in May of 2010 I simply could not have imagined how it would so radically transform my life. I’ve interacted with folks from the farthest reaches of the globe, developed an addiction to all manner of site-traffic analytics, produced content for Envato,  and now find myself in an entrepreneurial career position that is better than anything I could have imagined.

Through it all there were many emotional ups and downs, but you, my loyal readers, offered astounding feedback and encouragement along the way which always brought the spring back to my step. For this I am eternally grateful.

I started this blog hot on the heels of reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It! Gary has a superhuman work ethic and passion that has brought him tremendous success. I recommend this book for anyone who needs a little boost in kick-starting their own online ventures. His main message revolves around

  • working your butt off
  • doing what you love
  • giving away as much valuable information as you possibly can for free
  • making yourself accessible to others
  • going the extra mile to accommodate the needs of the community surrounding your particular industry

Although I often fell short of the mark, these principles were a very strong driving force throughout the growth of snorkl.tv. By staying focused on churning out quality content and helping folks as much as possible I managed to go from being a virtual unknown to getting over 10k visits a month.

When I started this blog I told myself I was going to give it my all until I had 100 posts written. This is post #99 (weird).

Can You Really Make A Difference?

Its virtually incomprehensible how technology allows us to reach beyond our limited physical reach. I’m just a dude writing from a dark corner of his basement but in a little over 2 years my whimsical creations have garnered

  • 184,054 Site Visits
  • 101,132 Unique Visitors
  • 385,366 Pageviews
  • 153,849 Video Views
  • 1,141 Blog Comments

Thousands of those visits are from places I’ve never seen like Turkey, Vietnam, Russia, Brazil, Thailand, Bulgaria, Switzerland (thanks Jon), Israel, France? I simply can’t wrap my head around this.

And yes, I’m proud of these lovely stats, but I share them to inspire YOU. In this day and age there is very little, besides pure laziness, that prevents  anyone from making their mark on a global scale.

I really can’t explain what it’s like to wake up nearly every day to a thank-you note from a person from a distant land that really enjoyed something I had created months ago and can barely remember. It’s like owning a “random hug machine” but without any creepy weirdness.

Although I really didn’t have a clear plan for what this blog would lead to, I always imagined that I would be able to market some products, make some money off of ads or land some sweet development gigs. It appears you actually have to make some effort in those areas in order for that to happen;)

There is no way that I could have ever imagined that my effort and commitment to this blog along with some steady prayer would land me in a career position that was hand-crafted to suit all of my skills and passions while giving the opportunity to grow way beyond my current comfort zone.

Perfect Timing

Although I may have hoped for something epic like this to happen much sooner, the timing could not have been better. As you all know, the interactive industry has been turned upside down by a massive shift away from Flash-based solutions for interactive media. We can debate the reasons, the reality vs perception, Adobe’s PR blunders, the strengths and weaknesses of “HTML5”,  and the validity of Steve Jobs’ claims all day. The bottom line is that it’s gotten a lot tougher for many of us to imagine a profitable future based solely on our Flash skills. I know for certain that Flash isn’t dead. It will be around for quite awhile doing some amazing, yet different, things.

I’m joining GreenSock at a time when we are positioned to transform the “HTML5 landscape” (for lack of a better term) in a very unique and powerful way. The beta release of the JavaScript port of the GreenSock Animation Platform (GSAP JS) has already started to make an impact. Developers are already having those enlightening “first time” experiences realizing that animation “in the browser” doesn’t have to be a total nightmare; it can actually be a wonderful experience. Award-winning and high-profile sites are cropping up that are driven by GSAP JS.

I firmly believe that GSAP JS will revolutionize how rich websites and HTML5-driven apps are built. Furthermore, it will empower developers and designers to create things that are currently unimaginable any other way.  It is my mission to not only convince you of that, but to get you to the point of understanding it by providing the most comprehensive educational resources possible along with hefty doses of amiable support and encouragement.

“We need it to run on iOS”

I’m sure many of you have heard those dreaded words from a client that wanted you to build some whiz-bang feature into their website or marketing campaign. I know exactly what it’s like to have to shrug off those requests and wait for the next “traditional” banner gig to surface.

This new position not only gives me hope for a future for myself, but excites me about being able to energize you with the same joy. I’ll be frank, coming to grips with having to face the loosely-typed nature of JavaScript, lack of compiler errors,  and the plethora of CSS inconsistencies across browsers is a near-paralyzing endeavor. It can be ridiculously frustrating compared to the carefree life of “export one swf that works everywhere”.

Once you start building some killer DOM or canvas animations with GSAP JS you will see that it can actually be fun. I assure you, your skills are transferable. There is simply no better way to get your feet wet with these “alternate technologies” than to start creating experiences built around the familiar and easy to use GreenSock tools. TweenLite screams in the browser (speed test) and in no time you will find yourself doing things you thought were only possible with Flash/ActionScript. Once you see a few animations that you built running on an iPhone or iPad I know you will get the same buzz that I did.

I’m equally convinced that any JavaScript pros that have been using other tools for animation will be absolutely blown away by the performance and conveniences built into GSAP JS.

In short, regardless of your background or level of experience, I’m excited beyond words to be in a position to introduce you to and guide you through ALL of the tools GreenSock offers. Although there’s a lot of buzz around JavaScript, GSAP 12 for AS2/AS3 is by far the most powerful GreenSock release for Flash. I can’t urge you enough to upgrade from v11 and try it out.

What’s with the Rabid GreenSock Fanboyism?

Here’s the deal. I started my journey with Jack (the single man that built GreenSock all on his own) with a single post in the GreenSock forums. This post was nearly 2 years ago. At that time I looked at Jack in very much the same way the 15 year old me may have looked at Joey Ramone. Regardless of his rockstar status in the upper echelons of the Flash dev world, he wasted no time in not only encouraging me but rewarding me with a highly-coveted Shockingly Green Club GreenSock membership. I was not only on the radar of one of the masters of my industry, but I was given the keys to his high-octane tools. Wow. Crazy. Little old me.

Although, at the time, I was a fan of TweenLite I really didn’t know much about the animation platform as a whole. I had initially chosen to use GreenSock tools as the focus of tutorials because I knew that they were easy to use and would excite a wide audience. That little act of generosity from Jack totally kicked my loyalty level up a notch. When thinking of “what’s a cool thing to teach people about Flash?” I was just naturally drawn to the many features of GSAP.

In trying to research the platform further and also gain a little more exposure I decided to participate in the GreenSock Support Forums as much as possible. I found that for a majority of the questions I had no idea how to answer a quick glance at the documentation would do the trick. Through this experience of offering to help others I learned a tremendous amount and was often inspired to create tutorials around my new findings.

While doing my best to answer as many questions as I could, I was astounded by how quickly Jack would address every single issue that came up. On numerous occasions I’d see new features rapidly added to the platform in response to a user’s request. On the rare occasions that actual bugs were revealed they were squashed within hours of being reported. Quite frankly I had never seen this level of support given for any product; paid or free. Through this experience it became overwhelmingly clear that GreenSock treats its customers better than any other company I have ever seen. Its not just marketing jive.

After a few months of volunteering in the forums Jack rewarded me with a part-time contract as moderator. Through that experience we got to communicate on a near-daily basis. Its a bit awkward publicly heaping praise on a now-current employer, but I saw in Jack an integrity, generosity and compassion that made breaking one of my deepest vows an absolute “no-brainer”.

The Breaking of A Vow

When I left my last full-time agency job back in 2003 I vowed to myself that I would never work fulltime for anyone ever again. Even through some pretty rough financial times the joy of not having every day of every week dictated by some wack-job client’s whim-du-jour has been something I have long savored. Despite the many inherent mental hardships of being a fulltime developer in the agency world, the biggest problem for me was that I never really cared about the clients. Don’t get me wrong, I worked on some great projects that I really enjoyed, but at the end of the day I wasn’t terribly concerned about whether company X sold more product or company Y got 100,00 more sign-ups to their email list. In retrospect I have to also admit that I may have been a touch foolishly naive in that I wasn’t really focused on the end goal of my labor being the financial enrichment of the conglomerate I was working for. I got my satisfaction from knowing that I did the best that I could with some really special people around me. Unfortunately, a career in making vaporware at break-neck speeds wasn’t sustainable with my heart not being 100% into the mission.

In taking on this new position at GreenSock all the pieces fit. I know the tools GreenSock offers are crafted to a level of precision that is beyond compare. Furthermore, I know that when people use them they will be empowered to create things that otherwise would be impossible. I now wake up every day excited to be part of a company that I know has an integrity that is unmatched and cares as much about its users as its products.

What’s going to happen to Snorkl.tv?

I really don’t know. I’d like for it to stay around and I’ll perhaps experiment with writing more general news about web and mobile-app technology in general when I have the time. Frankly, I don’t see a ton of new stuff coming in the immediate future.

The good news is that I will still be creating the same type of tutorials and content that some of you have grown to love; it will just be living over at greensock.com and there will be much more of it. I have a ton of work cut out for me and I couldn’t be more excited about creating it for you under the official GreenSock banner.

For those of you that have been participating in this blog and helping me out with promotion on twitter and facebook, I can’t thank you enough. I’d be nowhere without all the encouragement and support.  If you have become a fan of snorkl.tv these past 2 years and want to keep on top of what I’m up to I’ll still be using the various snorkltv social media accounts but will be much more engaged via twitter.com/greensock and facebook.com/greensock. I’ll be announcing some pretty amazing demos, interactive learning guides and new features via those accounts very shortly.

Above all, I encourage each and every one of you to get involved in your own blogs or online endeavors. Actively support the communities that exist around your industry. If you pursue your passions while giving freely to others you will be quite amazed at where it will take you. You can’t lose.

Best,

Carl

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  • I am so stoked for you in this new chapter! Congrats! 

  • Great news! I always enjoy anything Greensock, cant wait to see what you build.

  • Thanks so much Jeff, you’ve been a great help. I really appreciate the comment and all the past re-tweets and such.

  • Thanks Shawn. Great to have your support!

  • Anonymous

    Geek Ambassador…
    Whoahahahaha,.

    CONGRATS, Carl!

    You sure have my support!
    You even gave me a Greensock License…

    Keep up the good work.

    Best regards,
    Cor van Dooren
    The Netherlands

  • Chris Gannon

    Nice post Carl and congrats on finding your dream job 🙂

  • not sure if my previous comment was posted 🙁

  • Thanks a bunch cor. Will be chatting with you soon.-c

  • Thanks Chris, I know I’ll be seeing you around.

  • seems that my comment has been flagged as spam because it had a link 🙁

  • Hi Ali, 

    I just checked my comment moderation tools and unfortunately I can’t seem to locate your comment. 

  • Anonymous

    I share your Greensock fanboyism, and I can now finally preech it to our JS devs through GS JS! 🙂

    Awesome post man, and thanks again for the Greensock membership!

    I’ll keep following you on Twitter, so please keep posting your Geek Ambassador news

  • Vasilis

    good luck carl…you really helped me in my university life and beyond….I wish you the best…

  • Matt

    Really pleased for you Carl. I have always enjoyed your clear teaching style and looking forward to your new content over at Greensock.

  • I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve referred to this site for ways of doing things with Greensock and AS3 in general. No exaggeration that Snorkl has been instrumental in my journeys with Flash and AS3, and to now have Carl at the source of all the fun is nothing but awesome news! The forums on Greensock are a brilliant resource, and you can pretty much always find the solution that you need either on here or over there! 

    So huge thanks to your Carl, for supporting us less than knowledgeable coders, and Gary Vaynerchuk is right – work your butt off, and great things will happen!

  • gio

    Hi Carl,
    Congrats for your great job!

    I followed your tutorial on “BlitMask’s Wrap Feature for Easy Bitmap Scrolling and Looping.”
    http://www.snorkl.tv/2011/10/use-blitmasks-wrap-feature-for-easy-bitmap-scrolling-and-looping/

    but my animation is not smooth at all and also some features are not working properly (eg onComplete) :/

    Please give me a tip if you can, I’m 14 hours on this and can’t find the problem, I already posted my code and the result here:

    http://forums.greensock.com/topic/6760-my-animation-is-not-smooth-at-all-what-am-i-doing-wrong/

    cheers,
    gio

  • Ben Waller

    Congrats Carl,
    You have been doing a fantastic job and I know Greensock has just got a whole lot better now you’re there.

    keep up the excellent work.
    Cheers,
    Ben.

  • Chris

    Carl I just started watching your tutorials and they’re an immense help. Thank you!

  • Mark Mun

    This is great news!

    Greensock is awesome, but their documentation and ease of use is horrible. You help make greensock easy and show the true potential.

  • Thanks Riaan, glad to have you out there spreading the word about GSAP JS

  • Thanks Matt

  • Thanks Merrick. You’ve been a great supporter and a model citizen of the snorklsphere. Keep in touch.

    -carl

  • Thanks Ben

  • You are very Welcome. Cheers!

  • Thanks Mark, I appreciate your comment. I’ll politely disagree about anything GreenSock puts out as being “horrible”. 

    Due to the complex nature of an animation platform and the variety of features available sometimes the most clearly written documentation can be difficult to understand and visualize. We are making a huge push to have more tools available to help you not only read about how the code works, but also see how it works. There are lots of interactive demos, videos and tutorials in the works. We are confident that the resources that are going to be launching on greensock.com are going to serve people of all levels and make the process of learning the GreenSock APIs as enjoyable as possible.

    Thanks again for your support and feedback.

    Carl

  • Anonymous

    Heya Carl,

    Big congrats to your new employment. And in living the dream!
    Really enjoyed reading your story and participating in your little exercises and learning from your tutorials!
    Can’t wait to see your work on greensock!!

    Cya
    Marius
    The Netherlands

  • Thanks Marius, Great to hear from you. Looking forward to giving you more stuff to tinker with over on greensock.com

    Best,

    Carl

  • Carl,
    Congrats sir!  You definitely earned it.  I thank you for all of the knowledge, and the Greensock license, that you have given me.  My only request… keep the site going because I stil come back every now and then for refreshers.  Thanks!

  • Brandon

    That’s great dude..   Now YOU’RE the man!    😉

    -HaunGO

  • Jan Kundera

    Thank you for this great blog Carl. Guys can you someone give me a tutorial tip please? I need to build history timeline similar to this: http://www.newslab.cz/presidents-chancellors-ger/
    Whan you click on date its animate continuously back and forth. Please help 🙂 Thank you Jan

  • Anonymous

     I am leaving Flash completely and start with HTML5 (PHP) so I am going to dive in JS. looking forward to your next step.
    happy holidays
    Cor

  • George Smith

    Hey Mr Schooff,
    I’ve spent a long time away from Greensock, particularly since Flash work isn’t as required any more. Not sure if you remember me from the old GreenSock forums but I always found your responses on there extremely polite and helpful, and your snorkl.tv site was incredibly useful.
    What do you do now, are you working with Greensock full time? I always wondered if I’d see more of your tutorials around somewhere, are you still posting them (but for GSAP JS now)?

    Drop me a PM on the new Greensock forums and say hello (if your account’s not completely full).

    Take Care,
    X10