Update: As of 29 June 2009, Flow is now shipping. To order a copy at a special dekeOnline discount, go to gridironflow.com/deke.
Forgive our relative lack of blogging this week. But between Photoshop World and the pre-announcement of CS4, Colleen and I have been maxed to the gills. (Is that the right phrase? I ask b/c it doesn’t make any damn sense. Even so, you know what I mean.)
Regardless of how busy we are, things are afoot. For example, if you hold your ear to the ground closely you can hear, just below the thunderous approach of CS4 (think T-rex), a softer but more animated advancement (3 or 4 velociraptors) that I’m thinking might be every bit as exciting. That softer sound is Gridiron Flow.
One of the most ambitious applications I’ve witnessed in years, Flow stands poised to be that one killer non-Adobe app that every designer cannot live without. (And I don’t say that lightly. We designers can live without food, family, sleep, friends . . . just about everything.)
Besides sporting a cool logo that looks like something M. C. Escher might have once inserted into the center of a hexagonal 45-RPM record, Flow promises to transform the way we track and organize projects.
First and foremost, Flow will offer workflow maps that show how files are linked. So in addition to seeing every graphic linked to an InDesign document — without opening the document or even the InDesign app — you’ll be able to track Clipboard relationships. (Copy a drawing from Illustrator, paste it into InDesign, Flow knows. Weeks, months, several restarts later, Flow still knows.) You can track files stored on offline Firewire drives and servers. You can review the history of a file and recall an old version of a document. You can package a project without bothering to launch any of the applications used to create the files.
And, get this, you can do time tracking.
Now wait: When I say time tracking, I don’t mean the time you spent with a file open. I mean the time you spent clicking and dragging and actively working inside it. Which means you’ll be able to accurately invoice clients. And, if you’re a small shop, you’ll be able to track your subcontractors.
By the same token, if you work for a large firm, you might very well be held to a higher standard of accountability. If you’re the kind of worker bee who arrives promptly, puts in a full day, and clocks out a few minutes late, you stand to be rewarded. But if you spend much of your time circling the water cooler and trolling the Top 1000 URLs, you might very well be netted. (Naturally, I’m petitioning for special dispensation to denizens of dekeOnline.)
Best of all, Flow is visual, it’s intuitive, and it requires minimal overhead. According to President Steve Forde, Flow will run seamlessly in the background, never consuming more than 1% to 2% of your system resources.
Flow is currently poised to enter a public beta program. Be aware: Flow is one of those programs that can see into your files. So reasonably, I’m concerned that there’s no chance it might in any way prove invasive. I have Steve and company’s assurance that while Flow can read an InDesign, Flash, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, or Photoshop file, it will never write to it. A beta version of Flow may crash (fair enough), but it cannot corrupt.
As I write this, the public beta is not yet active. But I am told we are days away. Personally, I say let it steep. Better to have a stable public beta than . . . well, any alternative. Fortunately, the good folks at Gridiron agree.
Flow approaches. Let me know what you think.