What is Stykz? Why Was It Created?

Last updated on 09/12/2010

Well, if you've gotten this far, you probably already know what Stykz is (the first multiplatform stick figure animation program)... but you may not know the history of how it came to be developed.


As a software developer, I have always been on the lookout for places where programs that others have created are not working properly or require the user to do a lot more work than they really should. And if I have the chance to, I will either send feedback to the developer, or write an add on or plug-in to address the problem.

Back in 2007, my kids had been using Pivot Stickfigure Animator ("Pivot") to make some really cool animations and were showing me how they were made. As they showed me, I became very aware of the limitations of Pivot (using different colors for segments, filling empty regions with a color, no copy/paste, no undo, etc.), and suggested they contact the author to suggest changes to the program. They informed me that the author hadn't worked on Pivot in years and was unlikely to in the near future. So I suggested they use a better program, and they told me that "there wasn't a better program" out there! So they were effectively stuck with a program that was likely never to get updated and would have to live forever with these glaring limitations.

Someone Should Do Something!

Even though my kids told me that there wasn't a better program out there, I figured I'd get the "lay of the land" and find out myself. What I found was surprising to say the least! There were literally tens of thousands of people using Pivot out there, and there were several communities built around Pivot - the two most popular being DarkDemon and Droidz. And every single one of them was putting up with the limitations of Pivot with no chance for relief, other than to take a huge step and suffer an empty wallet and deep learning curve by making the move to Adobe Flash.

I also discovered that there were many thousands of people using Macs who really wanted to be able to use Pivot, but since Pivot was Windows only, they would have to either use Boot Camp or a Windows emulator in order to run Pivot, or worse yet, purchase another computer just for that purpose.

Looking around for alternatives got me nowhere... EasyToon is pretty cool, but it's black and white and Windows only; TISFAT (This is Stick Figure Animation Theater) does a lot more than Pivot, but its interface is difficult to use and is also Windows only. There were also a handful of never finished/half-baked apps that couldn't even do what Pivot could. And there was one up and coming Mac-only app (Dimp Animator), but that wouldn't help the tens of thousands of Windows users out there.

My conclusion: Someone should do something! That someone turned out to be me.

Revolution (now "LiveCode") to the Rescue

One of the main development tools I had been using (and still use) is a rapid application development (RAD) tool called Revolution (which just recently had a name change to "LiveCode", by the way). When I saw the scope of what Pivot did and the limitations that needed to be overcome, I quickly realized that it would be pretty easy to create a stick figure animation program using Revolution that would have none of the limitations of Pivot and would be something that could easily be built on and upgraded. After all, Revolution (LiveCode) had built in vector and paint tools, quick screen building abilities, and was easy to use. Plus, it was multi-platform, running on OS X, Windows, and even Linux!

So in early 2008, I started working on Stykz, and eventually released the first public beta for Mac at Christmas in 2008; ever since then that day has been known and celebrated as "Stykzmas" by me and the Stykz user community. Stykz, even in its pre-1.0 form, has been downloaded thousands of times and has received some pretty good feedback. The best thing about Stykz is that It's actively being developed, so it's got nowhere to go but up!

And there you have it.

Ken Ray
Lead Engineer, Stykz

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