Flash Community: “Keep Calm & Carry On”
This week has been a struggle to say the least, but I know that tomorrow I need to go into my classroom and in front of all of my students give them answers that will make sense to them for their education and careers. This same information is relevant to anyone who has clients or customers that rely on us to make sound technology decisions to help them have successful businesses.
First, adopting Flash and AIR as a platform to build content is still a sound and strong platform for customers and to teach our students. This week though, the types of projects that you build with the platform has changed significantly from what we have been used to for the last several years. With this, where to take our customers and students now has multiple paths.
As I mentioned before, Flash in the desktop browser isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it is going to only get better when Stage3D ecosystem frameworks become more popular and available to the community. Projects like Starling are a perfect example of how Flash is a great platform for desktop browser gaming.
Next, AIR is an amazing platform to create custom experiences for the desktop, Android, iOS and Blackberry, and soon when Stage3D support comes to AIR, we will have a kick-ass gaming platform for mobile that uses our existing ActionScript skills to create great apps that can be monetized through app store and in-app purchases. With Adobe’s Creative Cloud Touch apps built using Adobe AIR, it is a safe bet that Adobe is investing in this technology for the long haul.
The Flex team at Adobe announced today that they are moving to an open development model, merging with the Spoon project and contributing the project to an open source foundation. The contributors at Adobe and Spoon will continue to collaborate to develop the technology. In a group chat tonight, a number of the Spoon project board members joined in and talked about some of the specifics of how Spoon got involved with Flex. They are a great group of dedicated community professionals, smart engineers, and otherwise awesome people who understand the world of enterprise, browser and mobile development and have been part of the Flex community for several years. One thing that was mentioned was the desire and need to have the Flex framework target more than just Flash. As someone else said—it is drawing bits on the screen, and with work, it could be adapted for other runtimes or ecosystems.
This type of outlook with Spoon and Flex is something of a shock to a lot of us in the Flash community. But now there are other technology options for the community, and from the messages of Adobe there is an underlying message that has been pretty consistent: that HTML5 will become the dominant platform for expressivity, and Flash and AIR are focusing on gaming and mobile applications.
When I face my students, that is exactly what I’m going to tell them and that they should burn this week’s news into their heads, because it is a perfect example of how technology changes affect a community at a dramatic level. What is happening right now—right in front of us, is historic. The unfolding of a technological change of this magnitude does not happen often. But at the same time it teaches us something, and it is this type of change that keeps us in this industry—because our skills and expertise are what allow our customers, clients and students to be successful and navigate the waters of technology and software.
As I said tonight in the chat, the Flash community has taking a beating this week—and they deserve some time to rant, yell, kick and scream to get it out of their systems. But we are also an amazing community that evolves and changes as the need arises.
This week, we have a new need for evolution and change, and it is within our opportunity and responsibility to do the most with it.