Flash Community: “Keep Calm & Carry On”

Since I can’t seem to help myself, I’m going to continue being an un-official community manager and provide a little more of my view of what is going on for people to consider over the weekend.

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.

14 thoughts on “Flash Community: “Keep Calm & Carry On”

    1. I think we will see the same path that Flash took, but happen within a much smaller amount of time. Two years ago, HTML5 was more around experiments to prove that it could do specific things. Today there are evolving tools that can reliably create consistent output for the technology across a critical mass of browsers like Adobe Edge, Hype and others. Within a few years, as older browsers loose their dominance and platforms like WIndows 8 and 7 beome more defacto standards for PCs, we will then have HTML5 enabled broswers with IE9 and IE10 that currently is the largest limiting factor of the technology. Finally, we are already seeing development frameworks start to be created using HTML5 and take advantage of some of it’s unique features. Some of the stated future direction goals of Spoon was to take advantage of this.

      So will it today? No. Will it next year? No. Will it within 3-5 years? I think so.

  1. Thanks Doug – I think the problem is simply down to communication, unfortunately the damage is done.

    Sure the Flash Platform is still here but its lost all credibility. Even though I know about all the fantastic new features coming up, I can no longer stand up and defend Flash as a reliable long term strategy even for desktop.

    Adobe has shown incredible recklessness, I hope it can recover from this but I am very doubtful.

  2. Great post. Glad to see we are on the same page. The issue is “change” and how we deal with it. As I said earlier this week: “Which is sort of where I left it with my students. They can worry about change or simply ask, “ Here’s what happened. How do I adapt?” The key is how we each answer that question.”

  3. Well said once more Doug.

    A lot of people would embrace a fully open source Flex in which community has a more important role to play. But the timing of this move is suspicious to a lot of people because of what happened during the rest of the week.

    In any case, if the guys at Spoon (and anyone else involved) are so committed, there is a great time ahead for all the people that work with Flex. The productivity and consistency it provides is hard to find in other web platforms and this is one of the main reasons a Flex developer cannot just go back to simple Javascript or jQuery etc. These technologies are great but they lack certain features needed by software engineers. After all, Flex developers create more than just a website or a simple web app.

    Anyway, the HTML5 way may be the future indeed. And it really looks that way. But the tools for it are not yet powerful enough and managing to make Flex target other platforms as well would make a lot of people happy and change the game as well.

  4. I don’t see why Flex/Flash cannot export to HTML5?

    who cares about the Flash Player… We are developing in Flash CS and Flash Builder (should change its name again).

    The only focus Adobe should do as of This Monday is develop a JS framework to export Flex to HTML5. They already started with Walliby for Flash!

  5. Doug,

    I appreciate you fighting the good fight (especially given how this week played out for you), but I agree with Peter. I simply can not trust any of Adobe’s plans or representations with their technologies and can NOT recommend any Flash solution any more, unless a client specifically requests it.

    It isn’t what Adobe did. It’s how they did it. And that was really, really bad. No one should trust them again until there are real signs of change.


    1. Right — Sometimes the area of change that needs to take place isn’t just with the technology, but in who provides it. There are other options out there–definately, and I have been looking at a lot of them recently. Adobe has always been the easy choice to me for a while–with the trust issue that you and others have expressed, Adobe needs to work to rebuild that over time, potentially while you take your business and clients elsewhere. It is bad, and very sad–but it is all about the change.

      1. I think if Adobe had introduced these changes during MAX, with a clear message, clear roadmap & plenty of face time to some of their biggest advocates and customers, then it might not have been so bad. The way it was done was horrible bad and the evangelists are now left to pick up the pieces.

        Thanks Doug for all you have done and continue to do for the Adobe community. You have been beyond great in helping people out even after you have been let go by Adobe. I wish you all the best with whatever job you end up next. Any company would be extremely lucky to have you.

  6. In the analyst meeting, Adobe made it very clear that they want to be a marketing SAaS company. In pursuit of billion dollar quarters, everything else is secondary.

    For our part, any platform represents a significant investment. If Adobe is committed to nothing but chasing the dollar, how can we trust them enough to invest in their platform.

  7. It feels like Apple stuck the nail in Flash’s coffin, Microsoft took a swing at it and Adobe grabbed the hammer and finished the job. Public (and customer) perception of Flash was badly damaged, but now Adobe takes a swipe at its own product. Already I’m hearing clients say they don’t want Flash on their websites.

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