Monday, November 21, 2011

Balanced decision on the future of Flex

Essentially, Adobe has come to the realization that the world does not
want plug-ins on mobile devices.  Unfortunately Adobe has done a
terrible job communicating what their intention is, and the initial
feeling many Flash/Flex users and developers had bordered on
pandemonium.  But this announcement is actually great news.  Adobe did
a poor PR job, so here's a post that really clarifies the good from
the bad:  And Adobe about their

These are long posts, so if you don't have time, here's my summary:

First and foremost, Flash was never really viable on mobile devices.
The actual Flash player has always been clunky, resource intensive,
and just buggy on mobile.  It was created for a world of users that
had a mouse and could interact with the screen via a cursor.  On
mobile devices this is different, and the rules of
human-computer-interaction have changed.  That said, Adobe won't put
resources into something that isn't meant for mobile.

Second, Adobe is finally giving us (developers) the ability to fix
Flex faster than Adobe could.  Since Flex 1.0, Adobe has controlled
the entire update and release process of Flex, often times ignoring
blatant problems and publishing updates with a strange sense of
priority.  As an open source technology, the community of developers
gets to enhance it, much like Sun made Java open source, and aids
development, but doesn't control where it goes.  The community gets to
enhance a mature technology and improve on it, with resources from
Adobe and the rest of the world.  Adobe is finally making good on its
original promise from years ago to make Flex truly open source.

Third, the Flash player for the desktop will continue development
because it is viable, extremely robust, ubiquitous, and provides a
uniform experience regardless of which platform you are on.

Fourth, for mobile development, Adobe stands behind AIR and the
continued improvement and development of this tool.

I am not urging anyone to simply take the path of one technology over
another.  HTML5 is definitely here to stay, but its tools, frameworks,
and community are very immature compared to the Flash platform.
Conversely, native development is expensive in time and resources, and
both paths cost a lot in regards to testing every browser on every
device and OS.

There are arguments for why companies should begin acquiring and/or
developing talent in native and web-based technologies, but these are
bets being made for a future that might pan out one direction or
another.  I think it is beneficial to all companies that have used
Flash in the past to realize that not much has changed or will change.
 Flex is an awesome enterprise development tool that can be used to
rapidly build projects.  Flash and AIR are great resources with an
excellent community.  Adobe just needed to openly realize that Flash
on a mobile device wasn't realistic, and that the community will
benefit more by having Flex be truly open sourced.

For the future of your projects, I truly believe Flex is very strong,
secure, and viable.  The wariness of Adobe's commitment is
understandable.  Regardless, Flex isn't going anywhere, and will be
here (specifically in the enterprise) for many years to come.