Adobe or HTML5?

I know, some people will say it’s apples to oranges. Some people will say Adobe is also pushing for HTML5. But I’m writing this for people who read the title of this blog correctly: Flex or JavaScript.

Disclaimer 1. I do both.

Disclaimer 2. I don’t care about game programming. I work for a company that does enterprise development.

In the enterprise IT circles Adobe is a whipping boy of 2012. Adobe has accepted this award, and only their cleaning ladies and janitors didn’t apologize for what their CTO and CEO did last November hiding behind the wide back of Danny Winokur. But let’s put emotions behind and get real.

Today, there are two types of the enterprise CIO’s: those who don’t care about developing for mobile and those who do. CIO’s who don’t care about mobile can be divided into two groups: smart and typical.
Smarts will start new Web projects selecting a technology that would allow them to easily go mobile if the life will force them to do so. And not so smart will just go HTML5 because this buzzword is an easy sell to CEO’s.

Let’s continue splitting hairs. Enterprise Web projects can be divided into two categories – Web pages and Web applications. Web pages can be divided into (you guessed it right) two categories – those don’t have to be blazing fast (just show them that Donate or Pay button), and those that must be blazing fast.
Further splits would involve Intranet vs Internet, and by reliability requirements.

Now the most important question, “Who do you care about the most?” As the saying goes, men who shave in the evening love their wives, and those who shave in the morning love their work. Who can you afford to love more – developers or the users?

Seven years ago the most popular examples of successful AJAX applications were Google’s gmail and maps. Most of the people were drawn into this Google state of mind forgetting that their own teams had less skillful developers and more modest budget than Google’s.

Today, people are choosing the technology to go mobile. In a meeting with a prospective client I’d start drawing on the white board. You have two choices… I’m not going to do it here, but learn from the past – don’t assume that what the big guys do is affordable to you too.

I’ve learned from a Facebook engineer presentation that their users login from 2500 different mobile devices. On the other hand, this article states that Facebook has bad experience with their HTML5 mobile application and they are creating an iPhone version in Objective-C. Sounds great. What about people carrying 2499 other mobile devices.

Do you have to make such choices? Do you have skillful teams of Objective-C, C++, and Java programmers or prefer to have the same code base in HTML5? How many concurrent users do you have? Do you have enough money to cater to all possible devices your users carry?

It’s up to you to decide. But for most of the enterprise mobile Web applications the choice comes down to selecting between Adobe AIR and JavaScript. If you select AIR, it’ll cover all your today’s intranet desktop needs and the same team will be able to port this app to iOS, Android and Blackberry devices. If you are ready to dive into JavaScript, just double the time allocated to the development cycle of your project. But you may save time in the long run cause your Web application will already work on lots of mobile devices, especially if you’ve been using responsive design principles.

As to myself, my typical week is split between Adobe AIR and JavaScript. And yours?


9 thoughts on “Adobe or HTML5?

  1. It’s funny your blog title is “Adobe” or HTML5, rather than Flex/Flash or HTML5, only because Adobe seems to want to be synonymous with web standards as of late.

    I’m about to work on an Objective-C based app for my company, 24 Hour Fitness, which could/should revolutionize how trainers interface with their clients on a daily basis. Honestly I didn’t even give HTML5 a opportunity here because the app needs to look and “feel” futuristic, fast and smooth. I’m going to prototype in Flex/AIR and the final product will be native, however Adobe has just released a beta version of AIR with further improvements for iOS. I love how they’re pushing AIR forward on mobile despite putting the kibosh on mobile Flash. Who knows, maybe we’ll stick with the AIR app on iOS instead of going native…time will tell.

    1. Erich,
      As I wrote, there are smart and typical decision makers in IT. After reading your comment, I’m officially including you in the group of smarties. 🙂

      Good luck with your futuristic AIR project!

  2. Everybody has been beating up on Flash. And HTML5 is everybody’s buzzword darling. But Flash became a success because of its ability to create rich interactive content on one platform and have it work on as many other platforms as possible. In the past, this meant Macintosh and Windows. Today this means Windows, Macintosh, iOS, Android, Windows 8 Mobile, etc. Cross-platform development is far more important today than it was 5 years ago . . . or 15 years ago.

    HTML5 will reign supreme for web pages and basic content publishing, no doubt. But for rich interactive content, the benefit of developing once and having it work everywhere is far too compelling to ignore. I think Adobe has played their cards well and they are in a much stronger position than most people realize.

    The only other product in Flash’s category in terms of reach to a variety of devices is Unity, but while Unity excels at making 3D games, it can’t touch Flash’s highly evolved 2D UI, animation, web connectivity, and video capabilities.

  3. Before this summer I was focused on Flex/AIR development but also was keeping eye on all that hype around HTML5. And now customer wants to pass away the Flex and switch to HTML5. So my team is quickly adopting to new market demands and starting to learn jQuery, jQuery UI and all related stuff. Can’t say that I’m happy with it, because it feels like you’re thrown back in the stone age, productivity greatly decreased. But I hope this will change and along the way experience will grow, resulting in same productivity that we had with Flex.

    BTW, I really like new version of your company site. Old one looked a bit outdated, and new one rocks!

  4. Thanks for interesting article but I would prefer title “AIR or HTML or Native” 😉

    As for me neither Air nor HTML5 can be a recipe for all kind of projects. Our company developed cloud storage and we couldn’t implement all our needs in Android client by means of Adobe Air. There were many bottle necks near a year ago, especially what regards working with local file system. So we had a choice: to tell our customers that we can’t do it because bla-bla-bla, or just switch on to the Android SDK 🙂 In that days we didn’t even review HTML5 seriously. Now on every corner you can hear mantra “PhoneGap”, “PhoneGap” but I am pretty sure there are also many limits in comparison with native SDK. So you need to think twice or even better seven times for making that successful CUT 🙂


    >>> What about people carrying 2499 other mobile devices.

    Its interesting what percent of them working on Android OS? 🙂

    1. What’s Android OS? I know like five different versions of this OS. Will your native Android app run on all of them?

  5. Yakov, your article is very nostalgic… I miss it too… Do you think Flex/AIR still has a strong chance to recover and strive under Apache? I keep watching them hesitating to release 4.8. What are your thoughts ?

    1. IMHO, AIR is in a better position than Flex. The latter requires a runtime, and will Apache Fex 4.8 run without issues in existing Flash Player remains to be seeing.

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