Why I Didn’t Mention Flash Player

I was making a presentation to our client on mobile development. It’s a strong Flex-Java IT shop, and our company helps them with Flex development. I was comparing pros and cons of native vs html5. Spoke about the hybrids too. During the Q & A session one person asked me if I was avoiding mentioning Flash Player on purpose?

At this moment I realized, that it was probably the first time when I didn’t even plan to mention it. It happened naturally. I still like the technology, but it would be unfair to lie to the client.

I answered that we are still using the Flex framework and AIR in our own software product that’s being used in insurance industry, and our company will continue helping customers who need help with Flex. The desktop version of our product uses Adobe Flex, and for tablets we use Adobe AIR. But I don’t see commitment from the Adobe to Flex or AIR. The compiled AIR application works slower on tablets. Creating a build with AIR for iOS can take from 30 minutes to an hour. I also said (may sound pathetic, but this is what I honestly feel), that I spent 5 years of my life with Flex, but with tears in my eyes I say “Don’t do it”.
This product was abandoned by Adobe, support for new platforms/SDKs is weak, Flash Player crashes a lot more often than three years ago, eats up all the CPU – it seems that it’s been simply ignored.

Now Adobe has a new pet called PhoneGap. Similarly to Flex, Adobe donated PhoneGap library to Apache Software Foundation. But this time Adobe has a plan to monetize on such a gift – they created a Build PhoneGap cloud service, which can package your HTML5 or Hybrid Web application as a native app. I like PhoneGap, and wish Adobe to succeed with this product. But Flex is going away from the enterprise Web toolbox.

My today’s hope is for Dart – an interesting language from Google that can run either in the compiled mode in the Chromium browser’s VM, or (automatically) turn the app code into JavaScript and run as usual. The Dart VM is not in Chrome VM yet, but you can run the JavaScript code generated by Dart in any browser (see http://try.dartlang.org/).

8 thoughts on “Why I Didn’t Mention Flash Player

  1. I think that Haxe/OpenFL can be great. With StablexUI but with bunch of extensions too.
    Dart is awesome but Google wasn’t succesful with own languages yet. Though, I’d glad if you’re right.

  2. Yakov, very interesting post, thanks. What do you think about CoffeScript and TypeScript? Do you consider them as alternatives of Dart?

    1. Both of them are fine. We are looking at typescript. But the ultimate goal to develop in a productive environment and deploy in the predictable vm.

    1. If you want to use Dart, install Chromium browser, which includes Dartium VM. To run Dart’s code in any other browser, you’ll need to recompile it with dart2js, and then any other browser will run JavaScript as usual. Google Dart team has created source maps, so you can debug the code in Dart IDE even though it runs as JavaScript in a browser.

      But I agree, 2013 is a year to warm up with Dart and start learning it.

  3. Don’t bury Flex yet: – Apache is releasing 4.10 this week, it has vibrant community and if you look at any job board, there is still 25 times more jobs than Dart. Flash is as stable as it was 1 yrs ago, and if you think, there is still no worthy replacement on the Web and desktop. And Flex is still well supported in Flash Builder and IntelliJ Idea. It became a good niche technology (not mainstream), so what?

  4. Yakov, hope you are doing well. We worked on a project that I developed using Actionscript 3.0, around 4-5 years back, remember? I firmly agree with you, Adobe left Flash platform and its (AS) developers in vain, AIR for mobile is good for nothing😦. Left me transitioning to HTML5 and other web technologies for living. And, dart looks promising at this point.

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