2010: What’s Next for Flash and Flex Developers?


With all the economic and tech turmoil the past year, many have shown a yearning for something stable amidst it all. Some of the mobile & device hype has actually come to fruition without Flash Player taking a starring role. This has had harsh marketing/PR consequences for many peoples continued, or lack of, faith in the platform.  This is ecspecially true for those of us in the Flash community for awhile; we’ve been hearing for a decade about Flash on mobile, and have long since been tired of hearing it.

We’ve already seen some luminaries leave the platform for iPhone like Aral Balkan & Keith Peters, some for good, some returning (welcome back sexy man Keith). Others have thrown in their joy with Unity 3D. All the while we have HTML5 deceitful propaganda biting at the heels for those of us who have stayed.

What’s next? What technology is coming that we should invest our time in to ensure a continued prosperous career? Should we stay with Flash Player?  Is there something I can focus on that’ll help me find a niche and as an early adopter get a payoff?

Today, I want to layout what I think is coming the next 6 years to at least put your mind at ease if you’re a Flash/Flex Developer.  These are my projections based on what I’ve read, corroborated from talking to colleagues and other reading, and based on past experience.

What’s Next

Android. And some iOS.

Other Options?

We have a variety of options, for sure:

iOS: proven market, great existing devices with new ones with different verticals coming. Growing for B2B, not just consumer.

Unity 3D: Uses the wonderful language C#, targets PC, Mac, and iPhone, and has a lot of hardware acceleration hooks. Has shown much success in the past 2 years, and EA’s massive investment shows there’s a growing market there.

Windows Phone 7: Again, the wonderful C# language, best developer tools in the industry, and a similar story to Adobe: a runtime that allows for desktop, web, and device (in this case mobile) delivery.

Web: As many businesses find new ways to make money online as well as off, reduce long term costs by investing in services both for themselves and their customers, this is perhaps the most stable place to continue to be since the technology will always work in some form on various devices and existing desktop hardware.  I’m talking the traditional HTML/JS/CSS stack with associated libraries here, regardless of your middle tier.

Why not those?

iOS: While our recent permission to re-participate on the platform has us all feeling like it’s tenuous, there have been a few key reversals from Apple recently that does a lot to show me there isn’t any turning back now (Google Voice, Lua based games, Unreal engine, etc).  There will be work for creating applications utilizing Flash & Flex for iOS devices. Specifically, iPhone and iPad using Adobe’s packager. And not JUST the iPhone packager… we can utilize a lot of the same code & assets for Android deployment as well.

Why do just iOS when you can do both it AND Android as well?

A few in the community claim to have made the transition to Cocoa just fine.  It’s clear Cocoa isn’t for me.  Many ran into the some challenges I had with Objective C, and it just wasn’t as fun as Flash & Flex are.  Now, we can still use Flash & Flex with shared code for other devices & OS’.

Unity 3D: Yes, I too dreamed of growing up, moving to Japan, and working for Squaresoft. Then games got cool. Then market pressure for more demand resulted in quality reduction and perceived consumer expectations being lowered. This in turn allowed many companies to validate that making sub-par games is not only ok, but profitable. Yes, there are many companies out there that believe in quality. What sells right now, and has for the past 6 years especially on the web en-masse, is git-r-done engagements.

No thanks, I prefer to build Porches, not Kias, and see no steady money there. That said, I still look on longingly.  My current skill set, and those of many Flex Devs, is best at delivering applications, not games.  That said, I’ve read of more than a few Flash devs trying and loving Unity 3D, some having half or all of their work come from that platform.  You can make $150,000 doing Flash games.  Some will even work on iOS/Android.

Again, Flex devs like me build applications, not games. I use MVP, not meta-tiles for reduced collision detection.

Windows Phone 7: It doesn’t exist yet in the consumer marketplace. We’ll know in January how it sold, and even then, I don’t think that’s a large indicator of it’s future success. That, and there hasn’t been a lot of press about other devices beyond mobile using Windows Phone 7. I’ve met some of the people behind this initiative, and believe Microsoft is making wonderful, and correct, strides here.

I just worry that the other half of Microsoft will actively sabotage the great things they’ve created.  The web and desktop teams are SOOO different in outlook.  I have no qualms being a late adopter here.  Right now, there isn’t a market for my clients to target yet.

Web: Uh, no. I love JavaScript, but I have enough challenges with lowering my project capability expectations for Flash Player on devices. I don’t mind lowest common denominator experiences as far as mobile concerned because at least with Flash player there are still features Flash Player can do that the browser can’t. The little things like with getting custom deigns implemented continues to set Flash apart in this regard even on devices.

When & Where

You can develop for iOS and Android today.  Yes, they work.  By Adobe MAX, hopefully everyone can participate in the Android sphere (Flash CS5‘s been available for awhile).

Since consumer phone/device/Operator contracts go in 2 year cycles, we’ll start to get early adopters next year as more and more Android’s devices proliferate.  This includes tablets, not just phones. Some of the design agencies will just opt for a Flash on iPhone/iPad experience when they need something a step up from the HTML/JS capabilities since there aren’t enough Objective C coders to go around.  Since we can share a lot of the same ActionScript code on both iPhone and Android, this’ll segue nicely for sales teams looking to provide their customers “solutions across both desktop, web, and mobile” even if the mobile story continues to be fragmented.

Additionally, as Jesse Freeman pointed out awhile ago, it’s really cheap to get a Flash Designer to prototype applications using Flash vs. Objective C.  Many companies such as T-Mobile have been using Flash to prototype for C on phones for awhile.

Some participation with existing, already on-staff skillets for experiences that are good enough for consumers will sell.

For service providers such as my company (we build software solutions for other businesses), I don’t think it’ll pop up as fast; maybe not till 2014. In fact, we may just get off loaded to by Agencies who don’t have on-staff competency for more of the CPU/RAM intensive projects that are non-game related such as data visualization, or the larger applications for a device and running into scalability problems.  Flash Player runs great on the web, yet I still often get scalability jobs regarding Flash Player web/desktop projects.

Where we WILL see work is when some companies, even for the wrong reasons, need mobile versions of their web apps.  If it’s built in Flash/Flex, it’ll need a mobile equivalent.  So they say.  If that mobile equivalent, or perhaps even a device other than a phone, supports Flash, then you can leverage a lot of the same code.  More importantly, though, some of the API’s that AIR allows you to hook into allow more features than a browser can provide, so there are also cases where it’s the right reason.

In 2012 there should be a slight up tick as people finally renew their aging phones for Android/iOS devices, and start bringing them to their workplace. It’ll only take another year for businesses to start seeing this (again), and start targeting consumer applications for devices. By then, Hero (Flex 5 SDK with mobile focus) will have matured, and Adobe will have learned what areas need improvement. By 2014, it won’t be considered “risky” to utilize the Flex SDK for a project vs. straight AS3; it’ll be the preferred method for people like me vs. the current way of using pure ActionScript 3.

Flash/AS3 Developers

You have it best right now.  You are the ones most capable to participate, today.  You really have a chance to make a name for yourself.  I’ve been following the Flash Lite email lists for awhile; the community is small.  Good opportunity.  You may get early adopter clients this year; next year things should start to pick up from many different types of clients as the brave ones start to explore.

Flex Devs

If you have the time, I encourage you to give the Android/iOS builders a try.  If pure AS3 isn’t your thing, give the native Android development a try; it’s very similar to Flex.  If you’re willing to drop back to pure AS3/small component libraries with no MXML, you could definitely prosper here if apps really do take off (as opposed to traditional games and other ad ware that will be inevitably be developed by the agencies; that crap is already proliferating on the app store and companies DO get paid to make it).

Any Negatives?  You’re being pretty positive here


First, I’ve been lurking on the Flash Lite email lists for about 5 years.  I watch developers who make content for mobile using Flash Lite (Flash 5 basically), and I learn about their development challenges.  The one thing that scares me is they have basic problems that shouldn’t happen.  For example, loadMovie (Loader/URLLoader/URLStream.load for those not in the know) just won’t work correctly… ON SOME PHONES. Others, it’ll work the same.

I can confirm that AIR for Android works great.  For Nexus One.  I haven’t tried it on other Android phones/devices, so I don’t know if fragmentation is a huge problem beyond the obvious performance one yet.  I also haven’t done a larger Enterprise esque’ project on it yet to truly battle test her.  I can confirm Flash Lite is also good technology, having a lot of fun with Flash Lite 2.x 4 years ago on a Nokia 6680.

That’s what scares me.  Operators do stupid things.  I’ve already read articles about Java’s fragmentation on Android phones (the device stats I’ve seen aren’t really that valuable yet) like some phones have 2.0, others 2.2, and even some of the 2.2 Froyo where the Operator hasn’t confirmed it’ll actually have Flash. *face palm*.  I haven’t gotten any insight if the JVM for various devices has any notable quirks like I know Symbian does for Nokia phones.  I have more faith in Google making Android than I do Motorola making a custom version of it with their bloatware, and us all hoping it works the same.  Time will tell (a hopefully positive story).

Second, if it takes off next year, this is more ammo for pure ActionScripters like Steven Sacks and Jesse Freeman to continue ignoring Flex for applications that should of been built in Flex instead of pure ActionScript.  Once the phones get powerful enough to run Flex, they’ll still swear by their Button being faster than a Flex Button, even though the user’s can’t tell.  Dammit.


If you’re a Flash/Flex Developer, and wondering what is next, it’s developing mobile Android and iOS applications using Flash and Flex IN ADDITION to your existing skill set.

It won’t take off as quickly as Flex did.  We have these things called “Operators who think they can draw well” and “Google without Designers” and “Cupertino Illusionist” and “recession” and “people who see beyond the hype” all collectively slowing it down.

I know it’s not as exciting as going from Director to Flash, or Flash to Flex, or Flash to Unity.  There’s a reason there aren’t any exclamation points in this post (yes, JXL blog post with no !… er, shit… there’s one).  At least, it doesn’t feel very exciting to me since the market just doesn’t seem to be there yet, and the current phones/tech is just slow compared to what I’m used to.  And I’ve been hearing about it for 10 years, and still won’t see a decent pay off for another 2.  I’m not seeing any signs it’s NOT going to be there in the timetables I mentioned above, though.

Seriously though folks, once Apple said we could play in their sandbox again, it actually increased the value of our ability to target Android as well.  Suddenly ubiquity via Flash is in play again.  It’s just on devices that are still slow, and Adobe’s only been optimizing for them for 3 years (maybe more based on Tamarin checkins).

Remember, too, a lot of web content is optimized for mobile, like this blog.  Optimizing for mobile is no longer a “omg, more work, less dough” scenario; it’s just expected that’s what you do.  There will be a lot of Flash content that will need to be optimized to run on Android device browsers as well in the desktop browser as opposed to making an application in AIR.  Keep in mind that’s not just “2 screens” either; it could be 3, or when one rotates/flips it.  That’s a lot of work that you can get paid for.

Breathe & Go Download Starcraft 2

So there it is.  Relax, you don’t have to learn HTML5 nor Objective C.  Unless you want to, in which case, pimp.  You can rely on the web for most of your income, and mobile/devices will eventually pay off your investment in it.  I wish I could make it more exciting, but the truth in this case, while cool, isn’t as cool as Starcraft 2.

The good news is, since technology changes so fast, there may be something epic-cool that comes out of this recession.  This one has been harsh, and recessions often spawn magic.  There’s no reason we couldn’t abandon the above plan and jump on whatever that new technology is.  I just haven’t seen it yet.

34 Replies to “2010: What’s Next for Flash and Flex Developers?”

  1. Not only is my AS3 Button faster then your Flex one but my native Android button just sank your battleship. Thanks for the plugs but instead of playing Star Craft I would encourage more people to learn native languages. AS3 to Java is an easy leap and I still refuse to do Obj C since it’s not fun at all. C# is great, go wp7! I have been playing with my dev phone for the past month or so and really feel that it will be a huge contender. No one really wants Java on their phone, it’s slow and Google can’t design their way out of a paper bag. The point is we, as Flash developers, should take all that good design and interactive skillz we’ve used to make the web what it is today and give those Computer Science pointer loving mother fuckers a run for their money!

    Oh and Jesse vs Jesse part 2 is going to suck for the guy who’s last name isn’t Freeman! See you in Boston…

    1. “AS3 to Java is an easy leap and I still refuse to do Obj C since it’s not fun at all. C# is great, go wp7! ”
      Who said that programming is fun? Programming is hard. So if you find Objective C hard & not fun/not intuitive then good luck with the new C#4.0!!
      Just in case that you are not aware of it is much more complicated to learn than the other versions. However Java would be a great way to go. Most Flex positions requires you to know Java anyway as back end so it won’t be a waste of time.
      M$ is making the mistake to complicated C# and will end up with a fucking C++ language. The damn Steve Job reversed the ban. Why is that? Because the mother fucker has just realized that writing iphone apps using Objective C sucks big time , it is over complicated and the language is retarded. Now my question is why not keeping our current tools to write mobile apps? I mean you can now easily write iphone apps using FlashCS5 you can write AIR apps using Flash CS5 soon with the new Flex mobile framework you will be able to write mobile apps for any platforms so why the fuck would I want to learn windows 7 mobile programming? They are way behind everybody! Their tools suck big time!My last year position I made close to 170K as Flex Developer so why in the hell would I want to switch into a new programming language? Do you guys feel that you know EVERYTHING about Flex 4?
      I personally learn something new EVERYDAY with Flex so why would I need to disperse my skills . learn 100 language and be viewed later as a fucking generalist and not a Flex guru anymore and get a damn pay cut?
      Guys there is NO need to disperse yourself, you are sitting on some GOLD why wasting it and get distracted with other retarded languages & Platforms?
      Why you need to learn as a Flex Dev is :
      Some Java for the back end
      Some exposure with PHP
      Coldfusion is now getting bigger so get also some exposure with that sucker
      Improve your design patterns, buy books regarding this area.
      And be fluent with framework Cairngorm 3 and at least a second one.

    2. Mr Freeman I don’t get i here! Why would you suggest to us to embrace the windows 7 mobile path and to bring our flash skills to other platforms and start learning C# and other crap?? I mean guys my salary went from 80K to 150 K in one year! The wall street journal just acknowledged that fact :
      And you and Jesse Warden are suggesting us to leave the boat while we are sitting on some gold now? Are we competition to you maybe? All all the experienced Flash Developers that I know are accumulating BIG money now and unfortunately they have NO time trying OB-C, Android Windows 7 M.
      All that is a little odd to me I must admit!:)

  2. I to think there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about Flash Platform work. One of them you mentioned is WinMo7. For people like you that’s going to be huge. WinMo7 won’t contend with iOS or Android anytime soon in the overall market. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be on equal footing in the business market. Some might eschew WinMo7 saying, “It’s only 5% of the market” – or whatever it happens to be. But sometimes we have to look at niches and see things like “WinMo7 has 45% of the North American business market” – or whatever it ends up being. If someone can make a name for themselves targeting that segment they’ll make bank.

    To me the biggest question mark right now is will WinMo7 support the AIR runtime some day. That will give us Flash Platform AIR devs the trifecta.

    @Freeman : You’re precious AS3 button doesn’t run one cycle faster than a Flex button. It’s just that the Flex button does SO MUCH MORE than your AS3 button which has the effect of requiring more cycles. Okay, that amounts to your AS3 button being faster but damn-it we have to hang on to something. :)

  3. Rad read, things do look good and hope they continue. I’m getting my droid x within the month and can’t wait to begin testing on it.

    @ Jesse Freeman – “The point is we, as Flash developers, should take all that good design and interactive skillz we’ve used to make the web what it is today and give those Computer Science pointer loving mother fuckers a run for their money!” – Well said!

  4. I was hoping to learn some news there was some sort of new breakthrough in Flash or Flex. But unfortunately, it’s been the same message for the last 3-4 years at least which is “everything is going mobile”. The tools we have, for the most part, are incredibly mature. Flash IDE is decades plus old. No significant breakthroughs with the timeline.

    When Flex 2 made it’s impact, it was a very exciting to finally have some tools that ushered enterprise practices into a space that was dominated by artful minds. Flex 3 was a great iteration and Flex 4 Spark skinning has made the lives of my team better.

    But to be honest, I just don’t get the same thrill hearing about “Go Mobile” as I got when I got when was first hit with the “Go Flex” propaganda.

    I guess I just take it for granted when Flash Player has been multi-platform for a while. “Go Mobile” is just another platform. Same tools to make content. No huge innovations.

  5. Great as always–but… a couple things:

    –Flex: perhaps Adobe will make Flex so lightweight and so speedy that you’d have to be nuts not to use it. Until then, I just don’t see a path to under powered devices. Flex is a framework/library. But it’s just one. Why wouldn’t some other (maybe faster) framework take off? Granted, I’ll admit I really don’t KNOW Flex (not like you anyway). But ultimately I think it’s just another argument that “my library is better than your library” argument. And, Flex sure isn’t the slimmest one I know.

    –Unity: I think there’s some serious opportunity there. At least for casual games–that market isn’t exactly going away. And, I’m not sure if you’re saying the quality of games has gone DOWN… but it seems to me the story is that there’s been an arms race. You can’t just have blinking things, they have to explode and have 3D. I see Unity taking a market in which Director used to thrive and Flash still dominates… but one that will require more and more power that only something like Unity can handle. Just my prediction.

    –Mobile versions of websites are far from something you just do automatically. It IS more money because it’s way more work to do multiple versions. This is opportunity. However, for many businesses I think it will be a long/slow process to get them to want to invest. It’s really just an ROI. Not that Adobe always makes the best business decisions–but look at adobe.com on your Nexus One… or even apple.com. There are some great mobile versions of public sites but a) it takes way more work/money and b) many businesses just don’t see the value yet. There’s opportunity but I fear it’ll be slow coming and definitely not to the point where you just automatically do that. (One day, yes.)

    –Yeah, HTML5, CSS, JavaScript. Ho hum. I mean, I don’t want resist it–but I also don’t feel like a re-do of all the exploratory, workarounds, and investigations into how to do stuff that folks have come to expect. What I expect to see are some showcase examples of “jeeze, they’re really hardcore HTML5 programmers” but many more of “oh, I’ve seen that skin a billion times now”. For example, I cringe when I see the default skin on FLVPlayback. I expect to cringe when I see the same (less featured) html5 pure css/html video player. There will be many more such gadgets that will emerge. Like… that code to view zoomed in photos that everyone uses. Not saying this stuff sucks, but I fail to see how that’s any more fun… or better (than Flash)… or even moving forward. Make no mistake, when a client wants a cool canvas based project I’m sure most Flash programmers will be able to do it–the problem is that many will and should point out when there are better alternatives. Maybe I’m an idiot and doing it all in HTML/JS/CSS is easier too. The whole proprietary argument only goes so far when the alternative is bundles of huge JS code that, while “open”, is effectively obfuscated when “mini-mized” into one long string. Plus, doesn’t anyone notice JavaScript is a sucky language?

    –Finally, exactly what DOES Aral do these days? I see him around the web but it’s like he’s in a different dimension.

    Anyway, I don’t really disagree with you much.

  6. Why do we think making people navigate through stores, downloading, installing and updating apps is the future? It’s a pain in the ass. How about instead of jumping through those hoops, you just go to a website. You don’t have to install anything, you just go there in the all-purpose app that is already on your device, the browser. And when you go there, you get an app experience that is optimized for the device/browser you are on.

    Mobile browsers are in their infancy. The rapid increase in bandwidth and performance for mobile devices, combined with the product lifecycle of phones, is going to result in a massive improvement to the mobile browsing experience. Therefore, the functionality of most apps will be capable of being presented in the mobile browser. And once that happens, the necessity of an app store as middleman goes bye-bye.

    So for myself, as a flash/actionscript developer, I am working on improving my html/js/css chops (along with learning some back end), since it remains to be seen whether flash will eventually be ubiquitous in mobile browsers.

  7. @Phillip Today, I’m using Keith Peter’s MinimalComps with my hacks. You can also use as3flobile ones.

    For bigger apps, though, Flex would be a better choice if the phone could run it reasonably well.

    Yes, as a long time gamer, the quality of games has gone down. Also, my demographic is no longer targeted. If it is, it isn’t done well. Games don’t have to be 3D; they just have to be fun.

    Yes, Aral is in a different dimension. My gut says based on reading his twitter + blog training iOS dev.

  8. Has to be the Flash community quote of the month:

    “The point is we, as Flash developers, should take all that good design and interactive skillz we’ve used to make the web what it is today and give those Computer Science pointer loving mother fuckers a run for their money!”

  9. I dunno guys, I for one am alot more excited now that I’ve been in a very long time. The web has gotten so stale, it’s so compelling to finally have a new avenue to pursue where there are new things to be discovered, and conventions to create.

    I’m currently loving the exercise of challenging myself to come up with new UI, throwing out the old, and in with the new. In 5 years, there will be all kinds of new touch based “conventions”, and we are the ones who will get to define and invent them.

    I don’t get the poo-poo’ing either. Couple simple realities:

    1. Phones are getting fast, damn fast. 1.5ghz dual-core machines by years end, within a couple years we’ll be sitting at 2-3ghz phones. And AIR runs pretty damn good right now, on the first generation of high-end phones (single core 1ghz). I don’t know about you guys, but to me it’s only getting better from here.

    2. AIR _will_ be targeting WM7, and obviously they will do a ton to improve the iOS packager. The potential here is insane, this it truly real close to compile once run everywhere. Obviously API differences are an issue, but still. A Blackberry version is not all that far behind either. The market potential is just sick.

    3. Projected sales of smart-phones in 2014: 429million. Holy FUCK.

    True Flex doesn’t run great right now, but this is nothing but a speedbump IMO. Fast forward just 12 months, and hardware will have leapfrogged, Hero will be out, and this transition period will just be a memory… I’m more of a Pure AS3 guys anyways, but you Flex guys don’t need to worry, the pure performance of phones in 12-18 months, will brute force that shit, regardless of how well they optimize Hero.

    @John – It _is_ the future. Going on the web is a shit experience, sorry it is. Yes it works, but it’s loose and unstructred, and old. These days I want to open an application, and be presented immediately with the information I need. Apps bring the content to you, the web requires you go to the content. This is a fundamental difference in UX.

  10. Flash has always been like a mobile OS, just the hardware is the internet. It is (relatively) underpowered and incomplete compared to real OS’s, but it is universal-ish. I think the issue getting it on to actual devices it is competes directly with the OS in a way in never did with desktops. Carriers or whoever will do what they need to do to make sure it doesn’t eat their lunch, which mostly is wait until phones are more powerful than Flash (thus 10 years and it is still ‘happening soon’).

    I know I probably just do different types of projects, but perf always matters in what I’ve done. So tempted to say everything. I’ve never been in a project where things weren’t dialed down until it ran smoothly on the target minimum spec. You should never give up perf accidentally as they say, which is constant in FlexUI unless maybe you know it like a body part.

    Always come away enlightened and rethinking from your blog man : ).

  11. Excellent post as usual.

    Left feeling a little cold about mobile development myself. Seems more of a natural/essential progression to my career, rather than a new frontier waiting to be tamed. I think it was always a forgone conclusion the Apple would have to open iOS up to Flash, and as devices get quicker and Adobe streamline Flash Player it will find a home in the mobile market

    I think Flash’s place on the web will lessen but there will always be niches were Flash can do a better job than any other technologies, and I believe that those who stick with Flash will be able to cash in on it.

    While some companies seem to have gone iPhone mad (my current employer included) I can see a steady increase in Flex Job here in London and the Flash Dev market seems unchanged (apart from the recession having some impact).

    It’s all a far cry from the Flash is Dead hype of a couple of months ago.

  12. Great article and some great comments. I agree with most of the article with the exception that I do what’s happen exciting. Sure Mark Lapasa is right that if you stay in Flex, nothing is as a big game-changer as Flex 2 was. Developing for mobile, tablets and even tvs now is just another platform, but it’s a new different sets of platforms that I think can be very exciting!!! <— multiple exclamation marks.

    Out of all the platforms, while being able to develop for tvs is cool, I think tablets look like the most fun. Combining multi-touch input while not be limited to the screen res of small smartphones!

    That said, my day time job is right now is Flex work targeting the desktop web. I keep working for companies that don't see the ROI on mobile websites with mobile devices only making up around 1% of the audience. I'll likely to be getting an Android tablet to develop AIR apps. I might not be making any money for it, but once again I think it will be fun to develop personal apps that way.

    I've done Java in the past and could take Jesse Freeman's suggest to take some of my StarCraft 2 time to get back into Java, but I think the performance of AIR apps is good enough for the majority apps, native only becomes important for 3D games and CPU intensive apps where every bit of performance is needed.

  13. @Stuart That was exactly the perception I wanted you to have, hence suggesting everyone download & play Starcraft 2. I only know of a select few who do a majority of mobile Flash as their main staple of work, and I don’t see that happening for us. The ROI isn’t there en masse, so it’s more like a slow transition to having mobile work displace your traditional web/desktop work vs. “boom, today and henceforth all my Flash/Flex work is for mobile devices”.

  14. Interesting post. Wondering what your thoughts are on cloud platforms like always on pc or others… Since they let you run flash by letting your mobile device access pc-capabilities via their cloud, then wouldn’t it make this discussion somewhat void? I’ve had an Iphone for awhile now. aopc ive only had for about a week, but it lets me run flash. I use it for a lot of facebook flash aps, and it works really well.

    Here’s a link to what I’m talking about- iPhone Firefox Flash Player

  15. Fantastic article.
    I won’t lie I’m even more confused then ever i agree that it wouldn’t be smart to put all the eggs in one basket even if the language flash dies as a language there will be options. i have no clue but i think it will take a good while and the skill sets we have as flash developers will be valuable in any language we need to port into(if we do).

    We live in very unclear times. there might be a completely new ‘thing’ out there that will win the market but flash as you said still has the edge of being the most compatible with most devices out there and if it manages to really own the editing tool for publishing in various cell formats then we got a new money train to catch.

    AS much as i hate to say this thanks Apple for letting us play in your sandbox!

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  17. Hi Jesse

    I am surprised you did not bring up ELIPS Studio in your post (http://developer.openplug.com/download)

    It gives you the best of both worlds:
    – native user experience (through a new MXML namespace that maps the native UI controls with all the momentum scrolling and other bells and whistles in 1 line of code) and performance (6 times faster than AIR on Android 2.1, 18 times faster than Flash Packager for iPhone on iOS 4 using Grant Skinner’s AS3 bench – check my FITC slides here: http://www.slideshare.net/gensuque/fitc-mobile-2010-crossplatform-native-apps-with-elips-studio)

    – ability to develop your native mobile app in AS3 and MXML and a subset of the Flex framework

    Ain’t that cool … ?

  18. I’m super optimistic about WP7. I’m not making any predictions, but it’s got a lot going for it. I could see it really succeeding, and it is a pleasure to develop for. It’s the horse I’m currently betting on.

    Also, we need to get over the “there can only be one” attitude. iOS will continue to survive and thrive. That doesn’t mean Android and WP7 are doomed. Android will not kill iOS, even if it becomes more popular. WP7 may or may not be as popular as either, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a viable platform to code on. Learn a bit of each. I just finished a month of doing iOS stuff full time at work, while coding a game for WP7 at night. Now I’m back on a big Flash project full time. Broaden your horizons and learn more than one language.

  19. @Keith I hear you. WP7 is way easier to get into than iOS. I tried, twice, and failed at getting Objective C. So, while I agree you should broaden your horizons, I refuse to touch iOS from an Objective C perspective. It’s just gross, and I don’t enjoy coding a language from 20 billion years ago with pointers. WP7 at least has one of the best languages on the planet, C#. Again, though, it doesn’t exist yet in the market; Android and iOS do. Playing with a phone and language that doesn’t exist is NOT a waste of time; learning a new language & runtime on a device is a wonderful learning opportunity, so totally agree.

  20. A good one for some confused developers having “WHAT NEXT IN MIND” and a go for skilled developers who were trying to extend their skill set already by learning the technologies which you have stated. Yeah it gives better Hope for future., I am sure that Adobe will push Hero to the extend what you have stated. Develop one time, launch on three places at the same time would be happier for more developers and for many companies.

    Thanks for the Article, Jesse!! A good writeup.

  21. Great insight as always but it might be sooner than u think… as i am working on flash contents along side with Android app, optimizing for new Samsung tablet now, and it is really time consuming~ but at least i can play/test with new toy first lol.

  22. At the moment, the Flash Exporter for the iPhone sucks big time, so I don’t see how Flash can be used for creating iOS apps.

    What do you guys think about Apple allowing the Flash Player on it’s mobile Safari? Is that going to happen at all?

  23. Hey Jesse, Phillip,

    Ironically, I’m doing what I’ve always done. If anything, I’m discovering the bits that I really enjoy (designing user experiences) and concentrating on that. I’ve also focused on making apps on what I feel is currently the best platform for creating beautiful user experiences (iOS). Especially as an independent developer/designer, I feel that that focus is essential.

    I’ve also been doing talks on user experience to get people to understand that in this commoditized industry, user experience is the differentiating factor and that creating beautiful (even emotional) experiences requires lots of focus. As such I’ve been fortunate enough to speak at a number of very varied conferences including doing the opening keynotes at the PHP UK conference, Kings of Code, Frontend2010, and Over The Air. I’m also speaking more at design conferences like Visuelt (Norway) and will be doing an opening keynote at Future of Web Design in New York in November.

    I’m also very passionate about the role that open technologies, web standards in particular, can play in education and in the past few months I’ve spoken to groups like Education International on the importance of not raising a new generation of secretaries trained in Microsoft Office and not tying the next generation to proprietary software.

    So, as you can imagine, my interests in user experience and open technologies and standards have meant that my focus has drifted from the Flash platform. This was a gradual process that probably began when Adobe bought Macromedia. I see Adobe as a company with a split personality (with its enterprise and consumer divisions having conflicting interests) and lack of focus. And I see too much of an old boys club having formed in the Flash community and around the corporate entity that is Adobe. I’ve been one for kissing corporate ass so that put me off too. Beyond that, I simply feel that Flash has had its day. It’s not dead. Not even dying. But it’s not exciting for me any longer (your mileage may vary, and that’s totally cool). It was exciting ten years ago when it was the platform on which you could build the best user experiences around (at least on the web). That’s no longer true outside of certain niches (like 2D games, and deeply experience-based sites) and other technologies have begun to offer compelling alternatives to bits of functionality that were previously in the Flash domain (whether its HTML5 on the low-end or Unity3D on the high-end).

    So, all in all, I’m doing well and working on what I’m passionate about (user experience/experience design and open technologies/standards and education) and concentrating on trying to make beautiful experiences. Hope you guys are doing well too and – most importantly – creating, having fun, learning, and growing.

  24. Flash has always been somewhat of a thorn in the side of OS / hardware vendors who see cross-platform compatibility as a direct threat to their bottom line. When you have a runtime which can perform reasonably well on any platform, that complicates matters when you want YOUR platform to be the one: Windows, Mac, whatever. Flash makes platforms somewhat less significant for the level of generally accessible and lightweight applications that Flash excels at producing, and this is at the heart of the problem. If a platform becomes not as important as what’s running on it, then a certain degree of homogenization occurs, and when that happens, it becomes harder to profit from the us vs. them mentality, which confers a great deal of wealth on some individuals, who are fine with the way things are.

    What I find most unfortunate about the so called demise (which is more like a character assassination) of the Flash Player, is that Flash is such a fantastic platform for a unified and consistent user AND developer experience in the midst of so many competing and wildly incompatible platforms. It can be an island of sanity in the ocean of corporate cutthroat competition, where there’s so little co-operation.

    Really, the ball is so in Adobe’s court. I hope they will really do what it takes to push the Flash platform forward. They’ve got a tremendous product here, but they really need to be more aggressive and innovative, because for too long, Flash has really lagged behind in the mobile arena.

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