Official Adobe page about recent news

Adobe has put up a more official page about the recent news, confirming that they will not continue work on Flash for mobile and reaffirming their commitment to such technologies as Flash Player on the desktop, AIR for the mobile and desktop, Flash Builder and Flash Professional. Go read for yourself!

Meeting of Montreal AUG

The Montreal Adobe User Group will be holding their next meeting on Wednesday December 7th, 2011 at the Istory II Bar Billard. The main topic as you can imagine revolves around the recent Adobe news regarding Flash on mobile. Go here to sign up. 

Unfortunately I cannot make it since I have prior commitments that day.


Flex goes to Apache

Needless to say that due to last week's Adobe blog post, their communication skills leave much to be desired. The entire Flash/Flex community is up in arms and wondering about the future. A couple of follow up blog posts were made by Adobe employees (here and here), but that asked more questions than it answered. Well as of last night, one of those follow up blog posting was updated (go here and scroll down after the red comment) in an attempt to provide more clarity. Here is a summary:

  • Current Flex SDK development work will be completed (new components and super fast compiler)
  • The Flex SDK, BlazeDS and more will be donated to Apache Software Foundation, Adobe will have people on the Open Source Flex SDK management team
  • Future versions of Flash Builder will be released with previously communicated new features
As for the future, Adobe believes that Flex is still the best solution for the development of large enterprise applications. Eventually, HTML/JavaScript will catch up in this regard, maybe 5-10 years from now, but for the near future, Flex is still the better solution. And I agree, until I see an update to the JavaScript language, I don't see how it can surpass Flex for large application development.


When is Javascript going to be updated?

Do you know since when has JavaScript been around? Well if you don't, I'm going to tell you. 1995. That's 16 years ago and since then, it feels like the language has not evolved one bit. Well at least it doesn't feel like it. Having worked with ActionScript allot over the recent years, it makes me yearn for the day that JavaScript takes on some of its characteristics. So here are a few random thoughts on the subject:

  • Why is everything still loosely typed? Why can't I declare the data type of my variable. Once we are allowed to do this, it also means we have greater support for the language in our development tools, meaning less typo mistakes and shorter development times.
  • When will we be able to finally declare a class like any normal person can. You know by using the class keyword. No more of this everything is a function mumbo jumbo. Proper class inheritance would be nice as well.
  • How about having a compiler that can run through our code, to advise us in advance of any syntax errors. Rather than random discovery at run-time of any simple programming errors.

Times are changing: Flash and Flex

They say that the only constant is change. And another great example was given to us this week following Adobe's announcement (article 1, article 2 and article 3) about the future of Flash on mobile browsers - that basically there isn't any. For the last couple of days I've been thinking about how to write this blog post, so here goes :)

Were all the Flash haters right?
Anyone who "hates" is never right. They are most likely ignorant and perhaps even mis-informed. For 7 years now, since 2004, I've been developing web applications using Flex for my personal projects and at my job. At my job, I am perhaps one of maybe 3 developers who have used Flex at home and work and loved the capabilities the technology offers. Others used it cause they had too, and some wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole. That's fine, we are all different people. But you know what the most important thing is, I tried and I learned something new. I did something not many people can say they did and because of it, I am better developer today than was back in 2004. For 7 years, I have been ahead of the curve, doing things that were not possible or very time-consuming to do without Flex. Basically what I am saying is that I wasn't going to stand still waiting for HTML/JavaScript/CSS to catch up. And I must say that was thanks to Stacy Young for giving me a CD labeled "Royale Beta" back in the Fall of 2003.

What about my skills set, my job?
So finally in 2011, HTML/JavaScript/CSS have finally caught up. Well at least up to a certain point, there are still things you can't do in a browser that only the Flash Player can do. But with the rapid evolution of browsers these days, especially for Firefox and Chrome (IE is still slow), they will soon catch up, but it will still take some time. It might still take 10 years before browsers have totally replaced what the Flash Player can do it. So what does a Flex developer like myself do? Am I out of a job? Am I useless? Nope, au contraire, I have just spent 7 years acquiring knowledge in how to better develop web applications and I thus will continue to do so. Just means I am using different tools to do so. Actually over the past year I have already started doing more HTML/JavaScript/CSS developement than ever before and I have been applying  my Flex skillset to all the JavaScript development I have been doing. I have created my own jQuery DataGrid widget, you can set the columns to display and specify a labelFunction for each column object. Sounds familiar? :)

Let's no forget
Since 1996 we have been using the little plugin that could to stream and watch Dallas Cowboys games which were not available on national TV (ok, that was just me), share funny/sad/dramatic/historical/great/not so great moments with family and friends on YouTube, watch sport highlights and much more. Were would we be today without the Flash Player? Probably stuck in the web technology stone ages. The web is a better place cause of the Flash Player and hopefully the future will be better because of it.

What Adobe is saying
But don't just listen to me, some Adobe employees have made some posts as well in the days since the announcement. Mike Chambers has a great post here and then there is one here from a couple of product managers.

What's next?
Well, I'm going to keep doing what I've always been doing, creating great web applications. And I'm going to start by bitching as to why JavaScript hasn't grown in 15 years. Oh, but that's another blog post all in itself :)


ActionScript 101

New to ActionScript (or Flex in general) and don't know how to learn the basics? Need a quick crash course? Then I have the hyperlink for you! Adobe has put together some small articles about the basics of ActionScript 3, such as language syntax, how to declare variables, namespaces and much more. The first article which talks about ActionScript Syntax is here and once you are done with that one, at the bottom of the page are the links to the subsequent articles.

So go get started if you are new to ActionScript/Flex/AIR, or share it with a friend/colleague who is looking to get started in this domain.