Back in the early days of the web, a bunch of scientists and geeks needed an internet based document system, and this resulted in HTML. One of the underlying principals of HTML was that it described what was to be presented to the user, not how. This idea worked well for those scientists and geeks. Had the web remained being used by just those folk, not much would likely have changed. The web was destined for so much more though and this “what, not how” was unacceptable to most other people. Flash helped address this problem by providing web designers with a way of controlling how content appeared in a consistent way across multiple browsers.
As I previously mentioned, I’m a Flex developer. I don’t use the Flash Professional tool, I don’t create web sites, but I do use Flash. I use Flash to create applications (or RIA’s if you prefer). As a Flex developer, technologies like AIR and the promise of being able to compile ActionScript into iPhone applications excite me. I’ve never much liked Flash on web pages, due to its use in intrusive adverts, inane “flash intros” and the slow-loading, accessibility train-wrecks that are full-blown Flash-only web sites. I want to see Adobe putting more money and effort into building the developer side of Flash use. Running a Flash game within Chrome on an Android phone doesn’t excite me. Being able to compile an AIR-like application for an Android phone does.
Adobe are a designer-orientated company. They appear to struggle to “get” us developers and what we can offer them. As a developer, I see the emphasis on getting the Flash Player on as many devices as possible a missed opportunity. The designer-first mentality of the company is driving the Open Screen Project in the wrong direction. AIR/ native apps on all platforms should have been the emphasis, for smart phones aren’t about the web, they are about apps. As a case in point, the BBC offer details of English Premiership football (soccer) games. The web is a pain to use though on a phone, so I bought an “app for that”. I chose a paid-for app over a free web site, for the installed application offers a superior experience over what a web page can offer and it cost less than a pint of beer.
Far too many of Adobe’s eggs are being put in the “Flash Player on the browser” basket and if Flash on web pages is doomed, then Flash as a whole may be doomed. This is of course just my opinion and time may well prove me wrong. Its an opinion that has grown in strength though as I talk to others and read “Not on our Christmas card list” type posts from the Adobe Platform team. When a company starts laying off staff, it’s time to question its business model. Perhaps its time to question whether Adobe’s future still lies with its Flash Player/ Flash Professional/ Designer past. Or whether its future lies with Flash Developer, AIR, native apps and developers like me.