HTML5, Flash and Adobe

If you haven’t heard, Adobe Systems announced they will “no longer continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations.” First, let’s understand what this means:

Future devices will no longer be able to view Flash content in a web browser.

For Flash developers, this really doesn’t change anything.  Before I explain why this doesn’t change anything, I want to say (and I’ll reiterate) that you can still use Flash Professional and Flash Builder to make native applications for iOS, Android,and BlackBerry Tablet OS. That won’t change nor will anything regarding the Flash Player for PC/Desktop browsers. These two areas are actually strengthened by the reallocated resources.

I own an Android-based HTC EVO and I love the fact that I can visit a webpage that has Flash content and actually view/interact with the content. The experience is not optimal though. This isn’t because of the Flash Player. It’s because the developer of the content did not optimize the page for my mobile device. The page is intended for desktop/pc users and I’m viewing it on a smaller screen and underpowered processor.

Very few developers are making “Flash Mobile” web content. Truthfully, I don’t know a single developer nor have I been asked by a client to make them a mobile website in Flash. Most mobile websites are HTML/CSS/JavaScript driven because they need to be light-weight and work across every device on the market. If a company decides they want a high-performing mobile application, they make a native app. So Adobe is stopping development on a medium developers aren’t using and developers will just keep doing what they are doing. If a company needs a mobile website, use HTML/CSS/JavaScript. If they demand a high-performance mobile game or application, build a native application. Building that native application can either be done by learning each programming language for each platform or by using one of Adobe’s tools (Flash Professional or Flash Builder) and publishing your Flash content as a native iOS, Android, or BlackBerry Tablet OS application.

While this announcement seems like a heavy shift, it’s not. I believe it’s helping Flash do what it does best:

  • Deliver unmatched online, cross-browser video experiences
  • Create a high-performance web gaming platform
  • Allow companies to build rich web experiences and enterprise applications

A developer’s responsibility is to choose the right tool for the right job. Their choice in tool should always be strategic and educated. Don’t listen to misinformation or malicious claims that technologies are dead or dying. Adobe recognizes that while a breadth of tools is what theircustomers are looking for, they must also have the resources to move at that the pace of technology. Eliminating less relevant resources like the Flash Mobile Player strengths what we developers actually need.

If you are a Flash developer or a company invested in the Flash Platform, you may be wonderingwhat the next step is. Here are some suggestions:

  • Learn more about how to develop mobile apps for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry Tablet OS with Flash Professional or Flash Builder. Using a tool you already know is much easier than learning a new language.
  • If you haven’t learned Flex yet, now is the time. It has lots of great components for building mobile applications and is an industry-leading tool for building rich web experiences.
  • Hone your HTML/CSS/JavaScript skills. Get up to speed on HTML5 and CSS3. Learn jQuery.

Development is like a stock portfolio. The more diverse you are the less you are affected by market volatility.

One Response to HTML5, Flash and Adobe

  1. Great article, Dustin! Thank you for taking the time to sort out fact from fear-based, mis-written journalism. This type of explanation needs to get out in front of the masses. Long live Flash!