I often get private messages through the contact form on this blog. These are normally requests for advice, resources, or project inquiries. From time to time, a question comes in that I see as useful to a wider audience.
Such is the case with the email reproduced below regarding Flex. I’ve asked permission from the individual author but have blanked out his name for reasons of privacy.
I have several decades of programming experience on desktops and (in the old old days) mainframes, using a variety of languages and technologies.
I am interested in application development for mobile platforms, both Android and the Apple platforms. However I am unable to find anyone who can give an unbiased and straightforward answer to this question: Is the Adobe Flex platform (1) a good choice to devote my limited time resources to for learning mobile development (2) is it or is it not true that the Adobe Flex platform is dying / going away / not really a good choice etc. etc. etc.
Would you be kind enough to give me some guidance regarding this? I don’t have enough time available to learn every technology so I must focus and get the biggest bang for my buck.
What do you recommend?
Thank you so much for your guidance with this.
My response [though slightly modified for this public post] follows.
I don’t think anyone has 100% fool-proof, solid-as-stone answers around this just yet… but I’ll answer you the best I can.
1) I believe that AIR/Flex is still quite valuable for mobile apps. Buried amid the 11/9 announcements is a repeated statement that Adobe is “doubling-down” on AIR for mobile. One of the reasons cited for dropping mobile Flash Player in the browser was to divert resources to mobile AIR. Furthermore, Adobe’s new line of Touch Apps for Android are (almost) all built upon AIR for Android (though my understanding is that Flex was not used).
2) Flex is now an Apache incubator podling. Assuming that the Apache Flex team is able to organize everything enough to put out a release or two (normally achievable over 4-6 months), the project is expected to graduate to full Apache project status – putting it on the same level as ANT, Tomcat, HTTPD, and other well-known, popular projects used worldwide. Note that PhoneGap was also contributed to Apache by Adobe directly after the Nitobi acquisition – so this is by no means a death sentence or dismissal of the framework.
With Flex in the hands of the wider community, there are actually more resources available in light of the number of individual contributors. Even if not an Apache contributor yourself, if you have a patch for Flex that would be useful for others – get in touch with a contributor to see whether they might see value in the patch and perform the contribution in your stead. Don’t forget that a number of contributors are Adobe engineers and that they the company has stated that even though the runtimes are still under their care – they will align releases in light of what is going on at Apache.
I am confident that we will see some great things come out of the Apache Flex effort from members of the Spoon project and the greater community.
I hope this is helpful.
I hope this is useful for others out there. If you want to gather information on-the-ground, be sure to check out the 360|Flex conference in April!