I wasn’t actually going to write anything about the recently published Flash runtimes (Flash Player, AIR) whitepaper simply because it’s big enough news… and I really didn’t have anything to contribute. The whitepaper itself is a detailed look into the next 2 years of the evolution of the runtimes layed out for everyone to see. It also provides news about the major modernization and refactoring work coming in 2013 “in order to ensure that the Flash runtimes meet the needs of developers over the next five to 10 years.” Get that? Adobe is looking out to 2023, potentially, for development – not just the sustainability of a “dead” platform.
What prompted me to write this post is a lot of negative discussion around the focus on gaming and premium video talked about in the whitepaper. It reads that “when prioritizing future development and bug fixes, gaming and premium video use cases will take priority.” This has been a big point of contention among developers! On the surface, I can understand why; if someone writes apps for Flash that have nothing to do with gaming or video… they may feel left out by such statements. In October, after MAX – I wrote the following:
I have been a bit worried about the focus on gaming for Flash Player, but am beginning to understand that having players like Angry Birds on board will drive user adoption through the roof. It isn’t just about games- but gaming platforms can drive the spread and adoption of technology more than any other medium. If users demand Flash Player 11 in order to have these experiences, the adoption scope is widened to such a point that it makes Flash a more desirable platform for a host of other applications. Flash becomes much more of a viable platform simply because of this.
This is the same opinion I have regarding the focus as stated in the whitepaper. I’m not simply giving Adobe a pass on this. I’ve stated when they’ve pissed me off and would have no trouble doing it again. This is actually consistent with what they’ve been saying for the past few years and has been the focus of Flash for the past two MAX conferences (at least) with the keynote focus on video and gaming. This consistency is good news! (Granted, a good deal of both my university and client work through FVM does involve Flash video tooling and delivery.)
Here are some additional points to consider:
- Flash is a robust platform in many, many areas already – there always comes a point where a platform simply cannot expand in certain well-tread areas as rapidly as newer or less traveled ones. Flash is already pretty damn awesome in a lot of areas. A focus on gaming and video does nothing to diminish this.
- A lot of the use cases for Flash from a decade ago are really lo longer applicable to the platform… and the platform has moved beyond them. HTML and friends are now more capable and have taken up a lot of the basic web stuff Flash was once needed for. That’s okay.
- The DISASTER of November 9th is just one frustrating blip in the platforms long history. A history which has been forecast to continue well into the next decade. How many times has the focus of the platform changed in that history? I’d guess quite a few – we just didn’t know about it. Will the focus change again as needs change and technologies are disrupted once again? You bet.
- The details of the whitepaper involve modernization of the core runtime code and the ActionScript language. What is not to love about this?!?
There is a *lot* of good coming to the Flash platform. Stop being so damn gloomy ;)