Flash Runtimes Roadmap Updated for 2013

Adobe has updated the Flash Runtimes Roadmap whitepaper for the new year and there are some significant changes from previous iterations. Some of this is good, some questionable… and some bad:

  • New documentation of the SWF file format has been made available (good)
  • XC APIs are no longer designated as Premium Features (good)
  • New info on “Folsom” and “Geary” (good)
  • ActionScript “Next” development has been cancelled (questionable)
  • Flash Player “Next” development has been cancelled (questionable)
  • AIR for Windows 8 “Modern UI” has been cancelled (bad)
  • Web-based VM work hinted at (good)

On top of these announcements, Adobe has recently submitted the RTMFP p2p protocol for consideration as an open web standard and has been loudly trumpeting their gaming initiative and has increased funding toward the Away Foundation who are building AIR-based tooling for the Away3D framework. All of this news is very good and welcome.

Let’s examine some snippets from the roadmap:

Adobe will focus its future Flash Player development on top of the existing Flash Player architecture and virtual machine, and not on a completely new virtual machine and architecture (Flash Player “Next”) as was previously planned.

In general, I’m disappointed that the new runtimes and language are not happening… even though I do understand the reasoning for it. It would certainly be disruptive (though some would argue that disruption is what is needed), but this initiative demonstrated that Adobe was invested in the long term. This is now somewhat questionable. 

Adobe AIR is available and supported for Windows 8 Desktop on x86-based computers. Adobe currently has no plans to support Adobe AIR for Windows 8 Modern UI applications.

In my opinion, lack of support for the Windows “Modern UI” is a huge gap in the cross-platform story of AIR – perhaps even larger than the current Linux-sized hole we are now dealing with. The stated reasoning behind killing off Flash Player for Android was to focus on mobile AIR. Ooops.

Adobe plans to continue its next-generation virtual machine and language work as part of the larger web community doing such work on web-based virtual machines.

This is interesting. Really interesting. Does this mean Adobe envisions taking what has been done for the stillborn Flash VM and writing some sort of JavaScript-based virtual machine that is truly cross-platform with some of the advantages of AS3/Flash? Such an initiative could have tremendous possibilities if this is the case. Adobe is keeping tight-lipped about these plans… but hopefully we’ll hear something by MAX.

There is a lot more to the roadmap. I simply examined the bits I have the most concern/interest about in this post. I suggest that everyone go over and read it for themselves if any of this is of interest.

For those interested in public discussion, there is a very active one going on over on Google Plus with contributions from Adobe employees and the community. Join in.

10 thoughts on “Flash Runtimes Roadmap Updated for 2013”

  1. Honestly I disappointed with desktop AIR progress for non-games. I always thought about it as about replacement for Java where you really don’t need all Java features. But in last 2 years Adobe just repeat Titanoum way: release -> lack of changes compared to mobile -> oblivion -> moving to mobile only “cross-platformness”. I still can’t find StageVideo support in desktop version of player. I still don’t understand why Linux was dropped from supported platforms list as MaxOS is more or less *nix. Ok, it could be expensive to support ALL linux platforms, but why not keep support just for Ubuntu? Why not make Linux version OpenSource?

    It’s really sad that there is no other production ready cross-platform solutions for desktop applications developement except of Java and QT. I mean not new HTML5 player-like “applications” but serious solutions with possible(!) deep system integration (something similar to Native extensions or JNA). Good point is only fact that JavaFX trying to become more friendly to designers and similar to Flex.

    1. Thanks for chiming in here and letting people know your perspective – Flash devs have never had it easy but the past few years have been brutal. I’ve always said that the only ones who could ever truly kill Flash are Adobe. Take that however you like.

  2. Adobe needs to stay profitable to stay in business – if that means a focus on games and video “for now” – then that still means a huge investment in AIR – so excellent. From a Mobile perspective – we still have 3 of the 4 platforms (yea with issues but still). ASNext – you know that would have brought a nightmare of backwards compatibility and for what exactly? Windows Modern UI (are they kidding with that name?!) – the market share is next to nothing – when it grows and Adobe do release support – all we’ll need to do is maybe work on a few ANEs and submit our apps to the store. We all know that AIR/AS3 is way ahead – let’s not freak out when Adobe decides to cash in some of that lead to focus on games and video. It makes sense – and they will support Modern UI because soon enough, that will make sense too. Surely dropping Linux was for the same reason – focus and develop strongly – one mountain at a time. Flex now with Apache – AIR clearly heavily invested in – and our community far from dead. What I see are some smart decisions by some very smart people – we need a LONG term vision and this is what I see – this is a very good thing.

    1. That is what has people spooked though. We do need a long term vision and the previous roadmap specifically addressed this stating that work on the new runtime/VM/language was to “ensure that the platform stays viable over the next decade”. That’s strong, positive language that just isn’t there any longer.

      1. Surely this is implied with the focus on games and video? That’s a huge, well-funded developer market. A successful implementation would mean a boost to our community and Adobe’s bottom line. Support for Game Consoles, Set top Boxes, etc – think of what this means for our apps…

        Surely, in turn, success on this gamer/streamer path will ensure that “work on the new runtime/VM/language” will happen? I believe so – I believe that the direction we saw is still there behind closed doors and will still happen – it has to – it makes sense.

        The fact we have ANEs means that we’re not bound by the limitations of AIR, again giving time for Adobe to focus for a while. Yes, more work for us, lots of re factoring – lots of workarounds – but all doable and worth it, particularly when replacing our ANEs happens in days/weeks rather than months.

        Our browsing the web via a browser or browser plugin is slowly becoming less and less necessary – of course very slowly! The browser plugin used to be the driving force now, Adobe have said, “Adobe AIR and Flash Player browser plug-in releases will be increasingly synchronized” – I believe this highlights the presence of long term vision.

        So long as Adobe continue to develop AIR (which makes so much sense) and our community continue to develop FLEX (why wouldn’t we!), our own projects will surely have a solid future.

        1. Browser plugin of Flash Player will always be there, if powerful game developed by Flash and premium video features that rely on Flash Player on the web couldn’t be replaced by HTML5. Adobe is smart enough to focus on gaming and premium video, these are the things HTML5 is way way behind Flash.

  3. Do you think flash still have feature ? I think, from Adobe side, everything is HTML5 + javascript. This is part of Thibault tweets:

    @flashandmath: A new book? How interesting. Can you reveal the topic?
    @thibault_imbert: yes, JavaScript.

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