Making the Case for Flash as a Creative Platform: Part I

Over the past few years, I’ve argued – passionately discussed – with Adobe as to why they should be paying much more attention to Flash Professional (soon to be Animate CC) as a creative tool.  I spoke with many people about the value of Flash Professional and the wider Flash Platform… across many segments of the company… and after a number of face to face, telephone, and email conversations; I prepared and sent out this letter to a few of the people who I thought might be able to make a difference.

Now that Adobe has come out in full support of Flash Professional as Animate CC, I thought it might be time to publish this… as it’s been sitting in my drafts for quite some time! Names of Adobe employees and other pieces of information have been appropriately sanitized…

October, 2013:

Greetings, {REDACTED}.

I want to have a conversation around the Adobe Flash Platform and {REDACTED}. This is going to be a long email so thanks in advance for putting up with me.

It just absolutely boggles my mind how Adobe has {REDACTED}. I understand that the decision makers want to do all they can to push Creative Cloud subscriptions – that absolutely makes sense since it is going so well. I’m a huge supporter of the initiative. It also makes sense to invest in web standards tooling and technologies (it is so needed and Adobe is the perfect entity to do some real good here) – but not at the expense of the runtimes. I’m also a supporter of the Edge Tools and Services – I’ve written books and authored videos on this stuff – I champion HTML5 but I recognize the limitations and struggles involved in that platform as well.

I was chatting with {REDACTED} just yesterday and while it is great that Adobe is committed to the Flash Platform for the long term – it is terrible that we’ve gone from the plans of ASNext (new runtimes and AS4) of a year ago to having the runtimes team slashed by {REDACTED}. The numbers are there in terms of both users and apps (AIR) using these technologies (I believe a blog from the runtimes team is in the works) but this does not seem to matter any longer. Voices are not being heard.

In terms of tooling, at least the Flash Professional CC team have a good grasp on how things stand and retain a solid hold on the creative potential of that tool. Authoring content and then outputting that content to SWF, AIR, SVG, HTML5, HD Video, WebGL, Dart, whatever – that is a great strategy but all of the newer targets have huge limitations when compared to authoring for the traditional runtimes. There is so much that can be accomplished using Flash Player and AIR. The numbers regarding AIR on mobile are astounding and there is real momentum there. With the current focus on tablets and other mobile devices – this is a goldmine and has the potential to enable a boon in the creative arts.

If Adobe is trying to sell CCM subscriptions and focus on creativity… the single most creative platform in the world is just sitting there – untapped. It is amazing that they do not realize the potential the platform has to enable full-throttle, open creativity across disciplines! For {REDACTED}– there is nothing like it. At the 2012 {REDACTED} we had an Adobe VP stand up in front of us all and declare that the Flash Platform was the “largest engineering effort” at Adobe. This statement among others made during that event and over the past few years now feel like a deep betrayal to the {REDACTED} community invested in these technologies.

I get the business strategy behind the Creative Cloud. I understand the momentum the web tools and services have right now. What I do not understand is how Adobe cannot see the potential of the Flash Platform in furthering their main effort – CREATIVITY. I just don’t know how to effectively communicate all of this to the decision makers at Adobe. I can talk to you all on the {REDACTED} team… I can talk to the product managers for AMS, Flash Pro, and the Runtimes… but if the decision makers don’t hear it… if they cannot understand it – out of site/out of mind – and nothing changes for the better.

Anyway – hope this finds you well… long winded as it is. Please share with whomever you think appropriate – I would be remiss in my duties as {REDACTED} to not voice these concerns.

I think this example helps illustrate the struggles that have been going on, in the background, in regard to the Flash Platform these past few years. It’s important to remember history through snapshots like this. Now that Adobe is once again on board with Animate CC, I feel that I need to just open the windows and let the breeze in… air out all these thoughts and conversations and just let them go.

What better time to clean house than at the end of such a triumphant year?