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

This is the second part of a two-part series regarding correspondence with Adobe around Flash Professional over the past few years. I encourage you to read the first part as well.

The following comes about based upon some emails previous to the “Create Now 2014 World Tour” Adobe launched that year, which I did participate in as a speaker. I discovered that despite the enhancements Flash Professional received, there was zero acknowledgement from Adobe during the tour. The following correspondence demonstrates just how difficult communication around Flash Professional was during this time. I have many other examples, but this one does well to illustrate past difficulties.

Once again, names of Adobe employees and other pieces of information have been appropriately sanitized…

Joseph:

Speaking of which, {REDACTED}… I’m dismayed that the outlines do not reference Flash Professional CC at all!

As you well know – there are a bunch of great new features in the product which dovetail nicely with cutting edge HTML5 efforts via Canvas, SVG, and WebGL output and publish additions… Plus internal creative enhancements like beautiful strokes capabilities and the slick new Motion Editor. At least I see Sprite Sheet import in the Edge Animate section – which is a direct workflow tie-in with Flash Pro.

I wonder sometimes whether the evangelists themselves know what the tool is now capable of?

Not trying to shoot the messenger on this one, {REDACTED}. I just continue making some noise that hopefully lands on the right ears… someday… perhaps :/

REDACTED:

{REDACTED} has given me some feedback for you – sorry it’s not great news regarding Flash, but I hope it helps explain the tour focus.

This particular tour has a purpose: Encourage users still on Creative Suite to upgrade to Creative Cloud. That is Adobe’s goal. Highlighting key features in Flash Professional is not going to help achieve that goal.  End of story.  That’s not to say that Flash Professional isn’t awesome.  But the people that are holding out on CS 5 because “It does enough” are not the type to be influenced by Canvas, SVG or OpenGL. Which is not to say there isn’t someone out there but I’m saying it’s a tiny piece of the Venn diagram.

I understand that this is difficult to accept at times. {REDACTED}. Flash Professional isn’t its own product anymore, it lives or dies by how Creative Cloud does.

Joseph:

I don’t think my perspective is very far from the one presented… “Flash Professional isn’t its own product anymore, it lives or dies by how Creative Cloud does” – as part of the CC offerings, I would just hope that it be given suitable representation as a part of the Creative Cloud.

I use almost every CC product in my work. I think Creative Cloud is awesome. A lot of people think I don’t get it – but I really do, regardless.

REDACTED:

I think that’s fair Joseph, and I’d come back to you the same way several people have responded to my issues like this:

Construct a story using Flash Professional that convinces a CS3, 4, 5, 6 hold out to come to Creative Cloud.  Keep in mind that the majority of people who were heavy Flash Devs actually updated pretty quickly.

I ask you: What value does giving Flash Professional suitable representation have? I’m not asking this to be combative or anything. I’m genuinely curious what you see as the value of giving Flash Pro representation?

Joseph:

Hi {REDACTED}.

Regardless of the runtimes or Flex… so not telling a dev story here… Flash Professional is no longer (and probably never should have been) seen as a tool for developers…

Flash Professional was always something that was infinitely fun and creative. This is the case whether doing animation or simple interactions. The ease in which it enables designers to create engaging content regardless of target platform has always been such a strong story. That was the case when we could only target Flash Player. Now that we can target HTML5 Canvas, Edge Animate Sprite Sheets, and WebGL – publish that content and then integrate it within other Creative Cloud tools and services – it’s just such a compelling solution that I find it astonishing that Adobe – an entity that openly embraces creativity… does not take advantage of this. I see it as a missed opportunity to promote other CC offering by expressing the rich possibilities that exist when using Flash Pro as a purely creative tool.

It’s absolutely valuable for someone to be able to express themselves using Flash Professional CC and take that output into Dreamweaver Live View, Edge Animate Symbols, a PhoneGap project… not to mention things like HD Video and PNG Sequences or SVG. All of this doesn’t even mention Flash Player or AIR. The content produced could just about tie into any Creative Cloud application with the variety of targets and formats now expressed. It just baffles me that Adobe is not taking these strengths – from a purely creative perspective – and talking them up in the Creative Cloud story.

Anyhow – that is my opinion on the value that such representation would provide. I understand not everyone shares this view – but I think it is a legitimate one.

Thanks for listening. I hope that all makes sense.

REDACTED:

All good points, Joseph, but I’d argue:

  1. It’s not as compelling to CS3-6 customers as you think it is.  I know you feel strongly about this.  Our marketing people aren’t allowed to have feelings about this.  We have data that tracks who these people are, and what they’re interested it. Are there people who fit this profile who would be swayed by Flash?  Maybe, but it’s not as many as you think.
  2. Even if it was as compelling as you think it is (I admit I could be wrong on point 1. And I’m citing data that I’m specifically not allowed to share which seems unfair), to explain all of those features would basically eat up at least 100% of the time we have earmarked for web technologies. As almost every one of the things you cite would have to be explained before Flash’s value would be determinable. Not only do they have to be explained but most designers associate the most of the tech’s you listed as developer techs if they think of them at all: HTML5, WebGL, SVG, Phonegap, Canvas.
  3. Even if it was as compelling and explaining it wasn’t a huge time sink, what would you cut to make it fit? Cause we have 14 other tools that are being updated. 3 of them in the web segment.   Dreamweaver –  one of most successful tools that almost everyone we talk to uses?  Edge Animate, which is part of the value prop you reference for Flash Pro? Photoshop, which we’re not going to tone down?

In the end, Flash does have engineers, and marketing people responsible for making the best case for it, both internally and externally. We also have a staff of marketers and community outreach-ers (if that’s a word) who were put in charge of putting together an event with a goal of converting CS3-6 customers to Cloud.  They’re not idiots, and the Flash marketers sit right next to them, and can make the case themselves.  Juggling all of these products and making a case is hard, and tools get cut.  It’s not done with malice, and it’s not done thoughtlessly. A lot of smart people did a lot of work and research to come to come to conclusion you disagree with. It’s how it goes.

Joseph:

{REDACTED}– I want to be clear that I never thought anyone was making these decisions maliciously or thoughtlessly. Regardless of any disagreements I may have around Flash efforts… I am firmly in camp Adobe around Creative Cloud.

I do not have access to the data and research that you have access to… and my perspective has not been shaped by such research as yours surely has been. This places any perspective on the matter which I hold at an incredible disadvantage and renders it incomplete. There is no way I can argue against this sort of data.

So I must be wrong in my thoughts around this. I can accept that. It doesn’t jive with my experiences and personal positivity around the tool – but as you implied… that’s just how things are sometimes.

Understand where I’m coming from though: I just got done recording hours and hours of content around Flash Pro for {REDACTED}. Tomorrow I go into the {REDACTED} studio to record a course dealing with {REDACTED} – yet using Flash Pro as an asset generation tool. I cannot help but have Flash Pro front and center right now simply due to all of the work I’m doing around it. Has this colored my perspective? Absolutely. I’m up to my eyeballs in it.

In any case… thanks for the discussion and your willingness to hear me out and provide some insight into this matter. I do appreciate that, {REDACTED}.

REDACTED:

Make no mistake, I’m not mad or upset. Nor do I have any power to retaliate against you even if I was. I have been on your side of this conversation many, many times.  Remember I used to be a {REDACTED}.

No, I just remember what it was like to argue your side, and feel my soul slipping away just a bit to be able to so forcefully argue this side. ;)

In any case, we’ll have a good string of events in the upcoming weeks, and break a leg out there.

Regardless of how the data may have appeared at the time… it seems that Flash Professional has truly won out in the end. NEVER GIVE UP! 2016 will be a great year for Flash Professional as the reborn Animate CC!

Once again, I must stress that I am not posting these articles to “out” Adobe – it’s obvious they have been against marketing Flash in any sense for quite some time until very recently. It’s a way to snapshot a common occurrence – for historical preservation – and then to let it go.

Positive times ahead!

 

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?

Apache Flex Committer

Having been on vacation – I’m a bit late in posting this… but last week was invited to join Apache Flex as a committer. I accepted :)

The Apache Flex PMC is excited to welcome Joseph Labrecque as our newest committer! Joseph has been steadily contributing to the Flash and Flex community for several years. He is very well known in the learning and conference speaking circuits as well.

Please join us in welcoming him as a committer to the Apache Flex project.

So what will I be contributing to the project? Not quite sure yet – though I am open to anything that comes my way and have this year produced a number of video tutorials on getting started with Apache Flex, IntelliJ IDEA, Starling, Feathers, and more. Was happy to hear also that Ben Forta called out this series a few months back!

fortaflex

So if interested in how you can use Flex with IntelliJ – check out the tutorials:

Also be sure to visit the Apache Flex website!

Adobe EdEx Group: Flash Exchange!

flx

Flash Exchange is a group for discussion and resource sharing around the Adobe Flash Platform with a focus on education and educators.

All Flash-related content and interest is welcome: Flash Professional CC, Flash Player, AIR, HTML5 Canvas and WebGL, animation, creative tooling, Adobe Connect, Adobe Media Server, ActionScript, JavaScript, Flex, Starling, Feathers, Away3D, mobile development, apps, games, video streaming, et cetera…

http://edex.adobe.com/group/flx

 

More about the Adobe Education Exchange:
The Adobe Education Exchange is your online hub to help ignite creativity in your classroom. With instructional resources, professional development, and peer-to-peer collaboration, you’ll find the support you need here.

Flash Platform Rundown – Week of December 1st, 2013

The big news this week is an update to Flash Professional CC and a couple neat extensions which go along with it!

FlashProLinter


Flash Professional CC (13.1) Released
On the tooling side of things, Flash Professional CC (13.1) was finally released! The focus of this release is native support for HTML5 Canvas as a document type and publish target. HTML5 Canvas is a new document type added to Flash Professional CC that generates an .FLA file for authoring, and targets the canvas tag of HTML. This option enables the authoring of animation and interactivity for targeting web browsers without the need for Adobe Flash Player if those extended capabilities are not needed. The generated HTML file bundle is driven by the CreateJS JavaScript library, which was previously available as an extension for both CS6 and the previous version of CC. This functionality is now included as a prime target format within the application and is no longer provided through the Toolkit for CreateJS as a separate extension.

For a full overview of everything new, have a look at the new article I wrote for Peachpit.

Flash Professional CC Extension: Projector Export
Projectors were deprecated from Flash Professional CC, however, using this extension you can now publish your Flash content from Flash Professional CC as a standalone application. The exported Projector from Flash CC will be an .EXE file on Windows and an .APP file on Mac, that can be played on any Windows and Mac machines respectively even without an installed Flash Player or plug-in.

Flash Professional CC Extension: JS-Linter
The JS-Linter extension is a static JavaScript analysis extension for HTML5 Canvas documents in Flash Professional CC. JS-Linter does analysis of JavaScript written on main timeline and within symbols of a HTML5 Canvas doc and reports warnings and errors if any exist. These warnings/errors are displayed in the JS-Linter panel along with the error location and description of the error.

What’s new with Apache Flex (Dec 2013)
Apache Flex writes: Another year has raced by and as most of us are getting ready to spend some time with our families we thought we would give you a quick update on what has been happening with the Apache Flex project over the last quarter. For the full post – check out the Apache Software Foundation blog post.

Adobe Primetime 1.2 With Native HLS Support in Flash Player
Jens Loeffler writes about the native (although premium) feature available in Flash Player 11.9 onward which allows HLS streams within Flash Player for Project Primetime. What does native HLS support mean? HLS playback in Adobe Flash Player provides best-in-class performance, with robust, Hollywood studio-mandated DRM support (Adobe Primetime DRM + PHLS), and AES-128 clear key protection for content protection compatibility. The HLS playback functionality is now included in the core of Flash Player, with all relevant features processed with high performant native code. Too bad this isn’t available to everyone…

…but we do still have HDS inside Flash Player.

Flox SDK now Open Source
Flox is a server backend especially for game developers, providing all the basics you need for a game: analytics, leaderboards, custom entities, and much more. The focus of Flox lies on its scalability (guaranteed by running in the Google App Engine) and ease of use.
Check it out on GitHub.

Full HDR rendering pipeline for AGAL
Jason Huang has posted some information (and a video) about his HDR rendering pipeline with AGAL1. For log luminance, I used 2 channels for packing luminance value and 1 channel for storing the sign. Finaly, compiled the whole scene with human eye adaption and Uncharted 2 tone mapping operator. Pretty sick!!!