Adobe To Discontinue Flash Player, NOT FLASH!

News spread quickly today, as Adobe announced that it would no longer pursue development of the Flash Player for Mobile Browsers.  And instead, would focus it’s attention on the Air platform, and HTML5.

So does this signal the end for Flash?  What about Flash development in the mobile space…is this it?  Time to ditch writing apps in Flash, and take up the HTML5 banner?

Not Even Close!  Here’s why.

In the “not so fine print” of Adobe’s announcement today, were the words…”…and turning our focus to native application development using Air, and the implementation of HTML5″.

Nowhere in this news did Adobe announce that Flash was dead, and that those who have built in Flash for many years must find a new home.  Rather, they announced that future developments of Flash Player for the mobile browser would no longer be supported, and I am not sure this is all that bad to hear.

Not many developers and designers out there, are going to argue that HTML5 is NOT an exciting and robust programming language, and that it’s capabilities in the browser are really appealing.  However, I will argue this point again…right or wrong (refer to my article on Sept. 20th, 2011, Will HTML5 Oust Native Apps For Mobile & Web Development): HTML5 is a significant technology, and will change development for the better…BUT, it will never be a complete replacement for software side development in mobile devices and web applications!!

If I’m wrong…..then fine.  But here is how I look at this whole thing, and how I believe I can support my conclusion.  (Forgive me if I get too technical)

  1. There are three MAIN OS’s (operating systems) to consider right now (Android, iOS, Blackberry). Each comprised of operating software, different from the others, and non-HTML5 in scope.  Remember, HTML5 is Browser Based..not device based!
  2. HTML5 WILL NOT WORK without access to the internet (or simply put, a browser). If your mobile app calls up any function based solely on your particular device’s system, (calculations, accelerometer, orientation sensor, multi-touch, etc) then accessing HTML5 is a moot point.
  3. It’s STILL BROWSING!  By this I mean, millions of new people each and every day, are getting dialed in to the fact that touching an application icon on your smartphone or tablet, is quite a time-saving, and exciting proposition.  Opening a browser, and searching for links to click….just isn’t!

Of course you could package a mobile application disguised as nothing more than a link to a website.  And even if that website is taking advantage of HTML5, you are still no more ahead, than a savvy and effective programmer/developer whose application is written in native OS code, and running on the device as installed software.  The end line consumer is still going to judge the efficacy of your product, whether or not it’s HTML5 or native software anyway.

But what about Adobe Air.  Well, this to me, is the most exciting new frontier anyway.

Adobe Air is a stand-alone application runtime, that can run on and be installed on nearly any device and operating system out there, including Smart TVs.  The beauty here, is that a Flash developer can use his or her skills to build, package and protect their software, while simultaneously compiling that code for ALL the major operating systems and devices people care about….but only have to write the code ONCE!

Now, there are going to be people that say the “resource overhead” is much greater in applications and software written in Flash, which then gets compiled in Air……than it is in HTML5.  But here again…..what is that difference?  A megabyte here or there…if even that?  Is that miniscule difference going to make or break a person’s decision not to install a potentially fantastic software package from an app store, versus browsing the web for that content?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

To conclude, I would like to say this.  I am planning on using and implementing HTML5, and using it for all it’s worth…you can bet on that!  But I am also going to continue to write my code using the Adobe Flash Platform, compiling it in Adobe Air, launching killer apps to all the device OS’s, and singing a merry chant as I make my way to the bank for using a little common sense.

Any Flash Developer worth their salt…will be easily able to do the same far into the future, and will ultimately not be affected at all by the elimination of Flash Player support for mobile browsers.

Peace be with you my friends, and may your code serve you well.

Craig Workman – Chief Software Developer | SwitcHHat SMA

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