Did I just awake from a coma? ( An article about the current state of Flash )

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Steven Stark, and I have been a long time Flash developer. I stuck by Flash when it was getting a bad rep as an annoyance on the internet, when it transitioned from Macromedia to Adobe and even more recently when they announced that it is no longer supporting Flash on Mobile devices… but now I am left, a lone developer in a world that left me behind.

No more Flash on mobile devices?!?!

As I am sure you all know, Adobe rocked the industry recently with it’s announcement that Flash player is not being supported on mobile devices. AWESOME! This is awesome because running a virtual machine inside of a web browser on a smart phone or tablet is very difficult to achieve without crashing the device and is very wasteful to the battery. But what I feel Adobe failed to do in this announcement was focus enough on the fact that this does not affect Air on mobile devices. Air is used in mobile for app development, yes there are a couple bugs in the current Adobe Air SDK’s, however they work just fine and many games are made on Air in both the Android and iOS markets.

Ok, so that’s good Flash is still around.. but is it? As I talk to peers in the industry, clients and potential employers, I continue to be told that Flash doesn’t work on mobile devices at all, and quite often I’m told that Flash doesn’t work on any Mac product PERIOD. This is the standard way of thinking in the industry, and I am having to spend a lot of time educating these people that not only is Flash supported on their systems, but that pure AS3 Flash projects are still a very smart business decision for a few key reasons: There are lots of Flash resources and talent, and one Flash AS3 project can publish to iOS, Android, OSX, Windows and Linux; in most cases.  (I haven’t testing windows 8 mobile devices ( ex: Surface ), if anyone knows about this please reply. )

Crap! Everyone hates my chosen technology…

This is a tough thing to realize. I am not JUST a Flash developer, however it has been my niche for many years, and now I am faced with a decision: Grow or starve.

What do I do? I could either just tough it out and search even harder to find those Flash jobs that still exist, or adapt and change with the rest of the crowd. So I have decided to give in and convert to the masses. I got myself a Mac, and expanded my knowledge base to work with C# in Unity 3D, CreateJS for HTML5, and Sparrow for iOS.

Unity with C# is very similar to AS3, and is very fast in it’s execution. I have had no problems transitioning into C# from AS3, I feel right at home. Just declare the variable in a different way, and learn some new variable types like the byte array. It is a little difficult to use some of the code you find online when it’s developed for .NET because unity is using the MONO instead, but there are usually simple solutions for these framework conflicts. For example, in my project I had to include my own Truple class.

Next on my list is CreateJS for HTML5. I haven’t yet developed with it, however I have been doing an extensive amount of learning with this, educating myself on the process. I am already very comfortable with JavaScript, including JQuery and the object oriented hacks that have become standard in JavaScript development. Also, CreateJS allows the use of Flash as an art and animation tool, making the art side of things fairly straight forward. Finally, the CreateJS framework uses a class structures that mimics the Flash AS3 classes, so almost any AS3 code can be converted into a CreateJS code library fairly easily.

And, finally, there is the Sparrow framework for iOS only projects. It seems that about half of the market just goes bananas over Apple products, and because of this iOS only projects are very common. The only reason I feel comfortable taking on an iOS project is because of the Sparrow framework. My last game used the Starling Flash framework, and that is made by the same developers ( Gamua ) as the Sparrow framewrok. These frameworks are said to be very familiar, but I will still have a couple struggles to here. The first is that I do not know Objective C, and it’s more difficult to get into than C# is for me. This will just take some time to get used to, but still is an issue I need to overcome. The second is that I need to struggle to develop on a mac, it’s just not where I am in my day to day computer use. I am used to Windows and Linux, not Mac’s. This isn’t a big issue, it’s just annoying ( and pricey ) more than anything.

Final thoughts.

I’d love to hear what others thing about this topic, and how other Flash developers are dealing with the transition. Personally I think Adobe dropped the ball here, and the entire industry quickly moved on. Is it for the better? Only time will tell. And, it’s not so bad, I love learning new things and now I have a long list.

 

p.s. – I am currently looking for a new project, contact me if you have one. thanks!

2 Comments

  1. Last year I very reluctantly made the switch from a focus on Flash development to Unity and C# for my day job (mostly mobile and some web games), and I have to say I am loving the potential of the new environment, although I still miss certain things about Flash and AS3. Now that Unity is starting to play more nicely with Flash (you can load a Unity-exported swf into an AS3 container and have them talk to each other), we are finding that we can develop new games in Unity and patch them into older websites that were built in Flash relatively effortlessly.

    However, more directly to your point about the usefulness of Flash/AS3 in the industry, I would still recommend it as a first choice for software interface design, and for 2D animation, at the very least.

    Best of luck with repositioning your skills; looks like you have a ton of them!

    1. @Sarah,

      Thank you for sharing your experience, that’s exactly what I hoped to see when I wrote this. Mind if I ask a little more about your Unity setup? More specific, your code libraries and tools that stand out. I really am enjoying working with Unity as well, so much fun.

      Yes, Flash very much still has it’s place, especially on anything that needs old browser support. ( I am talking about YOU, Internet Explorer 7 )

      So far, so good with my change. All my recent interviews and meetings have reflected this, I feel that I have made the right choice. 🙂

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