Yesterday morning like most people in the tech world I saw the announcement that Adobe was no longer going to continue to develop Flash for mobile devices. That was rather ironic considering that I was starting a 3 day class on developing applications for Android and iOS devices using Flash. Thankfully class was not cancelled.
As the day progressed the headlines rolled out across the internet proclaiming the death of Flash, the victory of HTML5, and How Steve Job’s had been right. My fave was the headline from Fox News “Steve Jobs Was Right: Adobe Halts Flash for Mobile Devices“. The funny thing is, Flash isn’t dead, Steve wasn’t necessarily right, and a more accurate description would be that Adobe has halted Flash development for mobile devices that want to run Flash in a browser using the Flash plugin.
So here we are, once again in a position where we will have to try to explain that Flash does a great job of doing mobile development. That you can build applications with Flash, compile them for Android and iOS devices, and distribute them via any app store. I hate to say it but this is going to be an up hill battle, and it is going to be a hard one. To many people in the design and content development industry don’t fully understand what Adobe announced, but feel compelled to expound on the wonders of HTML 5, and CSS3.
HTML 5 and CSS3 are not technological panacea for mobile devices. Like Flash they are solid tools for mobile development but they are the only solution, and they are not necessarily the best or easiest solution for the job.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon in class building a standalone application for both the iPhone and Android phones using Flash CS5.5. We built the file twice. One hard coding the app, the other by using built-in Flash tools, and code snippets. The application was fairly simple, it loaded an image from the library and allowed you to zoom, rotate, scale etc. Nothing ground breaking, but what the application was isn’t the point. The point is Flash provided an easy to use familiar interactive development environment that built applications for both Android and iOS. I say this, and I am not a huge fan of Flash. I am not a programmer. I’m a designer. I find Flash to finicky on the Mac. I think the UI needs a serious update to look more like Edge and After Effects. It is not my favorite application that Adobe makes. With that said though, I think it is a shame that so many people are writing it off as a dead platform without fully understanding the tool, its capabilities, and how it can continue to be used as a development tool for mobile devices.
If you want to see some examples of truly amazing work that has been built with Flash for mobile platforms go to the Adobe Developer site and look around. Spend some time looking at Sylvester’s Band. This app was built with a very small crew on a short time frame and it is a fantastic example of how Flash is used to build apps for Android and iOS.