Category Archives: Flash

Flex summit – updates on the open source strategy and runtimes

 
“Challenges that bring great opportunities” is how I’d summarize what I’ve seen of the Flex summit so far.

Adobe has invited some key Flex community members and enterprise partners to discuss the open source strategy around Flex and shed light on its commitment to the Flash Platform runtimes.

Here is some of the more interesting news that came out of the discussions:

 

  • Adobe has legal clearance to submit Flex to the Apache Software Foundation, the incubation proposal will be submitted in the coming weeks
  • Adobe will not be offering any commercial support contracts for Flex 4.6 and higher, though will honor existing contracts and continue offering support for the foreseeable future.
     
  • Flash Builder is continuing to be developed, the next version will not have Design View
     
  • Flash Catalyst is being discontinued
     
  • Adobe is investigating HTML5 but doesn’t have a framework in the pipeline that would allow migrating enterprise Flex functionality.
     
  • Danny Winokur acknowledges Adobe’s communication blunder and resulting trust deficit
     
  • Adobe wants to continue to innovate with the Flash Platform, gaming and premium video are features that will drive it – but will not be limited to just those areas.
     
  • There is a firm commitment to AIR on Android, iOS and BlackBerry PlayBook.
     
  • Discussion with Microsoft is ongoing about AIR application support in Windows 8 Metro.
     
  • Falcon compiler is under development, current timeline is early second half 2012 for AS3 support, late 2012 for MXML. Based on the discussions at the summit, there is a keen interest to get Falcon contributed as open source and have the community help work on it.
     
  • Falcon JS is a research project and Adobe seems very reluctant in making any promises that this will turn into a viable product to cross compile real world applications to HTML/CSS/SVG/JS.
     

If the news about Flex going open source came at any other time, I believe just about everyone in the community would be jumping for joy. The fact that it was announced in the wake of a general sense that Adobe is starting to abandon its Flash Platform technology is what made it problematic. That said, there are certainly valid concerns – especially for the enterprise market that makes huge long term investments and Adobe wil have a tough time reclaiming trust with them.

I was skeptical about what this summit was supposed to achieve but have to say the open discussion has been great and Adobe is clearly looking to find ways to recover from the horrible communication disaster of this last month.

I’d like to thank those attending, Mike Labriola and Leif Wells in particular for being so vocal in representing community frustrations and getting Adobe to acknowledge them.

There’s more news coming out today (here is a live stream and you can ask questions through twitter using the #flexsummit hashtag), I might follow up on developments in a later blog post. In the meanwhile there are recordings available that you can watch of yesterdays discussions.

 
Discussion, Q&A with Danny Winokur
Flash Platform and Flex updates
Falcon and Falcon JS

 

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gotoAndSki("Switzerland") 2012 – Simple P2P for the common mortal

I’ve been meaning to attend gotoAndSki for several years now, but it never seemed to work out – until now. If you don’t know about this unique event you should definitely check it out! In summer it takes place in Norway, in winter in Switzerland.

This coming January 2012 I’ll join a fantastic lineup of speakers (Mario Klingemann, Mihai Corlan, Bhakti Pingale, Michael Plank, Steven Peeters, Dominic Graefen, Hugo Fernandes, Eugene Zatepyakin) in the beautiful town of Stechelberg. Its a relatively small scale conference, giving you excellent opportunity for networking and general “geeking out”.

During the day you can get out and see the Swiss Alps, ski or do other fun activities. The evening is conference time with several sessions over a period of three days.

 
My session is called “Simple P2P with Flash & Flex for the common mortal” and I’ll be showing the latest developments of the CocoonP2P framework. I’ll show how to set up device discovery, messaging, file sharing, video streaming (and hopefully some other cool surprises) between various devices *all without a server*.

The goal is to make it so easy your grandmother could do it – and I think we’ve pretty much accomplished that.

 
I hope to see you there, if you want to make it out – be sure to grab your ticket now – its without a doubt the best conference deal around (not to mention it includes accommodation and all your meals).

 

The Flash Platform saga… one week later

[update] There is now some more solid information on the future direction of Flex available here.

 
We’re a week after Adobe’s shocking announcements around its future vision of the Flash Platform – time to get some perspective and see what exactly has happened.

Unfortunately on a number of topics we’re no closer to having real answers but this is my personal take and summary of what is publicly announced:

 
Flash Player for mobile (e.g. on Android) will not be further developed nor receive any further updates after version 11.1 (which was made available earlier this week) apart from critical bug fixes and security updates.

The Flash Player is still available for download and existing SWF content is supported, at some point in the future SWF content targeting new features will likely no longer work on mobile browsers. There has been talk about Adobe allowing OEMs to license Flash Player and do their own implementation, something which RIM reportedly wants to do for their PlayBook and upcoming QNX based devices (lets hope for more willing OEM partners to do their own Flash Player porting).

Adobe will invest further in AIR to package applications to mobile across devices, the recent acquisition of Nitobi and the involvement in the PhoneGap project also fits into this picture.

Unclear to me is if Flash Player 11.1+ content will be supported in AIR for Android and other devices. I don’t see how that would work if they don’t want to continue to port newer versions of the Flash Player – unless they take a strategy like on iOS where the runtime gets cross compiled to native binaries for each platform.

 
The Flash Professional engineering team has had a number of layoffs, though the product is still under development.

Product management is located in the US but the development is being outsourced to India. The next release of Flash Professional will have a feature to export to HTML5. If its anything like Wallaby or Google’s Swiffy project, ActionScript support – if any at all – will be very limited.

My own personal take on this is that its only a feasible proposition if Javascript support is introduced as a scripting “dialect”.

http://www.mikechambers.com/blog/2011/11/10/flash-professional-and-the-future/

 
The Flex SDK is going to get donated to an open source foundation and the Spoon project and Adobe (unclear how active and to what extent) will be involved in shaping its future.

The blog post announcing this however goes on to mention that HTML5 and web standards will be the best long term strategy – which undermines their case for continued support of the framework.

 
Flash Builder will still be developed and reportedly some Flash Catalyst features will merge into that product. The Falcon compiler project is still being worked on.

That seems like a pretty sensible move to me, imagine that at some point soon HTML5 will also become an export format here too.

 
LiveCycle and Acrobat Connect are being “wound down” – best guidance I’ve found on it is that they’re cutting investment on it, though continue to support it for existing clients in the government and the enterprise financial services market.

http://www.underprise.com/2011/11/11/the-future-of-adobe-livecycle/

 
I am still baffled at what Adobe was thinking in the way they communicated these changes. Clearly serious mistakes were made and I’m already seeing consequences everywhere.

Flash Player on desktop technically has a bright future ahead for gaming in particular, the issue here is if the actions of last week have not undermined Adobe’s credibility to such a point that nobody is willing to invest. After all, they’ve now proven that the very thing you’ve been working on for months or years can be pulled out from under you at any point in time.

Most shockingly is still how MAX attendees were misled – thousands of people paying thousands of dollars to make it out to an event that claims to give them insight into the roadmap at Adobe. It is now also clear that Adobe employees did not know about these upcoming changes until the day itself, so this is no criticism on their part.

 
I still strongly stand behind my call for a leadership change at Adobe. Spending billions of dollars over the years on developing a mobile platform to then abandon it without any advance guidance or clear transition path to your user base is inexcusable. The enterprise Flex market is one few that actually prefers proprietary solutions, they want a strong company backing the technology they use and a roadmap they can trust on.

We’ll see how these decisions play out, the move towards web standards can proof to be a good one in the long run but the more critical problem is restoring confidence in Adobe.
 

Et tu, Adobe? Flash Player homicide

I’m disgusted at Adobe today.

It has now well and truly become tradition to have the post-MAX November layoffs. This year reportedly 750 employees got dismissed across North America and Europe (worse than the previous record after MAX Milan 2008). I wish them all the very best.

If you start to see a recurring theme like that, anyone would realize something is going terribly terribly wrong. The hard economic reality hits all of us you say? Adobe backs it up by a press release stating “We expect to report record revenue within the fourth quarter […]”, eliminating hundreds of full-time jobs gets classified under the thinly veiled euphemism of “restructuring”.

By now Adobe has reorganized their internal house keeping so many times, Martha Stewart should come take master classes.

 
Things get worse. News starts to trickle out about Adobe abandoning Flash Player on mobile. Not an unusual rumor to see pop up in your twitter stream if you’ve been around our community for the last year or two. This time it was different and slowly – judging by the roles of people who got dismissed and reading between the lines – it became apparent there was more to the story.

Just 18 months ago at Google I/O 2010, Vic Gundotra bailed out Adobe and the idea of having Flash Player on mobile with the words “It turns out on the internet, people use Flash” and announced Flash Player support on Android. This after Steve Jobs gave it a near fatal blow with his infamous “Thoughts on Flash” letter.

We’re refocusing on developing applications through AIR across mobile devices while continuing to innovate on the web. From Flash Player 11 onwards we will not be getting updates on mobile devices apart from bug fixes and security updates.

This whole move seems to me like cutting off the leg of a perfectly healthy patient to save money on shoes, only to realize you have to buy them in pairs. The web doesn’t stop where mobile begins.

 
Supporting a runtime across a wide range of devices is difficult and expensive – if it wasn’t Flash would not nearly have been so successful. Arguably we came closer to this as a reality than ever before.

 
What bothers me most is the utter disregard Adobe has for its developer community in the way this is communicated. This is not the company I’ve grown to know and love, this is not how you treat your most loyal customers and passionate evangelists.

Just weeks ago thousands of people came to the annual MAX conference in Los Angeles to hear about Adobe’s plans and roadmap. Not a word was mentioned about abandoning development on Flash Player for mobile, is this how confident Adobe is about its decisions it can’t defend them in front of their user base?

I’m part of the community programs since the Macromedia days, certified instructor, author, participated in countless prerelease programs – can barely keep track of how many NDAs I’ve signed with Adobe over the years. I’ve promoted the technology through good and bad times and this is how they chose to break the news.

 
Bad communication doesn’t just piss off your developers – it cuts budgets, causes projects, jobs and livelihoods to be lost. And boy, has there been some bad communication. I’ve lost all confidence in Adobe as a company through the recklessness they’ve demonstrated in the last two days.

 

[note] views expressed are mine alone and may not reflect those of my employer.

What have I been doing lately?

I realize I haven’t been blogging a lot about what I’ve been up to in the last few months so thought I’d better get a post out and share some of those things with you.

Cocoon P2P

The open source Cocoon P2P library has been released and got Dirk Eismann on board as a contributor after speaking at FFK11 in April. With his help we were able to take it from more of a proof of concept to a solid solution for doing local IP multicast with the Flash Player (no server required).

We have great support for device discovery, messaging and object-replication. Reworking the video streaming and fixing some bugs on the accelerometer support is still on my todo list for the very near future.

HTML5 Solutions

I’ve had the pleasure to work on a book called “HTML5 Solutions: Essential Techniques for HTML5 Developers” with fellow authors Marco Casario, Charles Brown, Nathalie Wormser and Cyril Hanquez.

My contribution to the book is on using the Geolocation API – which, if you haven’t already tried it – is one of the most exciting features that is starting to become widely available with HTML5.

It turned out – in my humble opinion – to be a very good publication and should be shipping soon. I can’t wait to get hold of my author copies and hear reader feedback when it hits the stores.

Continue reading

What have I been doing lately?

I realize I haven’t been blogging a lot about what I’ve been up to in the last few months so thought I’d better get a post out and share some of those things with you.

Cocoon P2P

The open source Cocoon P2P library has been released and got Dirk Eismann on board as a contributor after speaking at FFK11 in April. With his help we were able to take it from more of a proof of concept to a solid solution for doing local IP multicast with the Flash Player (no server required).

We have great support for device discovery, messaging and object-replication. Reworking the video streaming and fixing some bugs on the accelerometer support is still on my todo list for the very near future.

HTML5 Solutions

I’ve had the pleasure to work on a book called “HTML5 Solutions: Essential Techniques for HTML5 Developers” with fellow authors Marco Casario, Charles Brown, Nathalie Wormser and Cyril Hanquez.

My contribution to the book is on using the Geolocation API – which, if you haven’t already tried it – is one of the most exciting features that is starting to become widely available with HTML5.

It turned out – in my humble opinion – to be a very good publication and should be shipping soon. I can’t wait to get hold of my author copies and hear reader feedback when it hits the stores.

Continue reading

BlackBerry PlayBook – a promising development platform

Up until recently I wouldn’t have bet on BlackBerry becoming one of the most developer friendly and innovative platforms around, but recent announcements around their upcoming PlayBook tablet are very promising indeed.

It remains to be seen how things will work out but – based on the hardware specs and apparent renewed effort in terms of UI design and user interaction – there is every chance they will become a serious contender.

Those of us interested in Flash Platform development get full Flash Player 10.1 support and it appears most of the UI of the tablet is built on top of Adobe AIR, so we can expect some solid integration there.

In terms of specs, a 7″ screen with a dual-core 1GHz processor, 1GB RAM, front and back facing camera and HDMI out weighing around 400 grams is impressive. What I’m hoping for is equally impressive battery life.

Developers interested can already start writing apps for the BlackBerry PlayBook and test it in their simulator. Even better, RIM has announced if you write an app that gets accepted to BlackBerry App World before the product launch you’ll be given a free device. More information about this offer will soon be available.

There is also a weekly webcast series to help you get started, recordings of previous weeks are up on the site.

http://us.blackberry.com/developers/tablet/
http://us.blackberry.com/developers/tablet/devresources.jsp
http://devblog.blackberry.com/2010/10/blackberry-playbook-developer-promotion-information/

 
Exciting times ahead for Flash Platform development on tablets!