Adobe® is one of the few companies that provides great software tools to professionals spanning multiple career fields. They’re definitely being watched under a microscope lately as details emerge regarding the future of Flash now that it’s no longer the only technology capable of providing rich, interactive, online content. Flash has established a prolific user-base, but these latest developments have both users and developers questioning if they should be learning and building Flash-based software instead of the emerging open standard.
There’s no denying that Apple has given them quite a headache by not supporting Flash on their iPhones®, iPods® and iPads®. Apple® has valid reasoning that the battery life suffers immensely while users browse sites that contain Flash content (something that people have become used to being able to do without having to worry about battery life consumption). It also leaves the door open for security issues and crashing (for example, Apple just released version 10.6.5 of their computer operating system where 134 CVE IDs are included as fixes to vulnerabilities; 55 of those are for Flash Player alone).
Last month, Apple reported that they have sold over 120,000,000 iOS devices to date, and most of the functionality of those devices is derived from the fact that they have access to the Internet. Everyone was left wondering how Adobe would respond to Apple standing their ground. Many people forget that Adobe is actually in business as a communication company first and a company of their products second. This means that they change their product line-up to suit the most appropriate communication technologies rather than getting into a legal war to try and force us into keeping Flash alive against the will of other businesses and many of their customers. This isn’t the first time I wrote about Adobe embracing HTML5 either. Kudos to Adobe for how they’re handling this situation.
Previous versions of Flash Professional (the tool used by web designers to create Flash apps/animations) used to be able to export out to Java, but the demand for Java has declined over the years so it was removed. The rise in demand for the new open HTML5 standard has Adobe coming up with ways to utilize it. A recent blog article by an Adobe employee gives a video preview of this new tool that converts projects made with Flash into HTML5 and also provides some great insight into some of Adobe’s problems and philosophies. People that learned Flash are not left in the dust simply because the industry moved on, but rather empowered to use what they know best to create things using the latest standards and Web service technologies.
There’s potential limitations to exporting from a program built with the intention of using a different technology, so Adobe has recently posted a video preview of their new program that’s built from the ground up with the intention of using HTML5 as the primary technology. Watching the video reveals that it’s very reminiscent of Flash Professional, but with subtle changes based on the various things that they’ve learned over the years (changing the interface of a well established application is much more of a headache than implementing the new/improved interface as a whole in a new program).
Adobe has been presented with the problem of their customers having to decide: whether or not to use Flash due to it not being able to run on over 120 million (otherwise very capable) Internet-enabled devices; whether or not to use the HTML5 standard to create something just as good as what is capable through Flash; or whether they can create both (if the client is willing to pay for the two versions). Their philosophy that “Adobe lives or dies by its ability to help customers solve real problems” seems to hold true with their latest announcements. When these tools are released, clients will be able to get what they want and the developers will be able to use the latest tools for the job to create it so that it’s viewable by as many people as possible.