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Adobe Flex: How have the Latest Developments Affected its Momentum for Enterprise Adoption?

by Dio Synodinos on Feb 19, 2010 |

The Adobe Flex ecosystem has experienced significant growth in the last years, with a plethora of community driven projects and deployments. Nevertheless, in the last few months there have been several developments like its exclusion from the iPad platform, community reactions about long lasting bugs and more, that have led to questions about its future viability.

InfoQ had a Q&A with Dave Gruber, Group Product Marketing Manager for the Adobe Flash Platform, about these issues and the future of Flex and Flash for the Enterprise.

InfoQ: Emmy Huang, Product Manager for Adobe Flash Player has recently apologized publicly about a Flash bug that resulted in browser crash, that although has been reported 17 months ago, no patch has been released for the production version of Flash player yet. Emmy insisted that crash bugs are a #1 priority for Adobe and suggested that a proper patch hasn’t been deployed for such a long period of time because of a failure on behalf of Adobe to prioritize incoming bug reports. With several reports having been made available on the issue for the above period, don’t you think that it is natural for the community to be a bit skeptic about how serious Flash/Flex issues will be handled in the future?

Dave: As explained in the blog post cited above, this issue has been resolved in Flash Player 10.1, which is now in public beta. Adobe has a long history of being responsive to issues and communicating with our customers, and we are strongly committed to producing products with the highest levels of quality.

InfoQ: With the announced iPad not supporting Flash, Adobe emphasized on the fact that many sites that are currently available, will not be working properly on the new device because they have embedded Flash. Although this might hurt the adoption of the iPad, it could also mean that decision makers that are currently evaluating RIA technologies might turn elsewhere (e.g. HTML 5) in order to loose users from the mobile devices. Do you think that solutions like the iPhone Packager, which converts Flash apps to native iPhone apps, will be adequate? How is Adobe going to deal with this issue?

Dave: Adobe is working to provide developers with the broadest reach possible regardless of the delivery method or the device or platform consumers are using. 

With Flash Player 10.1 developers are able to seamlessly deliver rich Web content within the browser to a broad set of devices - from desktops, smartbooks, netbooks to smartphones and tablets in the future. General availability for Flash Player 10.1 for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Android, Palm webOS and other platforms is expected in the first half of 2010. Flash Player is already installed on 98% of desktops and in 2012 more than 250 Million smartphones are expected to support the full Flash Player.

With the Packager for iPhone and the upcoming release of Adobe AIR, Adobe enables developers to also deliver their content as standalone applications outside the browser. Developers can create an application once and publish it via app stores and marketplaces across devices including the iPhone, Android based phones as well as BlackBerry based devices in the future. We’ve already seen unprecedented interest from developers about the Packager for iPhone and are excited to see dozens of apps already delivered to the Apple App store.

InfoQ: The current production version of Flex for Eclipse is not compatible with Galileo which has been available for more than 8 months. There is a ticket available on Adobe’s JIRA [registration required] that although confirms the problem, suggests that developers should use Flex 4 beta if they want to integrate it with Galileo. Scott Selikoff comments on the ticket: “How is this issue marked as close? It is still very much a bug, one that I would hope Adobe would want to fix.” Do you think that this might alienate developers and make them think twice about making a commitment to the Adobe Flex development stack?

Dave: Adobe is committed to delivering software that integrates well into the developer ecosystem. It is our goal to have each new major release ship current with related software versions, assuming that they are announced and shipped within a reasonable timeframe of our product releases. There are times when related software ships new versions outside of our release cycles, causing incompatibilities between releases. Galileo was released between our Flex Builder 3 and Flash Builder 4 releases, so we will be providing support in our upcoming Flash Builder 4 release and have therefore marked this issue closed.

InfoQ: With high profile services investing in HTML 5 video and major vendors like Google and Apple having a firm commitment to HTML 5, do you think that the Flash/Flex market is shrinking? Especially, how do you think the Flex development stack will compete with the HTML5/Javascript development stack in the next 2-3 years?

Dave: The productivity and expressiveness of Flash remain huge advantages for the Web community even as HTML advances. HTML and Flash co-exist, both adding value and helping to drive innovation and expressiveness on the Web, and HTML 5 won’t change that. Flash technology is the number one way companies deploy video on the Web because of the added value the Flash Platform provides, such as monetization features and content protection.

Additionally, companies know that by using Flash technology their video content will reach more than 98 percent of Internet-connected desktops and tens of millions of mobile devices with the release of Flash Player 10.1.  Since the HTML5 specification does not mandate use of a specific video codec, different browsers are currently supporting different video codecs, which will make it difficult to reliably and consistently deliver video through HTML 5. Flash Player supports the most widely used video codecs, including On2 VP6, Sorenson Spark, and the industry-standard H.264 for high definition video, which ensures that developers and companies can reach more than 98 percent of the Internet connected desktops worldwide with their videos content.

InfoQ: What are the main new features and improvements that will come with Flex 4 and AIR 2.0 that you think will fortify Flex’s position in the Enterprise market?

Dave: Flash Builder 4 (formerly Flex Builder 3) introduces an important new component architecture that enable enterprises to build truly uniquely branded experiences, providing new levels of creative freedom as companies implement customer-facing, self-service applications. New deeply integrated workflows with Flash Builder 4 and Adobe’s Creative Suite tools, will allow collaborative development between designers and developers resulting in the rapid development of more expressive applications. This new integration will also enable enterprise developers to more easily implement expressive, interactive business applications that will allow users to more easily understand and use critical business data.

AIR provides a set of capabilities and use cases that enhance Adobe’s portfolio of enterprise solutions. The ability to deploy web applications on desktop and mobile devices in online and offline use cases (e.g. Field Force Automation) improves uptime and productivity. AIR 2 supports enterprise requirements with the following features:  global error handler, support for screen readers, and IPv6 network support, native process API, multi-touch, enhanced printing support (for reports), nested database transactions, encrypted sockets, datagram sockets and server sockets. Examples of AIR being used in the enterprise include Yammer and Oracle, and more case studies can be found at http://www.acrobat.us/cfusion/showcase/index.cfm?event=finder&productid=351521&loc=en_us.

You can find more information on Flex, AIR and Rich Internet Applications right here on InfoQ.

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Wrong person, wrong forum by john doe

I'm not sure of the value of this interview. This is supposed to be a technical forum - having Marketing robot talk PR-speak didn't do much for me. I found myself skimming through just to skip the fluff.

Re: Wrong person, wrong forum by Peter Thomas

Yeah. I think a big YES under the title of this article would have sufficed.

I don't know about wrong person wrong forum by Mark Levison

What does surprise me is that Dave Gruber sounded like a PR robot in his responses. Somehow that just seems sad. Hopefully Adobe will realize in the Web 2.0/3.0 world they need to let their employees out of their straight jackets.

Cheers
Mark Levison
Agile Pain Relief Consulting

Re: Wrong person, wrong forum by Santosh Shanbhag

This article is TWOT - Total waste of time.

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