Last week, Adobe announced that it was abandoning mobile Flash. Now, two new developments raise questions about whether desktop Flash will eventually suffer a similar fate.
Adobe has submitted the code for its Flex framework, which is based on Flash, to the Apache Software Foundation. Flex, a Software Development Kit that is used to build cross-platform Rich Internet Applications for browser-based Flash as well as standalone apps, is expected to be managed by the Apache Foundation as a new, open-source project. The SDK has been an open-source project, but under Adobe's management. The Apache Foundation still needs to vote on whether to make Flex a formal project.
HTML5 'Best Technology' for Enterprise
On its Official Flex Team Blog, Adobe Flex Product Manager Deepa Subramaniam wrote in the past week that the company was still committed to Flex, but that "the technology landscape for application development is rapidly changing."
Over the long term, Subramaniam said, "HTML5 will be the best technology for enterprise application development."
In its announcement last week, Adobe said it would no longer develop mobile Flash, and would focus on tools and related technology for HTML5. HTML5 does not require a browser plug-in, as Flash does, for browsers supporting the standards-based technology.
In the announcement on its Adobe Blogs, Interactive Development Vice President and General Manager Danny Winokur wrote that his company "will no longer continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work on new mobile device configurations."
In his statement, Winokur noted that HTML5 is now supported on all major mobile devices, "in some cases exclusively" -- a reference to Apple's devices, where Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs decreed that HTML5 was superior to Flash. HTML5, Winokur added, is "the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across multiple platforms."
Long for This World?
The company is continuing to invest in Flash development for Macs and PCs, and work is continuing on Flash Player 12.
Meanwhile, Google announced this week that it will issue an extension for the Adobe Flash Professional developer tool, that will allow developers to publish to HTML5 directly from Adobe Flash Professional in one click. The new extension is based on its Swiffy tool, released in June, which converted only Flash SWF files to HTML5.
On its Google Code blog, Google Software Engineer Esteban de la Canal wrote Wednesday that the new extension accesses Google Swiffy as a Web service, which means that the latest version is always available. He noted that "one of our main aims for Swiffy is to let you continue to use Flash as a development environment, even when you're developing animations for environments that don't support Flash."
These developments raise the question of whether desktop-based Flash, which Adobe is continuing to support, is long for this world.
Al Hilwa, program director for application development at IDC, predicted that, "in about three or four years, when 90-percent-plus of desktop browsers have HTML5 capabilities, the focus of current Web development will turn to HTML5."
Adding that "Adobe appears to be cognizant of this," Hilwa noted that HTML5 capabilities "are not currently what they are in Flash." It's up to Adobe and other tool makers to add capabilities to HTML5, he said.
Hilwa said that the driver for developers getting behind the growth of HTML5 on the desktop, even though it's "not quite ready for prime time yet," is the support for that technology from Apple, Microsoft, Google, and now Adobe -- in short, the main players in the multimedia ecosystem.