Living in the Future


What if you received a copy of the Wall Street Journal dated November 12, 2015, today?

What if you knew what the future would be like 5 years from today, and better, how things would play out?

Where would you invest?

What problems would you solve?

What would you start to build?

For the past decade, developers within the Flash ecosystem have been living in the future building upon a stable consistant runtime with great tooling and advanced text/graphics/animation/vectors/video APIS for building interactive applications. As an ecosystem, Flash enabled amazing things, impossible things, fantastic things with a technology with very humble beginnings centered on vector graphics. I spent the last 12 years working with Flash professionally and evolving with the medium over that time has been an honor and highlight of my career.

A few years back browsers began innovating and that innovation is beginning to fix many of the inconsistencies and capabilities once only privy to Flash. While still in their infancy around rich media, browsers and standards based platforms will evolve along a similar path to the Flash ecosystem’s evolution over the last decade. The same problems, patterns, solution, services, tools, tips, tricks, and know-how will be required to make this standards based ecosystem as vibrant as Flash is today. The fact is that knowing Flash is far more than just knowing ActionScript or a raw Adobe tool, it is the knowledge of how to build rich interactive content. Much of our knowledge domain is not in implementation details but rather understanding the nature of interactive media, architecting a proven interactive solution, and balancing usability, design, and interactivity to create a great experience. In short, you have a massive upper hand in an emerging market called HTML5 and Adobe is shifting resources and investing there too.

Exploring OpenGLES – A break from Flash

For the past 8 months, I have been personally exploring and investing in tools and technologies that are focused on leveraging fast graphics and hardware acceleration using OpenGLES. As I work for Barnes and Noble on the NOOK Platform, I wanted to figure out how best to deliver fast graphics within native apps on NOOK with a lower end hardware profile (800Mhz 256Mb OpenGLES 1.1 & 2.0). Given that Flash/AIR does not directly support an OpenGL-like surface today on Android, I explored several alternatives that included CoronaSDK, Moai, Marmalade, but have settled on using the native Android SDK with ANDEngine. The output results on NOOK Color are 60fps regardless of the volume of graphics and textures I throw at the displaylist. Physics, fast vm, great java tooling, it is a real treat to develop interactive content this way! This exploration was hugely enlightening for me and has made me realize that even when I completely switch stacks my interactive skills I perfected with Flash are extremely relavant. Even the easing equations were a java port from Robert Penner’s work.

Truth is, things have changed but the foundational knowledge of interactive development will remain with us all long term regardless of what platform you target. Should you choose to focus on native or open web apps, you have a great advantage, once upon a time you lived in the future called Flash.

Cheers,

Ted :)

PS. Adobe please improve the performance of AIR on Android.

6 thoughts on “Living in the Future

  1. Jeff Fall

    Thanks Ted. I have been a Flash developer since 1998 and was disheartened by the abandonment of the Flash mobile plugin after it was touted so much by adobe and their open screen project. Then today was another blow when I heard that Adobe had announced that they were donating the Flex project to Apache.

    As a developer I am constantly looking out for the best way to develop RIA. In the past few years I have been doing more to expand my development base by working more with c#, php, ajax, etc. I have been looking at a lot of what Grant has been working on as well. He has been doing some awesome work with eselJS… :)

    Thanks for the great post. Technology is constantly evolving and you need to constantly stay on top of the trends.

    Reply
  2. Gavin

    well said…. i have worked with Flash for almost 10 years now… and i agree that the skills i have picked up along the way go beyond the action script world, and into the new RIA future.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Flex to X (?), yes it is ExtJS, of course Apache Flex exists | Hemadri Seelamsetty 's Blog

  4. bernpi

    I’m working with Flash mostly in the casual games business for many years now, so my comment is not really related to typical RIAs and Flex vs. HTML5. But i would like to leave a comment regarding ActionScript vs. JavaScript. I did some work with JavaScript and it felt like working with a technology from 10 years ago. So i started with Googles new programming language called Dart (which compiles to JavaScript) – and this one is really fun! It’s very similar to ActionScript and you get a very nice development experience with a fully integrated IDE. If you have some spare time go and check it out: http://www.dartlang.org

    If you are a hardcore Flash developer working with the raw Display List and Display Objects, please check out an open source library i did. It implements the Flash API (Display List, Sound, ..) on top of Dart and HTML5. Here are some samples and links – look for the game “Escape” which i have ported from Flash to Dart/HTML5: http://www.dartflash.com

    All the sources are available on githb: https://github.com/bp74/dartflash

    Reply

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