Sunday, 7 August 2011

So long Flex...

I have been a supporter of Adobe Flex since version 2 beta, had developed on every version since then, received official trainers training, talked on implementing and developing flex apps many times, blogged and wrote magazine articles on Flex, gave Flex training and consulting to various clients and projects, try each beta on the day it was released, was one of the few people who made flex and blaze work on app engine, my blogs tutorials had been highlighed on sites like dzone... However I really lost my faith Flex which most probably Adobe also had.

Since day 0, i found Flex/Actionscript to be a mutual UI alternative in Java universe. It was easy to learn, had great UI editor and lets you design with the customer, declerative, event oriented, great in cross browser compability and had a great and easy to install runtime. By the time Adobe bough Macromedia, Flash was already the leader in inteactive and rich Web content. Adobe had moved it one step forward by migrating flex development on eclipse by providing a classy plugin and also drove flash to each computer on the sphere by successfully supporting flash based streaming videos popularized by Youtube.

Flex was so promising that very soon Microsoft introduced Silverlight and Sun striked back with JavaFX (shall we say applet 2.0). However Flex's maturity, easy learning curve, good set of resources, open source sdk (which both JavaFX and Silverlight failed), good community support, did not let its opponents to achieve any success. Very soon Oracle terminated JavaFX script and Microsoft announced they will use Js&HTML5 as the major development language in Windows 8. It was like a miracle to work on Flex at the age of JSF.

Meanwhile on mobile side Adobe took it very slow. They failed to invest needed resources and support to build a mobile version of flash runtime for years. Mobile Flash, Flash Lite or whatever it is called has been just a rumor for long years (yes! years...). Then the iPhone era began, once again Adobe was not fast to adopt and when they were willing to put a runtime on iPhone, Jobs just refused. He claimed flash to be slow, power consuming, buggy and not ready to be used without a mouse pointer. Everyone including me accused Jobs not wanting Flash on iPhone to sell more apps but after seeing flash performing on Android, I am not really sure if Jobs is all wrong.

Flash used to be awesome! it used to be on all platforms, running, installing and updating without any pain. Today as the rise of the mobile world Flash is suffering. They are not on iOS, crippled on Android and Blackberry and dropped linux to a second level citizen. 64bit flash has gone no far than a rumor just like mobile flash once... and Adobe had focused more on HTML5 tools like edge than updating the Flash experience. They had never able to release the linux version flex (flash) builder which was promised long ago.

Although Adobe much invested in Android Development tools and build a first class tool set, the apps built on flex need 3rd party downloads and do not give the native feel to the user.

Flash is still there, with video and audio streaming backed with old flash content like banners, ads etc... but nobody willing to do anything new with Flash, neither on mobile nor in full web. They had great set of tools and runtimes for all OSs and browsers (Flex, Air, Blaze, tool support) but they just could not adopt to change. So long Flex, it was both fun and great to code on... well me? i will just use GWT...