You may have caught some of the headlines that Adobe has killed Flash Player for Mobile devices.
A lengthy article was recently published by Adobe Chief Engineer, Mike Chambers.
I’ve been intensely focused on where development in general is heading for the past couple of months (details currently on my twitter timeline) so I read this article looking for Adobe’s reasoning and went on further to see how Flex’s path is tracking compared to Microsoft’s Silverlight. These are my take-aways and key quotes.
- “No matter what we did, the Flash Player was not going to be available on Apple’s iOS anytime in the foreseeable future.“
Though not specifically mentioned, I expect Microsoft’s recent move to drop browser plug-in support (including Silverlight) on IE Metro for Windows 8 tablets was a prominent nail in this coffin.
The story for Windows Phone 7 had, in the initial stages, been that browser plug-in support was the dependency that was holding up Silverlight and Flash in-browser integration. It would appear Microsoft’s recent IE Blog announcement “Browsing Without Plug-ins” would be a better indication of strategy now.
- Observations were made about tight integration of Apps, App Marketplaces and emerging mobile platforms.
- HTML5 heads for ubiquity in ground up browser development on recently emerging mobile platforms.
- And the following details I found quite telling (which I’ll quote in large part) addresses absence of key APIs in new mobile browsers(/operating systems?) and how this imposed on the scale of Adobe’s Flash development operations to broaden scope of their 3rd party interactions from just Browser Vendors to include Device and Chip Manufacturers.
“Developing the Flash Player for mobile browsers has proven to require much more resources than we anticipated. When building the player for desktop browsers, we can target well defined plug-in APIs provided by the browsers. While we do have close relationships will all of the browser vendors (including Google, Apple, Firefox, Microsoft), as a general rule we can do most of our development using the existing APIs.
However, in the mobile ecosystem, we have to work very closely with other companies engineers on a number of levels:
- Mobile Operating System Vendors (such as Google and RIM)
- Hardware Device Manufacturers (such as Motorola and Samsung)
- Component Manufacturers (such as NVIDIA)
While we have good relationships on all levels of this ecosystem, having to do specific work for different combinations of OS, Hardware and event components has taken a significant amount of resources. For each new device, browser and operating system released, the resources required to develop, test and maintain the Flash Player also increases. This is something that we realized is simply not scalable or sustainable.”
Adobe stated, besides related lay offs and recent downsizing, they are shifting resources from Flash Player development to HTML5 (tooling, frameworks, browsers) and continuing work on their Adobe AIR app platform.
Adobe later offered their perspectives on it’s direction for Flex and HTML5 in the enterprise application context. Given the overlap between Flex, Flash and Silverlight, I thought this was some interesting general industry perspective to take in alongside everything we’ve been observing from Microsoft’s //Build/ conference this year. I found the messaging to be crystal clear from Adobe. The essence being that Adobe sees adoption of HTML5 for this purpose in the long term and is supporting needs in the current term via Flex.
Sound familiar Silverlight devs?
I find this to have a resounding similarity to Mike Taulty’s detailed perspective on Silverlight and HTML5 as expressed a year ago on his blog before the first “Is Silverlight Dead?” drama after PDC2010, before the seemingly reactionary Silverlight Fire Starter 2010 and before the second round of “Is Silverlight Dead?” drama following //Build/. At the time I found it to be an excellent perspective.
The song remains the same only now we get the picture that XAML takes the front seat as head of a broad range of Microsoft technologies to “get the job done” now, encompassing WPF, Silverlight, Windows Phone and likely, soon-to-be, Xbox. This trend is set to continue with native XAML support in Windows 8′s WinRT.
I expect this pattern to continue for as long as it’s relevant, which I expect is quite a while.
The other interesting take-away from a general industry perspective is the companies innovating to expand our current capabilities are all investing heavily in bringing the same into html5 standards in parallel to improving html5 tooling.
Referenced articles and further reading (in order of reference):