If you needed further proof that even Adobe is done with Flash, look no further than the company’s recent announcement that it will open source the Flash-based Flex SDK. Adobe plans to turn over its Flex SDK to the Apache Software Foundation.
Flex is the company’s development framework for building cross-platform applications using Adobe Flash and ActionScript. The SDK’s focus on data-driven apps made Flex a popular choice with Adobe’s enterprise customers, many of whom are no doubt feeling a bit let down to see Adobe walking away from Flex.
Much of the Flex codebase is already open source, what’s changing with the move to the Apache Software Foundation is the governance of Flex. Adobe is no longer the sole guiding force behind Flex.
Ordinarily when a company opens up a project like Flex it’s good news for developers, but in this case it feels more like Adobe’s exit strategy. The community of Flex developers may have gained some more control over Flex’s future, but that future looks pretty bleak.
Adobe has already made it clear that the company plans to refocus its efforts on HTML5, and, while it says it intends to continue supporting Flex, it also says, “in the long-term, we believe HTML5 will be the best technology for enterprise application development.”
In fact the initial message about the future of Flex was dire enough that Adobe felt the need to update its FAQ to specifically address concerns that it is abandoning Flex. “Absolutely not,” says Adobe in the updated statement, adding that the company is “incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved with Flex.”
While the updated statement is intended to reassure Flex developers, it’s hard to miss the use of the past tense in reference to Flex, which doesn’t bode well for developers looking to the future. It’s also hard to miss the reiterated commitment to HTML5. “In time,” says Adobe, “we believe HTML5 could support the majority of use cases where Flex is used today.” The company puts the timeframe for most applications in the three to five year range. In other words, Adobe believes Flex is only a good bet for the immediate future, developers interested in building something with more long term viability would do well to consider the web and HTML5.
For more details on the future of Flex and Flash, be sure to read through Adobe’s updated FAQ on the subject.