No, Flex & Flash Are Not Dead

Last week Adobe announced information about the company’s evolution and future plans of Flex. It was also announced that Adobe Flex would be contributed to an open source software foundation. The result of which, was mass speculation, fear, uncertainty, and doubt.   Rest assured, Flash is not dead, nor is Flex.

Andrew and Deepa from the Flex team have posted some questions and answers raised by these conversations. I highly recommend reading these in their entirety, as they will answer a lot of the questions about the future of Flex. Key takeaways:

Is Adobe still committed to Flash Builder?

Yes. Flash Builder will continue to be developed and Adobe will work to ensure Flex developers can use Flash Builder as their development tool with future releases of Flex SDK.

Will Adobe continue to support customers using Flex?

Yes. Adobe will continue to honor existing Flex support contracts.

What specifically is Adobe proposing?

We are preparing two proposals for incubating Flex SDK and BlazeDS at the Apache Software Foundation.

In addition to contributing the core Flex SDK (including automation and advanced data visualization components), Adobe also plans to donate the following:

  • Complete, but yet-to-be-released, Spark components, including ViewStack, Accordion, DateField, DateChooser and an enhanced DataGrid.
  • BlazeDS, the server-based Java remoting and web messaging technology that enables developers to easily connect to back-end distributed data and push data in real-time to Flex applications.
  • Falcon, the next-generation MXML and ActionScript compiler that is currently under development (this will be contributed when complete in 2012)
  • Falcon JS, an experimental cross-compiler from MXML and ActionScript to HTML and JavaScript.
  • Flex testing tools, as used previously by Adobe, so as to ensure successful continued development of Flex with high quality

Isn’t Adobe just abandoning Flex SDK and putting it out to Apache to die? 

Absolutely not – we are incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved with Flex and know that it will continue to provide significant value for many years to come. We expect active and on-going contributions from the Apache community. To be clear, Adobe plans on steadily contributing to the projects and we are working with the Flex community to make them contributors as well.

Flex has been open source since the release of Flex 3 SDK. What’s so different about what you are announcing now?

Since Flex 3, customers have primarily used the Flex source code to debug underlying issues in the Flex framework, rather than to actively develop new features or fix bugs and contribute them back to the SDK.

With Friday’s announcement, Adobe will no longer be the owner of the ongoing roadmap. Instead, the project will be in Apache and governed according to its well-established community rules. In this model, Apache community members will provide project leadership. We expect project management to include both Adobe engineers as well as key community leaders. Together, they will jointly operate in a meritocracy to define new features and enhancements for future versions of the Flex SDK. The Apache model has proven to foster a vibrant community, drive development forward, and allow for continuous commits from active developers.

What guarantees can Adobe make in relation to Flex applications continuing to run on Flash Player and Adobe AIR?

Adobe will continue to support applications built with Flex, as well as all future versions of the SDK running in PC browsers with Adobe Flash Player and as mobile apps with Adobe AIR indefinitely on Apple iOS, Google Android and RIM BlackBerry Tablet OS.

Adobe’s Mike Chambers has also posted information explaining a bit more detail, and providing insight into the future of Flash and AIR.   Key takeaways:

Adobe AIR

We are continuing to develop Adobe AIR for both the desktop and mobile devices. Indeed, we have seen wide adoption of Adobe AIR for creating mobile applications and there have been a number of blockbuster mobile applications created using Adobe AIR.

Flash Player for Desktop Browsers

We feel that Flash continues to play a vital role of enabling features and functionality on the web that are not otherwise possible. As such, we have a long term commitment to the Flash Player on desktops, and are actively working on the next Flash Player version.

  • http://none Michael de Cler

    I’m at the starting stage of learning Flex/AS3. I made the decision to learn the language a couple of months ago but when I heard about the news from Adobe the first thought in my mind was.. $&@*.. Made the wrong decision. Should have gone with Java ->html5..

    Though flash/flex is not dead, I’m switching to Java. Because of Adobe’s decision I feel that instead of getting more people on board to make an active community, over time it will just bleed out..

    Just my 2 cents..

    • Andrew

      Hi Michael, I definitely don’t think that you made the wrong choice. Java and Flex are 2 very different languages – Java being focused on the backend (yes, I know you can do Java based UI, but that is nowhere near as popular) and Flex being focused on the front end. There has certainly been some confusion around the entire process, but move to Apache is a huge opportunity for the Flex/Flash AIR platform.

  • Junaid Ahmed

    I’m definitely glad to see that Flex isn’t dead, I recently started learning it and using it at my new position and it definitely gives me a strong set of tools to create applications for multiple platforms and definitely very easy to pick up having the knowledge of HTML and CSS

  • Juan Soares

    Do Santa Claus go to guarantee this and to sign or CEO of Adobe in an official and definitive announcement?

  • cyber ghost

    Im quite relieved reading the statement above “flex is not dead”, because… i believe that flex is build for programmers (own opinion though), and no need for me to c0ncern about the timeline(flash did).

    I really wish to learn flex not just to learn but to put as my left hand as (php is my right hand) at all. considering flex got a work unto cross platform with AIR of course.

  • Rasmus

    Hi Michael, Yeah, you made the wrong choice, and so did I. Go with jquery/html5. Your skillset will be more widely applicable.

    • Andrew

      I certainly wouldn’t say you made the wrong choice. Flex will continue to live on, just with direction through Apache and open source, not Adobe. Although, Adobe will continue to contribute and have dedicated resources for Flex and related technologies. Apache is one of the largest software companies in the world. Read more about the Apache process here:

  • Christian M. Cepel

    Um… “Complete, but yet-to-be-released, Spark components, including ViewStack, Accordion, DateField, DateChooser and an enhanced DataGrid.” Complete and yet they still won’t release these ULTRA necessary pieces of the API backbone… nearly a year since this article (a month and 8 days short of) was published.

    Now in Flash Builder 4.7 beta, you cannot even explicitly import mx into mobile projects. It won’t allow it. These design elements simply don’t exist for those developing for mobile.

    Andrew, is there anything to hang one’s hopes upon? I don’t wish to use a third-party solution, I want to use something developed and signed-off-on by the keepers of the keys, builders of the castle. I’m approaching crunch time and would like to design my mobile app


    • Andrew

      Hmmm… I was under the impression that these had already been contributed. I would reach out to the Apache Flex mailing list. There are staff from Adobe on that list who are active with the open source Apache Flex project, and will have an up-to-date answer for you.