How Adobe Made the Flash Platform Beyond Future-Proof

I don't think I need to tell you that some unbelievably sexy demos of incredible new versions of our favorite programs were shown off at MAX. Most people were beyond blown away by the Flash CS5 publishing to iPhone workflow announcement, myself included. This is an absolutely brilliant move by Adobe and it is significant for 2 reasons.

  1. Adobe is now officially in the the App Store. The number of iPhone developers just multiplied exponentially. You can imagine the implications here (besides Flash being on almost every single mobile device manufacturer's feature list from now on.)

  2. Flash Pro got it's groove back. It's once again a niche product, and deliberately the only product in Adobe's line that can publish to the .ipa iPhone formats. Bra-VO Adobe!

More importantly, people who were jaded by Flash CS4's shortcomings Ahem now have a reason to fall in love all over again, not to mention all of the slick new features mentioned for Flash CS5 [Ed.note: I will cover this at some point. You can believe that.] So, Flash to native iPhone apps: that's cool, right? The correct answer is 'yes... very.' Again, simply brilliant.

What you may have missed was the MAX Sneaks demos. Now, before I go any farther, you should watch this disclaimer. Demos shown during the MAX Sneaks may never see the light of day. This is all experimentation by Adobe, and is subject to go all 'ninja smoke bomb' on us.

One of the demos involved Illustrator CS5, Dreamweaver CS5, and Flash CS5. The workflow was unthinkable, but a work of absolute genius. Consider my mind blown. The presenter shows 3 workflows, all using FXG as a vehicle for graphics data.

  1. An Illustrator CS5 document's contents are copied to the clipboard, and "Smart-pasted" into Dreamweaver CS5 via FXG with the option of 'Vector Graphics' selected. Ok. Seriously. It's like 8 lines of code, liberally-formatted. Are you kidding me?! It is converted by a JavaScript file to a <canvas> tag. Hold on, let me get a band-aid for my chin because it just hit my desk. You can even double click to make it fit the browser window. Sick.

  2. An Illustrator CS5 chart graphic is "Smart-pasted" into into Dreamweaver CS5 via FXG with the option of 'Chart' selected, and an XML file is selected as it's data source. Same thing.8 lines of loosely-formatted code, a <canvas> tag rendered by JavaScript. The browser is refreshed, the data in the chart updates, and my face is melted by awesome. The only difference this time is the JavaScript function name. As a Flash Platform developer, it's the last one that put me over the edge of excitement, and I assume Apple, Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft as well. Not!

  3. A set of Flash CS5 timeline animation frames is copied to the clipboard using the 'Copy to HTML Canvas' Command. The clipboard contains document metadata and animation XML, and is "Smart-pasted" into in Dreamweaver CS5 via FXG with the option of 'Animation' selected. The browser is launched, and Voilà, an HTML5 canvas animation that looks identical to the Flash timeline it originated from! The speaker did note however, that right now ActionScript can't be used in this way. I, for one, think that's a a more than reasonable compromise. An interesting side effect of this is, animators, who Flash was originally designed for, are now a much more valuable commodity. Many times, these are the same people who make Flash games, which is a perfect fit given the Flash to iPhone announcement.

For a brief second though, I didn't get it. But then it hit me. The Flash Platform is beyond future-proofed now. Think about it. Flash's two biggest "roadblocks", the iPhone (though I want to reiterate, it's still native device code and NOT Flash running) and HTML5 (which won't be an official spec for years to come), now have an opportunity to be made non-issues for Adobe. These may be work-arounds, or hacks to some people, but Adobe is a multi-billion dollar company because of moves like this. They know when to strategize and join the competition if they can't beat them. Now though, with all of the unbelievable products and features shown at MAX, the competition has some serious catch-up to do.

It's funny, I look back at two of my previous posts, and think about what I saw in this video. It's funny how things work out. I said it recently, and I'll say it again: It's the best time ever to be a Flash developer.

Kevin Suttle

IBM Watson IoT Design and Front-end Development Lead

Cincinnati, OH