Well, it’s that time of year again. The time for us all to wager on what we think will be unveiled at MAX. A few people have already weighed in, but the one thing I haven’t seen guessed at yet (probably because the likelihood is low) is the announcement of a Flash Platform Suite. I know I’m not the first person to think of this, but I haven’t seen it committed to paper yet. So I would like to hear the Community’s opinion: Flashers, Flexers, and CFers, what would you want in an Adobe Flash Platform Suite if such a thing(s) were to ever come into existence? Products like Flex Builder, ColdFusion and other Flash Platform applications are all currently sold separately, and we have yet to hear mention of how Flash Catalyst or ColdFusion Builder will be packaged. This is all in pure fun, of course. We have no idea if any such options will ever become commercially available. So, with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s speculate!

Here are my very basic ideas: Flash Platform Design Suite

  1. Photoshop Extended
  2. Illustrator
  3. Fireworks
  4. Soundbooth
  5. Flash Professional. (Side note: I’d love to see the word ‘Professional’ dropped. Another post, another time.)
  6. Flash Catalyst

Flash Platform Development Suite

  1. Photoshop Extended
  2. Illustrator
  3. Dreamweaver
  4. Flash Professional
  5. Flash Builder Premium
  6. ColdFusion Builder

Flash Platform Master Collection

  1. Photoshop Extended
  2. Illustrator
  3. Fireworks
  4. Dreamweaver
  5. Soundbooth
  6. Flash Professional
  7. Flash Catalyst
  8. Flash Builder Premium
  9. ColdFusion Builder

These names are pretty basic, but in my opinion, they’re intuitive, they fit current package offerings, and I’m personally trying to avoid the term ‘RIA.’

There is a big push for a better designer/developer workflow, but at least for the foreseeable future, these are separate areas. So a situation you run into by separating the suites in such a way is determining if developers really need design tools and vice-versa. Sometimes, a developer needs to make a quick tweak to a graphic to get something out the door. Additionally, some people, like me, do both design and development, so there is a need for both sets of tools. At this point though, an entire suite starts to sound huge and expensive. But, if you compare these to the current suites, they’re actually quite reasonable.

Also, there are wildcards like the paid versions of Flash Media Server, LiveCycle, and ColdFusion*, but I think they are each too specialized and individually expensive to include in a general suite offering. Perhaps as discounted add-ins? However, for the free, local-development tools, I envision a unique “shared components” list in the installer as well. You know, like how Bridge, AIR, and Pixel Bender are installed with the Creative Suites now? It would be cool to have. There needs to be a checkbox for the LCDS Community Edition (the free, single-CPU license flavor) and/or BlazeDS, because the install process is flat-out ridiculous for both of them if you want to use them in Flex or ColdFusion today. This would make SO many devs happy, unless, of course, you enjoy at least 17 steps and copy/pasting into confusing, similarly-named directories, then, of course, you’ll probably disagree with me. Please make a note of this Adobe. People want proper installers for these. *Ahem* Maybe throw in an option for Flash Media Server, and you’ve got yourself a deal.

I know not everyone uses these 3, but the options in the installers would be nice. Speaking of installers, I don’t how how feasible it would be to abstract and combine the InstallAnywhere executables like Flash Builder and ColdFusion into Adobe’s standard suite multi-installers. That could throw a monkey wrench into my little fantasy and render all of the pretty words on this page rather useless. But they’re smart guys, they can figure it out. *I know ColdFusion isn’t technically a Flash Platform technology, but I have always used it with those products, and with awesome new features of CF9 like CFAAS and enhanced Flex/AIR integration, I’d love for it to be an official member of the Flash Platform family. I’ve always kind of felt like it belonged there, but I digress. On the other side of the coin, I can see PHP developers wanting to do a substitution for CF or something as well. Perhaps an ‘either/or’ with CFBuilder and Dreamweaver?

Anyhoo, this is just an idea myself and some other people have had for awhile that a recent discussion reminded me to put on paper. To say that “I’m open to suggestions,” would be kind of dumb, because obviously, this is complete speculation, it’s not my call, and I’m not married to any of these ideas. So, let’s hear your ideas in the comments.