16 – Flashageddon with Stacey Mulcahy

On a very special Creative Coding podcast, we’re joined by Stacey Mulcahy (to whom British politeness prevents me from referring by her vulgar handle “BitchWhoCodes”). We discuss the crazy week when Adobe decided that Steve Jobs might have been right about Flash after all.

This time we’re crowdsourcing the links – so if you know the URL of any of the sites / posts we talk about, please add them in the comments. Thanks for giving back to The Creative Coding Podcast!

Follow Iain Lobb on Twitter
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Follow Stacey Mulcahy on Twitter

Music: Iain dragged some loops onto the timeline in Sony Acid Music.

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15 Responses to 16 – Flashageddon with Stacey Mulcahy

  1. Good stance on the evolution of creative development.

    I think Seb is right in answering to Iain in explaining how to advise students new to the world of creative development: consider where you aim to work; advertising, web, games, installations, mobile, etc.

    I agree with Stacey when she says it’s not the best idea to put all your eggs in the same basket, however when you are an employee hired because of your specialty with AS3 and you end up working only with that language to answer the demand, it may be tricky to find the time to learn and master all languages. Not impossible, but quite demanding if the employer requires your work weeks to be 50h+.

    Flash IDE should indeed evolve into being an animation tool that allows to export assets to different targets. One niche where Flash could shine is prototyping. Sometimes to sell a project to a client, mockups may be insufficient, Flash allows for quick and dirty prototyping.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Nice wrap-up, and I like the title!
    You mention Gordon, so of course I expected a Jangaroo cameo appearance, too. Since it didn’t come, I’d like to complement it here. 😉
    For those who don’t know Jangaroo yet, it compiles AS3 to JavaScript and thus makes your ActionScript code run in any modern browser.
    In fact, interest in Jangaroo increased a lot since the Adobe PR disaster. People start looking for alternatives. Some want to port their Flash application to HTML5 directly (which can be done through JooFlash, our Flash library re-implementation), some just want to continue using AS3 in favor of JS. Many examples of the first kind can be found on the Jangaroo “applications” page, including several Flixel games (latest: try “Jumper” on iPad!), and we’re just working on porting FlashPunk (try this sneak-peek). An example of the latter would be to target canvas directly from AS3, which then leaves you with almost no runtime overhead compared to developing in JavaScript directly. For questions, please post to jangaroo-users.

  3. Gaz Williams says:

    Since I don’t really follow Twitter and I’m definitely one of the ‘head up the ass’ people Stacey is talking about, this episode has been really useful to get me up to speed, so thanks guys 🙂

    In answer to Iain’s questions about what would you learn now and what platform do multimedia people use; it seems to me that whereas ten years ago, it was quite easy to be a one-man army doing a bit of everything, as the platforms are maturing it is harder to be a generic multimedia programmer, since each is becoming a specialism. So maybe, in a commercial context at least, the ‘multimedia’ guy is an anachronism ?

    • seb says:

      Hi Gaz,

      I think that to an extent that is true in the commercial world on large scale projects, but there are plenty of areas where you can be a one man dev team. Just look at people like Matt Rix (The Trainyard iPhone app) and Carlos Ulloa (helloyenjoy.com) who are both examples of that.


      • Gaz Williams says:

        Interesting, my developer-centric mind only really considered the ‘scripting’ disciplines but yeah, a multimedia guy could be a one man dev-team making their own graphics sound and code. Good point…

  4. jinx says:

    nice thoughts…

    ps – annoying teenager giggling 😛

  5. Jake says:

    Maybe I have missed something, but if Adobe wants to push Air and still push the desktop browser plugin, why would they give up control of the mxmlc compiler?

    Anyone who has tried to compile even moderately sized projects in Flash Pro know how painfully slow it is. For instance just including the Away3D framework adds like 15-30seconds of compile time, every single time. Where as the incremental compilation of mxmlc makes it more like 2-3 seconds. I’m assuming that the mxmlc compiler is being open-sourced with the rest of the flex framework.

    Additionally even to this day they don’t have tooling for Air3 and FP11 build for Flash Pro, and doesn’t FlashBuilder use mxmlc to do its compile?

    In any case, I can’t blame Adobe for anything. Its their company and they should run it as they see fit, but I would prefer they not say that they are shifting support to AIR and the desktop browser player, but then drop support for the tools to build on those platforms.

    • Iain says:

      Hi Jake – I haven’t seen anything to suggest that anything is changing with the MXMLC compiler, and I would be very surprised if it was, considering most developers work with pure AS3 projects compiled from FlashBuilder, FlashDevelop or FDT.

      • Matthew Fabb says:

        Iain, there was no news regarding the MXMLC compiler when you posted that message, but Adobe has since updated their blog posting on Flex to include more details. The new MXMLC compiler code named Falcon, that Adobe was claiming would be 10x faster than the previous one (compile as you type was going to be a new Flash Builder feature) is being donated to the Apache Software Foundation.

  6. Adam Lehman says:

    I really enjoyed this episode. You guys really shouldn’t take such long breaks.

    In my defense, I never should have tweeted the “douche bag” comment. I apologized to everyone I offended publicly (and privately).

    I’m just a dude who loves building software and I have my own opinions like everyone else. The problem is that critics want to turn my personal opinion into “Adobe said this… or Adobe said that..” to serve an agenda.

    Here is the full tweet:

    ‘It’s funny, the few #Flash “thought leaders” who are pimping alt. techs: They are unknown to new devs (like me) & just sound like doucheBags’

    Now, I know this excuse never works with my wife, but I don’t want to be misrepresented. I never called anyone a douche bag directly. All I was trying to say is that without context some might perceive some of the pro-HTML/anti-Flash comments in that way.

    I’ll admit, I was talking specifically about Jesse. While I think everyone should learn new technologies (I myself came from JS/HTML to Flash) you can do so in a way where you don’t have to bash the alternatives. My personal issue with Jesse is that he can’t manage to say anything good about HTML/JS without directly trashing Adobe and Flash (as seen with his recent post).

    I’ll say what I said when all this went down back in August. Do you want people at Adobe who just placate the community? Or do you want someone who will be brutally honest when we disagree? I’m definitely the latter and not ashamed of it. I just need to be a bit more proper with my vocabulary.

    -Adam Lehman
    Product Manager at Adobe

  7. Matthew Fabb says:

    You guys bring up how Director slowly died over the years. I think a lot of shock from Flash/Flex developers was that they were expecting if something like Director and Shockwave, rather than the sudden U-turn that happened. If people saw out of Adobe MAX that Adobe didn’t have any future plans for Flex, then Flex developers would see that something was up. As I remember when Macromedia would announce that the new feature being added to Director was updating the Flash Player support, developers knew Director’s days were numbered.

    Instead rather than say Adobe was pulling back on Flex, Adobe announced that they weren’t even going to wait for Flex 5.0 in the spring of 2012 to release new components, developers needed more mobile components now, especially for tablets and so Adobe were getting a Flex 4.6 out before the end of the year. The performance of Flex 4.5 had gotten really good on Adobe AIR, but Adobe was demoing Flex running even faster and smoother under 4.6. Everything was not only going full steam ahead with Flex, but Adobe seemed to be adding more resources so they could get out faster releases.

    This massive change, pissed people off a lot of people more than the horrible PR. If Flash and Flex would no longer be an option to clients and companies, they expected a slow drip of changes, rather than overnight companies halting/holding/cancelling Flash and Flex projects.

    I as a Flex developer, I personally was seeing a bigger uptake recently on Flex mobile, especially with AIR 3.0 and native extensions. I gave a presentation of mobile Flex & AIR 3 at an Android conference a few weeks ago to a crowd of 300 people and a lot of them were interested (now I feel bad for promoting a product Adobe would kill just weeks later).

    Writing a small bit of Java for Android and Objective-C for iOS, while 95% of the remaining code was in AS3 made sense for a lot projects. Also I saw a concern from companies that were afraid to commit to Adobe AIR, in case a new feature is included in a new mobile SDK that they couldn’t take advantage of until Adobe added an API. Example if Apple added an NFC capabilities to the next iPhone, being able to add that quickly to an app is important to some companies. AIR native extensions would solve this.

    Last week, I was looking for a slide from Seb’s What The Flux presentation that said you aren’t ActionScript developers but Interactive Developers. However, I think that’s something that Seb asked the crowd, rather than a slide?

    To Flex developers, they should take Iain’s similar advice that Flash game developers are really just game developers and that Flex developers are just app developers. Also to those who feel like going to JavaScript from ActionScript 3 is a bit of a step back, should look into doing Java for native Android. That Java is very similar to ActionScript3 and even has some more advanced language features that many ActionScript developers have been asking for ActionScript. While the way views are broken down in XML in Android, is very similar to MXML in Flex. At that Android conference I attended, there was a HUGE demand for Android developers and I saw the same thing today at FITC Screens (note both are in Toronto and demand could be different elsewhere).

    Personally, I quit my full-time Flex job a week before all this craziness started. Mainly because I was doing .NET server-side development at my job, with hardly any Flex and wanted to get back into doing front-end development. Next up for me is a bunch of HTML-based apps for the iPad.

  8. pretty tirred of people random flamming the browsers and flamming adobe – so i desided to write down all my frustrations upon this tech war that has gone some how mad i think… it really was a relief for me mentally to just get it down on paper or so to say in bytes – and get it off my mind – and after this blog post i kinda feel more ready to more on to either html5/js or MotionGraphics…

    “An Animators thoughts on Flash and the new open web”

  9. pSK says:

    Great episode.

    A good example of a useful native extension would be embedding Game Center on iOS. The key aspect is the vast majority of your game would be platform agnostic. Having said that native extensions are exactly what every other cross platform solution have done for a long time now.

  10. neil highley says:

    I’ve been developing internet sites since the mid 90s and seen out VRML, Supervision3d, Director (shockwave), DHTML, Java Applets (&%$!*@) and have been developing on PHP, .Net and Flash for the last 5 years or so. This message may seem like an elaborate CV seed (hello mum!), but all i want to say is that the dev community seems to be getting partisan at the drop of a hat these days. The Truth is, just as HTML5 snuck up, so did AJAX, so did shockwave, and I have no doubt, one of the browser developers (or perhaps a new one) will introduce features that the others will baulk at, but will eventually be consumed into the thread of the internet. This is a great industry but you have to accept change, and ignore the huff and puff.
    I am still as excited now messing around with Flash, Canvas and the DOM as I was 15 years ago, messing around with Layers and transparent GIFs, simply because it will never stop changing.
    I love working with Flash, Canvas has a mountain to climb and the plugin (Flash or otherwise) is not dead. The browser makers are too stingy to introduce cool stuff into their browsers (semantic web? meh), and the online population is rising ever quicker, so the gap is still there for the taking.
    Some of the work done in stage3D is breathtaking, and shows that Flash still has a few tricks up its sleeves. It’s a shame Microsoft didn’t put more effort into creating a Flash competitor with Silverlight we may have had a more feature led Flash future.

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