Adobe Flash CS2

In Jason's roundup of the Adobe-Macromedia acquisition, he alludes to Tim Bray's comment that Adobe may drop Flash, and proffers Ajax as an alternative for web developers — a bit of jumping the gun, if you ask me.

Last fall, Kevin Lynch, the Chief Architect of Macromedia, asked to meet with me regarding my work on the Gmail API, under the guise of hinting at potential employment opportunities in the Experience Design group *. Essentially, he and his associate, an ex-Microsoft guy they poached from the ASP.NET group, wanted to know how the Gmail Ajax system worked, and how it worked so quickly. We also covered their new Flex platform, their take on the Lazlo project (supportive, but would ultimately rather see all efforts focused on Flex), and uses of the XML socketing support that was introduced in Flash 5.

Most of the conversation is relevant to Jason's roundup, so here are my notes:

  • Flash may not be as much a lame duck as Tim made it out to be. It was obvious that Macromedia was well aware of the flat revenue generated by Flash, and was introducing Flex as a means to bring in fresh business through the professional services arena.
  • Macromedia was definitely concerned about the arrival of high-profile Ajax applications as a major equalizer to the XML-socketing support offered by Flash. Since most web applications do not require the "always-on" capabilities of sockets, Ajax quickly became a viable (and free) alternative to providing asynchronous client-side callbacks. Kevin specifically wanted to explore the possibility of hooking into the Ajax system with Flash, via Flex.
  • Ajax, in its currently form, falls very short of being an adequate replacement for Flash. Font support, image sampling, vector graphics (try animating a simple line using CSS) — the list of exclusive Flash features goes on and on, such that Flash will remain the platform of choice for design-heavy interfaces until other technologies like SVG make their way into the mainstream.

* I think I got played by Macromedia here. During the meeting, Kevin offered to "hook me up" if I found any of the job openings to be interesting. He sent over an email with a couple jobs links, to which I replied with interest to one of them. No response. I sent 2 more emails over the next few weeks, but never heard from him again. Seems like they were just digging for some free information.

Update: Kevin emailed me in response to this post:

...am concerned that you think I may not have been forthright with you -- I was very open with you and connected you with openings that I thought might be a match, but apparently they weren't. I'm sorry if the team didn't reply to you, they should have done that.