Breaking Up With Flash

My relationship with Adobe Flash started in 2006. I owe a lot to Flash. It has shaped my professional development career for the past six years and paid for our wedding, our house, two cars, and two kids. I have immense gratitude and respect for the platform.

But things change, especially in technology.

Today is bittersweet. Today I am officially breaking up with Flash…for good.

It’s not you, Flash. It’s me. It is time to see other platforms.

My wife and I needed money to pay for our wedding, so I started freelancing to raise the extra cash. The HTML, CSS, and JavaScript landscape was completely different six years ago… Does anyone remember slicing an image into nine pieces to get round corners? That kind of frustration made Flash an easy choice at the time. I could simply draw a rounded rectangle on the stage and I was done! Immediate gratification. I paid $100 for a screencast course on Advanced Flash Website Development and the rest is history.

I started out doing simple Flash websites for about a year. It wasn’t long before I started to build advanced Flash applications. Flash was never meant to create websites or applications, but the Flash development community took it there. Adobe eventually responded by creating Adobe Flex, which at its core is still Flash, but with a much more feature rich framework. Flex gave Flash the ability to become a viable enterprise development platform and it took off like a rocket.

Flex gave me the opportunity to work with some of the best RIA (Rich Internet Application) companies in the world. The experience I gained in learning how to architect complex web apps was invaluable. I am very thankful for the chance to work with some of the best and brightest developers in the industry.

The beginning of the end, for me, was in 2010 when Steve Jobs published his Thoughts on Flash. I believe this single article is responsible for the current landscape of technology, namely the two differing perspectives of Google and Apple. Most of my colleagues fell into the Google camp due to their allegiance to Flash. I took Steve’s article as a wake up call. I knew that it would be irresponsible of me to continue to invest my professional career into a language that was dead or dying, so I began to spend any free time I could muster investing in myself and learning other technologies.

During the next two years, it would turn out that Steve Jobs was right. In the fall of 2011, Adobe announced their intention to open source the Flex SDK, which I interpreted as a kind way of saying, “We’re done with Flash, too”. Their attempt at a FAQ article only confirmed my assumptions that they were shifting their focus to HTML5. This only increased my desire and decision to make a transition.

These turn of events is what led me to WordPress and the more traditional web stack of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Technologies like HTML5 and CSS3 have emerged in the wake of this new post-Flash era, with an unrelenting and unapologetic attitude.

I have been doing development for 11 years now and I have never experienced such an explosion in development as we are in right now. Yes, I know I am young with even 11 years of experience in the technology landscape, but just look at what is going on now that did not even exist just 2 – 3 years ago. Entire industries and livelihoods have been birthed in such a short time.

  • The aforementioned HTML5 and CSS3.
  • Mobile and tablet platforms, like iOS and Android.
  • Responsive frameworks, like Bootstrap and Foundation.
  • New frameworks, libraries, and plugins released nearly every day.

It really is an exciting time to be a developer and I simply could not continue to try and keep up with where development is going in what little free time I have. The time came to make a dramatic change.

December 31st, 2012 officially marked the last day I will be doing Flash development and I could not be more excited to finally say that.

So what’s next?

I will be turing my focus towards UI / UX front-end development, both in web and mobile. Really looking forwards to taking what I already know about HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Objective-C to the next level.

I am really stoked for 2013! It will be a year of immense learning, new opportunities, renewed focus, and incredible growth.

I never imagined I would be where I am today as a developer. Flash played an important part of my professional life, and for that, I thank it. But it is time to move on and I cannot wait to see how it all turns out.

13 thoughts on “Breaking Up With Flash”

  1. I’ve been where you are.

    I know how important your previous employer was to you, and that this decision wasn’t easy. It never is when you develop friendships and take pride in your work.

    I also know what it’s like to divorce a technology. In 2008 I was a Microsoft.net developer and now I’m not. Change is good, healthy even, when approached the way I’ve seen you approach it.

    I’m excited for you!!!

  2. So excited for you bro. It was great being able to work and learn with you on Flash application, but it’s even greater learning WordPress and other new techs with you. Hopefully someday soon we will be working together again :)

  3. Good for you buddy! I need to follow suit sooner than later. I have been enjoying some AIR dev as an “easy” way to create cross-platform desktop applications. That is all well and good, but is certainly a much smaller slice of pie available, pushing Flex/AIR devs more into niche markets.

  4. Awesome opportunity man. I’m sure deep down this was a strategic move to get your son away from trains and onto tractors…

    In all seriousness, good luck with the transition!

  5. Hey Michael,
    I share some of the same story with you. Flash got me into programming because of how immediate, simple and experimental it was. I spent years learning the ins and outs of AS2 and then 3. Was offended by Apple’s opposition to flash and all. Slowly I ended up transitioning to web standards and loved every minute of it. I’ve been sad to say goodbye to my friend flash, but I haven’t regretted it at all. I’ve found much of the same playfulness in the jQuery and WP communities as well as the emerging CSS3 advances and I think at the heart of it, that’s what really keeps us coming back- the fun we have creating things and the community of like-minded explorers. Good luck on the move!

    1. I am on the same page with you. No regrets!

      In fact, I think the modern web standards (ie. HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript) would not be as advanced as they are shaping up to be without Flash driving them to be better. I am more than happy they have rose to, and met, that challenge.

  6. I love what you did on the Iowa girl eats website. My husband and I need help with our website for our Maine lodge. It was created for us twelve years ago, but now we would like to redo/ update it and even start a blog aspect but we don”t even know who hosts it now or where to start. Do you still freelance?

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