The Blog

May 18, 2009

More "Flex" to "Flash" Worries 

by Maxim Porges @ 1:11 PM | Link | Feedback (2)

Pursuant to the renaming of Flex Builder to Flash Builder, I just posted the following comment to this article on The Flash Blog.

I don't really care what Adobe calls the tools, but it goes without saying that there is a clean separation of skill set between Flex and Flash developers. In fact, Adobe and Macromedia both did an admirable job of pointing this separation out at length when promoting Flex to the enterprise development community. I can only imagine that the companies chose to do this because of the Flash IDE's image in the developer community as a tool for making animations and non-enterprise apps - a perception which frankly still holds true for Flash developers not using the Flex toolset.

For everybody who already uses Flash and Flex, renaming Flex Builder to Flash Builder is not going to cause any serious issues; we understand the roles of both tools and can differentiate. Where the name change will be confusing is with future students and professionals evaluating Flash and Flex for the first time, and trying to decide which tool set they need to master and for what purpose.

What I am most concerned about as a Flex developer is Adobe's recent moves to blur the previously-clear definition between Flash media and Flash enterprise development skill sets. If Adobe continues this trend and decides to abolish the Flex name altogether and call it "Flash Enterprise" or something like that, people like me who develop purely with the Flex framework are going to have a much harder time targeting relevant employment opportunities. This will be just as difficult for Flash developers targeting rich media/non-Flex opportunities. The two specializations are individually necessary and distinct for different kinds of work, regardless of the platform's capabilities.

You stated the following in your post: "We as a community need to spread the word about what Flash really is now." So, what is Flash now? As far as I can tell, it's the same as it has always been: the most pervasive platform for running rich, interactive applications. There are two common ways to do that: using the Flash IDE and working in a media-centric fashion on the timeline, or writing script-and-tag-based applications using the Flex framework. There are other less-common ways, such as generating Flash content programmatically using any of the many commercial and open-source authoring libraries. Renaming Flex Builder to Flash Builder doesn't change any of these facts, doesn't change what the Flash platform can do, and doesn't spread the word any further about what the Flash platform is capable of.

I must ask: is this apparent need to change perception about the capabilities of the Flash Player really the purpose for renaming Flex Builder to Flash Builder? Is this the same reason behind renaming Flex Camps to Flash Camps? If so, then I'll ask Adobe to please stop now. Adobe and Macromedia poured tons of marketing dollars in to promoting Flex development as a different activity from Flash development, and with good reason: they are different activities targeting different skill sets. Clearly Adobe agrees that this is the case, or they wouldn't have two separate tools targeting each activity.

Call the tools whatever you like, but unless the goal is to merge all the Flash-related tools and skill sets altogether (a horrible idea for reasons already outlined), please keep the differentiation between Flash and Flex development apparent.