What’s the Flash community been saying about AS3 recently?
- Nicolas Canasse, the guy behind haXe, wrote an insightful article about whether AS3 has really delivered on its promises. Lack of language feature velocity and lack of conciseness are his major points.
- Joa Ebert, a talented Flash hacker (AS3V, AS3C, etc.), is a little bit incensed about Adobe’s troubles with involving the community. He cites some examples where they have ignored code contributions.
- Even Andre Michelle, of Hobnox audioTool fame, and one of the guys who helped drive the Make Some Noise petition to get Adobe to improve audio in FP, has weighed in in some areas where Flash should improve.
I’ll be honest about where I stand on this. Flash 9 is great, 10 even better. For desktop/web interactive apps I am very happy. There are a lot of things that would be nice to see, and a few things that need to be fixed. But I would not have stopped doing C++ 3d game development unless Flash was good.
I hope to see Adobe releasing a lot of improvements to AS3 (perhaps even an AS4 someday!), and there are some features, like generics, delegates, overloads, and enums, that would make my daily life easier. But the fact is that being able to target a single, mostly consistent platform with AS3 is great, and that there are nearly a billion people with Flash Player makes it very worthwhile. It is easy to create quality interactive content accessible by hundreds of millions of people in Flash, and that is a huge win.
If I had to agree with one complaint out of all the comments by my fellow Flash developers, it would be that Adobe is having some trouble getting the community involved in what they are doing. I can’t blame them – the Flash community is hugely varied in skill level and interest area. You have artists using it to create TV shows, web content, and deliver video. At the same time, there are skilled coders building DAWs and 3d renderers. There are developers making games and building business applications. I’m not sure there’s a broader set of users out there.
The best thing to do in a situation like this is to stop treating Adobe like a big faceless company and start to get to know the people who work on Flash. In the last two years I’ve had opportunities to visit the Player VM team, the Flash Builder team, and several of the Flash community managers and members. Everyone on those teams is, in my experience, willing to listen to your problems and interested in improving their product. Obviously, they don’t implement every hair brained idea that I propose. But they listen and there is forward motion.
So what does this come down to? I have to agree with Ted’s advice from his The Future of Flash – be public about it. But also make sure you are reaching out to Adobe. They are human and they respond a lot better to respectful conversation from people they know than they do to internet rage. 🙂