Program in Flash or die!

I ran into an interesting blog written by a Flash programmer who feels that Adobe’s promotion of Flex puts him and other Flash programmers at a disadvantage.

He writes, “The times have changed and we all face the challenge to evolve. The fact that all these soon to be popular tools are build leveraging the Flash API is a tribute to the communities commitment and dedication to relentlessly extend the boundaries of the .swf format. Now we find ourselves competing with Java dudes…smart people, but no one knows the API better than us. We have worked with it from its infancy (/ syntax, tellTarget) to its current form.

It’s clear that the author of this blog fell in love with Flash many years ago. But unfortunately software development is business, and big guys (Adobe in this case) do what they have to do to deliver competitive software. I happened to be one of the “Java dudes” who is using Flex now. First, the good news, Java dudes are not smarter than Flash dudes. Each programming environment has its own tricks of the trade, and based on my experience, GUI programming is often more challenging that writing efficient code for the back end. It requires a programmer to be a little bit of an artist, which is not an easily acquirable skill.

But professional programmers should not take any programming language too personal. You can’t love something that can’t love you back! Programming languages are tools and we learn them as needed. Can you fall in love with a Phillips screwdriver? While our blogger uses a professional language, another one has written a love letter to Flash. This anomaly is also known as fetishism.

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Then, this blogger calls for the holly war, “My shout to the community is not to let the newcomers step on our turf. We hold the secrets of the flash API and are the rare ones familiar with its complexities, faults and vulnerabilities. Don’t give up, transition to AS3, learn MXML and help the community find ways to efficiently bridge the gap between Flex and Flash through your new IDE which should be Flex (SDK)”It seems that the author would like to create a community that knows and passes from generation to generation undocumented secrets of Flash. This reminds me of a movie Rush Hour 3, where a secret list of thirteen Triad leaders was tattooed on the back of the head of a beautiful woman. Anyone is willing to shave his/her head and right there a couple of little known Flash APIs?

Unfortunately some Java, PowerBuilder, and Coldfusion developers are in the same state of mind. They want to protect their skills no matter what by creating all kinds of lobbies and publishing posts that would despise anyone who “betrayed” their clan in favor of another language.

Several years ago I ran into an ad in a Man Seeking Woman section. After listing the race and body parameters he requested that she should know Visual Basic. Apparently, otherwise they’d have nothing to talk about over the morning coffee.

Hey, let’s be friends. Program in Flex, Flash, or Java, or do not program at all. If you are good at one programming language it’s just a matter of time to be good at another one.
Remember, if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.


4 thoughts on “Program in Flash or die!

  1. although i’m not a beautiful woman i will volunteer to shave my head and therefore be responsible for passing down the undocumented secrets of the flash platform to the next generation….

    Although I’ve looked at a couple I couldn’t be bothered with server-side languages like Java and others.
    They look so boring.
    Fancy spending years on a project that people can’t actually see until a gui developer developes a nice interface to make use of its services.

    Anyway the guy was right.
    Its great that Java guys can build boring finance apps in Flex.
    But flash devs are a rare breed.
    Innovation and creativity in interaction and interface design is our goal.

  2. Hey Yakov,

    I thought about what I just wrote, and i wanted to add,

    I read your blog on regular basis because i like you guys : ) and I’ve learned a lot from your methodologies, so I’m not drawing lines in the sand.

    There’s no animosity attached to those previous comments

  3. I am a Java Dude as well. And i am trying to get my hand dirty in actionscript 3.0, after i have been building boring finance apps for 5 years.

    Thanks for the nice article!!!!

  4. Speaking as a Flash addict who’s evolved into a Flex Developer, I can understand where Paul Ortchanian is coming from. And it’s not just the Flash IDE, or the ActionScript language that we fell in love with. For me, it was everything about the technology. With Flash I didn’t have to worry about the browser wars, they were obsolete for me. It just worked. And I could follow my true passion of the day: being both a designer and a programmer, the artist and the scientist. To someone for whom Da Vinci is his greatest hero, working with Flash was a dream come true. And it was the community. The sense of blazing a trail, of sharing discoveries and meeting great people, and learning, collectively, that is why we are so passionate about Flash. It’s the lifestyle of the artist-programmer, and the community that went with it. Now that community is changing, and I’m still loving it, still find it inspiring and challenging. Hell, I’m just getting started. But not everybody feels that way about these changes. Our passion for Flash as a technology — is it any different to how Linux developers feel about their platform, or the Java community feels about their technology, their community, how the .Net people feel about their neck of the woods?

    It’s not just the screwdriver you fall in love with. It’s what the screwdriver can do, and how you share that passion with other people.

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