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On The End of Adobe Flash

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When fish in a bottle started up, back in 2003, Adobe Flash was well into its pivot from a website tool to an animation and games creation tool. Although the Flash player was fairly primitive, Flash as a toolset was already powerful. We came to Flash fresh from the world of console games development for the Playstation and Xbox, and nothing there could compete with Flash for workflow and ease of getting from concept to end product.

Adobe have just announced the end of Flash, by name at least, rebranding it to Adobe Animate. The new product launches early in 2016 and will continue to move developers’ focus toward animation tools and web standard technology like HTML5.

Like most production studios, our games are now built with Unity or HTML5 technology, yet Flash Professional, as a development tool, does still often play a part in our pipeline. So what does the end of Flash mean to the people who grew up using it?

We asked a few members of our studio to comment.

David Durham – Games Developer

For me personally Flash was a boon. It allowed me to stop worrying so much about technical implementation and focus on gameplay, innovation and ‘finding the fun’. As a studio we’ve benefitted from the streamlined workflow. Particularly, between 2005 and 2010, each Flash Professional update seemed to bring something new, like ActionScript 3 and bitmap manipulation, that we could play with and wow clients with.

The Flash player hasn’t been a viable deployment target for us for a few years now. But Flash Professional has remained an important part of our development pipeline. It’s a world class tool for animators and we’ve used it to create apps with Adobe AIR and browser games via tech like Flambé. The good news is that as Flash Professional becomes Adobe Animate, the number of available export platforms is set to increase.

Scott Davidson – Game Artist

For an artist, Flash isn’t just about creating cool looking stuff – it’s a way I can bring my work to life. It’s a powerful tool that brings art and animation together. Flash enables me to do complex tasks easily, like create animations within animations. So it’s yet to be rivalled in that respect and the whole workflow and animation toolset is outstanding.

It makes sense for Adobe to rebrand and distance itself from the Flash player. Flash has very publicly suffered from security and reliability issues that have damaged its reputation. Even Facebook has been asking Adobe to kill Flash. A fresh start means Adobe can really push what is possible in HTML5.

Ryan Tyrrell – HTML5 Developer

Requiring Flash rules out a large percentage of the audiences we want to reach. In order to deliver our products to the largest number of users on the most prevalent platforms, in a world of open standards, using the Flash player is now simply not an option.

So this is the right thing for Adobe to do. The problems with the Flash player and its closed development make it a weak product. Apple spotted that a long time ago. Adobe are great at building tools that help designers, and that’s the value we still get from Flash Professional. By going on to release tools that leverage open standards like HTML5 and WebGL, they have a good chance of staying relevant well into the future.

Adobe Flash Professional will be renamed to Adobe Animate CC in an update scheduled for early 2016.