It’s been a long day (as I’m up at 2am), but lots has happened that has almost passed me by.
Today two other news items crossed my eye, the iPhone 5 and Microsoft’s SkyDrive.
iPhone 5 scheduled for release in September
According to Bloomberg, the iPhone 5 is scheduled for release this September (possibly in late August). This is contrary to rumors about there being an iPhone 4S before a new iPhone 5 (that was supposed to be testing of a model for T-Mobile). Additional rumors are spreading that the iPhone 5 will not only feature the better camera and processor, but a completely new form factor.
I’ve asked myself the Flash or Flex question recently and wanted to post my thoughts.
It’s a good idea to think about platforms when building web applications ahead of time. Factors I traditionally use, but will not reference here, are the current employee skillsets, ability of the team to learn, and cost to update software. I know — it’s good to get updated software in a company, but sometimes it just doesn’t make sense for a company to spend $1,000 for 5 users, to maintain a project that only costs $5,000 to build. If the company is already equipped with Flash but not Flex — it may make sense to choose Flash even though the project doesn’t lend itself.
That being said, here’s the breakdown of Flash and Flex
Flash has always been the tool used by develops wanting to create vector animations on the web. Recently Microsoft has introduced Silverlight, we will be ignoring that option for this scenario as I don’t believe I have the expertise to judge Silverlight.
- Comes with standard Adobe Creative Suite Bundles
- Timeline based animations
- Hand animated assets
- Standard Animation
- Self Created Vector Assets
- Highly customized interfaces
- Animation / Design leaning IDE
- Familiar environment, as it is the standard way to deploy SWFs
- Not meant for AS3 development
- Becomes a basic text editor in most Object Oriented development exercises
- Timeline approach means maintenance is more expensive long term
Basically Flash is the ideal environment for development if you are doing things such as banners, animations, logos, or any other visual type of project. It leans itself towards graphic design and animation.
Flash is found in the Adobe Creative Suite 4 Web Premium
Flex is the newcomer to the vector animation IDE’s from Adobe. Flex is primarily targeted at developers working in the Flash environment. Flex 3 Builder is a modified Eclipse IDE. The Flex platform was built to enable developers to adapt better to Flash, and be able to create Flash O-O applications.
- Developer friendly IDE
- Built in components for standard GUI elements
- Meant for highly interactive applications
- Performance tools
- Maintaining code
- Can leverage SWFs
- Can leverage AS3 code
- No Timeline
- Not for designers
- May seem “cryptic” to traditional Flash developers
- Not visual
- Requires learning new MXML code
- Complex working environment
Flex is meant for application development. The IDE lets developers work in a familiar environment, separate from the graphical tools designers are traditionally used to. Flex will give developers the tools they need to rapidly prototype application interfaces, with standardized tools and interface elements.
So which one should I choose?
Ultimately both Flash and Flex compile into the Flash SWF format. That means they are both capable of the same functionality and same graphical quality. The major difference is in the individual building the SWF, as well as the goal of the SWF. If your goal is for a design oriented SWF, then go with Flash. If you want an application, or a complex interactive interface then Flex will most likely be your tool of choise.
Lets all be honest here, Apple’s been holding control of the iPhone in too close. We all have wanted GPS navigtion (real gps navigation), VOIP applications, alternative email applications, alternative podcasting apps, better browsing experience, and an overall better experience.
Until now, Apple had the final say on all of those things. Preventing applications that competed with the iPhone’s core functionality, relenting to implement common technologies such as VOIP applications, Flash in Safari, and other nice to have’s.
With the Android platform out there, we can all bet it will soon have both Flash and Silverlight running. It’s just a matter of time.
Apple can’t afford to be so stringent, with a fairly capable competitor doing things that will gain it significant market share.
I love my iPhone, but if the Android gets flash and Silverlight (not that I’m a fan of Silverlight, but at least it’s something) — I’d probably give Apple a week or 2 to make an announcement, then go right out and get one. Not only that, I’d happily leave AT&T for another provider.
We all hope Apple sees this, and starts helping us out.
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