Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Flash/Flex Update Develops Apps for Multiple Platforms

Adobe Systems has delivered an update to its Adobe Flash Builder/Flex app-development software. It means developers will be able to use a single platform to build mobile Relevant Products/Services offerings for Android, iOS and BlackBerry mobile devices. The integrated development environment can serve as a stand-alone tool or function as part of Adobe's Creative Suite 5.5 offering, Adobe said Monday.

What's truly revolutionary about the Flash Builder/Flex 4.5 release is that developers will only need to assemble a single code base to deploy their apps Relevant Products/Services to multiple platforms.

"To create an app natively for one platform would have taken at least three times the amount of time -- and then we would have had to start from scratch all over again for a native app on the next platform," said HD Interactive President Sean Carey. "It's unbelievable the amount of time we save using Flash Builder 4.5 to build and deploy our apps."

Leveling the Playing Field

According to Vision Mobile's latest survey of 850 developers worldwide, Apple's iOS ranked third (27 percent) behind Google Relevant Products/Services's Android OS (35 percent) and Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 (32 percent). However, Adobe's Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 framework could end up leveling the playing field.

It would be ironic if Adobe's new developer tools boost the number of offerings in Apple's App Store in light of Apple CEO Steve Jobs' heavy criticism of Adobe Flash. Flash Builder/Flex 4.5 also could give Research In Motion's BlackBerry platform a boost, since developers will be able to assemble apps for Android and iOS devices as well as RIM's PlayBook in one swipe.

"As RIM transitions to the QNX environment with its future superphones, these tools will be available to build multi-platform apps targeting these three major platforms," said Al Hilwa, director of applications development software at IDC.

With Flash Builder/Flex 4.5, it will also be possible for developers to distribute their multi-platform apps quickly through the Android Market, Apple's App Store, and the BlackBerry App World. In the long run, this could have a leveling effect on the number of offerings posted at the top three mobile-app stores.

The Right Strategy

It remains to be seen how this sea change might affect Microsoft's Windows Phone Marketplace. For now it looks like developers will need to make a dedicated effort to build apps for Windows Phone 7 devices, since Adobe's Flash Builder/Flex 4.5 update doesn't support Microsoft's mobile platform.

"I expect that the partnership in place with Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft around Flash will ultimately mean that their new mobile platforms will also be supported by the Adobe tools," Hilwa said.

Last week Adobe announced the availability of a new AIR 2.7 software development kit and AIR 2.7 runtimes, which include new features for both desktop Relevant Products/Services and mobile apps and cut the time for debugging and building iOS applications. "Now developers can use the integrated IDE to compile iOS, Android and BlackBerry PlayBook apps," Hilwa said.

All of Adobe's latest offerings demonstrate just how persistent it is when it comes to continuing to improve Flash and AIR for mobile platforms, Hilwa noted.

"Adobe is leveraging its Flash developer ecosystem to seize on the opportunity for multi-platform mobile-development tools," Hilwa explained. "This is the right strategy for them, given the strength of their tools."

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