Adobe Releases Flex 2 and No One Notices

Adobe Releases Flex 2 and No One Notices

Summary: Adobe released Flex 2 this morning at 12:01 and while the Adobe Blogsphere was buzzing about the release, the general consensus from the tech community at large was a collective yawn. The press release went out, but no one seems interested in talking about it outside of the Adobe zone.

flex_logo_1.jpgAdobe released Flex 2 this morning at 12:01 and while the Adobe Blogsphere was buzzing about the release, the general consensus from the tech community at large was a collective yawn. The press release went out, but no one seems interested in talking about it outside of the Adobe zone.  Even investors seem unimpressed. Edit: There is some coverage on TechCrunch, and its even hit Techmeme, although the coverage doesn't compare to the usual product releases.

What does it mean? It means that Adobe has a lot of work to do and also that people haven't fully bought into the idea of Rich Internet Applications yet. If you've been browsing sites like TechCrunch or Ajaxian you will probably have seen Adobe's "Flex 2 - Beyond Ajax" ads which are about as clear as the water in the Delaware River. But just like the Delaware, if you look around enough, you're bound to find something interesting. The Flex 2 release includes a brand new Flash Player, version 9. The new version is almost a total rewrite of the ubiquitous Flash Player and includes some significant changes. It was rebuilt to be faster, more powerful, and in the case of ActionScript 3, ECMA script compliant.

The silence also signals that the market isn't quite sure what to make of RIAs. Adobe is still a software company, and what really makes the numbers are the sales of Creative Suite and Studio MX. Despite that, there is a lot of internal pressure within Adobe to make Flex 2 a success. They are heavily promoting it within their current (limited) developer community though the response has been lukewarm in most cases. As arguably the pioneers of RIAs, Adobe/Macromedia has done a bad job of promoting their technologies. They need to do a much better job of showing people why RIAs are better than the web applications now. That's something I will try to do here on ZDNet, but if Adobe wants to make money on Flex 2 (and they do), they need to increase their marketing efforts. "Beyond Ajax" isn't going to cut it, and heavy promotion within their current, small developer base isn't going to either.

It's unfortunate that there aren't more people talking about RIA solutions such as Flex 2, OpenLaszlo and WPF. Part of that is because up to now, only OpenLaszlo was available as a product. Now that Flex 2 is out, and WPF following soon, we'll start to see more interest. Currently, the people who are most likely to adopt these technologies are using Ajax, and it's working for most of what they need to do. That will change as applications become more advanced. People will turn to these RIA solutions, but it's going to take some nudging from both Adobe and Microsoft to get them there. In the end, I think we'll look at this release and think about the month of March - in with a lamb, out with a lion. There are finally commercial products to support building of Rich Internet Applications, now we need to foster a conversation within businesss and tech circles about the benefits of RIAs over traditional web applications. Much easier said than done.

Topic: Software Development

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  • Adobe's developer support sucks

    I coudn't agree more. Flex risks being the Betamax of RIA space. It's funny, Macromedia constantly congratulate themselves on their fabulous "community" orientation and often criticize Microsoft for their "arrogant" attitude. In reality Microsoft pump out podcasts for developers like there's no tomorrow and organize kick-ass developer conferences like PDC and TechEd. Meanwhile the last Macromedia (or Adobe) Developer Relations podcast was over a year ago and, if the podcasts are a representation of the quality of the conference, FlashForward is a conference I won't be attending.
    • Try MAX this time around

      Although Macromedia may have been a sponsor of FlashForward, I believe it is an independently run conference. Adobe's official developers' conference is MAX -- coming up in late October. I've been to the last 4 MAX conferences and have found them all to be very worthwhile.
      • Definitely try MAX

        I've been to the last two MAX events, and they were magnificent. As far as developer support is concerned - I can't compare it to MS, because I just don't know what they offer, but MM/Adobe support from the actual developers themselves is magnificent. They are constantly giving support to the community - mostly in the form of free code and Breeze webcasts. If you have a particular question, you can just email the lead developers of the actual products - and they usually get back to you quickly.
  • Not all bad

    Despite some criticisms regarding marketing to the broader
    development community, Adobe has done a stand-up job filling
    out its own website for today, especially the Developer Center.
    There's articles in there that I've never seen before and some real
    gems from Ben Forta for us CFML guys.
    • evidently, you've never used MSDN

      ...because if you had-- you'd find Adobe's community to be second rate.

      Next to Java's or .Net's communities, Adobe is lacking greatly.
  • Herman Miller

    All this reminds me of the true story of the Herman Miller Aeron chair. Currently, it's considered the "lexus" of office chairs (of course, I'm a mere cubicle dweller, so I do with a cheap lumbar support!). When it was rolled out to a test audience, it was panned. People HATED it. It nearly never made it to production. It felt comfortable, but people hated it, none the less.

    The designer, and everyone involved with it, reasoned that the chair was SO different and revolutionary, that it distracted the user from the positives. They reckoned that in time, the market would come to accept the new design.

    They were right. Sure, there was little fan fare around the Flex release. People like myself, who hope to use flex in some manner know that it will take time for users to accept new RIA designs that come with it. But as they do, people will start to look for solutions, and Flex is one of the few available right now.

    I do agree, that marketing - from the MacroMedia side anyway - was sorely lacking in the past. That hurt when they didn't adequately respond to FUD from their competitors. If they don't get their act together, they will lose the race for RIA supremacy.
  • i don't do flash. (as a user) the recent security violation by flash has

    only deepened my disgust.

    so adobe can take their proprietary plug-in schema and make like a tree.

    so the "news" about flex is trivial at best.

    and any web site that puts all their eggs in the flash basket will never get my business.



  • Lots of people noticed. Except ZDNET, apparently.

    > the general consensus from the tech community at large was a collective yawn.

    Which tech community are we talking about? The AJAXers? The C++, Java & .Net programmers? Not surprised. Ever seen an RIA developed by a Java programmer? Yikes.

    > They are heavily promoting it within their current (limited)
    > developer community though the response has been lukewarm
    > in most cases.

    Are you kidding me? Have you actually LOOKED at the MXNA aggregator in the last day or so? Every blog, every Flash discussion board I know of is talking about Flex.

    And Adobe has done a fabulous job of promoting the news to the community and releasing dozens of new pages on its web site and its Developer Center about Flex. And everyone who's signed up gets a Develoepr Center update email which goes out once per month. So to say that Adobe has not announced this properly is ludicrous. Sure, it could use more advertising dollars in promoting it to the other developer communities, and Macromedia has not done so well in that area in the past, mostly because it did not have the advertising budget anywhere near what MS has. Adobe is working on that situation, and I have every confidence that they will prevail in getting the message out.

    Speaking of vague ads, have you seen the MS ads lately? Could a campaign be so possibly devoid of substance? And you call Adobe's Flex campaign vague? Gimme a break.

    You're right about many people not knowing what to make of Flex. In fact there are a lot of people in the Flash Development community who still don't know what to make of it. But it's not because we're not excited about it, and we don't see the potential of the technology. It's because Flash went from Player 7 to Player 9 in less than six months, and Flex to many of us 'feels like' Flash 10 in comparison. It's because we're speechless with the power and possibility of this thing. The stuff you can do with this new ActionScript 3.0 engine is mind blowing. Never before has so much power been placed in the hands of interactive developers, in any language. Make no doubt about it, Flex is making history. Hell, it's even making Java developers envious! It's only a matter of time before the other dev communities wake up to it. Already there are fortune 500 companies gearing up to spend in the six figures on Flex development. Why just the other month I did some consulting iwth a firm which is doing a total conversion ot its entire e-commerce development and supply base from .Net & ASP to Flex 2.0. And they are not a small solutions provider. More will follow.

    That fact that this author thinks no one is listening just because other dev communities doesn't get it, yet, just shows that he doesn't get it. And that's somehow Adobe's fault. Right. Do your research before you sound foolish.
    • The MXNA Bubble

      Joe, I know the MXNA crowd was excited about Flex 2, and that makes sense. I think the MXNA community is great, but it's also a very small slice of the tech world, and something that seems very big on MXNA doesn't appear on the map most times for the wider tech community.

      Compare this Flex 2 release to a new Google product announcement - the difference is night and day.
      • RE: The MXNA Bubble

        How about InfoWorld Ryan - a little more widespread?
        • It Is

          It is a little more widespread, and I'm sure Adobe did due diligence and sent the press release out to the major news sources.

          It's just that the "indy tech blogs" didn't think it was something that was newsworthy. Whether that is meaningful is up for debate, but this is such a ground breaking product that I thought it was too bad there wasn't more discussion.

          What I want to see is a mix of news sites and tech blogs talking about the new RIA technologies. The more the merrier. Thanks for reading David.