How Adobe started winning developers

Scoble talked a bit about how Adobe has been able to win so many developers. The key is Flex, a better Flash Player, and some hard work by Adobe's evangelists.

FlexThere's a post over on Scoble's blog that takes on the topic of developers and how Microsoft is hemmoraging them while Adobe seems to be gaining them. It really has been astounding to watch this company known for it's "uppity designers" (kidding!) take the developer world by almost total surprise. And I think there are a few key factors that made it happen:

  • Flex opened up the world of Flash in a way that developers could understand. This can't be underestimated. Before Flex it was timelines and movieclips, which might as well have been Jupiter to a developer. Flex changed all that and gave developers a way to access the Flash Platform
  • But Flash wasn't ready when Flex first came around. The tipping point was Flash Player 9 which gave developers a huge performance boost so they could actually deploy applications.
  • Ted Patrick. The Flex Evangelist team has done a fantastic job of getting the word out and haivng a guy like Christophe come up here to talk to developers is fantastic. But Ted stands out becuase he's a developer at heart and he knows how developers think. He's passionate about the product and he throws everything he has into promoting it. His events and ideas have generated a lot of buzz and a lot of goodwill in developer circles.

Microsoft isn't standing still. WPF is a good product, but as Scoble notes, more developers are moving to Mac and the lack of support (bot for the platform and any IDE) is killing Microsoft. Adobe's flexibility by comparison has made an easy choice for a number of developers. However Microsoft has made some great strides with their Expression Studio. For a 1.0 product with the tumultous birth it's had, I think it's a fantastic set of tools. Will it convert Adobe designers? Maybe not, but it gives Windows developrs a good option and keeps them looking at the platform. It also puts some pressure on Adobe to keep innovating.

I'm holding out hope for WPF/E. They've shown it works, and if they can embed some of the CLR in it, they'll have a platform to grow on. Microsoft may have to do it with teeth gnashing, but the people I've talked to inside the company are welcoming the challenge.