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March 13, 2003

Flash Applications

Flash has been evolving for several years from primarily animations to rich applications on the Internet. The MX releases last spring were the latest step in this direction, and there's still more to do. Some of these issues are being discussed in the comments on Jeremy's recent post about Flash apps. We've started by enabling the current community of Flash developers to produce these applications, and there are some great examples starting to appear.

We still have more work ahead in enabling more people to take advantage of Flash Player for applications. The authoring tools still have a timeline in them which is used for animations -- this is great for designers who code (and coders who design), but is not optimal for programmers who prefer to write everything in code to create their user interface. Also, most people host Flash applications in a browser today, but it would be really great if people could run these on their local machines. The engineering teams here are hard at work on these things and more -- you'll see a lot of cool stuff coming out to help bring Flash into its next phase of evolution.

In the meantime, we publish the SWF format (starting back in 1998) so lots of other people can create software and tools for Flash, not just Macromedia. I'm happy to see that there's a lot of software now to do this, and now that Flash is enabling applications we're starting to see third party solutions such as Laszlo, Firefly, Screenweaver, gModeler, and others building on it. While we're certain to overlap in some areas, having a lot of different takes on this will definitely foster innovation and benefit developers and end users as these new Flash applications are created!

13 Mar 03 06:38 PM


Daniel Dura says:

Kevin, I ust say that you have really teased my curiosity by saying that you guys are working on implementing solutions for a more desktop-application level development environment solution for Flash. I believe that the popularity of programs like Screenweaver shows that there is a real need for a solution that allows Flash to be used as a desktop application development environment. The biggest point I would say to consider is to keep anything you do cross-platform compatible. It should be the #1 priority. This is what is going to set Flash apart. Maybe all the real promises of cross-platform compatibility could come true. Think, you could write one application, that runs on a mac, on a pc, on linux, and as a web app. Ahhh....

Posted by: Daniel Dura on 13 Mar 03 08:23 PM

Chafic Kazoun says:

I wonder something. Would Macromedia consider a desktop version that has a larger plug-in size that was better with performance? I do not know the players internals but I can guess that if the player size went up from its current size to several megabytes then certain things can be better optimized. This might be a nice option for desktop apps.

Maybe you have this already on your list :)

Posted by: Chafic Kazoun on 14 Mar 03 06:33 AM

Steven White says:

For those firms and indivduals who have weathered the bad economy and bust, there's plenty of work developing in the application arena. And with database interaction, Flash has made an important leap from the client side (eye candy) to the server side (advanced web developemnt and remoting). I hope it continues to gain some respect in the programming community.

I agree with Daniel....cross-platform compatibility is a huge barrier. Flash is close. It's nice too, to be able to produce on any platform....not just play on any platform.

Keep up the great blog!

Posted by: Steven White on 14 Mar 03 12:30 PM

Marc Canter says:

Right on brother! I guess this is the closet I'll ever get to a reply to my rebuttal on Jeremy's post.

Now that Sara Allen is going to work for Laszlo, and Barry James Folsom has been there awhile - the future is so bright - where did I put those shades?

And also kudos to Al Ramadan for listening to the feedback people gave you over the new site and actually changing it!

Posted by: Marc Canter on 15 Mar 03 12:24 PM

Ahmet Zorlu says:

Can we expect a free ActionScript compiler (a swiff SDK) in the near future? (similar to free .NET SDK or J2SE SDK) Programmers who do not want to use (invest into) an IDE may integrate the compiler to their current coding environment easily and eventually this will raise the status of ActionScript as a web programming language. A complete UI system, time based animation system, games, application can be created with AS only.
Best regards,

Posted by: Ahmet Zorlu on 15 Mar 03 05:05 PM

Kevin Lynch says:

The SWF format is available for people to write tools and compilers. Someone has already developed an ActionScript compiler for Java, though I haven't used it myself:

Posted by: Kevin Lynch on 15 Mar 03 05:17 PM

Ahmet Zorlu says:

I have used developer's edition of Flagstone's TranslateSWF and it does a pretty decent job, unfortunately it supports Flash 5 ActionScript only, this is same for Nick Main's compiler (JavaSWF) and the well-known MING project. I knew that Robin Debreuil was working on an AS compiler written in C#: but the result is yet unknown. The commercial version of JGenerator seems to be support Flash MX Action codes, but I haven't tested the developer's version yet.
I understand that the complexity of writing a state of the art AS compiler (which will generate optimized byte-codes) requires a sustained, collective effort.
Thank you for the reply.

Posted by: Ahmet Zorlu on 15 Mar 03 09:40 PM

Raman says:

Advancement of Flash is great, but for doing math/science intensive web content and desktop apps, the playback speed of Director/Shockwave is in a different ballpark. I really hope that Flash is not trying to replace Director and that Director development continues in the future. New Director apps come along every day, but don't seem to get noticed...

Posted by: Raman on 19 Mar 03 06:22 AM

Normand Desjardins says:

Flash going forward as a web and "play everywhere" tool is a good thing for Flash developers. But Flash as a desktop multimedia development tool is from my Director developer's point of view something I don't want to hear.

With the introduction of Director MX we can clearly feel a strong wind of change from Macromedia Director development schema.

That is : Put the whole team resources on developping new Flash features and then put 2 or 3 programmers updating the Flash Asset Xtra to access these new features from Director. That is disturbing.

3 examples :

1) Videoconferencing... one very important feature missing from Director multimedia feature set for a long time. Now if you want to do that you must have Flash to do it inside Director. Ridiculous.

2) MUS (Multiuser Server) Director had a very promising extension in the MUS. But it is now abandon by Macromedia for the Flash Comm Server that is now accessed through the Flash Asset Xtra. The worst : Flash Comm Server is an Actionscript alternative (not lingo), force you to get Flash for using it. No UDP support, No Peer to Peer. No Director native data type support. (#list, #image, #vector, #point...). Bring it back in please and update it... please.

3) If you want to integrate Coldfusion solution... you must use Flash Remoting through... Flash Asset Xtra! Director MX stands for Director through Flash MX! :)

If Macromedia keeps adding features to Flash to the point it reaches a feature for feature (and even more) with Director, will they raise its price to 2K$ like Direcor? This way new developers could really compare both products and choose the good one for the job.

Also if every new Director features come from Flash, should Flash be included for free when we buy Director?

If Macromedia want us (Director developers) using Flash instead of Director... just make Flash environment as good as the mature Director. Timeline, programming tools, Interface structure... And I might be the first to jump in. But if it is not the real intention... just keep adding new Director native and efficient features to it (like the new object Inspector - The only valued feature of the last release).

We would only like to see the same commitment to Director as Macromedia have for Flash. Coming with plenty of new and innovative ideas with every Director release.

Excuse my bad english. :)

Normand Desjardins

Posted by: Normand Desjardins on 20 Mar 03 12:16 PM

Ahmet Zorlu says:

Just an update,
Kinesis Software released a free Java program (KineticFusion) which can compile SWF files based on an XML grammar (RVML).
It can be found here:

I was able to compile ActionScript only applications, import SVG path definitions and script them with ActionScript, organize assets using RVML tags.

You may find it interesting,

Best regards,

Posted by: Ahmet Zorlu on 20 Jul 03 10:28 PM

Alex says:

Is there anyone who knows how to compile scripts to enable flash to be an application????? It is to allow users to visualise all sorts of graphs.......In maths or engineering formulae.......

Posted by: Alex on 18 Sep 03 01:42 AM

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