Flash is gone, what now?

Flash is gone, what now?

Matan Uberstein 27.07.2017 5 MINS

Adobe has finally announced the end of the Flash Player in 2020. This has been a long time coming after Mr Jobs declared that Flash shall not run iOS. As painful as it was at the time, it was the right thing to do. Flash is not suited to run on mobile browsers. It’s better suited packaged up with AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) as standalone app. The tooling and build pipeline is very accessible to newcomers and AIR still offers an attractive solution to mobile games. Adobe has committed themselves to continue down this avenue by giving a sneak peak into their AIR roadmap. That said, AIR isn’t what I want to talk about.

Back in 2013 I decided to steer KI’s browser based applications and games into “plugin-less” solutions, which basically means no Flash Player. I spent a few weeks trying out various solutions (CreateJS, TypeScript, CoffeeScript, Haxe, etc). I had a few goals in mind, but the big ones were: Try to avoid large pure JS code bases and ease the conversion of old AS3 code into the new platform code.

After many discussions, tests and samples we decided to go with Haxe + OpenFL. After the entire internet’s “FLASH IS DEAD” phase, I realized something; pinning your career and business value on proprietary technology isn’t always the smartest thing to do. Especially in today’s ever evolving landscape.

This is where Haxe comes in, Haxe is a programming language that compiles to other languages / platforms. This adds a very nice layer of abstraction from the target platform. For example, a game written in AS3 can only be compiled and used on Adobe’s platforms whereas the same game written in Haxe can be compiled to JS (for plugin-less browser use) or C++ or any of the 11 languages Haxe supports.

It gets better, OpenFL adds yet another layer of abstraction between your Haxe code and target platform. It provides a unified API that mimics the Flash API. Simply put, if I put an image on screen, I’ll get the same result on all 8 OpenFL supported platforms. This includes, HTML5, Flash, iOS, Android, Windows, Mac and Linux.

It’s easy to see the value in this approach. When (not if) tomorrow’s technology / platform comes around, our code bases will be ready. In fact, we embrace it, looking at you Web Assembly.

We’ve had great success with our Haxe based projects (PJ MasksPeppa PigBen & Holly to name a few) and haven’t looked back since.

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