On Flash Lite 3, Heavy expectations

The average Flash platform developer is mystified by what Flash can (or cannot) do in the mobile space. There are very few coders in the community that can speak to it, and speak to it well. Flash Lite 2.x came so abruptly, and is being trumped by its successor so quickly, that there have been few ground-breaking apps to show developers what Adobe’s mobile platform entry can really do.

When you compare the enthusiasm and activity against other Adobe juggernauts like Flex 2 and AIR (formerly Apollo), it’s hard to explain the absence of leadership for Flash Lite. Those in the space that do post often, are usually informing us of their most recent trip to Asia, or showcasing for us the latest Flash-lite capable device they’ve found in a cereal box. Seriously, there seems to be more constructive commentary on Flash Lite 3 from uber-gadget sites like Engadget than http://www.flashdevices.net/, the self-proclaimed “flash development resource for mobile devices”. I’m not saying that sites like these aren’t good, but they fall short of the frequency and depth of coverage found in many Flex 2 and AIR coverage sites.

My expectations for Flash Lite are soaring, but I need help from you mobile enthusiasts and evangelists to get really excited. Here’s what I’m looking for:

1. SITES: A one-stop-shop that lists each and every device that ships and/or can support the Flash Lite platform. Don’t be shy about having a section that tells me about future devices coming out, and when those devices will be available. Please don’t ‘occasionally’ do a blog post just showing me photos of an array of devices I can’t recognize. A master list, showing the device, model name/number, carrier and availability date, updated even weekly, would be perfect.

2. VIDEOS: Follow the lead of video.onflex.org and show me compelling Flash Lite apps and how they work. Profile those cutting edge developers who love to show off their work and their code.

3. BOOKS: There is one book on Flash Lite. I own it. It is pretty cool. But it reminds me of another Macromedia/Adobe platform that only had one book covering it, and that was the now-notorious Flex 1.5. Publishers, I’m sure, are more than willing to fund and publish some Flash Lite books, and I know there must be a handful of authors looking to write well on the subject. Although there is a sufficient amount of documentation on Flash Lite (there was, I believe, for 2.x), nothing says ‘really learn me over the weekend while sitting by the pool’ like a nice book on the subject.

4. more SCOTT JANOUSEKs: Has there been a more single throttling force for Flash mobile (outside or inside Adobe)? Can he be cloned and put through whatever superhero evangelist training program that folks the likes of Mike Downey or Ted Patrick go through? Got to mention Mario and Alessandro here too, for their decent and frequent postings and presence in the field.

So, I don’t think I’m asking or expecting too much. Flash Lite 3 (according to the now ancient February 2007 press release) is expected first half of this year. There is still time to get this going right and I promise you, Adobe, if you provide and nurture resources for the platform as I’ve suggested above, you’ll have a quite the significant following.

Personally, I worked a lot with Flash 2.x and I am very excited about FL3. Like so many developers though, I am super busy with Flex 2 and AIR-related projects. It really will take more than just a cool and novel factor this time to draw me into the Flash mobile world, again.


10 Comments

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  1. Bill Perry 21. Jun, 2007 at 10:08 am #

    Hi Chuck,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, good to hear your honesty regarding the FL community and the things you’d like to see. We are in the process of updating our mobile and devices developer center to provide more specific details for developers that they can use today for real world development. And yes I have to admit that I haven’t been posting as many FL/mobile Flash related posts on my site but will start making more relevant posts this week. Their are others in the community like Scott and Alessandro to name a few who are doing an excellent job of supporting our community and discussing the apps other developers are creating as well as new devices. If you have any additional feedback please contact me directly b perry at adobe dot com.

    best,
    Bill

  2. Marco Casario 21. Jun, 2007 at 10:59 am #

    My bigger fear is that Adobe could make the same mistake done by Sun with J2ME … I mean “fragmentation”.

    Because the problem with Flash Lite 3 could be : we have some devices with Flash Lite 1.1 embedded, other with Flash Lite 2.0 / 2.1 and some devices with Flash Lite 3.

    Hope not to see this happens.

    I’m preparing a post with further thoughts about that !

    PS: My name is Marco ;))

  3. Scott Janousek 21. Jun, 2007 at 2:15 pm #

    1. SITES:

    Good point. The available devices currently up on Adobe as of 6/21/2007 is quite outdated and not frequently updated.

    Would be nice if they could bump the priority on maintaining this list … but perhaps a smarter idea would be to update the next version of ADC to actually display “expected devices” …

    Another cool feature would to give some stats of devices in terms of regions sold, how many people have the device. This would be useful to developers to gauge what platforms to target.

    I would, however, say this feature we will probably not see anytime soon … due to the relationships Adobe has with ODM’s (Original Device Manufacturers).

    Perhaps ADC could support 3rd party plugins at a future date? Perhaps the XML schema behind ADC could be standardized and utilized by others in the mobile space?

    >. A master list, showing the device, model name/number, >carrier and availability date, updated even weekly, would be >perfect.

    Some of what you mention here *is* already in Adobe Device Central, just not “real-time” as you want. Take a look at ADC.

    Again, it would be a useful feature to perhaps add in “expected” devices. Have them grayed out, perhaps? Something to think about for Adobe …

    On this same thought, perhaps Adobe could have a tool that takes the profile XML schema and dumps out to HTML format. Then it would just be a matter of having someone update the ADC list during cert process and then post to web.

    … I’m under the impression right now it’s a manual process which is probably why it doesn’t get updated frequently as one would like.

    2. VIDEOS:

    Good idea. Actually, we do have some videos scattered around (youtube, etc) but it would be nice to have in one central place.

    I have some ideas in the works, but really it comes down to my time investment and the return to community.

    3. BOOKS AND TUTORIALS

    All I can say here is expect more on this front. 🙂

    Yes, speaking of which the site is: http://www.flashmobilebook.com in case people want to take a peek.

    Also, people may not be aware … but there are two Flash Lite books out in Japan. I have both.

    Although I can’t comment on the actual text or content, I can say they are pretty cool in regards to visuals and the examples in terms of Flash Lite on Keitai.

    … there are also some other books on market which have partial chapters on Flash Lite.

    One that comes to mind is Pasi’s book in Finland.

    4. It’s flattering to be mentioned among the likes of Mike Downey and Ted, but honestly they are much better at evangelising.

    To your other point, yes, it would be nice to be able to clone oneself … although, I don’t think I would get along with myselves very well!

    The movie, “Being John Malcovich” comes to mind first and foremost … Bobba Fett comes to mind secondly (picture: army of Flash Lite storm troopers?).

    Yes, thanks to Marco and Alessandro, as well as MANY OTHERS in the community posting!

    It’s a bigger time commitment that many care to realize. Having our Flash Mobile Groups is a better way to consolidate our efforts, IMHO.

    To Marco’s point:

    Fragmentation in mobile space (handsets in particular) is a like a bad rash … it probably won’t go away any time soon.

    Flash Lite reduces the problem, but the notion of WORA is really a “Holy Grail” at this point in time. What do I mean?

    Everyone is looking endlessly for an end-all-be-all solution … Flash Lite perhaps offers the best one at the present moment. But this is only my opinion.

    In regards to limiting this problem … this is why I think OTA delivery of the Flash Lite player is just plain awesome (wish others would follow suit here).

    For example, the BREW and Chumby platforms (both offer Flash Lite install OTA/Over-the-air) defininately have a leg up in this regard (limiting player version frag).

    Another way to address, (although not particuarly ideal) is to deploy your apps to lowest common denominator in terms of penetration rate with version … and target device sets. Many in the community are already doing this.

    Anyways, I could chat on and on, but I’ll wrap up here and save the rest for community blog posts.

    (NOTE: Apologize for any spelling/grammer mistakes, this really should have been a blog post)

  4. Nick Gerig 21. Jun, 2007 at 5:07 pm #

    Its really quite straightforward why you don’t get the same level of coverage as with flex, etc.

    Adobe don’t spend ANY money on supporting early Flash Lite adopters. Compare that with the flex budget.

    Flash Lite is not just a player its a whole new publishing sphere / market. Compare this with Flex which is another way of building applications to publish to the same old market/environment (personal computers). FL requires a lot more learning investment.

    There is still no market to justify cutting edge FL content, and there won’t be until brands step onboard (long way off). Adobe should be setting the standards by funding cutting edge PUBLIC projects.

    At the moment the public image of FL is tainted by poor content on Handango and the FL exchange. This is and has been the state of FL for over 2 years now. Its not something worth talking about really 🙂

    Cheers

    Nick

  5. Weyert 21. Jun, 2007 at 7:29 pm #

    Hello! The posters above me already raised some good points. About the videos their is some video portal which had a special Flash Lite channel. Maybe we should bring that channel alive again and post videos there.

    http://www.vuponline.com/litechannel

  6. Alessandro 22. Jun, 2007 at 9:07 am #

    Ciao,

    very interesting post.
    Just couple of comments.
    The mobile environment is much more complicated then the web, developers need to understand that and it’s not an easy path.
    One example is that everyone that I speak are looking at FL2.x and 3 for development because is simpler to developer due to the more powerful API. Well, there zero market right now for 2.x. Instead there is a potential market for 1.1. There millions of phones that already have the 1.1 player. So this is an issue of understanding the mobile landscape more then technical. When a new runtime comes out, it takes sometime to spread compare to the web environment.

    I see already mobile companies that are looking at adding FL in their technology portfolio. For them it’s another technology to offer to their clients or develop for.

    One suggestion that I give to independent developers is to create their own FL portfolio and then approach mobile companies and aggreagators.

    In any case I think is a matter of time and not if it will happen.

    Just came back from Singapore, and the reaction to my FL presentation was good. The audience was very technical, Symbian and J2ME developers with not much exposure to FL.

    By the way, would you like to join the User Group? http://www.flashmobilegroup.org

    Alessandro

  7. Alessandro 22. Jun, 2007 at 9:12 am #

    Ciao

    a correction regarding the FL2.x market. Ofcourse the FL2.x environment for BREW on Verizon is there. I see this opportunity to be more accessible to already established mobile companies then independent developers.

    Alessandro

  8. Marco Casario 23. Jun, 2007 at 6:59 am #

    @ Alessandro:

    In my opinion the big problem with the Verizion process of publishing and distributing FL contents is that at the end of the game, developers won’t see a lot of money.

    The US market is not near to me, but it seams like the Verizon’s deal is a good deal for Adobe and a few big companies that have a string and huge FlashLite basket case (like could be Handango or similar).

    I’d love to see and ahve from Adobe some succes stories about a developers or a company who had success publishing with Verizon.

    I hope to go wrong with my opinion !

  9. imodejon - mobiledesigner 17. Aug, 2007 at 12:37 am #

    FL3 was supposed to be released already. Promises, promises. I was very disappointed that FL 2 was released way later than the states. The phones here in Japan are so advanced yet we lag the adobe’s help. What happened to the community!?
    Well, it seems that DoCoMo skipped on FL2 and is waiting for something more promising……
    There are many FL developers in Japan than what people know. We need the FL3 here and fast. Our customers are getting bored of clocks and calendars with FL 1.1.
    There needs to be a better community here in Japan.
    Dont forget us!

  10. Sandor Spruit 06. Sep, 2007 at 4:52 am #

    One obvious comment missing: we have Flex 2+ going open-source and targeting Flash 9. With FL3 supposedly being Flash 9 mobile, it will give you a complete platform for both web AND mobile that can be addressed equally well by programmers AND graphics people. I think that’s a first and a big opportunity.