By Max Bolen, Blockdot Developer
There’s been so much negative publicity about Adobe Flash in the last few years that it was nearly impossible to pitch Flash or Flex as the development tool for a mobile application, much less build an iOS app with it due to AIR player’s poor rendering performance and tendency to drain the device battery. What a difference a few years makes.
After wrapping up our last iOS app, Sushi Monster, I can comfortably say Adobe has made leaps of progress with their AIR player (the player used for all mobile apps built in Flash & Flex) and has turned these platforms from pretender to contender practically overnight.
So what makes Flash an appealing platform for mobile development? Ease of use is a good place to start, and I’m not just talking about the low barrier to entry. Flash is easy to use because it provides solutions to just about any creative challenge you can throw at it. It handles layout changes, animations, and art integration with ease not seen in many other development environments.
Sometimes these are viewed as “trivial” challenges, but there is no guarantee these updates will be simple; it is entirely dependent on a developer’s skill set and the tools he or she is comfortable with. That’s what makes Flash effective. It can give a developer a jump start because it delivers a suite of tools designed to handle these challenges quickly before a single line of code is written.
Another benefit of Flash is the ability to publish straight to iOS, Android, or the web instantaneously. While publishing to multiple platforms simultaneously is an invaluable feature, the ability to publish a web version simultaneously is another valuable benefit Flash brings.
Getting an app into the hands of your client—before it is published to app stores– is not always an easy process. Having a web version is a great way for an unlimited number of people to get hands-on experience with the app throughout the course of development.
Of course, like any platform, Flash is not without its weaknesses as a mobile app development tool. The biggest weakness in my eyes is not one that a lot of people are going to notice, but it does lead to some user experience issues. When performing quick drawing or dragging motions with the app, there is a bit of input lag. This delay can be reduced by increasing the players frame rate; however, the slight delay is still there.
Max Bolen is a developer in Blockdot’s Dallas, Texas office. Max studies 3D animation at the Art Institute of Dallas.