Monday, November 14, 2011

Making Sense of the Madness (Adobe)

So, I'm trying to write a quick and non FUD post about the recent Adobe news on Flex and Flash. I'm going to say a few things here, and everyone knows I'm an Adobe fanboy, but this stuff hit pretty hard and Adobe is not taking steps behind the scenes to clear up the confusion so the rumor mill is flying. Many peers and friends are now stuck in the lurch trying to figure out what is happening to their careers and the platform they spent years building. Primarily, what do we tell our clients that we worked hard selling these technologies as recently as last week. Here is what Adobe needs to address:
  1. Adobe did a terrible job working with and through the community that serves them well. They have abandoned the roadmap and have made us look inept. This needs to be addressed. A new roadmap needs to be released ASAP. Let everyone know you have a plan for the next few years and GET THE COMMUNITY BEHIND IT.
  2. Adobe needs to address our concerns with HTML5. They abandoned a great technology (Flex) for a technology that doesn't even have a spec defined yet. They may not have abandoned Flex at all, but man are they doing a shitty job saying that. Just let us know the plan for transition and what timeframe it happens in.
  3. What is happening with ColdFusion? We need to hear that the budget and plan has not been changed. SHOW THE ROADMAP!
  4. What's going on with AIR and mobile? Flex was the 'go to' for us to build cross platform apps. HTML5 makes great web sites. How about native apps. Don't tell me I HAVE to use PhoneGap. My hope is that I will still be using ActionScript to write AIR apps, but who knows! Adobe needs to let us know.
Mainly, Adobe needs to stand up and work on some succinct messaging and we need to see the 1, 2, and 5 year plans. Adobe can do whatever they want. That's fine, they need to do what they need to do to make $$. What is unacceptable is the poor messaging, divergence from their community focus and lack of response to the current mess they have made with their poor release of information. Hopefully when the dust settles, we will see this:
  1. Spoon takes care of Flex, and it doesn't turn into the mess that was the CFML Advisory Board debacle.
  2. Clients embrace Flex post Adobe, just like they embrace jQuery, Drupal and other OSS projects.
  3. Adobe continues to support AIR mobile apps written in ActionScript.
  4. Adobe continues to support Flash Builder with Flex, or opensources what exists.
  5. ColdFusion doesn't disappear into the darkness next week ;)
  6. LiveCycle goes through a 4th retooling and minimizes it reach and focus to core concepts. Adobe also retools the pricing structure to reflect this change.
  7. DRM and DAM becomes a focus with easy tools (outside of LiveCycle) that allow us to work them right into our production workflow.


  1. Nice post Nic,

    In the past, Adobe marketing folks (rightfully so) have had a very tight control over what gets released to the public about future product plans.

    In my opinion, now it's time to take the risks involved in disclosure and be a bit more transparent in the weeks to follow to assure the development community, users and their clients that they have a road map. If certain things cannot be made public, leverage the ACP program (since we are all under NDA) to help assure the community.

    Off course, all of this is dependent on whether that road map is solid, reliable and allows a smooth adoption plan instead of abruptly causing disruption and fear. The partnership between Adobe and its clients has to be a commitment from both sides. Not everything will be agreed on. The new direction may be the correct one, and I understand that at the end of the day the real clients are the shareholders. But shares are valued based on the community that uses and implements Adobe's products and can walk into a client/stakeholder's meeting with faith that they are pitching a reliable and well supported development platform now and in the near future.

  2. I was wondering how Adobe differs from other companies in this regard. Does Apple, Microsoft, IBM, etc. have roadmaps on future releases and technology? Which way works best?

  3. Not sure. I've seen roadmaps come out of Apple and Microsoft in the past. I know Apple has an internal roadmap for products for like the next 6 years. Personally, I don't care. With Adobe, who I am tied to, they switched direction too quickly for a large company, or just really got their messaging fubared. I have clients that need to hear what the plan is right now. That's all I care about. Adobe is burning bridges for me by not coming out with the 'plan' publicly.

  4. I would be happy to just know what the ACF + Java 7 plans are.