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Paul Burnett on Flash, development and the future of mobile

Paul Burnett on Flash, development and the future of mobile
Paul Burnett, Adobe developer solutions and platforms evangelist, was in town for Flash Camp last week.

Paul BurnettPaul Burnett, Adobe developer solutions and platforms evangelist, was in town for Flash Camp last week.

Does HTML5 herald the end of Flash?

Flash player for browsers is the most downloaded piece of software ever by a long way. It’s on more machines than any other piece of software … It’s far from dead. It’s actually becoming more and more popular.

The press has almost set Adobe up to be ‘we’re Flash, and on the other side is HTML5’. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We have probably the most popular tool out there for developing HTML, which is Dreamweaver. Flash and HTML have lived together now for 13 years alongside each other and Flash has always been the thing that gives you more than you can get in a browser.

What does it mean, then?

One of the beauties of HTML5 and CSS3 is you can start to optimise your websites for not just the desktop but for tablets as well. More people are accessing content on the web from applications rather than the web browser. This is huge. I am seeing more excitement out there in the industry than I have since the dotcom days, god forbid.

With this proliferation of platforms, does it make more sense to focus on web apps rather than native apps?

There are very strict rules on the iTunes store. Probably the harshest of those rules, which scares a lot of big companies, is that the rules can be changed at any time. And they have done that a number of times, changing rules about in-app purchases, the cost of applications that you can charge, and that scares a lot of people who are spending a lot of money to publish their apps. So I think people are definitely starting to see web apps as a definite alternative where they’re not tied into the structure that’s forced upon them.

Where do you see the market going?

The next five years are really going to be focused around devices, whether it’s phones or tablets. I think you’ll start to see disparate platforms, technologies, formats as things rush ahead.

For designers and developers there are two views. On one side they’re saying ‘this is really exciting’. They’ve never been this busy because these mobile devices are really changing their work and they’ve never been so flooded with work. On the other hand they’re scared. Nothing a designer or developer in this space is doing today is the same as what they were doing two years ago.

So on one hand they’re excited, on the other hand they’re terrified. I’ve talked to designers and developers who are spending anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of their time just doing R&D just to keep up. These things are really changing the way people are living and working.