Sunday, May 06, 2007

Silverlight reveals Adobe developers insecurity

For the last fortnight the Adobe developer community has been very busy blogging and commenting on Microsoft's announcements around Silverlight. Some of this traffic has been intelligent, balanced and considered (Grant Skinner, Dave Wolf) but unfortunately most of it hasn't. Of particular note is Michael Arrington's review post Mix and the bizarre range of comments it attracted (apologies to the small group of considered commentors). What interests me here isn't Silverlight vs Flash (though that's obviously of interest to anyone involved with RIA development) but rather what the responses within the Adobe developer community reveal about that community. Considering the market penetration of the Flash player it is surprising to realise just how insecure Flash developers are. Of course, Microsoft is the market behemoth and once they have you within their sights then you should worry. But Microsoft doesn't have Flash developers in their sights. They have Adobe and Flash within their sights. Sure if Microsoft has their way we will all need to go and learn a new technology. But surely we weren't attracted to web development because of it's stability.

I can only speak for myself and certainly part of the attraction of Flash for me was that it offered the fastest path to an exciting arena without all the fuss and bother of getting a degree in Computer Science. So I do harbour some insecurities about my qualifications. But at the same time I know that one of my strengths is that I understand and appreciate the importance of design within RIA development (without harbouring any delusions about my skills as a designer) while also understanding the IT side of the equation. My experience suggests that there aren't many developers emerging from CompSci with a balanced development perspective. Obviously this doesn't fully explain the scale of the Flash communities insecurities and I'm also sure there are plenty of exceptions to my generalisation (I'm keen to hear any other theories people have). But what is beyond question is that the Silverlight announcement has served to highlight the insecurities of the Flash community ( insercurities that aren't evident in Adobe's own development strategies) and that we as a community need to take a close look at what this reveals about us.

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