Recently it was announced by Adobe that they would cease further development on their mobile Flash Player, which is used to display animated features of Web sites, and a lot of Web video, ads and rich media applications on the mobile Internet. They determined it would be best to focus on HTML5 as the future for mobile interactive features and animation, and discontinue Flash for mobile. While this is not a bad thing entirely and more an eventual natural transition, the announcement seemed abrupt, leaving many Flash designers, animators and developers scratching their head and asking many question.
To help answer this question, last year in November of 2010, Kevin Hoyt, an Adobe Flash "Evangelist" came to a Chicago Flex (Flash platform development) meeting to talk about Adobe AIR, the new platform that Adobe will be shifting focus on to from Flash. AIR is used for cross-platform and mobile device developing mainly for more robust applications. AIR will be continued to be worked on to bring mobile applications to mobile (Update: it must be clarified that Flash Player, and AIR apps on mobile will continue to exist - it won't vanish from mobile. Flash Player 11.1 with its' technology will still be available for download across Android devices into the future). Though during the November 2010 meeting, Hoyt said that "Adobe is not an enemy of HTML". And his statement a year ago rings true today.
Flash forward to November 2011. Adobe has just recently said (a week ago as a matter of fact) that Flash development will transition to new software and tools as they are now focusing more on HTML5, and Adobe Edge is the beginning of one of them.
Personally, I (Jay Yearley, writer of "Media Tech Connection") see this transition as interesting and exciting. This transition will not happen overnight (or possibly completely ever), though if you are open to branching out from the Flash platform and are able to achieve similar results with Edge, it really seems like a breath of fresh air for learning what is possible with a new technology that is more compatible with more smartphones, tablets and more.
I've been beta testing the first 3 releases of Adobe Edge, since the Day 1 release. While it's still in a primitive, beta state as of this blog writing, I found that it can fairly easily create a banner advertisement in Edge, much in the same way it was in Flash: quickly and easily - after a short learning curve. It's addictive to learn and I've delved completely into it with little hesitation.
For example, take a look at these two banner promotion ads. The first was created in Flash. Click the image to preview the full ad, as it was not able to be embedded here on ChicagoNow.com. It includes some simple animations and with code it has a click and rollover action done with ActionScript 3, the language used with Flash.
The second banner animation here (again click the image for the real interactive banner) is nearly identical in design, was created entirely in Adobe Edge. This banner includes animations based on a similar timeline found in Flash. It also has actions coded right within Edge for rollover and a URL click. (Keep in mind that the slightly slower animation is intentional and the time of the Edge animation is longer - it isn't a loading issue). Look below for a comparison of the animated banner creation process in each.
This entire conversion to the Edge animation (with no Flash) took about one hour. What does this mean? Well, simply that Flash-like animations are not going away simply because Adobe decided to stop development on future mobile Flash Players.
Primarily Chicago creative agencies that use Flash, and Flash designers/developers that have years of skills in the Flash development environment should easily be able to transfer their skills to achieve similar, stunning results that will display across all platforms, and Edge and HTML5 will be able to do it very similarly.
More custom components to make advanced tasks easier are still to come, though HTML5 online video players, and rich media ads via custom components, and specific rich media ad-making components like for Google DoubleClick are already supported in the HTML5 standard.
With a good effort transition already in place with Adobe and their focus on new HTML5 tools, the future of rich media ads looks bright.