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Article Written By:
Johann Dowa

What will Flash support for the iPhone really mean for developers?

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You may have heard that Adobe Flash CS5 will include support for the iPhone.   Due to Apple’s restrictions on code interpreters the flash will actually be compiled to native machine code rather than run through an interpreter.  You can read the blog post on Adobe’s website about the addition of iPhone compatibility in Flash CS5 here.

So what does this mean?  Will this change anything?

For those who already develop with Flash his is a very significant development, you can see on the Adobe page linked above how ecstatic some developers are, they seem to feel as though they have found the holy grail.  I have converted Flash projects to the iPhone platform, and it’s a cumbersome task, but creating simple applications visually in the Flash environment is not difficult at all.  There will no doubt be a flood of simplistic 2D games created by graphics artists with little programming knowledge.

For more sophisticated 3D games, which seem to be becoming more and more commonplace in the app store, the addition of Flash is probably not as meaningful even if there is more advanced support for 3D graphics in Flash CS5 as there are already wysiwyg 3D gaming solutions such as Stonetrip and Unity 3D.

For simplistic non-gaming apps Flash may be a solution for some, but I really can’t see it being too significant, while there are numerous Adobe Air apps available, Adobe Air has never really gained significant market share.  Cross-platform compatibility may mean even less as Apple dominates in mobile application sales.

For more sophisticated apps we will need to wait and see what capabilities of the iPhone are accessible, but it looks like Cocoa Touch and Objective-C will remain dominant in that regard.

Overall, I’d say this could be a very significant development for artists and programmers for which Flash is already part of their work flow, dependant on when Flash CS5 is actually released.  For the rest of us developers this doesn’t really mean anything at this stage, but once released I will be using whatever development environment allows me to release the best products as fast as possible.  I had the feeling something would come out like this awhile ago so I went through the excellent Actionscript 3.0 Game Programming University book which was a fun, and easy way to become acquainted with Flash development.


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