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Shashank Tiwari

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Flex or Flash?

The recent re-emphasis by Adobe on the “Flash” brand is scary!

The world of web development involves two types of people — developers and designers. Each of these sets is distinct from the other. Very rarely are there people who truly have both the traits.

Traditionally, designers used the Flash platform to build fancy and high quality animations, interactive advertisements, vector graphics and video displays. Then came Flex. Flex was a new face of Flash that appealed to a developer. Flex had a strong clear message that overpowered the developer’s fear in the “timeline” driven idiom. To some, it was and still is, metaforically speaking, Flash forked — new brand, new declarative XML based syntax and an object oriented language (AS3) under it all, leading to a distinct new identity from the designer’s favorite timeline of animations and video. For a Flex developer, Flash was relegated to a run-time and given the status of a platform, like most other virtual machines enjoy. Flex developers realized soon after they built their first couple of applications that Flex was Flash under the hood. They knew that they had to learn bits of the player idiosyncrasies to build real world applications and they also realized that after all Flash was always a great choice for rich applications, its just that they had never bothered to dig into it! In all, though, they were and are happy “Flex developers”.

Now things are changing or are they?

Flash and Flex

Flash and Flex

To take our conversation forward from here, let’s deviate at this point. Let’s not talk about Flex or Flash anymore but instead talk about a somewhat analogous situation. In doing so we may still discuss what we set out to do.

There was once a great burger place that had some of the finest meat between its bread slices. However, the steak eaters never cared for this place. Then the owners realized the potential of attracting steak eaters and so setup a new outlet right next door. Called this new place a steak house, setup the right interiors, stacked up a rack of wine to go with the steak and got their servers to wear cowboy hats. It got a good name among steak eaters. After all, the meat was good remember! The kitchen was shared by these two outlets, the burger joint and the steak house. Most didn’t realize it though, specially when walking into this new steak place. If they did find out after eating a couple of times at this new outlet, they weren’t that affected. They were already bought in.

Therefore, both the burger joint and the steak house flourished till now, attracting people from both these worlds and the few who belonged to both.

Recently, though the onwers of these outlets have decided to break the wall that separates the two and extend the front facade and the board to cover both places. They have decided to go with their good old brand of a burger joint.

Wondering what the steak eaters are now going to do? Are they going to be unaffected? Does the company not want them anymore? Will the steak eaters’ friends walk in when they land at this address of the steak house but find a burger joint board welcoming them? Somebody explain! Its scary!

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More Stories By Shashank Tiwari

I am a technology entrepreneur, innovator, author and, as some say, a “thought leader”. I like to solve challenging computing problems, especially those that drive innovation. Being a polyglot programmer, I can program fluently in many languages, including Java, Python, C++, C, Ruby, ActionScript, JavaScript, Objective-C, Haskell, Scala, Clojure, PHP, Groovy, Lisp and Perl. I must admit that I like to learn programming languages and if there is a new interesting one coming, I wouldn’t be far behind getting to grips with it. Over the last many years I have built some cutting edge enterprise and consumer software applications, many of which have leveraged large data sets and the web based programming paradigms. This means I also know a lot about data bases and persistence. I am very conversant with relational databases, embedded databases, object databases, text based data and XML. Having leveraged web based programming paradigms, I have first hand experience with a lot of web development frameworks, including but not limited to Adobe Flex, Spring MVC, Rails, Grails and Django. Not to forget, I obviously have worked a lot with HTML, JS and CSS. My experience and interest are varied and diverse and range a wide spectrum of application development realms that include the server, the client and the middleware. Besides, programming, I am also deeply interested in mathematics and theoretical computer science. This motivates me to bring my knowledge of applied mathematics, statistical modeling, artificial intelligence and sometimes simply data structures, to good use, when I build applications. A couple of domains like financial mathematics and scientific computing seem to have been good fit for such expertise. I am an ardent supporter of open source software and try and contribute to open source code bases and causes. I like the plurality and variety that software development offers; the choice of programming languages, the abundant availability of tools and libraries, the existence of multiple operating systems and the possibility of varied software development methodologies. As a member of the technology community, I am an active contributor to the ever evolving software development languages, methodologies and standards. I am an expert group member on a number of JCP (Java Community Process) specifications, for example JSRs 274, 283, 299, 301 & 312, and have been recognized as an Adobe Flex Champion.I run and organize a few community events like Flex Camp Wall Street, Show Ramp and Polyglot World. I bring together all my expertise in terms of services and products via my primary venture, Treasury of Ideas LLC, in which I play the role of a Managing Partner. Treasury of Ideas LLC, through its focus on innovation and value optimization, offers many best of the breed services and products and has incubated many ideas to help translate them to reality. Our clients range from large enterprises, government agencies, not-for-profit organizations to promising new startups. I write regularly in many technical journals and magazines, present in seminars and mentor developers and architects. I have authored a few books, including Advanced Flex 3 (friends of Ed/APress, 2008) and Professional BlazeDS (Wrox/Wiley, 2009) , and am in the process of authoring a few more. You can learn all about my books and public talks by browsing through the Publish & Present page at www.shanky.org.