Is Flash going the way of the dodo?
March 14, 2011 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Advice to an absolute beginner: Should I try to learn Flash and ActionScript for creating games and rapid prototyping of ideas? Or some other technology? Because of iOS, is Flash going the way of the dodo? If I try to learn Flash, will I be painting myself into a tech corner, so to speak?

Other possibilities are spending time learning Lua (with the Corona SDK), or something wacky like node.js.

Imagine I'm starting from square zero in pre-existing knowledge.
posted by Cool Papa Bell to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Well... Flash may be on the way out eventually, but it's not in a hurry to get there. It's still much more widely deployed than iOS.

The problem with apps is you have to make one for each platform (or just pick one). So you'd have to write one for iOS, Android, etc. With Flash you get basically everything _except_ iOS.

If you know Java, ActionScript3 is Javaish. If you don't, you'll pick up some crossover skills (and note you'd use Java on, say, Android apps).

(note that if you do learn Flash, use ActionScript 3 -- supported by like 98% or more of Flash installs out there and much much better than AS2)
posted by wildcrdj at 9:26 AM on March 14, 2011

After writing that, I suppose the other option is HTML5, but trying to do serious app/game like stuff in HTML5 is going to be much harder than Flash, iOS SDK, Android SDK, or any of the other options. It's like the Wild West still in HTML5 land. The advantage of course is it would likely work on iOS, Android, and modern browsers (IE9, Firefox 4+, Chrome, Safari) --- but much like Java applets a decade ago, the promise of "write once run anywhere" in HTML5 is still mythical.

Flash on the other hand basically is write once run anywhere, although performance will be much much better on Windows than other platforms.
posted by wildcrdj at 9:28 AM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're an absolute beginner, you don't really need to try to predict the future and figure out what specific technical skills will be directly applicable to future projects. Just pick project you think you can do and use whatever tools make sense to make that project happen. Really for programming in general the core skills are applicable across all languages, and one of those core skills is learning new things. And as a beginner everything is new so you'll be a better programmer afterwards no matter what you pick. If in 2 years you need to switch from flash to something else to do the same types of projects, you can deal with switching then, right now just focus on getting a working game.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:32 AM on March 14, 2011

Regardless of where it's going, I do find ActionScript is a good platform to learn programming. It's very visual - the objects you are working with are often actually on the screen - and everything you need is within the program. The bulk of my early programming knowledge was in Flash starting in version 4 through ActionScript 2.0, and it's now easy for me to work with other languages (starting directly with ActionScript 3, if that would have been possible, would have made this even easier). I think it would be worth learning to write a simple game in Flash, and see how you like it.
posted by beyond_pink at 10:06 AM on March 14, 2011

It won't hurt to learn Flash. It'll be around for a while yet!

Take a look at flixel, which is a great Flash game library that makes it very easy to get up and running. Trust me, you'll love it.

Another great option is Unity - the free version is both powerful and easy to use, and (as a professional game dev) easily the best prototyping tool I've ever found. Unity uses Javascript as its primary programming language.
posted by gribbly at 11:11 AM on March 14, 2011

Flash isn't going away due to iOS, it's going away because of HTML5 and advances in Javascript, yadda yadda. The upshot is that it's going to take awhile since browser performance for HTML5/js is currently "assballs slow." Generally, this question of the "if you have to ask, the answer will be useless" flavor. You have at least a couple years to make a final decision about it, so just go with what appeals to you today.
posted by rhizome at 11:29 AM on March 14, 2011

yes!! i work for a company that makes facebook games. we are in dire need of flash developers (they are kind of thin on the ground).
posted by raw sugar at 12:39 PM on March 14, 2011

Write in Flash.

You can convert your code to HTML5 if need be via Wallaby.

Wallaby | Adobe Flash FLA to HTML - Adobe Labs

You can convert your code to iOS if need be directly within Flash:

Developing for iOS using Flash Professional

Flash has been on its way out every year since about 2000. Here comes DHTML, here comes Silverlight, here comes Processing.

posted by january at 1:37 PM on March 14, 2011

Learn the one that speaks to you, is fun, has good tutorials, and a community that works for you. Simply do as much programming as you can. When you've gotten the general idea, you can always switch languages. They're mostly all the same underneath. You'll be fine whatever you do.
posted by krilli at 4:59 PM on March 14, 2011

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