Mobile – The Next Big Thing

On the official Adobe Flex Team blog, there is a great post by Andrew Shorten discussing the future direction of Flex. I highly recommend taking a moment to read it. In that post Andrew points out where Flex is, and where Flex is heading. One thing I want to re-emphasize is that mobile is the next big thing.

It has been proclaimed many times, in many publications that mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) are the future of computing. This is both in enterprise and consumer products & applications. One of the catches with this growth is that each platform has it’s own development tooling and language. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just use one programming model & technology stack? Even better, wouldn’t it be nice if you could use that same programming model & technology stack to also develop applications for the web and the desktop? Wow, what if you could even share code libraries across mobile, web, and desktop applications? That would be awesome.

Wait… you can already do that!

Adobe Flex is the best tool for creating cross-platform, rich experiences in mobile, desktop, and web applications.

That is awesome.

One of the biggest enhancements introduced with Flash Builder 4.5.1 was the inclusion of mobile tooling. These tools allow you to easily create rich experiences targeting a variety of mobile devices – iOS, Android, BlackBerry Playbook. All of which are natively installed applications that can be shared by the standard distribution models: App Store, Enterprise distribution, etc…

The best part is that you don’t need to learn any new programming skills to develop and deploy for these platforms. You will need to learn about the app ecosystems, platform signing and deployment procedures, and device specifics (soft keyboards, hardware buttons, etc..). However, you can still develop these applications quickly and easily using Flex, ActionScript, and AIR APIs. One code base; multiple platforms; lots of devices. Did you know that you could even take that same code and deploy it to a TV? Even better, there are great new advancements in the Flex/AIR mobile tooling waiting just over the horizon.

From the Flex Team blog:

We’re continuing to focus on runtime performance, native extensions, new components, declarative skinning, adding more platforms and improving tooling workflows, such that in our next major release timeframe we expect that the need to build a fully-native application will be reserved for a small number of use cases.

The growth of the mobile market and the challenge of building out applications that work on a range of different form-factors and platforms present us with a huge opportunity to expose Flex to an entirely new audience of developers, while continuing to be relevant for existing Flex developers who are extending their applications to mobile.

Flex & AIR for mobile allow you to use the same enterprise class tooling to build cross platform mobile applications. You can still use existing framework components, existing open source libraries, the strongly typed programming language, automated ASUnit testing, build scripts, and many other features that Flex offers, and you can now target mobile devices.

It is an exciting time to be in the tech space, especially around all things mobile. Don’t get left behind. Go grab a copy of Flash Builder and start building mobile apps today. You can literally build your first mobile app in 5 minutes.