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A History and Comparison of Flash and Edge Animate


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A history and comparison of Flash and Edge Animate

While the animated GIF certainly pioneered simple animations on the Web, it wasn't too long before Flash became a preferred alternative offering more options and techniques for animating on the Web. Being able to add vector and raster imagery while adding sound to animations was a dream come true for beginners and pros alike, who wanted to express their ideas within this relatively new medium. Creative output accelerated in sites dedicated to short-form animation began to proliferate while influencing an ever-expanding Internet culture.

Flash was originally called FutureSplash, which was developed by a company called FutureWave. In 1996, Macromedia purchased FutureWave and renamed it Flash 1.0. By the time it had reached version 5.0 in 2000, Macromedia had added programming abilities with ActionScript, which added object-oriented programming influenced by JavaScript and the ECMAScript. This feature prompted a high adoption rate for developers. Between ActionScript and high adoption rate of the Flash Player plugin, this gave developers great cross-browser, multimedia support and the ability to create more complex interactions.

Online animations, game development and websites built entirely with Flash began to show up everywhere on the Web. In 2003, Macromedia developed the Flash Video Codec to better distribute video on the Web via its Flash Player. This new codec offered a way to stream video on the Flash Player. Quickly, Flash video became the preferred format on the Web for consumers and producers, alike. Then, when you factor in the timing of the launch of YouTube and their quick adoption of the Flash Video Codec, you suddenly had a new video revolution and a video standard to support it.

In response to the demand for language better suited for larger and more complex animations, Macromedia released ActionScript 2.0 in tandem with the release of Flash MX2004 and Flash Player 7. This version of ActionScript also conformed partially to the ECMAScript draft specification. In 2005, Adobe purchased Macromedia, and Flash became Adobe Flash. In 2006, ActionScript 3.0 was introduced with a fundamental restructuring of the language that conformed completely to the ECMAScript for draft specification.

It extended the capabilities far beyond preceding versions. In 2007, the iPhone was released. And as we all know, the device and its operating system did not include the ability to consume Flash content. Initially, it seemed as if it was a minor oversight on Apple's part, and many criticized the iPhone for not offering the full Web experience. In 2010, when the iPad was released, there was still no way to consume Flash content or Flash video on the iPhone, or on this new, more powerful device that many considered an alternative to a laptop.

Competitors began their claims of new products forthcoming that would offer an alternative to the broken devices that Apple had made. This became the beginning of the battle between Apple versus Adobe, as well as fever-pitch debates between Flash versus HTML5, and open versus proprietary. Days later Steve Jobs issued his open letter, Thoughts on Flash. He explained why Apple would not ever integrate Flash into its iOS devices. He cited reliability, security, performance and especially battery life issues.

He declared what modern technologies he thought would win out in the mobile era. That being, HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. This, of course, turned the tech world on its ear and if HTML5 wasn't a buzzword or on the radars of some, it certainly was now. Nearly two years later, Adobe announced that it would no longer support the Flash player on Android 4.1 or later. Many felt that this settled the debate once and for all and that Adobe had lost.

Or maybe Adobe took Steve Jobs' advice at the end of his Thoughts on Flash letter, where he asked Adobe to perhaps focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future. In August of 2011, Adobe announced Adobe Edge Preview, and a year later, they released 1.0. And today the current version in CC is 3.0. When we understand the elements involved in actually creating animation and interactivity with HTML5, which of course means that we have to also use CSS and JavaScript, we can look back at Flash as a tool and realize that it made complexity simple for creatives.

Adobe decided to adapt to what the Internet culture wanted in terms of content development and consumption, and the development of Adobe Edge Animate again attempts, and I'd say succeeds, to make the complex simple for creatives. What's more, for those of us who have a history with the Flash platform in development, is that Adobe clearly has considered those of us considering to create HTML5-based animation and interactivity.

A history and comparison of Flash and Edge Animate
Video duration: 5m 25s 2h 27m Intermediate

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A history and comparison of Flash and Edge Animate provides you with in-depth training on Web. Taught by Jake Ströh as part of the Migrating from Flash to Edge Animate

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Web
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Edge Animate
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