Developing from prototypes, and Microsoft vs Adobe

Scoble describes a common development scenario. The design team do a prototype GUI of your new app using the tools they know best – Flash or Director, usually on a Mac. This gets handed to the dev team who then try to replicate it in C++ (or VB or C# or even I guess Java).

The mismatch here is that something which is easy in Flash may be difficult or misguided in some other environment. Wouldn’t it be better if the developers and designers were working on the same platform? That’s what Microsoft is betting on with its Expression suite. Projects can be moved between Visual Studio and the designer tools, so the two teams can work on the same code. It sounds good, though I don’t like the idea of working up prototypes into finished code. You could even argue that keeping designs in Flash and final code in C++ is healthy, because it prevents that kind of shortcut.

Adobe’s answer is that you can just keep it in Flash. That’s what Apollo is all about – using Flash as a cross-platform runtime outside the browser. Alternatively you might keep it in the browser and not bother with the desktop app at all.

There’s a lot at stake here – as Nat Torkington notes, we are talking about “possible successors to the Win32 throne.” It’s not surprising that Microsoft is investing so much effort in this space. Adobe’s John Dowdell says it is “not invented here” syndrome, and that Microsoft “could have just compiled to the very capable, and very proven, and already massively-deployed Adobe Flash Player,” but it is naive not to see the strategic advantage in owning the platform. That said, Dowdell makes a good point about Microsoft’s poor track record when it comes to cross-platform software.

Realistically Microsoft will not kill Flash, but it might give it some competition, which I would welcome. I’m also looking forward to the small cross-platform .NET runtime Microsoft is talking about, though sadly it did not turn up in the just-released CTP.

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1 comment to Developing from prototypes, and Microsoft vs Adobe

  • Hi Tim, thanks for the word… I’m not sure it *is* “NIH”, just that that has been my best guess of the drivers… owning the stack may beat cooperating with the world’s current stack, even at the cost of lowered deployment.

    But there may be other drivers too, I can’t tell yet….