Sunday, September 18, 2005

Macromedia Studio 8 Released; "Sparkle" in Development

On the heels of the release of ColdFusion MX 7.1, Studio 8 was recently released by Macromedia. What I have seen and experimented with thus far, it appears to be another great step forward in the technology. I am particularly impressed with the video capabilities I have seen thus far in Flash, the added capabilities in Fireworks and can't wait to start jumping in on a couple projects.

Microsoft recently dubbed it's upstart technology, "Sparkle", as the "Flash Killer". It is very unlikely that Microsoft will ever "kill" Flash. Everyone that is actually involved in development knows this statement borders on ludicrous. It's a different platform, and Flash is a deeply entrenched and established technology that has fanatical user support and a support infrastructure of users, educators, etc. It has this positive support for a reason -- it's a phenomenal technology that continues to improve every year. In typical Microsoft fashion, they are arrogantly trying to leverage their position in Windows to push an inferior technology on developers. As an aside, I never understood Microsoft's strategy of flaunting they want to "kill" a technology that the industry embraces. To me, this just alienates the same customer base you are trying to attract. Regardless, this appears to be the strategy in Redmond with many products, including their professed intentions to "kill" Google.

Macromedia's releases the last two years in ColdFusion, Flash, Fireworks have been huge leaps ahead of Microsoft in terms of what they've given developers. Look at the capabilities in ColdFusion alone when compared to .NET. It truly isn't even in the same ballpark as a high-level web development platform. The fact that Macromedia embraces J2EE, Eclipse, and other cooperative/ open source technologies (and not just profess to 'one day' do so) is refreshing in a world of Microsoft. Microsoft is very paranoid these days, as they should be. They are falling farther behind in terms of the performance of their key technologies every year. Yes they have dominant market share with Windows, but even the long-term view on this is in doubt as more and more capable software moves to the web in an interconnected world.

While I have developed and occassionally still do develop in .NET and VB6, the last few years I have been moving away from these technologies at each opportunity towards ColdFusion and Flash because of the huge improvements in efficiency and their more robust infrastructure with the MX/ JRun4 platform. What I can create using Flash on the client side, and ColdFusion on the server side are applications that are more secure, more reliable, and give my users a rich and interactive experience. I can do it all for a price less than what I would spend to develop software using Microsoft's technologies. I am very thankful to have explored and discovered the enabling products that Macromedia continues to evolve and am looking forward to the exploring this latest release.

Mark Holton

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