Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Video in Flex / Flash

I want to share this as a warning and a tip.

I have been contacted by several different companies that have undertaking building products based on Flex and are now stuck because Flex wasn't capable of extending very far beyond it's demos.   In each case they had outsource the work to someone who am an sure put in the cheapest bid.

Flex for those who don't know about it is one of several language that can be used to make flash applications (SWF)

Apache Flex, formerly Adobe Flex, is a software development kit (SDK) for the development and deployment of cross-platform rich Internet applications based on the Adobe Flash platform. Initially developed Macromedia and then acquired by Adobe Systems, Flex was donated to the Apache Software Foundation in 2011.  -  Wikipedia

"I do know a bit of flex, I have it and play around with it when I can. It helps make android stuff work on other platforms and works with ellipse ...  got it by joining the adobe underemployed developers program ... so became an "official" adobe developer... ha ha  ... i find swishmax, easier ... leaving me more time to figure out what i want to do, flexbuilder ( now called flashbuilder ) does make it more cross platform compatible for stuff like making your toaster ask for more toast ( see red dwarf ) ... and doing it from your android ... " 
  - Will Crawford

I think that says it all, "adobe underemployed developers program"

Meaning there is a small army of flex developers that don't know video now building web video websites and web applications.  Because of this they are underbidding, they don't understand what they are getting in to and they don't have anyone to turn to when they get stuck.

Flex makes it really easy to add video to a web site. It has some great demos with example code.  Frankly HTML5 and WebRTC should have been this easy but they missed the mark.   Flash is still one of the best options for grabbing video from a users webcam without having to make them install a native binary.  Flex make this trivial.

Displaying a webcam’s video in a Flex VideoDisplay control

So if you just want to grab a video demo and build it in to your site, change the layout a little, great. This is a fantastic tool, it takes the complicated and make it practical and easy.

But be warned.  This simplicity is deceptive and comes at a price.  All the complexity is hidden. What this means is when it come time to do something more complex you can't control it's behavior. Your limited to what the libraries do and little else.

Now add to this a crop of novice Flex developers with little to no knowledge of video and we have a brewing storm of failed development projects on the horizon.  Many that many need to start over in some other tool.

My advice, just don't try to push the limits of video technology and you be just fine.
But if you expect something more advanced you will soon learn the hard way that all your efforts may end up a dead end.

No comments: