Flash(Flex), Silverlight and JavaFX my thoughts

The last month there where a lot of announcements regarding Flash(Flex), Silverlight and lastly JavaFX. All seem to occupy a certain space in the RIA environment. And of course all vendors are making claims which isn’t to surprising I should say. But these claims have made me thinking about them.

our product is multi platform

This is one of those that you’ll here a lot. But I guess all of them regard multi platform somewhat different.

Silverlight

For instance Silverlight runs on Windows and Mac, and can run on windows mobile devices… No talk yet of it running on any other platforms like Linux, Symbian, Palm or Solaris. So it runs on approximately 99% of all PC’s, 50% of the servers and 10% of the phones. (All percentages are roughly written down, they might differ depending on who has measured it.)

Flash(Flex)

Flash runs on almost all operating systems on PC’s, has got a server component running on Linux and Windows and has an implementation on mobile phones called flashlite. It runs on most mobile platforms like symbian and windows, but there’s no mention of it running on Linux phones. So it will run on 100% of all PC’s, 75% of all servers and a large percentage of phones.

JavaFX

This one is the latest kidd on the block and seems to be able to run on anything that runs Java, which is a lot of stuff (though they might need to upgrade to the latest version of java. So this puts it potentially on 100% of the PC and Server market and an almost perfect score on mobile phones (on most already there’s some sort of Java implementation)

Conclusion

Strangely the last one to enter the market seems to be in the best place with regards to platforms supported followed by Flash and Microsoft entering the last place, mainly because they’re focussed primarily on their own stack and lack substance in the phone area, (the one i guess where the biggest growth is possible)

We will support you developers and designers

For the developers it’s pretty straight forward, all three support you via an IDE, and in most cases you can use the IDE you’re most comfortable with. F.I. Microsoft will incorporate it in visual studio, adobe is offering Flex developer and Flash CS3 and JavaFX is supported by Eclipse and Netbeans. If you’re a Java / PHP / Ruby programmers in most cases you’ll like Flex and JavaFX, if you’re a .net programmer you’ll definitely have a preference for Silverlight.
Now for designers, it’s something different. Most designers have had a preference for the Mac and software like photoshop et al. Adobe is very entrenched here and has the upper hand.

Flash(Flex)

Has probably the best support and userbase in this area through it’s products. You’ll have trouble finding a designer not capable of working with these products.

Silverlight

Microsoft is bringing to the market new products called expression studio which entails products for designers. As they’ve just released these tools it’s not clear yet whether designers are picking it up in large amounts. Though a drawback for some of them might be that they can’t run it on the Mac.

JavaFX

There have been some remarks about support for designers, but nothing has been finalized yet. It remains to be seen how solid there offering will be. And which platforms are supported.

Conlusion

Well the king of the hill is very clear, it’s adobe with a lot of dedicated designers. Microsoft is trying to hook some of these designers up, but it’s not clear yet how they’re faring. JavaFX is a dark horse with nothing solid yet and it remains to be seen what they can deliver to entice the designers in.

In the coming days i’ll write some more on these three products…

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