Big gap in the Flash industry exploited?
Over the last year or so, I think I’ve done more brokering of Flash talent that accounts for more work in total hours than I probably have done in my entire flash career over the last 8+yrs. To say there’s a need for Flash developers is a complete understatement. If you’re doing AS3/Flex2 development right now, you’re in a really REALLY good place to have some real leverage in your pricing / salary. Throw on top of that some knowledge of FMS, Red5, Apollo, Papervision3D, Cairngorm and any other hot technology, and the possibilities are even higher.
Now, I’m not saying I see the same things happening that went on before the Internet bubble burst, but I have seen SOME things that would make one think we’re back in the late 90’s again. I’ve interviewed many people for Flash jobs over the last few years and I feel like I’ve met everyone in the Los Angeles area who has even breathed the word ActionScript (is it 2 words?) and any other agency, I’m sure, will tell you: there’s a real gap in the development end of the Flash spectrum.
I get calls and emails from people on a weekly basis – and now at conferences, I’m getting hit in the elevator and lobbies. I was just riding up the elevator with Dominic at FITC in April, and the guy in the elevator is hitting us both up about him being a recruiter and looking for Flash Developers. At FF Austin, same deal, only in the lobby outside the sessions. The guy saw my name tag and went to work right then and there on me. And despite Red5 being only at v0.6 and Papervision3D not even released at v1.0, I have emails coming in all the time for people looking for developers for both technologies – incredible!
One interesting thought I had was about how this might affect Silverlight’s adoption rate. I mean, right now, sure, there’s a lot of talk, some good articles and a lot of money being thrown at it to cause the adoption rate to escalate unnaturally, but could it also be affected by high developer costs and very limited experience to draw on for Flex2/AS3/FlashCS3 development? It’s a fact that there’s far more Flex2/Flash work out there right now than you can shake a dead cat at. It’s not going to take too long for M$ to exploit these issues and they’ll start filling the gaps with the many .Net developers who will be very happy to take a piece of that Flash pie.
I don’t get into raising a flag and camping with one technology (insert the very very tired Mac vs PC arguments – I just taunt Chris Allen for fun, but I grew up on Mac ;). So you’re not going to hear me scream “Save Flash!” “Down with Silverlight!” – please, if it sucks, it sucks. If it’s good, it’s good and we’ll all adjust. But that doesn’t help our industry at the present moment. So back to my point…what was my point?
Oh yeah – Flash development gap. We have a “good” problem that’s unique to Flash, and Grant eludes to it in his article about Silverlight. Flash is unique in the people it attracts – they’re not hardcore developers so much (well, some are), and they tend to come from a mixed background that allows them to be very creative – hence the attraction and loyalty to Flash. We have a bad problem in that what we do is somewhat VooDoo to people coming in and playing. Knowing the player and its little tricks, the do/dont’s in developing Flash apps and sites is a bit steep and unless the person is REALLY driven to learn, they can be easily turned off. That’s the problem we face.
Personally, I think Adobe’s well aware of the issues and have at least a clue about what to do in the future. The move with Flex to Open Source is genius IMHO (surprise surprise), and they’re obviously making moves that mimic proven OS strategies that are very successful. This move brings in many more people who might have not otherwise touched Flash or considered it a viable technology to adopt, and with the energy and time they’re putting into Flex2 right now (and Flex3), I think it’s going to be easier for new developers to get into “Flash” development.
Flex2 is gaining more and more area in the overall “Flash work” pie, but there’s still a HUGE amount of agencies still doing experience sites involving animation and traditional uses of Flash. These 2 worlds, however, are growing closer and closer every day (enter Moxie). I find myself often times using Flex2 for tasks I normally would have done in Flash these days. And I think that anything, these days, that includes some sort of forms/data work causes me to reach for FB2 right away and make Flash bend to my will 😉 I don’t think I’m the only one doing this! It’s because Flex2 is so cool from a developer’s POV and it makes our lives 10x’s easier in many ways (it’s not the end all be all, but it’s good enough to make me fight for using it in a project). Adobe’s well aware of this and they’re making things happen as we speak.
OK! conclusion – sorry, this is WAY too long, but it’s good content 😉 We have a big gap in Flash/Flex development, that gap is likely to be exploited by Silverlight. But Silverlight lacks the creative/imaginative draw that Flash has always offered – oh and despite the voodoo, it IS easier to pick up and use than Silverlight – forgot to mention that simple fact. Adobe’s making some bold moves to ensure their technology, and yeah M$ has alot of cash, but Adobe’s not dumb 🙂
Wow, that conclusion kinda sucked. I think you get the point though.