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Adobe kills separate mobile Flex under Jobsian Flash attack

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Updated Adobe will not produce a version of the Flash-based Flex framework for smartphones, having decided to add features for mobiles to its Flex for desktops instead.

Hero, the next version of Adobe's Flex framework, will add components such as touch and the ability to automatically scale applications on different devices with varying pixel densities, Adobe has said.

Adobe had planned a mobile version of Flex codenamed Slider for building rich-internet applications based on Steve Jobs' hated Flash. Slider was announced at Adobe's Max conference in October 2009

Slider was to add screen-based navigation, toolbar, soft-key bar, and different screen orientation.

The change means developers should get just a single Flex framework for building both desktop and mobile applications.

Adobe said the advent of high-resolution screens and touch in the last year had changed the landscape "significantly" with CPUs between 600MHz and 1GHz running OpenGL ES 2.0-based GPUs that are capable of accelerating raw script performance and rendering.

Hero will target smart phones that have a processor of 600MHz or more and OpenGL ES 2.0 hardware acceleration. That translates as recent major and planned Android-based phones such as Droid, Nexus One, Evo and Droid X.

"The rapid increases in performance on smart phone–class devices over the past year, combined with the highly optimized performance of Adobe runtimes on these devices, now make it feasible to support mobile use cases directly with the core Flex framework," Adobe blogged here.

High-resolution screens and touch aren't exactly phenomena of the last 12 months. What's made them more widely used and desired during that time, though, is the iPhone and now the iPad which — thanks to Apple's chief executive — are forbidden from running Flash-based architectures such as Flex. Jobs launched his war on Flash in January, after Adobe revealed Slider.

Adobe's decision to use just a single framework could be seen as strategic move to ensure that developers keep using Flash rather than risk losing them in the transition between building desktop and mobile applications to a separate environment.

Dave Gruber, Flash platform marketing manager, said the decision was based on performance improvements in Flash 10.1 and AIR 2.0 on mobile. A single framework would simplify coding for developers because they could now use the same code - in areas such dynamic layout and data access - rather than have to work out which parts to use for mobile and the desktop.

"What most application developers are going to build are going to have desktop and mobile elements as they extend desktop applications to mobile," Gruber told The Reg.

Adobe, though, warned against running existing Flex desktop applications on mobile, given the differences in screen and performance needs.

The company also highlighted "significant" improvements to favor mobile in the AIR runtime and the latest version of Flash it's based on. These include taking advantage of the GPU to boost performance of graphics and scrolling while reducing CPU use. ®

This article has been updated to include comment from Adobe, models of phones targeted and to clarify in the headline Adobe is moving Flex mobile into the Flex core

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