Being a web developer who has worked with flash since the very beginning, I could see how flash has changed throughout its maturity. In the beginning one had a limited set of tools for simple onion skin animation without much control or any scripting support.

Then as the program matured, it added actionscript 1, and then actionscript 2, and so on. Now, being in its CS3 version with actionscript 3, I have noticed that I use flash less and less for animation purposes and more so for web-based programs and software. I believe this is because flash has matured to the point where it’s no longer an animation package, but more so a development platform to be distributed through the web – one could even think of it as the visual basic of the online world, where any developer has serious tools and now with as3 being a clone of java, a mature language with which to build his/her robust web applications.

One major aspect which made flash so desirable initially was the ability to pass data, back and forth without the need of refreshing pages. Now with the increase usage of AJAX, that problem has essentially been terminated thus again, relieving a necessity of flash or rather more so a burden when one thinks about the speed and efficiency at which changes can be made to AJAX applications as opposed to flash-based ones. Even more so, with RUBY getting more and more attention along with other quick-deployment platforms, the need for flash is once again fading into an afterthought. Furthermore, new Javascript animation libraries reproduce much of earlier effects that were only done in flash with greater ease of use and shorter deployment times.

From this, one can see how flash has changed its role in the online world from a simple animation package to a very robust development platform which will only increase in its complexity as time passes.

After all this is said and one, we now get to the rebirth part of the article. With everyone pushing for web 2.0 standards and even starting to speak about the future of web 3.0, flash will soon start to play a different role, not any less important, but completely different. With the not so recent addition of Adobe AIR to its product lineup, adobe is trying to push the web 2.0 development into a completely Rich Internet Applications (RIA) field where different types of browsers won’t matter, as a matter of fact if the web continues to progress the way it has in the last couple of years, browsers will become obsolete in the next 8-10 years because if the concept of RIAs becomes absorbed by the masses, everyone will be viewing the Internet through these applications and not browsers.

This brings me back to flash. Behind this new wave of cool Internet apps and tools, flash will be playing a critical role delivering rich content through a desktop-like environment. We will see a merging of technologies where the web will be more intuitive then ever and easier to manage. You will be able to download web applications for sites that run on a combination of technologies to bring forth a new exciting way to browse the web, what what’s a better way to deliver rich content than to have the most robust RIA software on the market working alongside javascript, and other server-side languages?