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What To Do With Your Flex Applications When They Stop Working in 2020

Thursday, April 16, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Abbey Kwiat
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Companies who still have an investment in Adobe/Apache Flex must prioritize an orderly migration of important Flex applications this year, before the apps stop working for good. Adobe has publicly announced the end of support for Flash Player, the runtime engine for Flex applications.

Going back to the dotcom period in the late 1990’s Adobe (neé Macromedia) Flash was the best platform to create interactivity on the web. Developers created rich interactive content and applications through the use of the proprietary Flash runtime. The Flash runtime worked in all major browsers and offered code portability and consistency to developers at a time where even JavaScript had completely different implementation across major browsers.

In the mid-2000s, Flash was promoted to a critical enterprise technology when Flex arrived. Flex demonstrated that client-side interactivity and broad compatibility could be used to deliver scalable enterprise applications using the web browser as a platform, launching a trend toward Rich Internet/Single Page applications that is still favored today.

Over the last 20 years, many of the capabilities provided by Flash have been incorporated into the Web browsers. JavaScript, CSS and HTML5 are standardized and can be used to build rich, engaging applications without proprietary runtimes. Further, Adobe “gives away” the Flash player. Faced with continuing to support a technology with few modern advantages, at great cost with no income, Adobe are retiring Flash Player by ending their support.

 

Many organizations with investment in Flex technology feel lost. It’s hard to find developers who have the needed skills to understand Flex programming models. Many of the subject matter experts who participated in the original application are no longer available to help, having either changed job roles, or even changed companies. Further, the global COVID-19 pandemic puts pressure on financial resources and human capital.

Those things being equal, the shutdown date from Adobe has not changed. Flash Player will be discontinued in December, 2020. At that point, Flex applications will no longer function causing impact on business partners and/or customers. Thus, it is important to go through your application portfolio and identify any important Flex applications that do not have a viable migration plan and either resource the migration internally, or source a partner to assist.

Our firm has assisted with a number of Flex application migrations. Our preferred approach is to replatform the application into a modern JavaScript based stack that is free from proprietary runtimes. Further, our preferred framework, React, has over 1 million developers worldwide, helping to ensure our customers can easily find staff who can pick up support and maintenance. We’ve developed a 3-part strategy to ensure migrations go as smoothly as possible.

3 Steps to best prepare for a replatform project:

  1. Ensure project documentation is available. It’s easier to read existing docs, than interpret old application functionality.
  2. Identify subject matter experts who know the problem domain of the application. They know the modern versions of business problems and processes used by the app.
  3. Restrain the urge to change the app functionality until phase 2. It’s easier to modify the app once it is stable on the new platform.

The technology landscape has continued to change rapidly over the last 20 years. One trend that is sure to continue is the reliance on open standards and runtimes like the Web browser. Isn’t it time you upgraded your Flex applications?

 

Dan Wilson

Twitter: @danwilson

LinkedIn: @profileofdanwilson

 

About Digital Primates

For nearly 25 years, Digital Primates has been a trusted US-based partner for technology solutions. We dedicate our team to learn how your company, your processes, and your people work. We believe discovering the essence of your business helps us deliver efficient, time-tested solutions.

Offering expertise and consulting in:

• Enterprise-grade React

• Flex application migration


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