Are You Obsolete?

It’s so easy to get comfortable in your skill set after you’ve been in business for a while.

But things change, especially in our industry! Every time you blink there’s a new technology or programming language to learn. And almost as quickly, old technologies are becoming obsolete.

I was reminded of that last week as I read that Adobe gave up on Flash for mobile devices, effectively ceding victory to HTML5. Considering mobile web traffic will exceed PC traffic by 2014, that’s a significant defeat for the aging technology.

Flash as a technology has had a great run. Back when the web was still very static, Flash gave developers a way to create animations, show video, and create user experiences not possible before. It grew in popularity quickly, and was soon installed on over 95% of computers.

But as the web evolved, we were able to use new technologies to accomplish much of what Flash was used for… CSS, HTML5 and JavaScript can often do what Flash can and more, at a fraction of the file size.

How many Flash developers were reading the news last week weeping? Flash use on websites has been declining steadily, and now there will be no Flash for mobile. All of a sudden, developers and companies that specialized in Flash are facing obsolescence.

It’s not just Flash developers either.

Print designers everywhere are finding it more and more difficult to find a job in a shrinking market. Print media isn’t going away any time soon, but the industry is certainly changing and as a result of tablets and mobile phones, people are consuming less media in print.

Avoiding Obsolescence

You have to be aware of changes in your industry, of changes in technologies. You can’t get too comfortable with one set of tools, because one day they will be outdated. But there is always a new technology or tool that replaces the old, aging one. If you want to avoid becoming obsolete, you have to continue to grow and learn.

What other technologies are becoming obsolete? Have you ever realized you were too reliant on an outdated tool or software? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • http://www.meldville.com ket

    I’m wondering if java will be obsoleted too.

    • Pageo

      Haven’t used Flash for probably 4 years now, but a great benefit then was the development environment which allowed graphics folks to be creative and deploy complex UI elements without technical programming.

      Is there an IDE today which generates HTML5/CSS3/JS, from an interface usable by graphic/artistic folks?

      • Anonymous

        Hey great question! Brandon, what can you suggest for developing rich internet games, artworks and the like with hot from the press js, html5, and css, in a package that doesn’t require arduous debugging and nocturnal weekends or coding?

      • Tim

        I read Adobe is already giving out a Flash to HTML 5 Converter and a future goal is to make Flash “Teh WYSIWYG HTML5 Editor”…
        We’ll see…

    • http://twitter.com/jonathanhaslett jonhas

      On the web sure (assuming you didn’t mean JavaScript), I haven’t seen a new Java applet for ages. Java is however the bread and butter for Android developers. A few years ago at Uni I never saw the point at becoming a Java guru while mastering ActionScript 3 seemed like a no brainer.

      Im kicking myself now.

      Luckily I have keep up to date with all the HTML 5 / CSS 3 and JavaScript goodness.

      • http://www.meldville.com ket

        I’m an applet developer. I’ve seen a pie chart somewhere, techcrunch, perhaps, that java web is on the rise, even in a small number.

  • Adil

    “CSS, HTML5 and JavaScript can often do what Flash can and more”
    Are you sure about this? I always thought that flash had much more power. There are certain things that can be easily accomplished with JS, HTML & CSS, but isn’t the main power with flash? However, I’m not an expert on the subject and this is more a question than a statement.

    All the best

    • Eastcoast

      I’d say that it’s a case of the opposite, but it’s a fairly typical comment that pundits have lazily and incorrectly attaching to the adobe announcement. A brief surf through thefwa.com will confirm to anybody that html5 tech can’t really match what is capable in flash, from either scope, technical capability or cross browser deployment considerations

      • http://www.brandoneley.com Brandon Eley

        Good point. Maybe I should have worded it differently. Flash obviously has a ton of capabilities that HTML5 and Javascript can’t duplicate (easily or at all). But the majority of Flash used on the web today also doesn’t use these advanced features. If you are making really complex animations or games, then Flash still has a place. But for navigation, video players, simple animations and hundreds of other things, HTML5 and JavaScript shines. And since we are not going to have Flash on mobile devices, and their growth isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, it’s hard to argue that the market for Flash developers will shrink considerably in the years to come. My intended point about becoming obsolete still applies.

  • Seth

    I went to a school where I learned graphic design and web at the same time. I received an excellent education in many ways, especially in visual design. But this was back in 2001/2002 and building websites in tables was still the most common, and that is how I was taught. Only after I graduated did I begin to see that the way I knew to build tables was obsolete. I needed to learn a new way, with tableless CSS, to work and do it on my own. But, before I did that I felt obsolete and afraid, because I knew I would not be able to compete with other people who knew how to do it.

    However, once you take the time to learn, that negative, almost panicky feeling of obsolescence gives way to empowerment. The best thing to do, to stay on top of things is to join a forum like Sitepoint, or frequent online magazines, where information constantly flows and you can be on a consistent information download. You pick up alot that way from your fellow web designers.

    To counter the threat of obsolescence, I have found that designers are sticking together, freely sharing information. There is a strong community out there, you just have to take advantage of that and join the discussion. You can’t live in a vacuum.

  • pete spirals

    I work for an online gaming company. Recently I have moved into working on the flash bingo software. I can’t imagine html5 and javascript replacing this for quite a few years yet!. The security issues for one. The complexity of software dealing with hundreds of people gaming at once. While I agree about keeping current to avoid obselencence, I wouldn’t be so quick to say knowing Flash is pointless. Not to mention AS3 is a strongly typed language similar to Java. Knowing how to program well is the main thing. The skills can be fairly easily transfered to another language.

    • http://www.brandoneley.com Brandon Eley

      I agree Flash will not go away completely. But like print, as an entire industry, it is shrinking due to the emergence of other technologies. There will be lots of places (online gaming, desktop launchers from CDs or thumb drives, etc) where Flash will probably remain popular for some time to come. But I stand behind my point that lots of Flash developers will need to learn new skills or they will be out of a job. The market for Flash developers isn’t what it was 5 years ago, and it’s not going to be growing much any time soon.

  • http://www.dynamosfc.net Bongani

    Although speed remains a concern in other parts of de wrld and de xtra installation of flash media player its strength relies on quality output and less hasles wth compatibility issues.