As an old blood ActionScript developer, I don't want to see AIR and ActionScript dying together with the EOL of Flash Player, although Adobe said they will remain committed to AIR, but from the current tendency AIR probably won't survive for long. Don't get me wrong, I think AIR is a great cross platform native app solution, the problem is only old blood developers are still using AIR, and the numbers of those developers are decreasing.
The way I see it, the only way to truly save AIR and ActionScript is to attract new blood developers, and I think the best way to do that is through AIR Builder, here is my proposal:
1. AIR Builder will be based on the latest version of Eclipse, the AIR SDK will be included in AIR Builder, and it can be automatically updated through AIR Builder.
2. When a developer has opened AIR Builder, the welcome screen is like this:
Title: What do you want to do?
A. I want to develop games.
If selected, AIR Builder will start downloading and setup the the latest Gaming SDK (Starling, Feathers, Away3D, DragonBones), then create a project that link the Gaming SDK, and show a webpage containing video tutorials for new blood developers to get started.
B. I want to develop apps.
If selected, AIR Builder will start downloading and setup the the latest Flex SDK, then create a Flex project, and show a webpage containing video tutorials for new blood developers to get started.
C. I want to develop Native Extensions.
- C1 Native Extensions for iOS and macOS (Swift): in this case, macOS and Xcode are needed.
- C2 Native Extensions for Android (Java): AIR Builder can download and setup the plugin of Android SDK for Eclipse.
- C3 Native Extensions for Windows (C#): in this case, Windows and Visual Studio are needed.
AIR Builder will provide some user interfaces to simplify the ANE packaging process, this has been a long time coming. Some video tutorials about making ANEs will be needed as well. AIR Builder can also show a webpage of ANE market, so that developers can buy ANEs from the market, or they can upload their ANEs for sale to the market.
3. AIR Builder can help developers to package their AIR made products for Windows Store, Mac App Store, Steam Store, XBox Store, App Store and Google Play (yeah, forget about the Web, the 6 stores are the real money making places). AIR Builder must provide some user interfaces to simplify the signing and packaging process.
4. About SWF exporting to H5 or WebAssembly, I don't think this is the top priority for AIR, the reasons are:
- 4.1 It would be tons of work and probably take years to build a satisfying cross compiler, by the compiler is finished, old blood developers would be long gone (left AIR for other solutions).
- 4.2 The most important thing right now is to attract new blood developers through AIR Builder, concentrating on cross platform native app development, concentrating on publishing AIR made apps to those 6 stores, this is a more rational move.
5. Some thoughts on advertising AIR Builder:
- 5.1 On the AIR Builder product website, don't say a word about "Flash", let the new comers think it is something completely new and has nothing to do with Flash.
- 5.2 On the AIR Builder product website, put some cool showcase videos in the front page, those videos should be showcasing AIR made products running on Windows, macOS, Steam, XBox, iOS and Android platforms, that's what new comers want to see, don't put technical descriptions on the frontpage, new comers wouldn't care, they only care what AIR can do, they need to see it in videos.
- 5.3 Put a nice poster of AIR Builder on the Adobe.com front page, at least for a week or two. On the Creative Cloud, give AIR Builder a nice spot.
- 5.4 On YouTube, post some official videos from Adobe about AIR Builder, at the same time, encourage developers to make videos about AIR Builder, if one of their videos gets 10,000 hits, they can have a 10% discount of purchasing AIR Builder, 20% discount if it gets 20,000 hits, and so on.
- 5.5 On blogs, same strategy like 5.4.
6. If all the things above were done, with the incoming of the new blood developers, we will have a vital and thriving community again, then years later we can re-think about ActionScript Next (like AS5 based on ES10+), AVM3, cross compiler for H5 or WebAssembly.
Okay, I've said what I have to say, this is my last cry for AIR to thrive, please consider my proposal.
ActionScript and AIR are legendary technologies, don't let the lengends die without a fight, they deserve a last fight!