Early this morning, Scoble posted a list of 12 reasons why SocialText‘s founder, Ross Mayfield, isn’t using Microsoft’s software to create Web 2.0 software. Naturally, I wondered why Ross isn’t using the Flash platform to build Web 2.0 apps and thought I’d go down Scoble’s 12 reasons and talk about them in terms of Flex.
Note: The reasons are in bold, Scoble’s commentary is in italics and my response are in regular text.
1) Startup costs. Linux is free. Ruby on Rails is free. MySQL is free.
Nothing is ever “Free” but I would argue that the startup costs of building a Web 2.0 application with Flex has gotten pretty low. For under $1000, you can start quickly developing sophisticated Web 2.0 apps with Flex 2.0. The kinds of UIs you will be able to deliver to your customers with Flex 2.0 will make that $1000 a great investment.
2) Performance per dollar. They perceive that a Linux server running Apache has more performance than IIS running .NET.
This doesn’t really apply to the Flex space because Flex isn’t a webserver. If you turn the point around to say “Features per dollar”, then deploying Web 2.0 apps with Flex becomes a great opportunity.
3) Finding tech staff is easier. There are a whole new raft of young, highly skilled people willing to work long hours at startups who can build sites using Ruby on Rails.
I love this one because Macromedia has arguably the best developer community in the business. There are tons of great Flash, Flex and ColdFusion developers out there who are more than willing to work long hours and build great software. The community is also eager to learn from each other. When you hire a Macromedia developer who is in touch with the community you get the resources of all the bloggers, newsgroups and Macromedia team members who help out new developers and contribute to the community.
4) Perception of scalability. The geeks who run these new businesses perceive that they can scale up their data centers with Linux and not with Windows (the old ?Google runs on Linux? argument).
Again, this doesn’t really apply, and the great thing about Flex and ColdFusion is that they deploy on any server, so you get all of the benefits without having to change your infrastructure.
5) That Microsoft doesn?t care about small businesses. After all, Microsoft is an evil borg, but Ruby on Rails comes from a single guy: David Heinemeier Hansson. He has a blog and answers questions fast.
The Macromedia guys are extremely accessible. Whether you’re posting questions to their blogs or e-mailing them, they respond to concerns and comments. Developers really drive the product at Macromedia, and if you’re a small business owner creating an application you can make your voice heard very easily.
6) That open source makes it easier to fix problems and/or build custom solutions. A variant of the old ?Google or Amazon couldn?t be built on Windows? argument.
Flex isn’t open source, but with the developer community that exists, a great idea or some inspiration is just a few clicks away. Furthermore, Flex is all about building custom solutions. It allows developers of RIAs and Web 2.0 applications to quickly and powerfully build their applications. With all the sharing that goes on between developers, even though an application may not be totally open source, the developers are usually always willing to talk about their methodologies.
7) On clients, they want to choose the highest-reach platforms. That doesn?t mean a Windows app. Or even an app that runs only in IE. It must run on every variant of Linux and Macintosh too.
The bread and butter of Flash is that basically everyone has it, and more importantly, everyone upgrades quickly to the newest version. As a developer, you will know that your intended audience will be able to take advantage of any new features within the flash player in a matter of months. That’s a powerful advantage to have. Just take a look at the version penetration.
8) They don?t want to take shit from their friends (or, even, their Venture Capitalist). Most of this is just pure cost-control. I can hear the conversation now: ?OK, you wanna go with Windows as your platform, but is the extra feature worth the licensing fees for Windows??
In the case of Flex, the price point of less than $1000 dollars gives you all the power of the Flash platform and the ability to quickly create and deploy rich applications that can run on any computer regardless of the operating system. Any venture capitalist will see the benefit in that.
9) No lockin. These new businesses don?t want to be locked into a specific vendor?s problems, er products. Why? Because that way they can?t shop for the best price among tools (or move to something else if the architecture changes).
I can see why this might be a concern, however Macromedia is so responsive to the people that use their products that if you have a problem, they’ll listen and see if they can get it into the next version. When you’re working with the vendor to solve your problems, that’s a pretty good solution.
10) More security. The new businesses perceive Linux, Apache, Firefox, and other open source stuff to have higher security than stuff built on Windows.
Macromedia does a pretty good job on security, but I can also see why having an open source format would give you extra peace of mind. Macromedia has talked about making some of their stuff open source for exactly this reason.
The last two have to deal with server stuff, so I won’t respond, but I’ll say again, that Flash doesn’t care what you’re running behind the scenes. If you’re taking advantage of everything that Flex as a server has to offer, it still doesn’t matter if you’re running on a *nix based box, or a Windows box. You can pick your server infrastructure and then take advantage of everything that Flex and the Flash platform bring on top of it.Tweet