A man applies to court to legally change his name. Judge asks "What's your current name?", man replies "John Shit". Judge says "I see why you want the change. What would you like your new name to be?". Man says "James"…
I admit there was some confusion because "Flex Builder" could actually build more than Flex Framework based work etc. I admit another name be it "Flash Builder" or "XYZ" will help cut this confusion.
But the name "Flash" already means many things to many different people. Confusion around the word "Flash" is probably more deep than any Flex related confusion.
What is Flash? To me it's still the Flash authoring tool. For some it's the Flash Player. For too many people it's 'a SWF file'. Does anyone take 'Flash' as 'Flash Platform'? I don't think more than a few if any, you need to explicitly refer to it as 'Flash Platform'.
So is 'Flash' a 'platform'? Has 'Flash' become a 'platform'? I'd say 'yes' but not in 'words'. Confusion rules. And we are to welcome another member.
There are some catchy words, sometimes software companies use for all their applications, like 'Smart', 'Cute', 'Easy' etc. Then when they release any application they will use the cute name first, as a trade mark, like Smart Editor, Smart DVD Ripper, Smart Doc Shredder… I don't dislike the practice, it's totally fine and we can even do that in the future (if we can find a name not taken). I think this is what 'Flash' is becoming. Not a platform but a cute name, a buzz word you find on (hopefully only) Flash related Adobe applications.
I don't want see the word 'Flash' like this. I want it to refer to the platform.
If you refer to a "SWF file" as "Flash", then the word "Flash" can never mean the platform. This is something I strongly believe. Do you think someone when referring to a "SWF file" as a "Flash file" will ever even unconsciously think he is actually referring to a "Flash Platform file"? Do you ever think of a "GIF platform" when you refer to a GIF file?
'Flash Builder' is a better name than 'Flex Builder' in a sense. But if 'Flash Builder' is building Flash, then Flash is the SWF file, not the platform.
Does anyone remember how Microsoft guidelines urged developers for calling their applications as "XXX for Windows" and not as "Windows XXX"? (I assume they still do). Is it "MS Windows Word" or "MS Word for Windows"? Obviously when Windows was new this made more sense, it was totally normal someone would want to include the name "Windows" in their application name as "Windows XXX"… I hope you get my point.
If 'Flash' was a platform, then the new name should have been 'Builder for Flash', not 'Flash Builder' *.
This would have also caused confusion. Heck, it's still creating confusion if SWF refers to 'Shockwave Flash' or not. Unfortunately, we have to accept that 'some' confusion is here to stay. With correct moves you make it less, with wrong ones you create more.
There are levels of confusion. To the clueless, a guitar (with 6 strings) can look like the same as a bass guitar (with 4 strings) (I have actually seen this happen more than once). You can either call all guitars as 'bass guitars' which will, on the surface look like it has cut the confusion (but will create more in the future). Or you can accept that level of confusion as a fact of life, that cannot be fixed for the clueless at that level (At least you should avoid a move that will create more confusion than it fixes)…
I want to finish with a positive note. It's good that, myself included, now not many people think it's still necessary to avoid the word 'Flash' to make 'Flex, Flex Builder' taken seriously (by people with Java background etc. who may think Flash is 'animation with a skip intro button').
Another positive note: It seems most people, many fellow bloggers I respect, don't agree with me on this one. This means probably I'm wrong and this is a good thing because Adobe won't change the naming policy because I don't agree, Flash Builder name is here to stay. Hopefully, I'm wrong and the name change will be better for the Flash platform.
* I don't think 'Builder for Flash' is a better name, or 'for Flash' use will be better. My point is that you shouldn't use the 'platform' name as a prefix to applications that create content for that platform. If I were to make the decision, probably the next version of Flex Builder would be called 'Adobe RedLight'…