Why I don’t think Flash Builder is a good name…

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'…

This entry was posted in Flash, Flex.

6 Responses to Why I don’t think Flash Builder is a good name…

  1. The problem is the Flash CS 4 should be called Flash Animator and Flash Builder would be the standard development tool for programers. Unfortunately Flash Develop is taken or that would be the most logical choice. I actually like the change, I was never a big fan of the Flex marketing splintering ActionScript Developers. If you do Flex you do ActionScript, you are just using a framework for it. Perhaps they should have gone for ActionScript Builder since it would clear up what the program is meant to do.
    As for the confusion, no matter what they call it people will always be confused. The whole ecosystem is messed up and I think Adobe is taking the right step towards cleaning it up. Maybe the should have gone for RIA Builder since that is such a clear term these days.
    Good post btw… You have my vote for Adobe RedLight!

  2. Thanks for the comment.
    Suddenly Flash became ‘Flash Professional’[1] and ‘Flex’ users, who think Flex Builder is the professional tool, while welcome the change, feel the naming doesn’t do justice.
    So I have seen a few suggestions for ‘Flash’ (authoring tool) like ‘Flash Designer’… ‘Flash Animator’ is a good one too, but I don’t think these names are fair for Flash, just like ‘Flash Professional’ degrades ‘Flash Builder’s image.
    ‘ActionScript Builder’ could have been a good name except that AFAIK Flex Builder does not support AS1 or AS2. (But Flash does). And ‘AS3 Builder’ excludes future AS versions…
    I’m still not convinced I’m wrong. Again, I hope I am.
    [1] Until version 7, Flash was just Flash. With MX 2004 a professional version was introduced. Macromedia at that time stressed that ‘pro’ part was not part of the version but part of the product name, though everybody used it as a part of the version, if they bothered to mention it. From that day -and I live in a Flash world- I have very rarely seen or heard Flash referred to as ‘Flash Professional’. Probably never in casual talk. Until some hours ago… Confusion has set in already. People started to refer to what was simply Flash as Flash Professional to make the distinction. These people are the ones who know what they are doing, for the confused crowd Flash is still Flash (whatever it means and may mean) and it’s more confusing than ever.

  3. Personally I always like Future Splash, but then I guess the future arrived and you couldn’t call it the future anymore. Then again, its still New York…
    I don’t even have an issue with Flex, although if the component framework is also Flex that is more of a problem. Then again it is probably like you say, if someone doesn’t know the difference between a bass guitar and a guitar, then it isn’t really a name problem, it just means they don’t play.
    I think a lot of people have had actual bad experiences with people being confused, or willfully confused. Ultimately that was from Flash having a hard time getting taken seriously by business, so Adobe tried to ‘hide it’ with Flex and Air. Like Windows7 isn’t called Vista2 (or Vista 1.1 actually). The problem is they hid it too well.
    Really really, they should call it the Eclipse Plugin for Flash, but I guess honesty isn’t the strongest force in a marketing division : ).

  4. Hi Robin,
    Always a pleasure to have your comments.
    > Really really, they should call it the Eclipse Plugin for Flash
    Exactly! There’s a more fundamental problem here, IMHO, which I will blog next.
    Thanks! and take care.

  5. Tink says:

    For me it’s the ‘Builder’ bit thats naff. You build Flash content with the Flash IDE as well, you use both tools to ‘build’ content.
    I wanted Flash Developer and Flash Designer. These define the job roles as well.
    Flash designers use the Flash IDE, timeline animation, drawn graphics etc, and the developers write code in Eclipse.

  6. Hi Stephen,
    > …Flash Designer. These define the job roles as well.
    I don’t agree with that. Flash Designer does not cover all Flash Pro has. Flash Pro also has developer appeal.
    I really do understand how one can think Flash Pro is for designers only, but it’s IMHO more than that.
    Thanks for the comment!