Adobe Flash has been one of the foundations of the Internet for nearly 20 years. Many believe this is due to its successful integration of browser plug-in technology and streaming video and to a certain extent, they are correct. Equally valuable to developers, however, has been the Flash integrated development environment or IDE.
Authoring Flash content and more recently HTML5, mobile app and video content with the Flash IDE has always been much easier than performing the same tasks manually. In this manner, Flash has had an adoption curve very similar to Microsoft's Visual Basic with largely similar results.
Presenting games in a web browser has been highly successful for many years. Many developers and companies have built enormously successful businesses using Flash as an interactive platform, and to a certain degree, these games have found their way on to mobile devices as well. The reason Flash has traditionally been so popular as a development platform for interactive games is because it tightly integrates logic, graphics and user interface elements into a unified package.
Adobe Flash was one of the first web technologies to make possible the presentation of high quality extemporaneous streaming video on nearly any web site. Once PC hardware caught up with the software's potential, full-screen video was not only possible, but became the basis for a $1.65 billion company called YouTube.
Video has always been perceived as one of Flash's greatest features. In fact, one of the key reasons Flash is still superior to many other alternatives, even in 2016, is due to the fact nearly any developer can place a video on his or her own web site with a few clicks and know for a fact it will play in high quality with few technical issues.
This is a less famous use for Flash but it deserves mention. Until the wide adoption of AJAX technology, one of the best ways to collect and evaluate web analytics was to install a small Flash application on a site and allow it to collect information about visits.
This capability remains of particular interest to advertisers.
Mobile Application Development
Due mainly to the high quality of its IDE, Adobe Flash can be used to turn almost any Flash application into a mobile application with a single click. There are few, if any alternative IDEs for developing mobile apps that even come close to what Flash offers. This is likely to be its primary appeal to future developers for many years to come.
Storyboarding and Animatics
Because Flash started out as an animation platform, it stands to reason it would be highly prized among animators. As a storyboarding, cinematic and animatic production platform, it stands alone in its combination of low price and time-tested functionality.
One of the key reasons Flash is so good at what it does is it allows developers and animators to perfectly synchronize sound and animation. This is something supporters of other platforms and development tools often overlook. Animation without synchronized sound isn't anywhere near as appealing.
This, among many other things, is why Flash is likely to be around for a long time. Even if it isn't being used to produce web applications that run in a plug-in, it is a mature, high-quality development tool that can do things, frankly, no other platform can.