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Interview with Flash Team Product Managers

Below are a couple of questions posted on the were-here forums for the Flash product team. You can view the original thread here. I asked Jeremy Clark, and Troy Evans to respond to the questions.

Jeremy is a product Manager for the Macromedia Flash Authoring tool, and Troy is the product manager for the Macromedia Flash player.

Note : Due to legal restrains, Macromedia cannot comment on lawsuits. Because of this, we were not able to address a few of the original questions.

Q : I’d like to know what is the internal consensus on Flash MX and the player by the creators? Are they happy with it?
[Jeremy] All of us here are very happy with the Flash MX release. We were able to spend more time in research & development this time which I feel really shows in the number of features we were able to add, the amount of cross-product integration we were able to achieve, and how solid it is. Of course with every release, there are always features that we would like to get in, but can’t because of time. But I definitely think that this is the most ambitious release of Flash that we have ever created, and we also feel we were able to add value to the product for everyone that uses it, from animators to app developers.

In addition to Flash MX there are several server-side technologies that we’ve been working on such as ColdFusion MX which integrates very closely with Flash MX, and the Flash communication server which I’m personally very excited about. If you have been able to attend some of the recent flash conferences such as FlashInTheCan in Toronto or FlashForward in San Francisco, or have read some of the interviews with Jeremy Allaire, you know that there is still a lot more to come in regards to Flash.

[Troy] We are very happy with how the player turned out. We are particularly proud that we were able to add full video support to the player, while only adding 70k to the overall player size. Of course, there were some issues that arose after the release of the player, and we wish we would have been able to catch those. That is why we had a 6 week public beta on the player before it was released. I think the fact that the issue wasn’t found shows how difficult it can be to test such a complex piece of software.

Q : Is there the feeling that economics or management shortsightedness affected the product quality?

[Jeremy] Not at all. Keep in mind that we had been planning for Flash MX since the release of Flash 5 (almost two years). We have a pretty intensive planning process before we even begin to do actual development. During the planning we get feedback from our team, other product teams at Macromedia and members of the community (directly, and through the wish-lists). By the time we begin developing we have a pretty good idea of what the main themes of the next release will be. Then when we’ve got a product to work with, we had an extensive beta test to ensure a solid release. With the economy as weak as it has been, it would be tempting for some companies to throw out products that aren’t really ready yet just to keep sales going, but as I noted earlier, we actually took more time to make sure we developed the right products for our users.

Q : Or are they amazed at themselves for cramming so much capability in such a tight timeframe?
[Jeremy] I really feel that we have some of the most talented engineers in the industry, and they never cease to surprise me. Having said that though, once we had our plans in place, we were confident that we would be able to deliver (of course, that required a couple of weeks of working on the weekends, and sleeping in the office!).

Q : Finally, are there any plans for a subsequent release to address the issues voiced by the developer community. [Troy] We have already responded to issues raised by the community with new Flash player releases. If new issues arose in the future, we would certainly examine them, and see if they warranted a new player release.

[Jeremy] We have a strict policy of not being able to publicly comment on any future releases or updates to our products, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you much.

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