Why ActionScript is not a dead language

This apply also to all comments saying that ActionScript is:
deprecated, not supported, abandoned, depreciated, extinguished, etc.
or any synonyms of “dead”

TLDR_AS3_not_dead



First, the difference between a runtime and a programming language

The Flash browser plugin is a runtime
it allows to execute SWF files that contains ActionScript bytecode

ActionScript is a programming language
latest version is ActionScript 3.0
in general you use a compiler to compile ActionScript plain text sources
to ActionScript bytecode (ABC) into SWF files, and/or SWC files


Simply put,
a runtime interpret code on the CPU as machine code
and
a programming language define a set of instructions and symbols
that can produce various kind of output



What is dead really?
The Flash runtime, it has been EOL’ed
see Adobe Flash Player End of Life


Is Flash (the IDE) dead?
no

The Flash IDE, previously known as Flash CS and Flash CC
is now known as Animate CC and is still a product maintained by Adobe.


Is the SWF format dead?
no

you can produce SWF files from Animate CC, and many different compilers
those SWF can be consumed by different runtimes other than Flash (the plugin)



Are there other runtimes?
yes

There are

After the announcement by Adobe: The Future of Adobe AIR (May 2009)
Adobe AIR is now maintained and distributed by Harman,
see their web site https://airsdk.harman.com/

Redtamarin is an open source project build upon
the Adobe’s open source avmplus project (since 2007)
(Source code for the Actionscript virtual machine)
and which build and distribute an open source runtime for the command-line


Can those runtimes run inside the browser?
no


Where do those runtimes run?
see



Can I still target the browser with SWF files?
it depends, in general “no”
without a browser plugin like the Flash player plugin to interpret SWF files
then your browser can not interpret SWF files

But some open source projects made SWF interpreters based on JavaScript
you had Shumway by Mozilla which is now abandoned
and a recent one is Ruffle

but there are two main inconveniences with those

  • in general, they only support old SWF formats
    so for example a recent SWF where there is a lot of ActionScript 3 will not work
  • you have to “embed” the library on the website where the SWF is hosted

Can I still target the browser with ActionScript?
yes

The same way you can write your code in TypeScript and compile it for the browser
or you can write ES6/ES7/etc. and use babel to compile it for the browser

You can use Apache Royale to compile ActionScript 3 to JavaScript to run inside the browser



Which tools allow me to compile ActionScript 3 ?
a lot!

here the main ones:


If I write code in ActionScript 3.0 today where can I ship it?
see the list

  • with Adobe AIR
    • Windows desktop app 32-bit and 64-bit (GUI)
      Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10
      possible to target older Windows 2000, etc.
    • macOS desktop app 64-bit (GUI)
      from macOS 10.10 to latest macOS 10.15
      possible to target older macOS 10.9, 32-bit, and even older PPC
    • Linux desktop app 32-bit (GUI)
      complicated but possible with very old AIR v2.6
    • Android app (GUI)
      from old to latest, various
    • Android TV app (GUI)
    • iOS app (GUI)
      from old to latest, various
    • iOS TV app (GUI)
  • with Redtamarin
    • Windows desktop app 32-bit and 64-bit (CLI)
    • Windows server app 32-bit and 64-bit (CLI)
    • macOS desktop app 32-bit and 64-bit (CLI)
    • macOS server app 32-bit and 64-bit (CLI)
    • Linux desktop app 32-bit and 64-bit (CLI)
    • Linux server app 32-bit and 64-bit (CLI)
  • with Apache Royale
    • browser apps (GUI)
      in general recent browser
      or any place where Google Chrome can run

GUI vs CLI:
  • GUI: those use a graphic display
    desktop and/or device with a display
  • CLI: those do not need a graphic display
    command-line, server-side, background services,
    daemons, microservices, etc.


In short,
ActionScript is not a dead language because you have many more runtimes (than Flash)
where you can compile and interpret your code to execute your programs in many platforms:
Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS and the browser.

12 Likes

Good write up! I need to checkout Redtamarin!

2 Likes

Thanks to repell all those trolls who poisoned our community since too long.
I’m also sick and tired to see so much ignorance and disrespect. The day the browser will decide to remove javascript the ignorant will say “javascript is dead’”, whatever.
About Ruffle, I would like to correct the comment above, Support for As3 is already started in early stages, but I guess it will take more than one year before a workable version.
As1/As2 is already working but not 100% of classes are converted in Rust.
There is also a talented developer who started a kind of same project as Ruffle but seems to work better for now that Ruffle. search waflash on github

2 Likes

there is nothing to correct, what I said is true

:grinning: It would be good for the AS3 community to reinforce ActionScript’s presence at the event: “ApacheCon” - Sep 29 - Oct 1, 2020.
https://www.apachecon.com/acah2020/tracks/royale.html

3 Likes