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Adobe AIR Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Yakov Fain, David Weinberger, Maureen O'Gara, Tad Anderson

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Will HTML Force You to Lie?

OK, our company, Farata Systems has created this nice application using Adobe AIR, and our customers are happy. It’s not a simple CRUD though. We’ve implemented some cool stuff replacing tons of paper forms with PDF documents processing. PDF documents are being scanned, the OCR software processes them to automatically figure out what type of document is it to properly save it in a database. Customers’ checks are scanned, digital signatures are flying, reports are being created… All is integrated into one Adobe AIR application. No external Acrobat Reader, no nothing. I’m not saying that it’s not doing some traditional grid/form processing, but there is something to be proud of.

Yesterday, one perspective customer asked me if we have an HTML5 version of this application. I said, “We can create one for you”. The next moment I realized that I lied and added, “I mean, most of it can be turned into HTML/JavaScript, but some heavy duty stuff we’re doing now would be too expensive to re-create in HTML/JavaScript”.

I didn’t start questioning why they even wanted to do a pure HTML5 version. I know what the answer would be: “Everybody goes HTML5, we want it too, and we want it now”. You can’t piss against the wind. You shouldn’t attack windmills unless your name is Don Quixote.

In my 25+ years in IT I always stuck to one rule – give your customers an honest technical opinion, but if they decide to overrule it for whatever reason, do what they want. This strategy allows me sleep well at night knowing that I didn’t lie. I also know that I would have won more project bids if I wouldn’t stick to this rule.

After thinking of this yesterday’s conversation I felt like deja vu – it was happening in the past and will be happening all over again. I’ll be saying to our perspective customers something like this, “We can do it in HTML5/JavaScript, but it’s going to be a lot more expensive than if we’d in Adobe AIR”. But the next day a salesman from another consulting firm will meet with the same perspective client and, without thinking twice, will answer, “Yes sir, we can do it in HTML5 at the same or even lower cost. Promise.”. After that the salesman will give a strong handshake looking straight in the eye of a customer for about three seconds. They’ll win the bid… Said I loved you, but I lied.

Only six months later it’ll become obvious to everybody that the entire project budget is drained, because of “some unforeseeable technical difficulties”, and they’d need to substantially increase the budjet of this project. But hey, they’ll figure out something. And what do I get? I didn’t lose self respect and sleep well at night, which are not a bad things too, don’t you think?

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More Stories By Yakov Fain

Yakov Fain is a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay. He wrote a thousand blogs ( and several books about software development. Yakov authored and co-authored such books as "Angular 2 Development with TypeScript", "Java 24-Hour Trainer", and "Enterprise Web Development". His Twitter tag is @yfain