Flash Team > no need to focus on developers anymore
The Flash Team is calling for wishlist features for Blaze aka Flash 9. In particular they are asking about additions to the code editing enviornment for Actionscript. I think at this stage, most developers that would be asking for major additions have already got their wish, and that wish is Flex Builder 2.
With all of the beautiful features in Flex Builder 2 built solely for developers, there is really no need to focus development of Flash on developers anymore. I am positive that in the next generation, almost any Flasher that writes serious code will opt for Flex builder to manage and write that code. That does not mean that the Flash IDE is deprecated though, our design team, and designers all around the world still use it everyday.
I would emplore the Flash team to focus there. Continue to give them the ability to build the most beautiful experiences out there, and leave the coding to a tool built to handle it well. I am sure that with the Adobe merger there are Flash IDE possibilities related to After Effects (for example) that can be persued that would be way more advantageous to the Flash Community as a whole.
What's the best approach? Well, even though I am a full blown "developer" these days, I still work in Flash as well. I have to tweak assets that the designers prepare and do optimizations all the time. I would focus on making the two tools sing together, and work on providing a wonderful way that designers and developers can collaborate on projects where both tools are in play.
In order to accomplish this there has to be a way that both a developer and designer can compile projects from their respective tools. People burned me in the past when I suggested the idea that Flex Builder 2 be able to compile projects in which an FLA was the root file over an MXML file. That concept still makes sense to me however, and I am willing to re-light the debate on that one with whoever wants to get into it.
I don't see Flex Builder being able to open the FLA for editing or anything, just having the ability to compile a SWF from that FLA.
Designers would have to be able to do the same. but that should be ok, seeing as technically things wouldn't be much different than they are now for them.
The only hangup is binding classes to movieclips and the root. I as the programmer would have to go into the FLA file in Flash just to bind movieclips to their classes. This will end up being unavoidable I think, because most of the time there are things I have to tweak in order for the resulting component to work as I want it to. Our designers do a great graphical job on everything they make, but in every project I will have to: pull out a mask they made and apply it with actionscript, and other tasks up that alley.
It would be cool though to have some way that a developer could manage those class bindings without needing to open the FLA file.
To conclude here, I think that in less than 2 product cycles from right now, major integration between Flex Builder 2 and Flash will be paramount. I forsee alot of projects happening where the products will be used in tandem, so I say:
Focus on integration of the two products, coders will all eventually opt for Flex Builder 2 for code.
I would even go as far as saying:
"Flex Builder 2 is not a good name for the product it actually is"
The reason behind that is, that I would use Flex Builder 2 everyday (I am now actually), but I will likely use it more for editing Actionscript for Flash projects than I would using it to develop Flex projects. That is until Flex projects become the majority of the work we do for our clients.