« Flash and the Web | Main | Marketing vs. Information »

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


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First, Flash does support devices for the visual impaired. Of course, I do not think many Flash developers actually implement it as it is far harder that just creating a button. Of course, it could also be said of many of the advanced AJAX website out there that many would be a nightmare to use if you are visually impaired.

You can read more about Flash practices for accessibility here: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flash/articles/flash8_bestpractices_09.html

Next, yes, you cannot view Flash apps on your iPhone right now. It does seem that if some sites in Flash wanted to be visible on the iPhone they now have to implement something different. Whatever. If said company feels it is helpful for them, then they will do it. If it is not worth the cost, then they won’t. What will be the deciding factor? Revenue.

“it is more economical to provide services in a way which is better at adapting to a wider array of client constraints and capabilities” – Interesting. Why not build every website using standards from the 90s then? There are many cell phones with limited browsing capabilities, so why not support them to? Or is the iPhone so much above them we can ignore their plight too? But then, if we think about a wider array of client constraints, the fact is that there are more Flash installations than any single browser. The adoption rate of Flash 9 is huge, and it has been available for only a short time. The install for Flash is so quick and painless for most users that if they do not have it installed already, it is a no-brainer to get it. Faster and easier than Java, Quicktime, Real, etc… by a long shot.

I doubt Flash is even close to dead, if anything it is still climbing to its golden age. Actionscript 3.0 follows standards so well that Adobe is giving the interpreter to Mozilla to use in their Javascript 2.0 browser.

In the end it comes to user experience. Large companies that use Flash extensively, such as Nike, might choose to make a special portal for the iPhone. Once the iPhone gets Flash they will be able to make a portal page for EVERY cell phone with Flash. Flash, as a RIA, can reformat itself very dynamically, even more so than AJAX to the viewing device. Most importantly, a true consistent look/feel can be created across the platforms.

Until a true open source format emerges that can replace Flash, along with IDEs for building them, I don’t think Flash will be going away anytime soon.

The iPhone is a unique browsing device. It does not support mouse over events or drag events. It does not support downloading, nor uploading. It has an interesting way of zooming into a page, but I think I remember reading special META tags that you can put in your pages to force a browser size – are those standards that work in, say Firefox on Linux? And finally, nearly every iPhone app has been specially made for the iPhone. As a finger input device, you quickly realize that input buttons and layouts should be adjusted compared to a site for a standard computer. As mobile browsers become more of a commonplace, it really makes sense for companies to consider making 2 interfaces, one for the desktop and one for the handheld. In the end, the user on a 3.5 inch screen vs a 24 inch screen experience websites in VERY different ways.

The ironic thing is, if the Flash player was on the iPhone, a Flash developer would have fine control over the end-user experience potentially delivering a better experience to the iPhone and desktop simultaneously.

As someone who’s job is to help marketing teams leverage their dollars the best way possible, often Flash becomes a tool to enhance their websites “to the next level” – and they like it. Their customers like it. And their accountants like it. So in the end, I get more and more work with Flash requested. Which makes the artists I work with much happier, because they can do more and implement more “design”.

I am afraid you have a lot more Flash based apps to look forward to. Lucky, rumor mills have it that Flash will be on your iPhone shortly, so then you will have less to complain and write about. In fact, I will check in to see if some of the Flash based interfaces written for the iPhone end up delighting you in the future, as they well might.


I haven't noticed your next post, so I've written reply to your "Death of Flash" post. I still disagree. Yes, w3c supports open technologies and yes, also makes mistakes (smil, svg,...). A lot of times I agree with their thesis, and yes, Flash is really closed. I remember when I've started to work with Flash, I felt like I can't breathe... But in that closeness Flash carried something new to the web: statefull client, rich internet applications, incredible vector engine, smooth transitions, bunch of new design techniques...
Web evolved into something really big and it's not possible to control or predict it for the next 10 years. RIA's (Flash, Silverlight, JavaFX,...), google gears and other such stuff is going AWAY from stateless client. So, people on w3c, please wake up! Including you, Erik.
BR Milan

Keith Peters

Yes, it is somewhat of an ideological argument, but I think the concept that "Flash is evil" is the only real ideology being professed. Almost every Flash developer I know is very cognizant of its shortcomings and knows that there is a right place to use Flash and a right place to NOT use it. If Flash advocates are getting angry it's because you are dismissing something wholesale, saying it has no good use and no good content and anyone who uses it or advocates it is an idiot. You say "none of the opponents will change their minds." I think most Flash users would be more than happy to discuss the problems of Flash and its inappropriate uses, and would love to see solutions to the issues you bring up. That would be a productive conversation to have, because, as I said, whether you like it or not, Flash is going to be around for a while.


keith: thanks for your comment. i did never want to say that "flash is evil" in itself, and the whole discussion actually started because i said that "flash is not a web technology". this is a very different statement to make. flash as a media player and flash as a platform for multimedia apps are very different from seeing and using flash as a web app platform.

if a project manager has the task to build a web presence and ends up funding a flash app, where none of the relevant information (such as the product catalog) is available through pure web means, then i think he should be fired, because he simply did not do his job. if the web site ends up being a web-oriented site being augmented with multimedia snippets which provide a richer description of products, then he indeed did what he was supposed to do.

to me, this failure to make a distinction between putting some data on the web and putting web data on the web is like people saying that their presentations are on the web, when all they do is putting powerpoint files up for download. sure, i can download the powerpoint file and most browsers will recognize the mime type and display it, and also the powerpoint file may contain links to web resources, but all of this does not make turn the powerpoint presentation contents into web contents. it is a closed format not allowing any reuse and refactoring that just happens to be delivered through http. to make a presentation available on the web, you have to work a little harder, so that parts of it can be pointed to and reused in different contexts. you might decide that is not worth the effort or that your intended audience is not interested in that, and that's fine, but then all you do is creating powerpoint slide shows and putting them up for display. you are not creating web content.

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