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7th Floor Media has been thinking seriously about interactive digital media for culture and education for over 20 years. Here on our much less formal blog, staff discuss discoveries and issues that arise from the fascinating work they do. This is 7FM "outside the box," where ideas and opinions are set free.

You are invited - nay, encouraged - to participate in the conversation.

Is Flash out?

By Pamela Sevilla-Anderson on March 29th, 2010

With the coming launch of the new Adobe CS5, I searched for the next big thing in Flash CS5 and found a post in a funny blog by George Hahn, a professional Flash Designer. His first few paragraphs struck a cord. He writes about the demise of Flash on websites because of the non-Flash support on Apple’s iPhone, iTouch and iPad.

So is Flash out?

Being an iPhone user myself, I often get frustrated with all-flash sites that present a big blank spot in the middle of the page. Even though I am the Flash “person” in our office, I find myself agreeing with Mr. Hahn, as there are plenty of other ways to present a moving, Flash-like environment.

Here’s one example of a photo gallery with jQuery. JQuery is a javascript library that allows developers to add movement and added functionality easily to a page. Mobile users can see that extra magic and it downgrades nicely when done properly for non-javascript enabled browsers.

And, dust off that old video codec: Quicktime (mov). For developers, the conflict of trying to accommodate all browsers often gave us the arduous task of having to provide a choice of video formats such as Quicktime (mov) and Windows Media (wmv) or else risk alienating some of our audiences by only supporting one camp. When Flash started adding video support and with it’s mass adoption, the answer was easy. Coders could stick video on a site with Flash without worrying about what browsers people were using to view their site. Now, with the iPhone, iTouch and iPad, it seems like we are back to square one. Luckily, Apple owns Quicktime, so for clients looking to add video to their site, exporting video to mov is a no-brainer. And, rest assured, it will happily be supported on the Apple family of devices. Take a look at Quicktime Trailers on an iPhone or iTouch. It works beautifully.

And finally, when they can agree on which video codec to use as a standard, HTML5 video and audio tags could potentially wipe out Flash media players altogether.

Bottom line: I agree with the proponents Mr. Hahn writes about, Flash may be on it’s way out for delivering online content. And, not to mislead you, Mr. Hahn really wrote about how some sites really benefited from being entirely built on Flash. But, looking back on a few, I’m sure they could have done it in an entirely different way.

5 Responses to “Is Flash out?”

  1. Mike Sev Says:

    Well written Blog entry , I’m all for standardization. Hope it gets adopted sooner rather than later. The new codec better be high quality, that’s all I ask.

  2. Mo Says:

    Here’s Steve Jobs’ letter explaining Apple’s Flash distaste:
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20003742-264.html

    Basically his remarks state that:
    1) Adobe’s Flash software is too proprietary a product for Apple to adopt
    2) Apple prefers open standards for the web and has created WebKit HTML rendering engine – totally open source – now adopted by Google’s Adroid, Palm, Nokia and RIM.
    3) Flash video is being replaced by the more modern format H.264, viewable on iPhones, Pods and Pads.
    4) Flash has numerous security issues
    5) Flash is the number one reasons Macs crash (who knew? That’s interesting.)
    6) Flash relies on older generation decoders that must be run in software, not hardware, and the ensuing use of power results in a drain on mobile battery power
    7) Flash wasn’t designed for “touch.” Menus that require “rollovers” created in Flash will not work in touch-based browsers.

    So the guy has his reasons. But in my opinion it still seems like warring interests have sidelined the interests of users, including me. Maybe there will eventually be a transition away from Flash, but right now there are a lot of big empty spaces on my iTouch where content should be. That’s RIGHT NOW. Apple is ticking me off right now, and I could care less whether they have big plans for the future because I’m missing what I need right now. This will naturally have an impact on my next mobile purchase, Mr. Jobs. How sad will you be when I walk right past your Apple store when I make my next phone or pad or god-knows-what by then purchase, Mr. Jobs? Very sad indeed, I daresay.

  3. Michael Says:

    Apple not using flash has basicly opened the door for the other smart phones out there. I believe the new 2.2 OS for android now supports Flash and all reviews have been positive. Given the fact that Andriod out sold the iphone in the last quater (they have a two for one offer) this opens the door on what seem impossible only a few months ago. A real iphone killer.

  4. Greg Says:

    Apple has changed their mind on allowing the Flash->App conversion:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/apple-to-publish-guidelines-for-app-approval/article1700935/

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