Flash is dead!
by: Ashley Sheinwald | December 16, 2011
A while ago we tweeted that Flash is dead. Presumptuous, maybe, the reality is a little less clear but being refined daily.
Should we develop Flash sites?
The simple answer to this is, maybe not so simple. On the whole yes, Flash is dead. The bygone era of Flash websites has had it’s day. To bolster this view even Aral Balkan the famed Flash developer and evangelist was sidelined by Adobe for his comments a few years ago that Flash was a technology on the way out.
As Aral states Flash was adept at producing uniformed cross browser solutions in the days of the strict browser wars, non standard compliance to any and all technologies; when getting sites to look and interact the same was more than a chore if not neigh on improbable. But this was a solution in the era of desktop only solutions, and the world has moved on.
This opinion thrust itself to the forefront of technological circles as Apple launched their iOS devices and blanket banned mobile Flash. The reasoning was the user experience, a view that the users perceptions of the Apple hardware could be damaged and hence affect the brand. This was mainly because of the plethora of poorly conceived and coded Flash websites that hog computer processors and crash browsers. Okay, I do love Apple products but from a non-biased view I do understand the standpoint they took.
Many developers were in uproar but the simple fact is—users don’t understand the difference between a Flash or HTML website, and they certainly don’t understand when it is the site that has frozen their device as opposed to the device itself; and this simply leads to a branding issue of the reliability of the technology. Especially when you pay a premium for the hardware from Apple. Some may say rightly so, some balk at the cost; honestly speaking it is best to use one or some of their products and make your own mind up.
Should I still use Flash?
Well, if you are developing a new site you have to consider your user base a first point of call. If you are developing a site for all users, consumers and being wholeheartedly focused on delivering communications, services or selling products to be used by anyone and everyone; then yes for you “Flash is dead”. You also need to consider the cost of developing in Flash, maintaining a Flash based product and even more to the point—updating a Flashed based product. The web moves at high velocity and keeping your products fresh using Flash can be a task.
if you’re starting a new web project, do not use Flash for it.
If you have an unlimited fund to maintain multiple versions (we always had to produce non Flash based versions with our Flash sites to ensure accessibility), or you are producing a web only (desktop computer web that is) interactive game or bespoke application then go ahead. Otherwise consider seriously your reasoning for wanting a Flash site.
Mobile is the new Black!
Does your site work on mobile? It should do! As Paypal released it’s figures this last Black Friday, mobile purchases were up over 500%. Yes, you read that correctly, over 500%. People really are reaching for their smart-phones for everything and from anywhere.
Put it this way, I was very recently (not on Black Friday) standing in a bookshop browsing and I saw a book I wanted. Now normally the urge to have it in my hand and walk out the shop with it takes over, and the impulse purchaser in me lines up with that feeling of glee. But this time, I took out my phone, a very quick search found the title, gave me the current purchase options and prices and guess what; I could have it tomorrow delivered to my address for less than half the price of what I was looking at. So while standing in the bookshop I purchased it online via my phone. I left the shop empty handed as you really can’t fight savings like that. The next day it was delivered as promised at a substantial saving. What can I say!
Why the little personal retail shopping story? If the sites I looked at were in Flash I wouldn’t have been able to see them on my phone (yes I have an iPhone) and wouldn’t have been able to make my purchase there and then. Because the web is a now medium, it is instant, it can be impulsive and it is now everywhere.
Does Flash have a place?
OK, the reality as I stated earlier isn’t as simple as all that. Flash isn’t exactly DEAD. Yes Adobe have formally released the statement that “mobile Flash is dead” as covered by the broadsheets and have also released statements and software solutions to focus on HTML5 technologies (namely Edge). This could possibly be interesting (I haven’t played with it yet) but it also looks like it could be a little step backwards – a bit like the Dreamweaver animations of the mid 1990’s Dynamic HTML. But as for Flash… Well Apple actually relaxed the app store rules to allow third party compilers (non apple software developers ability to spit out their code as apple code) to create apple based coded applications. So Flash as the underlying technology of “Flash Develop” and “Adobe Air” have focused their solutions towards developers ability to maintain their invested educations into the technology, as a way towards delivering operating system specific applications for devices. Which is what they should have done a few years ago.
Long live HTML5!
Well, now that‘s another post altogether.
With regards the death of Flash, this is just my opinion from where I stand within the industry after sixteen years of developing. And yes I was once an avid Flash developer. To say I loved it is an understatement, it wasn’t that long ago we revelled in our ability to (using Adobe FLEX) develop hi octane Rich Internet Applications. But now… where we are down this long technological road—that showed itself to be the short sighted approach. We weren’t to know and neither were many others, hence the furor and debates that rage on the Internet on this very subject. But we are realists and more to the point we are here to promote brands and experiences online and you just can’t do that with half a solution. A solution has to encompass all devices, for all the users all of the time.
Do you have an opinion, a comment, agree or disagree. Let us know what you think in the comments?