May 142008
 

Recently we have seen a lot of progress with the capabilities of Javascript to leverage the capabilities of HTML to do things that was previously only possible using Flash.
Thanks to for example mootools and jQuery you can now create sites that looks like they are made with Flash with nice tweening animations, and of course AJAX have already for a few years been an option to update the content without reloading the page.
Does this mean that the future of Flash looks bleak?
Somerandomdude seems to think so, and points to some of examples if the impeding demise of Flash. John Resig’s Processing.js and experiments with HTML 5’s video element.

 

First of all, does any of these developments offer improvements over what Flash have been capable of for years?
Maybe if a site that is heavy on information but you might want to jazz it up a bit with some nice transitions.
When it comes to presenting text HTML has some advantages, mainly due to the browser integration.
Using the browsers built in search or select and right click to google a phrase for example.
Usually those advantages are greater than the possibility to embed font outlines with Flash.
But most implementations I have seen of for example slideshows and menus does not offer any advantages what I can see. Implementing them in Javascript still performs worse, gives you less possibilities and makes it less accessible.

 

When it comes to video on the surface I cannot see any reason why a video playback native to the browser would be preferable.
Of course one could argue that since you have a limited choice of compression formats with Flash it would open up to more options there. But to deploy content you will still have to make sure you use a codec that is included with a majority of browsers. It remains to be seen if it will mean much of an improvement in practice, and personally I do think that h264 is quite satisfactory.
All the above is true for the HTML5 audio element as well.

 

Of course the technical merits is only a part of the parameters that decide the acceptance of a technology. There are a lot of developers that really dislike Flash for various reasons and they are just really happy that they now can do the same things as has been possible for a long time with Flash.
The fact that it can be more tedious to implement and performs worse is not as important as various factors like avoiding proprietary formats or using a environment they are already accustomed to.

 

But even if Flash is not necessary to do a lot of things that previously was it’s exclusive domain to me it seems like it’s constantly gaining acceptance with developers.
Flash is still quite far ahead of the capabilities of DHTML/AJAX and how long will it take before HTML5 is widespread enough to make it a viable option?
Flash is still developing rapidly and the new versions of the plug-in is spreading extremely fast, so by the time HTML5 capable browsers is widespread enough probably 95% will have the Flash 15 plug-in installed.

 

I think the main issue here is the different ways in which Flash and HTML is being developed.
A lot of the hate against Flash is based on the fact that swf is a proprietary format, and even if that is not entirely true any more it’s certainly not based on an open standard.
And that what makes it possible for it to stay on the cutting edge, and that’s why the capabilities of DHTML, XHTML, Javascript, SVG etc. always is one step behind.
Even if I prefer open standards in theory it just doesn’t seem to work as well in practice.
Rather than being impressed how HTML and Javascript is catching up with the capabilities of Flash I’m continuously surprised at how slowly it’s happening.

 

I have been fanatic about Flash since I first discovered it in 1999, and I really have trouble being completely neutral even I try. But IMO Flash is not going anywhere. With AS3, AVM2 and FLEX a lot of new possibilities has opened up that DHTML will not be capable of any time soon, like for example decent 3d engines, socket connections and sound synthesis.
Overall I do see a trend though that the web is getting less and less fixated with certain technologies.
On the server side we have seen Python and Ruby gaining acceptance. MS will be trying with Silverlight to present an alternative to Flash and HTML will be able to compete as well.
But it’s not a war where anyone has to die…there is certainly room for more than either ASP, perl or PHP on the server and HTML, Shockwave or Flash on the client, which pretty much used to be the case.

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Aug 192005
 

It’s nice to see more and more companies actually making use of the advantages technologies like Flash, FLEX and Laszlo provide.
Many times when you discuss with the CSS/XHTML fanatics they seem to think that Flash is only good as a slimmer replacement for animated gifs or QuickTime video.

It has for a long time amazed me that the web have been so restricted in the way it uses the medium considering the capabilities.
It has the potential to be more exiting and involving than video and printed media, but in reality it’s rather been more basic and limited most of the time.

Here is some sites that I think do a good job in showing the way in what the Internet is capable of.
Most pretty much well known for anyone already interested in RIA, but I mainly wanted to compile a list of for people not so familiar with RIA applications.

The Harley Davidson configurator
Brilliant Flex app.

Behr ColorSmart
Laszlo seems very exciting and it’s nice to see a good example like this of it’s use.

Colr.org
Ok…I’ll include one AJAX app. It’s quite a neat little colour tool handy to play around with to find interesting colour schemes.
Hmm…maybe should have used it before starting this site ;)

Neave Lab Flash Earth
Yes…I do find it more fun to play around with compared to google earth. Flash rules and AJAX developer is fools ;)

Build your own MINI
Another good example of a product configurator.

Goowy mail
Flash based webmail service.

NIKE configurator
Yet another good example of product configuration.

Theban mapping project
Egyptology site with a nice interactive atlas.

Thats some favourite applications from my bookmarks.
Please suggest more examples that I have missed out.

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