Flash, and all that Jazz

So it seems that the web is alight with talk of Adobe’s ubiquitous Flash platform because of some rather interesting decisions taken, and points proposed by Apple’s Steve Jobs, but what are the main points, beyond the simple “it crashes Macs” argument? Well in the article I hope to set out a few of my thoughts on the subject, just so that I don’t go forgetting them!

Flash is, for all intents and purposes, okay. And I say that as a user, not a web designer/Mac users/fanboy. Some Flash websites created by the professional are mind-bogglingly awesome and never cease to amaze me, for example 2Advanced – the industry leaders are utterly fantastic at what they do. They’ve taken Flash to a whole new level, using powerful techniques that make for a stunning result (their website that is). And I admire that, because I think mastery of any platform should be applauded. And at this point in time there are certain things that can only be done with Flash – complex online games, and rich web applications to name just a few. And making a website in Flash obviously has advantages over other methods – for one you can ensure it will look the same across all platforms, and the Flash player plugin is installed on something like 95% of the world’s computers, so your in safe hands.

But, and it’s a big but; I will respect you more as a designer if you don’t use Flash. Why? Well, about two years ago when I was new to the whole jQuery thing, I remember seeing a scrolling animation in a sidebar. It was basically displaying a load of pictures and just going up and down. When I first looked at it I though, yeah that’s Flash, but when I right clicked it, I was presented with my normal contextual menu, and I was amazed! Now I realize that that sounds awfully mundane, but back then I was inspired. Since then I have found myself finding that many rich web experiences have nothing to do with Flash, and I love it! So when it comes to me, I wouldn’t use Flash in a design, and that’s just because I’m not a fan.

Now this is coming from someone that’s tried to get into Flash. I learned my fair share of ActionScript, and got to grips with the software, but after a while I just found the allure of jQuery to enticing to resist, and so I dumped Flash. But lets talk about what the big guys are saying.

No Flash on the iPhone

Right, so we’ve gotten used to this lacking feature now, and being honest, have there been many times when your day has been ruined by this lack of support? Not for me (maybe I’m just lucky), in fact if anything it has improved my web experience – blocking out those pesky Flash banners that flash every colour of the rainbow. Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice to have Flash on the iPhone OS, but at the end of the day, when so many things that are done in Flash, can be so easily replicated with some nifty Javascript and HTML5, why bother?

No Flash-generated Apps

Now this was an interesting move by Apple, but you can see where they are coming from. They would open to slowed development if the software didn’t stay up to date, but I don’t truly believe that this is the reason it has been disallowed. Really? I think old Steve Jobs just wants to see the death of Flash, and this nail in the coffin will serve to simply reduce the list of features on platform. But to be honest I think it was the right move, not because of what Jobs said in his open letter, but because I believe that if a developer really wants to get their app on the iPhone they will just pay an iPhone developer, and the result of this? Better quality apps. Think about it. Do you seriously think that Adobe’s planned distribution converted would have lived up to the creation of a dedicated app? Definitely not.

At the end of the day, this has got a lot to do with Apple wanting total control over the applications heading for the app store, and nobody (bar Apple) is denying that. But it’s a good thing if Apple wants to keep the apps in the app store high quality? But then is there really any competition to Flash? Do I hear Silverlight? Yeah, about that…

Just to clarify, I’m not someone what hates or bashes Flash. Nor do I love Apple in every respect. But what I think this whole thing has shown, is that many people don’t like Flash. Even Microsoft is backing Apple in this, and I for one can’t wait to just use HTML5; and with developers creating more and more fantastic apps every day, powered only by HTML5, I think the future is one not without Flash, but with less of a ubiquity.

What do you guys think? Am I just talking rubbish, or does Apple have a point?