This was inspired by a slashdot article the other day
I’m so tired of Flash bashing on slashdot. I find it funny that an audience that generally doesn’t care about a user friendly UI can comment so much about a product aimed solely at that market. The reality is that 99% of computer users are not software development geeks like us, until software developers understand that they will keep bashing Flash and i’m tired of it. I’m not obsessed with Flash, I just think that there is a proper time to use it and a proper time not to. Here are some realities that people who don’t have extensive experience with Flash need to keep in mind
- Flash is not Java. It’s much faster to build UIs in Flash, much faster to prototype them and produce a result. It might not be as “powerful” but that doesn’t always make business sense.
- The SWF format is an open standard. Yes Macromedia owns it, but they haven’t stopped anyone from building a compiler to output swf files. There are many out there already and the number seems to be growing. If you have a problem with the fact that currently Macromedia produces the best tools to produce SWF files, why not complain about why 99% of .Net developers use VS.NET.
- Flash has succeeded where others have failed. Java applets were slow loading, crashed the browser and at one point every corporate website a few years ago set a rule of no java because too many browsers crashed or security concerns were up in the air. Flash hasn’t had these issues and Macromedia has been very careful not to repeat that mistake (I don’t know this for a fact of course). Even today, you are starting to see more and more Java applications built with a Smart Client written in .Net talking to a Java back-end, why? Because no one seems to like building UIs in Java (I’m sure someone is going to tell me about product x that kicks ass, no need IÂ’ve seen many that look cool but haven’t seen anyone produce a product with it)
- Given any tool people are going to produce bad and good products with it. So yes, most Flash websites are crap, but thatÂ’s not what I produce and what most professional Flash developer produce either. And when Flash gains a new market like embedded systems, trust me Flash will gain momentum in that market very quickly.
- My favorite, the SVG argument. Ok, so I would love to use SVG, but does it offer all the features of Flash, NO, is it catching up, NO it is not. Anyone notice that SVG hasn’t gotten anywhere in years. ThatÂ’s where Flash is different, because Macromedia is the sole person responsible for the Flash player they can move faster than a group of companies that could care less about SVG other than having something out there for people to think there is an alternative.
- Flash is cross-platform. I repeated it is cross-platform. It runs on most major OSs, has a slimmed down version on smaller devices and is growing daily. Avalon wonÂ’t be, as long as Microsoft wants to sell windows.
Hopefully one day Flash will stop getting such a bad rap by the industry as a whole. It no longer is an animation tool, there’s really a lot more there and if you can’t see why then you most likely are not interested in building user interfaces. I’ve been working on a real-time mission-critical examination system used at university hospitals, and you know what, almost all the interfaces are Flash based, this allowed us to go much further than can be done with HTML. In real-time exams where doctors are not tech savvy, we were able to make the whole process so transparent, no training is required to administer an exam. We’ve even had users who didn’t know what a mouse was run through an exam (After showing them how to click of course)
For the people who want to argue, right now there is no mature alternative to Flash and it doesn’t look like there will be for a long time. If you hate Flash so much, why not built an alternative you think people will adopt.