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Flash: Dead in a flash! Featured

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Many rock stars have hailed in their songs that Rock & Roll will never die, but the same may not be true for the ubiquitous  interactive technology we know as Flash.  We spent all this time adopting it, and now it is over.

It's painful, I know.  I am the biggest fan of the technology.  I love to think back at what is used to mean to me in terms of the endless possibilities.  And the truth of the matter is that the Flash technology itself IS "all that, and a bag of chips."   The problem is that is no longer fits within the political and technological landscape of the future of the internet.  HTML5, developed as a product of the "open source" movement, looks down upon the third-party plug-in concept.  Wether HTML 5 will be the ultimate replacement to flash is still very much open to debate.  More than likely data base fed content management systems such as Joomla and Dupral, will fill a large portion of this gap, and much of the rest will continue to use the custom Javascript model.  Back in its day, Flash fought a tough fight to earn its place as the champion of interactive web applications.  Developers spend endless amounts of time and energy

minimizing the drawbacks of plug-ins, and succeeded in persuading the entire web community to overcome their hesitation and adopt Flash as the de facto technology for interactive web applications. Every good web citizen young and old learned how to implement the flash plug in and a whole score of creative talent built careers on providing implementations of the technology.  It was ubiquitous, media rich, relatively easy, and it seemed to be here to stay.  For years it held the thrown in its kingdom.

Recently, by refusing to allow Flash to be implemented on the iPhone, Apple has flexed its market muscle and essentially declared that Flash is dead.

While it is true that most flash programmers, artists, and developers used windows based platforms to develop flash apps, simply because the flash authoring environment functioned better on windows, I doubt this was the reason Apple went on a mission to oust Flash from the interactive thrown.  At least not the main reason.

Apple instead has  chosen to back HTML 5 as the rich web application technology of the future.  It's a solution that does not yet exist BTW.

The concept has it merits of course.  The idea being, lets' not have all our cool multimedia web experiences be dependent on third party technologies, that create difficulties in that they are proprietary, non standard, need updates, and put power in the hands of companies other than the big browser builders that HTML5 specification caters too.

Well, that's all true and fine, but we have already overcome all those hurdles.  Everyone has already agreed that flash is the standard for video, and everyone has already come to terms with that they have to deal with installing a plug in to get cool stuff.  In fact everyone, already has the flash plug-in.

So we've overcome all those hurdles, and its working well, and adobe as been great in ongoing development, but we want to throw that all away, in favor of the way it should be, or they way it makes the most sense ,even though it doesn't in fact exist yet, and to add to that, it doesn't even promise to come even close to the interactive offering that flash offers.

What is promises is to make video and several other interactive elements like drag and drop, part of the browsers functionality, and therefore universal and standard, and without the problems associated with plug-ins.  That is a noble cause, but at what price?

For a while XML and then XHTML were touted as the "end all" of the future of the web.  The XML movement promised to set all things straight in terms of web development.  The power of XML, the strict, precise syntax, would solve all evils of the past.  This concept was eventually abandoned in favor of keeping the web running.  Probably a wise choice, but in terms of HTML 5, and the refusal to include a flash standard or transitional element, is certainly setting web video and interactive standards back 10 years.  What makes Flash a "third party Plug In" instead of a technology that could be incorporated into the standard?  I don't know.  Clout perhaps.  You know, Abode is a third party.  Third party to whom?

Well Abode is only a company that competed and offered solutions heads and tails above that of the "non-third parties" offerings, and won its market presence based on the actual innovation that their "third party" competitive status help create.  They were successful in a free market, and the technology is still superior to anything HTML5 can even promise to offer, yet they have been deemed "not part of the future, because the big browser builders do not want to be beholden to "third party" plug ins.  Well, they are not "plug ins," if you incorporate them into the standard, and they are only third part because you are competitive with them and bigger so you can call them third parties.

Instead of perhaps appreciating and realizing the value in a technology that an independent, third party cold come up with that can outperform the best offerings to this date, and welcoming them to to be part of the first party, you pass them of as offenders of the wave of the future, and expel them from the new standard.

The thing that your missing here is that the competition and open market that gave Fash its unanimous position, its also responsible for making the technology exceptional, and when we create standards based strictly on what the browser builders think would be best, and standardize in the name of simplicity and "neat code for developers". We also lose the benefits of a competitive market.

So, while I am all for web standards, and the benefits that can be gained by them, conceptually.  It sort of like an analogy for socialism versus capitalism.

There are not many who would argue the philosophical benefits of the utopian ideal of socialism.  History has shown us that it is only the theory that is true.  I suggest the same for the brandish movement for standardization, based on the desires of a small amount of browser developers, and at the sacrifice of the gains that a free market can generate out of creative solutions to market competition.  Such solutions of with Flash was born.

And the whole practical reason why this is even an issue... is apple's refusal to allow flash on any of its mobile devices.  The truth is flash is not dead. In fact it is everywhere alive, but not well.  Well, it's well in itself, but without apple's support for it on their mobile devices, as a developer, it becomes no longer a viable solution.  Unless you want o make different versions of your site for different outlets, which ironically is what web standards are supposed to do away with, you have to create with non flash interactivity.

What is non flash interactivity, well that's where the problems begin to outweigh the solutions.  The answer is, no one knows as of yet.  Many have opinions.

Apple states it will not support flash on any of its mobile devices because it is not the wave of the future to have 3rd party plug ins as part of the spec. So what do they offer?  HTML5.  And what can you do with the hypothetical HTML5 at the moment?  Almost nothing.  Certainly cannot replace flash any time soon (in this decade I propose)  So why is Flash being limited from apple's devices.  Greed.

It would be nice if they would at least offer a solution if they are going to outlaw flash from their devices.

And what we are left with if we want to provide video for the web that will work in your browser as well as apple mobile devices, and have forward HTML5 support, is a highly complicated process that involves, multiple versions of your video, and custom scripts to detect the output device and serve accordingly.  Smells like teen spirit to me.  Its undeniably against all the ideals of standardization.  I think its a problem if we use the guise of standardization to smother alpha technologies that won in a fair market, in favor of "standardization, while in actuality, pandering to the profits of a select few companies, and throwing the interactive capabilities of the web back 20 years.

If you want to revise the flash  model, offer an alternative.  If your alternative is this beautiful hypothetical technology that doesn't exist yet, work with the current model and find way to incorporate the current market winning technology into the future specification, or at least create a transitional plan.

This is not the first time Apple has quashed a superior technology.  Nor is it the first time Apple has destroyed the hard work and livelihood on many dedicated artists and technicians in the name of their bottom line, ad the sacrifice of society.

What are your thoughts on this subject?

Can you think of other examples of this?

Please contribute by commenting below.

Thank you.




Read 109001 times Last modified on Friday, 23 September 2011 16:26
John Cirabisi

Hobbies include: Building bridges, creating synergy, and examining all-things-media. Oh, and crochet.

Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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