Since the iPad’s release, it’s been nearly impossible to avoid debates (and more often, flame-wars) about Flash, its flaws, and its future (or lack thereof).
Honestly, I’m pretty sick of the discussion. Early on, I wrote up a huge article dealing with the most common themes, misconceptions, and outright lies that were circulating, but refrained from posting it. Since then people have asked me to share my thoughts, and I’ve decided that for the sake of those just getting started with Flash I’d talk about it a little.
Let me start by saying that I completely lack empathy for people who get so emotional about technology. I don’t care if it’s Mac vs. PC, XBox vs. PS3, or Flash vs. HTML 5, I say use whatever works for you. If you want to get into a mature discussion about it’s pros and cons, that’s cool, but spouting vitriol on a public forum just makes you look like an ass. Period.
If you hate Flash so much, turn it off or install a blocking plugin. It won’t bother me in the least. If enough people do it, it will start to show up in the plugin stats, and the industry will move away from it. But please, avoid spouting crass, ignorant FUD trying to justify your choice.
Sure, I make my living off of Flash, but I consider myself an interactive developer, not a Flash developer. I love working with Flash, and think it has a long life ahead of it, but even if it went the way of VRML tomorrow, working with it has given me an understanding of rich interactive content development that’s difficult or impossible to gain in any other technology.
This skill set is applicable to so many things: WPF on Windows, Cocoa development on Mac / iPhone (ex. Core Animation), Silverlight, mobile development, and of course the emerging HTML 5 standard. Languages are easy to learn – mental models, process, and the experience gained from years of working with rich interactive are a whole lot harder.
I’ve been working with Flash for over 10 years. I do it because I love it. It’s far from perfect, but there’s no other technology that offers access to such a broad range of interesting projects with such a low barrier to entry. I’ve worked on rich applications, experimental “art”, marketing sites, games, mobile projects, installations, computer vision, and even a couple of banner ads. I love what Flash allows me to do, but I’m not married to it. I have no problem recommending, or using another technology if I think it’s a better fit for a project.
Considered rationally, the absolute worst case scenario for Flash player is that its core feature set is replaced by HTML5 (canvas, video, etc.) over the course of the next 3-5 years. Even if things go miraculously well, these standards are not going to be implemented consistently across major browsers and devices, then adopted by the general public faster than that.
In this worst case scenario, there will be a slow decline in work available to Flash developers over the course of a decade or so, offering plenty of time to apply your skills to another technology.
In the more likely scenario, HTML5 will slowly overcome the obstacles facing its adoption (ex. Codecs, IE), and begin providing an alternative to Flash for many scenarios. For example:
- A fair amount of video will eventually be delivered with the video tag, though the lack of advanced features (content protection, variable streaming, etc) means it will won’t replace Flash completely. This in itself will keep the plugin fairly ubiquitous. Example.
- You’ll see some very impressive apps created with HTML5, though they will require significantly more effort to build because of the less robust tools and language. Example.
- You’ll see some interesting games and interactive experiences built with it, but it will remain much easier to design and code these experiences with Flash. Also, people will start to realize that along with the capabilities of Flash, you also get some of the drawbacks, like high CPU usage and occasional crashes. Example 1. Example 2.
Flash will continue to evolve, optimize, and add new capabilities. With some exceptions (namely anything beginning with an “i”), it will continue to provide a more consistent environment for deploying rich experiences to multiple platforms.
In short, I’m not worried about the future of Flash. I can’t predict what it will be in 5 years, but nobody can. If the naysayers are right, and it becomes obsolete, that’s fine, I’ll move on to something else. In that case, maybe Adobe will even rejig their tools to output to HTML/canvas instead of SWF. After all, they make their money selling those tools. The Flash player is an expensive loss leader.
If they’re wrong, I’ll likely still be cranking out cool stuff with Flash. However, as a smart developer and responsible business owner, I will continue playing with HTML5 and watching its evolution, just as I’ve done with AJAX, iPhone development, and Silverlight. Eventually we’ll probably offer HTML5 development in addition to our current services.
Finally, I want to address all of the hate and insults that have been directed at the Adobe engineers. Yes, Flash player crashes. Yes, its performance could be better. But the Flash player engineers are some of the smartest, most passionate and dedicated professionals I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
Try building a player that runs a huge range of dynamic content written on a variety of tools (some of which you don’t control) by developers with massively varying skill levels. Now try making it compatible, consistent, and performant across dozens of OSes, browsers, platforms, and devices. And maintain backwards compatibility with the last 9 versions even while your target platforms change. And keep it under 5MB. And maintain it in parity with an OSS effort (Tamarin). And try to keep up with the demands of one of the most active and vocal developer communities.
Trust me, it’s harder than it sounds (and it sounds pretty damn hard to me). These guys deserve our respect and appreciation. Complain about the player – hell, I want it to run faster, never crash, use less memory, and play video better on Mac – but don’t insult the people working on it.
I have so much more to say, but I’d largely just be repeating things that have been repeated ad nauseam, so I’ll end here.
I happily welcome your thoughts and comments, however I refuse to let things degenerate into the name-calling, ignorance spouting, poo-flinging mess that it has on other sites. As such, contrary to my usual policy, I will aggressively delete posts that are not respectful and on-point.
Well said Grant – glad you went ahead and posted this.
Great post Grant. Well said.
Thanks so much Grant for taking the time to write this. You said everything I was thinking and from now this article will be a point of reference in this debt for me.
My thoughts exactly. Couldn’t have said it any better. Thanks Grant.
It’s important for those who have a sane and balanced opinion on the subject to let themselves be heard. Too much negativity in other quarters. Thanks for posting this.
Bravo. And I agree with you, especially what you said about working with rich media.
Nice one Grant, very well said. You raise some valid points and the naysayers will do well to read this post. This whole ordeal has all the elements of the current spat between homeopaths and skeptics, and we need people on both sides citing facts and not spouting unsubstantiated claims.
Something that people forget is that there’s no war (in my opinion) between Flash and everyone else… can’t we all just get along?
Thanks for posting this, Grant. I agree it’s the core principles of interactive design and development and user experience that should be the focus here. Use the best tool for the application – whatever it is.
I love Flash passionately. But it sure hasn’t stopped me from experimenting with other tools out there (most of what you mentioned). Even if it’s just to be able to converse about them with others in the community (hopefully somewhat intelligently) and to get a glimpse at what else is out there. And to play!
Let’s bring the battle to a close. Use what’s right for you and your client’s needs – and keep the end-user in mind at all times.
cant agree with you more, and i totally echo everything your saying, if anything i think HTML5 could be useful in taking on some of the more bottom end jobs that i have never thought Flash was best used for anyway, i have kept out of the whole discussion myself, i don’t think its a case of HTML5 beating Flash to death, more how they can maybe complement each other in the future, Flash has adapted and changed so much since i started using Flash 3, and i can imagine in the coming years its going to change so much and adapt to what developers want from it anyway, and if HTML in the past is anything to go by then the adoption of an open standard across browsers is never going to happen anyway, which will mean continuous hacks to get content working right on different browsers and OSes.
on the whole a good point well made 😉
I completely agree with sticking up for the Engineering team. Some of the comments geared towards the developers are completely disrespectful and out of line. Anyone who has worked on a development project should know there are huge amounts of give and take that unfortunately are not always within the developers control.
Yes, the recent hype is making me sick as well. I even hesitated to comment here.
Reality check is badly required for many and most of us just need to calm down and concentrate on making things better, whatever the technology. Something I also addressed in my own thoughts at http://tekkie.flashbit.net/flash/flash-platform-is-at-a-crossroads
Thanks Grant, I really enjoyed this post – while we will need to keep an eye on HTML 5 I can’t see it overtaking the capabilities of Flash any time soon.
great post, I totally agree
Outstanding words…clap clap clap.
My thoughts are likewise…we are INTERACTIVE DEVS period. We will use the technology we think that best fits the project needs…enough said!!
Great post Grant.
Very well said!
Flash did some great, really great things for the internet.
I completely agree with you on the “I’m not a Flash developer but more an interaction developer” point. I love Flash for it’s way of teaching me the basic principles of programming, animation and now (with AS3) Object Orientated Programming. With that in mind i can easily learn other languages. Just like you said, its not the technique that’s important, but the message that you want to deliver.
That doesn’t mean that there is room for improvement. Critique is very valuable thing, but only in a way that you can do something with it.
Good post, thanks for sharing it.
One good example of developers migrating from one environment to another is what happened to Director over the past decade of so. As the work for CD-ROMs and Shockwave dried up, many developers moved to Flash. There was certainly a lot of transferable skills for those in moving from Director to Flash. I don’t think Flash is going to die any time soon, but certainly if it did I imagine a similar migration from the community.
In the meantime, there sure is a LOT of Flash work out there for a technology that some thing is dying.
Dude, your post very good, and really the apple did not respect the professional adobe. I’m an Action Script accompany their work and just have to congratulate him.
I’m Mac User and I was curious about this ipad, I confess that I ignored the ideas of hardware that everybody is fighting each other. hehehe, I was surprised as the new niche as creating, adding that Steve Jobs created the Personal Computer (PC).
About the flash, I think it unlikely html 5 to replace it, because I believe that the staff at Adobe is not stopped in time. And it will run after every failure that exists in the pending Flash Player.
A situation that has hampered the Flash to get their due respect is lack of preparation of its developers. Advertising agencies sometimes prefer a professional program as3, html, mysql, asp, php, ruby, phyton … Finally, a few develop insentive AS3 as is done with. net and the like .. and this has made many sites and applications RIA enter the market with low performance. Perhaps that is why there is a very great criticism.
Well here is my congratulations on your work and everything you said is right .. independent developer of interactive tool, interactive logic that stuck in mind.
Good evening, I’m from Brazil
great post grant.
i also wanted to chime in on your 2nd bullet point. I also think the IDE doesn’t get enough credit. I know we all have our complaints every time a new version comes out but it’s really one of the best tools out there. and it improves with every iteration. i think it’s a huge reason why most designers/developers will stick around.
I completely agree.
Adobe won’t let us down. If Flash needs to evolve in something it isn’t today, I’m sure it will.
Flash is here to stay, in whatever it will grow.
Great post. I really enjoyed reading this
First: what if actionscript is in risk not because it could happen that other technology prove to be better, but because of other reasons (related with selfish interests of main internet companies))? This is my strong concern.
Second: you are somehow married with a programming language if you have developed a huge framework for your specific needs (immersive visualization in my case). Off course you can always reconstruct all your tools, but the cost could be enormous.
I´ve started to work with Flash a half year ago. I´m now starting to get really into it and developing games and data-visualisation(on a quite low level comparing with flashdevelopers, up to now I would not call myself a flashdeveloper).
I hope there is a future for it.
Waht I would miss is the community, which is very open to people, who don´t have a programmer-background. I think you won´t find so much step by step explanations for other languages as you can find for as3.
But ok, with the understanding of oop-concepts it should be possible to find a new technology.
Thanks for the post.
Pure class, brother. This article is so well-written, thoughtful, and to-the-pointit should be read by ALL new media professionals. Thank you for writing this. It mirrors what we have been trying to say (and live by) for years: it’s not about your tools, it’s about what you build w/ them.
An xml based format will never replace a binary format for things like flash. The ‘standards’ people never seem to understand that, and that goes a long way to explaining Flash’s longevity.
I agree. If it goes away, I’ll be ready for it. I’m finding it easy to pick up Obj C , Java , etc b/c of my years with AS. I just think it’d be sad if it went away because Apple took over the world and bullied it out.
Very nice, lately I’ve been exploring the iphone development. It almost seems I have to. I would happily spend the rest of my career developing for flash but I realistically know this is not the case.
Flash people always seem to have a more mature argument than Apple people. Why is that?
BTW, if anybody besides me has an Apple friend (God bless his soul) who tells you that Flash will “die”, just respond like this:
Name 2 hardware manufacturers that refuse to put Flash on their device.
Name 2 innovators who work for Apple.
Harry – I’m going to let that comment slide, but barely. Again, I’m not going to tolerate this turning into a flame war.
Absolutely great post.
There is absolutely not a single person who works with Flash who believes that Flash is dead.(Perhaps, maybe, Aral? lol).
Alot of hate for Flash comes from the player. Lack of 64bit support, stability issues, resource handling issues etc. However this hate often overflows and becomes directed at anyone associated with Flash and Adobe.
However many fail to see that most of the time the problem lies with the developers who work with flash due to lazy programming, or designers who put in too much heavy animations. And while many of them trumpet the end of flash banners, I try to remind them that a Flash banner can easily be replaced by a SVG or canvas banner.
Flash still has a few years in it left. Adobe has to pull itself together and push forward, not wallow in the sea of complacency that it has been in for a while.
Nothing much to say but ‘hear hear’. Thanks for a well-reasoned yet passionate post. This will become my link of choice for the pitchforkers.
I appreciate the balance of your post and I agree completely. We need more mature and positive dialog on the strengths of various platforms. At the end of the day it comes down to not the BEST tool but the RIGHT tool for the job. Thanks Grant!
All the hysteria around this is so amazing!
I think my MBP, my iPhone, and the technologies we develop in are all fantastic.
But the silliness that has erupted around the iPad announcement and it’s lack of Flash support is so blown out of proportion. iPhone sales dropped to 16% market share for the past Q4. Far fewer people are going to own iPads. It’s a substantial but still small portion of the market into which we sell our wares. It’s much ado about not that much.
It’s NOT the engineers that are controlling the features and bug fixes. Of course they are the top engineers in the world and everyone is thankful for something that works well no matter what it is. The *decisions* to FIX bugs and add stability and work on performance is NOT up to them. It’s up to the management at Adobe. And as far as I can tell the comments I’ve read were referring to Adobe as a company, at the decision makers.
If you read between the lines you will see the truth. People want Flash, they want it to perform well, they want it to be stable (and it is much better than people are saying), they want bugs fixed (audio on linux, etc). They want the best experience whether Flash or HTMLX. If Adobe said, “we are working on performance, we are fixing all the bugs in the bug base, we are sending crash reports to gather information on stability, we are working on a standard solution for back and forward support in the browser, etc” I think the naysayers would give them a break. Right now they’ve been some what silent, ignored bugs, cut resources (Flex developers were laid off), spent money on Omniture instead of adding more Flex and Flash Player teams. PUT THAT 5 BILLION ON MORE FLASH PLAYER RESOURCES!
It would be nice to have a vision and goals for where Flash is going.
While I agree with your blog post 110% I do think you missed out one thing. You mentioned the people that claim flash is going to die but there is also the side of Adobe where some of their employees are posting falsehoods (not bias but things that can be validated as incorrect) in order to push their own agenda.
Otherwise this was probably the best post I’ve read on the subject to date!
In regards to the issue I mentioned above I talked about one case here: http://torontogamedev.blogspot.com/2010/01/be-wary-of-flash-evangelists.html
At last, someone is talking some sense!!
As you rightly said the goal of all web development is to use the tools that do the job the best and even though I have worked with Flash for 8 years I have no problem in switching to a new language if it proves to be better.
We should always keep the end user in mind and the vast majority are not geeky developers. They dont care what plug-in is used for this/that. They just want it to work and they are not all suddenly going to stop using Flash because some computer company that only holds 10% of the market says its rubbish.
All the bickering only holds the development of the internet back and in the end nobody wins apart from a few CEOs hell bend on market domination. Competition is good not only from other products but also other languages. It encourages us to try new things and push our boundaries.
I am currently a Silverlight developer & as you know a former Flash developer. I cannot stand all of the religious tech zelots. Pick the right tool for the job at hand, Period. So I totally agree with you Grant; sometimes it makes sense to use Flash, other times Silverlight other times HTML5; they all have their strenghts and weaknesses and none of them are going anywhere so please stop hating & spouting non-sense. And I agree, layoff the engineers at Adobe and MSFT too while you are at it please.
Really enjoyed your thoughts.
Good to see responsibility, sense and respect after all the buzz around the new digital-revolution (as it has been called and published in some printing media here in the Netherlands).
Flash is also moving forward and so is html and so other hundreds of languages are… many greetings.
I knew I could count on you to be the voice of reason. I’ve wished for the same from the standards community, and so far haven’t quite seen it. If I had it in me, I’d organize a conference to get people from both worlds together, to brainstorm what we can do to improve the working relationship. There are incredibly talented people on both sides of this discussion. It’s just that some of them have egos and mouths far larger than their brains. 🙁 You’ll never be one of them. And, you’ve got mad design skills besides! 🙂
Thanks for keeping the dialog focused!
Thanks Grant. Once again you have exemplified what it means to be a reasonable and responsible member of the developers community and shown why you have been a leader in your field for this long.
It is just hard to beat Flash when it comes to a novice being able to express their creativity and vision without needing months or years of code development under their belt. And I happen to believe that getting new developers passionate about web development and wanting to bring their contributions to the table is a very good thing.
Thanks again for the post, Grant.
If anything, I think Adobe will adapt to the new platform. I disagree with the sentiment that “xml based format will never replace a binary format” stated above. Replace, no, but challenge, yes, and in the same regards mentioned in the post, with all the same features and flaws.
One thing that baffles me about the hot topics that are the iDevices is that Flash doesn’t really seem like a “mobile” technology to me. Considering the power necessary to make it work well, mobile technology is only just now catching up to your average desktop computer. Flash on WebOS, for example, will be buggy at best, inoperable at worst, if only because the hardware is meek compared to your average netbook or laptop. Apple not adopting Flash on the iDevice is no surprise in that regard-why put a technology on a device that wouldn’t be able to run it well? It makes sense to me, and I don’t blame Apple or Adobe for their decisions or issues.
I’m anxious to see what direction HTML5 will take and what it will mean for web appliances in the future. I see absolutely no reason that for the immediate future (2-5 years or so), HTML5 and Flash can’t work hand-in-hand, if a content developer is smart enough to learn and utilize both technologies effectively.
Regarding the future of HTML5. Browser support notwithstanding, I can’t see a single area that is more suited to adoption of HTML5 than banner ads.
I think we might even see a sort of reverse detection situation where ad’s will attempt to display in HTML5, and then fall back to Flash if necessary.
On hand, I can’t wait until Flash sheds this stigma as the root of all evil-banner-ads… On the other, it sucks that most ad blockers will be rendered almost useless.
Grant, well said. I think it is Apple and their customers (of which I am one) who will end up suffering. There is no valid reason to deprive iPad/phone/touch users from enjoying Flash/Flex/AIR content. It is causing many power developers to look to other devices for the next generation computing platform. Users go where the compelling apps are. Sure, apps appear where the users are too. But Apple may be falsely assuming we programmers will drink the koolaid. HTML5 is all fine and dandy but there are numerous needs it doesn’t address especially in the next year. We all need to remember we buy devices not because we belong to a religion formed around the device but because the device has useful or fun apps. So I’ll say it again: users go where the apps are.
Honestly, this makes me believe more that Flash has and will always thrive – the dedication and passion of the people behind it.
I remember having a web application project. What took three months for a group of three developers to make it work, it took me three weeks to develop using Flash technology. You are absolutely right here – it’s what works for you.
Thank you for this post.
I predicted the iPad would not run Flash. Makes sense if you are in Apple’s shoes.
And yet I can’t help but get emotional about it. Well, not about the Flash issue. About all the FUD. What really set me off was Adobe allegedly being called lazy. Wow … Adobe is anything but that. The amount of innovation over the last bunch of years has been dizzying!
I am all for a tag in HTML. It belongs in HTML because video is the killer app of the web. But it looks like the codec wars will bog that down for the foreseeable future. Even still, Flash is so much more and a super-fun platform to develop for. And the Flash player is an amazing feat of software engineering.
Aside from the FUD, I find the buzz all really exciting. Am I the only one????
Great post! Couldn’t agree more – use what works best for your application.
We created a company offering Flash for high-end game developers for this very reason, Flash studio (esp with the Creative Suite integration) is simply the best rich multimedia tool available.
If someone makes a better artist-friendly toolset for Silverlight or HTML5, and our customers start demanding it, we’ll certainly aim to support it.
Hmm… I seem to remember everyone thinking Java was going to replace Flash, even challenge Microsoft… but where were the tools??
For now, and I believe it will stay this way for a while (5+ years at least), Flash is where it’s at. Adobe is not standing still… and making a competitive toolset is a multi-million (or even billion) dollar problem, not to mention it’s really really hard.
PS: Shawn – I think you make a great point about HTML5 and ads… be careful what you wish for 🙂
PSS: Now if only Adobe would add proper bitmap support to Scale9Grid…
Well said, great post love the part about interactive developer same title that I go by
and overall just a great post especially about Adobe engineers
Nice Blog Post Grant. I couldn’t agree more!
I totally agree that the only way to earn the respects that flash deserves it’s do our job the best as we can, never being lazy and always seek for the best performance when we create a new flash piece, i thing this will become more and more important with flash CS5 and the seek for best perfoirmance in the iphone final output.
Great post Grant!, i said this is actiosncript, and we are not afraid!
All this panicking about HTML 5 being the Flash killer and the all-replacing new magical technology! I have yet to see one single HTML 5 example that can even distantly reach the water to Flash! All the HTML 5 examples so far have been extremely poor in comparison of what Flash can deliver. So HTML5 my ass! Replacing Flash? It’s not going to happen! Even if it reaches the power of Flash in maybe 5 years, then Flash will already be somewhere completely ahead. Besides… who wants to make games in HTML 5? Believe me, I don’t want!
sascha – again, please try to keep the tone here calm and respectful. To address your comment, the examples I included in my post show that HTML5, once mature and consistently implemented can do some really cool things. Can it do everything Flash can do, or as easily? No, definitely not, but it has a lot of promise.
Welcome to the club. I am a Flash and Director developer. I use the product that suits my needs. If the product calls for true immersive 3D, I feel that I have no other choice than Director. All I hear about is that Direcor is dead. But fact is Director is still the best choice TODAY. If the product does not need immersive 3D then Flash is the best choice TODAY. Isn’t that what we are offering our clients?
This post is sexy.
Great post Grant, very well written. Especially the part about the FlashPlayer engineering team.
Seriously, these guys do deserve our respect and the way you have emphasized on it, makes me feel so arrogant and rude when I raise performance issues of the player.
Kudos to the FlashPlayer team.
But reasoned, dispassionate and level-headed debate doesn’t have the same raw sex appeal as VIRTUAL FLAMEWAR MOLOTOV COCKTAILS. Take one in the FACE, Skinner! BWA ha ha ha HAAA!
Quoting: ‘Yes, Flash player crashes. Yes, its performance could be better. But the Flash player engineers are some of the smartest, most passionate and dedicated professionals’ Hats off to them for making the impossible at the time when it was impossible.
Couldn’t agree more.
Great post! I was in the same position with a loooot of people asking me about html5-vs-flash till yesterday since I realized that hey… it toked so much for Flash Player to get here, it’s the most available piece of software found on computers around the globe, how can it be threaten by something that is just a concept, partially implemented by Safari… c’mon, we’re comparing a real plugin with an ideal standard not yet implemented… Here at BannerSnack.com we have this app that builds Flash interactive content such as banners and we’ve thought about moving towards html5 and build animated banners without Flash… but hey, who’s gonna accept that??? Google AdWords? no way, they’re so lazy to do so; we’ve started yesterday a petition towards Google AdWords to accept AS3 SWF as image ads. AS3 was introduced in 2006 and till this day they refuses to promote it.
If you want to subscribe to this cause here is the fan page url: http://www.facebook.com/as3petitionadwords
Thanks again Grant for the great post! Adobe should give you a prize or propose you a position in their PR, I mean it! They lack a strong CEO or evangelizer to fight back Apple and iPad and Silverlight and AdWords, and everything else.. btw does anyone here know who’s the Adobe CEO?
Thanks Grant, I really was waiting this post to know your opninion. I completely agree with you.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, at least some people are awaking from the mass hysteria.
Claiming a mac crashes at 90% because of the Flash player is quite funny.
How many iphone have crashed? Was there an hidden Flash plugin in it? That’s pathetic.
To me, the problem is not Apple, it is Steve Jobs.
It follows Microsoft history in fact.
Microsoft under Bill Gates always had a loosy OS.
Once retired, Microsoft changed a lot. Windows 7 is a real success, they changed their attitude and behavior in many other domains. It might be still great but they improved much.
Apple is still under its guru Jobs. Once he will be left for good, Apple will also drastically change.
I am sure a lot of people in Apple would also love to enable Flash as well on the iphone/ipad. Just because one guru said “no”, the whole world must be prevented to use it and everybody must shut up. That’s dictatorship.
At the age of communities and open source, this won’t last for long.
Just a matter of few years.
Finally Apple’s position is much more difficult to hold on. In the last years it was Apple vs Microsoft and they had support from almost the whole world. Today it is very different.
It is Apple vs (Google, Adobe, Microsoft, Amazon, Blackberry, Dell, add more…).
As you really well said, the most important is learning logical patterns to resolve problems, technologies and languages are just the tools to express the solution ^^
Glad seeing someone making such a wise post about what makes people argue so much for a few days…
Very clever post, I like your ideas man, keep it going !
Nice post, Grant. Some thoughts on that:
I think people are mixing up things a little. On one hand a company, whose moniker evokes religious feelings among certain kind of people, has announced a innovative device, which doesn’t support flash for whatever reasons. On the other hand the flash player concept hustles with a lot more competitors than it had to a few years ago. Which leads me to the conclusion that people like us interactive devs finally got a choice. I made mine and it was a rational one. But it had nothing and absolutely nothing to do with these 2 apple devices which happen not to support my preferred programming language. Any dev who fancies c# over lets say java has to face the fact that his toy of choice is barely supported by unix os’s. So what? If he’s able to get paid for whatever he’s doing his choice was a good one, I guess.
Good write up. I really like the way you time frame it and remain rational. Despite all the hype there will be cool Flash projects commissioned and delivered next week, next month, next year, and beyond. Maybe in 3-5 years Flash will be replaced but that goes for every technology in the internet age.
More likely Flash will co exist with alternatives for the next decade. Either way that is plenty of time for people to learn new things (as they should anyway) and any Flash experience will stand you well when you do.
My judgment is that it is best to stay cool and keep learning. Same as ever then really.
first of all Well said.
but what if we try to understand the feelings that some of the flamers are trying in a very bad way to express – it is clearly an act of desperacy.
if you have spend the last 5-10 years learning flash/actionscript spending hundreds of dollars in books and training – and then when your almost an expert they come and rip it out of your hands and say – start over! – not everyone is equally as versatile and flexible as you grant. many flash developers might have a hard time converting to html5 or what ever comes along – so if you take it to a low psychological level its actually a very understandable reaction but how they convert their feelings to words is another chapter of it self.
what the counterpart of flash developers feel is not anything i can relate to so ill try not to comment on their behalf.
on my own behalf i would probably throw my self into Unity3D – as 3dsmax modeling and papervision3d has become a greater part of my workflow recently
I can’t agree with your words, Grant, “The Flash player is an expensive loss leader.”
I could not agree more.
You use what works for you and I’ll use what works for me, you don’t like it no problem, now let’s get back to writing some code.
Well said. Geeks of all stripes are passionate with a touch of insecurity, hence the sniping and name calling. We should follow your lead, go with the flow and be happy we work in such a dynamic industry.
Grant, Amen brotha. It feels like the html5 guys think flash only does linear video. That’s kinda the least it does. There is so much more. And for me your comment of the lack of quality dev tools for html/canvas/js/svg is spot on. I think svg has suffered from slow browser support but even more from lack of an ide that the visual guys can use.
I bet adobe will add cross compiler output from flash and other tools via fxg to html/canvas/js/svg.
Anyways thanks for being a measured voice of reason in a see of chaos.
I couldn’t agree more. I’m really getting sick and tired of those endless (& pointless) discussions.
lets just hope these war of the technologies finally come to an end. Competition is good, but the name calling and finger pointing is just not the way to get stuff done.
A very valid post, it was a joy to read.
I’ve invested much knowledge into Flash, and I’d agree that I’ve grown a lot with Flash, without it, I wouldn’t have learnt so much so quickly.
I currently dislike the development model of the alternatives, so I’m praying hard for Flash’s future. =)
Do you think Adobe will take Steve Jobs criticism into account ?
Strangely, I don’t see any sign in your post
(Although admittedly you can’t speak in the name of Adobe ;-)).
Flash Player is indeed far from perfect, Flash IDE “also”,although in a very different way (let’s see how CS5 will turn out without the public beta).
In the past, Macromedia reacted well after the failure of MX 2004 and made some sort of “mea culpa”.
This doesn’t seem to be Adobe’s culture. The general approach seems to be to add new features instead of correcting/fixing bugs (and formely stable features.. such as timeline interactions with actionscript).
Personal note: sometimes it makes me want to be very vocal.
I’m just wondering if they will persist in this kind of attitude in front of the “vocal” Steve Jobs.
Interesting article written 13 years ago…
“Languages are easy to learn – mental models, process, and the experience gained from years of working with rich interactive are a whole lot harder.”
thank you very much for the support. I know it means a lot to the team.
Clear, coherent, logical argument, or better yet, explanation. You speak for people like myself who would like to offer a similar opinion but dread being grouped in as a fanatic. The way I see it is simple, to each his own. You can’t tell somebody what should and shouldn’t work for them. And you can’t date skills and wife it…just kidding. Good stuff man.
HTML5 is new but it may be some time before we see HTML6 so it would be nice to have options along the way.
Grant, so you think Flash is quite OK, but you don’t really care because you can adopt to whatever the future will bring to you. That’s not a huge contribution to the debate about the future of multimedia on the web, is it?
Craig – I’m not claiming to add a lot to the debate. It’s not really my intent to do so.
If anything, I’m trying to point out that the intensity and immediacy of the debate is unwarranted, and that the rampant sensationalism does nothing to promote a mature analysis of the issues.
My apologies if you were looking for more.
Alright then. 🙂 Seems like the guy who pointed me to your article raised some wrong expectations. Or maybe I just like to complain. Sorry about that. 😉
thanks for filling up..
good post but all your readers are flash devs… preaching to the choir 😀
need to drive the haters here to read some logic
Grant – another perspective. Flash is finally about to become ubiquitous for the first time, I have been waiting for this for five years, I bought a sony erricson p800 for the express purpose. I will be able to write a single piece of code and deliver it to almost every device – I can see this being the case for televisions in the next 3 years as well – with Stratus and TV + Flash things are going to go Super Nova for the industry.
When you also consider flashs excellent capacity in digital image and sound control from filters and data-streams combined with its new lease of life in products such as Arduino which will trully unleash new potential – coupled with efforts such as Stratus then worlds fail.
Adobe has also unleashed new life into Flash – Macromedia was a great company however the changes and innovation with adobe are incredible – simply amazing.
Putting a fullly capable flash into a portable product such as a mobile phone will allow it to directly connect to Arduino wifi, sound, camera, screen patches – these can of course all fully interact with home systems and the wider world.
I know you are attempting to appease the html5 mob with your comments – however I am yet to read a post which discusses where flash will be in 3 years – and since it is already in Oil Rigs, Aircraft, SuperShips, TV, and everywhere else you can think of – surely – SURELY it is html which is looking down the barrel of the gun.
i cant agreed more grant.
i just keep thinking, “isn’t this the normal life/death cycle of all technologies? especially web related ones?” new stuff comes out every year, and every year people all the new stuff a “something-killer”. and how often does the new tech completely obliterate the old one? almost never. a prime example being IE6 still in the wild… honestly i hope HTML5 is awesome. but i also hope/foresee this driving adobe and other OSS flash developers to push the envelope and evolve flash into something even better.
Well spoken, Grant. Despite being immersed in Flash development almost every day for years, I haven’t had the stomach to try very hard to follow this debate. No one knows the future and I do wonder if I’ll still be doing so much Flash in 5 years, but that’s 5 years from now! All I know is that right now Flash is still awesome, and the best tool for doing what I do. When I find a better tool, I’ll use it.
Flash sux… Just kidding! Don’t delete my post!
After spending the last 5 years coding in html/css the elephant in the room gradually gets on top of you…. The sheer number of DTD’s (document type definitions) is the biggest clue – remember we are all supposed to be coding ‘strictly’ in xhtml – oh no, sorry wait a minute we are now going back to the future and adopting html5 – adobe killed the best DTP programme (Freehand) and they are doing a bloody job of letting Flash get stuffed by html rubbish -Adobe! please make up with Apple reduce the price of CS4 and lets run the www properly.
[[GS: Edited to bring the tone down a bit. Content is largely unchanged ]]
Agreed. I develop in AS3/Flash and make a living out of if also – but if it was gone tomorrow I’d apply what I’ve learned to use something else(Although I’d be a tad upset as I enjoy Flash.. most of the time!). But the fact remains that Flash is here and Flash is now, no one, including Apple, can deny that.
Well said Grant. I think in same manner. I consider myself a developer first, however my passion for Flash is more than others. But when it comes to building something, I would choose which allows better experience to users and fits in business-case.
I remember, i used to be religious once upon a time, about Flash but no more. Having said that, I know Flash would evolve and if it can’t, then there would be standards that solve all problems which Flash does today.
I would rather spend time building something to showcase the potential and power of a platform, instead of getting such debate/flame-wars. I believe, if we have enough great applications for Flash Platform and huge developer community, sooner or later Apple or other companies can not miss Flash.
Thanks for the post. Well said.
Great post, but I stumbled across one sentence:
‘Let me start by saying that I completely lack empathy for people who get so emotional about technology.’
Isn’t it all about getting emotional about technology? Isn’t it just the passion of the Adobe flash dev team you admire? They deserve respect because they work with their minds AND their heart. Isn’t it really the emotion (motion!) which actually made the greatest works of technology happen? A very emotional relationship to technology and the tools is always a central point in any engineering, imho.
I don’t mean to be offensive, just my 0.02 cents about heart and passion in this often-not-so-rational-IT-business.
There is NO acceptable reason that Flash is not supported by Apple products. Whether Apple is to blame for this conflict or whether the blame lies on Adobe’s shoulders is a separate discussion than whether Flash will live now that Apple refuses to implement support for it.
The problem that I have with your post is that, while complaining about the flame-wars and the perpetual rehashing of this tired subject of the future of Flash, you perpetuate the problem by simply stating your dispassionate acceptance of obvious: We all will go with whatever comes up next and we all will change as needed. Furthermore, we are all most likely grateful for the engineers who develop the products we use. The problem is that we are so reliant on these technologies that life without them seems largely unbearable.
Companies like Apple and Adobe have nurtured this dependence on technology and as such, they should be producing the products that their customers want. Is there any Apple user who wouldn’t want to be able to use Flash on the iPud or the Mac if it worked better? Why would you choose to limit yourself if you didn’t have to?
Though I am certain that it is within the power of the people not to purchase the iPad as a bold statement to Apple that we will not stand for being treated this poorly. Or perhaps we could do as you suggest and start blocking Flash from websites in order to make Adobe realize that they before they add even one more “feature” to Flash, they need to get it to work reliably across platforms and mobile devices or we won’t continue to use it, but the truth is just like your post: when it comes down to it, we’ll just take whatever we are given and be grateful for it.
So, the resentment and frustration you hear among the flames has little to do with whether or not Flash will survive (in its bloated, buggy form or a streamlined, working version). The anger and passion that you hear comes from being treated poorly by both Adobe and Apple and from being played like pawns in the giant battle of egos.
Though I would like to believe that I can hold out for Google to deliver me from being forced to sacrifice access to 90% of the content that I browse (100% of the content that I create) in order to have the netbook equivalent of a tablet PC, the truth of the matter is that I will probably be suckered into buying the first model of the iPad when I know that I should hold out for version 2 (aka the Max-iPad…i hear it will be Apple’s first product to come out in red…ironic isn’t it?).
Thanks for your post and for all the great “stuff” that you have so generously offered in these last 10 years…I for one have relied on your instruction for most of my career as a Flash developer and I am sincerely grateful.
great article, just one question, if you work with Flash exclusively does that make you Flasher?
GREAT article! I enjoyed reading it 😉 I just have to point out that Apple really sucks ( in my eyes ) – it seems like they are trying to destroy / remove Flash from earth ( for example Ipad with NO flash support, just to hide the bad performance )… I hope Adobe will send them to hell – and if anyone from Adobe Flash engineering team is reading this: I love you! 🙂
Best regards, Mike
I personally think that the whole Flash fiasco is caused by the low bar of entry. Look at BASIC or Visual Basic. Programs written in that can perform nearly as well as programs written in C etc. There is still a stigmatism when it comes to that, VB programs are seen as poo. Why? Because the lowend of the developers know less when compared to other languages.
So in other words, let me know which websites you have developed for and Ill be sure to enable flash for them – and I have seen some really great flash websites that used next to no resources.
It’s been what, 12 years since we started developing Flash. 8 years developing seriously (Flash 6). I mean, 5 years is a long way. Look how far we’ve come with Flash in the last 3 years.
A lot can and will happen in the multimedia world. HTML 5? Flash 20? Any other tool? I think all these options will be used to develop based on each of their strengths, just like it is basically now.
I do run a company as well, primarily doing Flash dev, but I am pretty sure we’ll move along with the demand, just like any other bright business. Aren’t we already with mobile apps?
I think multimedia and users needs evolve so fast, that this discussion, or debate if it is one, is already deprecated. Result will always be our only concern, not the technology used or praised.
So I raise my glass and drink to evolution. May we all find our way through it. All Flash developers: isn’t it the main reason why we are here in the first place? Think about it.
bless u Man
Awesome post. I’ve been mystified by all the negativity towards Flash in a lot of blogs so I’m glad to hear a strong positive and rational response.
Excellent post! Keep it up!
I saw your article very good contribution to the presentation and can be responsibility, hopefully you stay ahead presents articles like this
thanks for the article
The thing is if you hate flash ads and banners you can block those. It will only be a matter of time till they are replaced by HTML5 and as best I know there is not any blocker available yet. I am sure one will be developed but in the end, you will have just as many banners and ads. Changing to HTML 5 will not change that.
I think the real question is – Do you think HTML 5 is going to give a RIA equally to Flash? I don’t think so. Yes it might exhibit some Flash like qualities but I don’t think it will render out the robustness and capabilites that Flash offers.
I think Apple treat themselves as center of universe. They don’t and reckon other won’t follow them. Besides Flash is not only player for playing videos on the net so there’s a long future ahead for it.
Just my 2 cents.
Just reread your article. I agree that the venom directed at the flash engineers is unwarrented but there is room for improvment at Adobe. 1. They post record profits, yet the teams on products like flash, after effects and installer seem to be understaffed. 2. Products are released on schedule and not when they are ready (see post be flash pm on v10 being released with known bug due to release schedule) 3. Poor c communication from Adobe – the thing about all this ipad flash v adobe is that it has opened the floodgates of frustration that people feel (or perceive real or not) about all adobe gripes including EU pricing, activation issues, installer issues etc. If adobe had been more proactive a lot of this would be moot.
Thank you so much. This directly answers the questions on my mind since the iPad launch a few days ago.
I’m sure Flash won’t go down easily and I’m pretty much sure the engineers are working on improving the product. HTML 5 has been the talk of the town for a couple of months (or even years) and yet Adobe has released Flash 10 and will release Flash Builder 4 (yay!). Come to think of it, Adobe will not release a product that they think will die after a couple of months or years.
Probably the last question on my mind is, what if they make html 5 the standard web for development? (worst case scenario) does it follow that the browsers won’t be incorporating the Flash function anymore like what the iPad did?
Great Post! Thank you! Finally someone popular in the Flash community wrote my thoughts 🙂
I’ve seen some posts that suggest Apple’s reluctance to employ Flash in their phone and pad is because they didn’t create it themselves, and so have no control over it’s performance. I wonder if they may be working on something of their own, similar in scope to what they did with Final Cut Pro, that would employ vector animation, video distribution and rich content management. It seems an obvious path for them. As a leader in the field I would value your opinion on whether you think this may be likely, and also a possible explanation for Apple’s behavior.
The Flash community is what will keep Flash relevant; so long as we stick together, keep making awesome stuff, and helping each other out (like we’ve been doing since it all started).
Great post man and thanks for being ballsy enough to be heard.
Great; and good confirmation of my own analysis.
I’ll use this as reference for partners in doubt 😉
Great post Grant, couldn’t agree more on the things you’ve said…
WOW GRANT YOUR SO COOL.
Great comments. Check out my flash samples on my site.
I dont understand much ado about video tag as you could always embed video into HTML without Flash using REal, Windows or QTime players. MAybe more control with HTML5
As for graphic rendering speed i’s like to remind Java which always did it SOOO fast even at the times of
Flash 5 which was really slow at it , but it never kept FLash from gaining more and more popularity unlike Java.
Well said about skills – the main thing is not language but understanding of how the things get done
Hi there, I agree with you with the general considerations. But I completely disagree with you about this :
“I completely lack empathy for people who get so emotional about technology”
I don’t think so. I get emotional about technology. I get emotional with my computer. It is not a general macbook… it is my computer. I get emotional with my bike.. it is not a simple Bike. It is my Bike. Same for Flash. It gave me the possibility to express what i had in mind. It gave me money to live. I love Flash. And I hate the hero of opensource steve jobs. He is fake and false.
“The Flash player is an expensive loss leader.” is very true and seems to be the reason why the Flex innovation slows down (or better: the focus of the Flex innovation goes more and more towards tighter Livecycle inntegration for $$$ reasons only). Maybe it’s time to open source the Flash player… Will it get out of control in that case? I doubt. There are also not 100 different versions of the Flex SDK out there either.
I have developed in flash for about 9 years, and every year I hear a lot of people saying “flash is dead”. I don’t even react to that anymore. Great post Grant!!
This debate is totally irrelevant. I believe that if you build it they will come. If flash developers / designers keep developing and designing flash content, people will use it.
The end user does not really care about how their content is delivered, they are just worried about the content.
I love Flash, and I will keep delivering content until someone tells me otherwise!!
Flash is not a technology. It is brand.
Carl – I suppose if you want to argue semantics, it is a brand that encompasses a broad range of technologies, but I fail to see how that impacts the discussion at hand. Would you care to elaborate?
as a low-skill-level actionscripter and a long time Flash designer, I greatly appreciate your rational assessment of the current period we are in and how Flash and HTML 5 fit in. I am forwarding your article on to friends and peers because your insight is stated in a calm and understandable way, and I think people will benefit from reading your analysis. Thanks for the article and for putting the situation in perspective.
I agree, and kudos to the Adobe Flash team. However, there is No Excuse for the terrible video performance on Macs. This is a BAD ONE, and should be fixed asap, Apple’s non-flash iNonsense notwithstanding.
Not sure why the Flash interface couldn’t be adapted to “Publish as HTML5” or similar, esp. since so many developers and animators use it as the web standard.
That’s assuming HTML5 will ever have the capabilities of Flash – a big assumption esp. in the realm of vector graphics.
And because different browsers will, by definition, still render HTML5 content differently, WYS is definitely not WYG, as ever.
Thanks Mr. Skinner!
I am a lone self-taught, self-funded developer that has been toiling on a massive linguistics project of my own design for the past seven years. Were it not for Adobe and you (I am an SPL customer and an avid consumer of your knowledge) this project, which is nearing completion, would still be just an idea.
Adobe, and all involved with them, have always been very classy in demeanor and generous with knowledge.
To Adobe and to you, Thank You Very Much! Really!
Nice post, I agree with you – I think flash maybe taking a bit of a backseat with all the new technologies but will have a place on the internet for a long time.
I started by web development journey with flash and learnt so much from it. I felt it was super easy to create effective content and helped me to slowly understand coding basics.
I eventually moved away from flash but even now I feel that flash shouldn’t be shoved away so easily by apple and that it does still have a place
this is nice post..
I just agree, like nearly everyone else.
Flash is clearly not yet dead, and is probably not going to be before a couple of years.
Very good points raised in a fair and balanced way. I can’t help feeling that a lot of the positive response you have is from worried flash developers, yes me too,
Maybe when 64bit operating systems become the norm, it may change the whole scenario, on how Flash works(still waiting for the plugin). All these technologies are still very new and everyone is fighting for a place in the market surley when all the deals are done and the big boys have reached an agreement as they will eventually, then they will concede that people should have a choice in which way they want to present their work on the internet and take it on boared that there should be a choice? It will always be down to market forces and I am sure that one day there will be a platform that all the main players will sign up to and then we will be all caught! So for the moment enjoy the banter and if you feel strong about your position then Index, Blog, Twitter,Face book, Forum and Email it! All the best promote yourself, after all if you don’t, how the fxxk do I know how you feel….xxx
Great analysis, our business was founded on flash and all the great products Adobe offers, so we love Adobe.
Adobe needs to aggressively promote what flash does and is… looks us up on youtube k…
I was confused and also irritated when meeting web developers banging the flash technology and debating html5 a win win over flash. I completely love the response “If you hate Flash so much, turn it off or install a blocking plugin.”
Thanks for putting this all together.
Thanks for saying this. I managed to find myself in a heated discussion a few months back on the subject and I came to the conclusion of whatever fits and works for the job — ah, multidisciplinary. It doesn’t matter that sometimes I work in .NET (oh, no Microsoft! ;)) and some days I work in RoR or just PHP. It’s whatever works for the job and whatever fits to the timeline and what is possible to be done — let it be some client constraints on what systems they’re using as well. That’s the beauty about not being too uptight. You’re able to pass on your expertise in many diverse ways. You’re able to make connections, you learn more easily as well.
I’m not afraid to try new things. In fact, I guess that’s what I’m paid for, too. Nothing wrong with that. Always learning, always doing. If it was the same stuff everyday I don’t think I would be here. Flexibility is key! I don’t care where things are going in 5 years either because of the flexibility and the learning that’s going on.
Why I get emotional:
nothing else to say
you write this post from your heart i respect. i have tried so many things in html5 but it can not even come closer to flash player .first of all the people are insulting flash most of them are not even programmer some apple fan boys and others are simply illiterate. flash has issues i personally crash safari on my windows using some html5 functionality and by bad programming so it’s all up to programmer how he/she treat the technology it’s not flash fault.
Apple arguments are meaning less you can understand it if and only if you program in flash and html5 you will reliaze
Thanks(thanks for your post dude)
You certainly have got quite a few reasonable suggestions and also opinions. Your blog site provides a refreshing look and feel on the actual matter. Thanks for this!
it’s 2011 🙂
molehill is becoming a blast, and the last AIR updates provide 4x speed on mobile devices.
while i’m doing massive jQuery at work, back home i am basically knocking myself out. my target is about to make more money with flash in 2h/day then i do with html/js/css 8h/day.
recently became the owner of an android tabled. being primarily a web developer, i never had much to say about mobile app development. i knew AIR was capable of something like this but, seriously, WTF. i mean it was so srt8 forward that in 2 hours the data management part of my app was ready (a file explorer) +UI (now i have to stitch them together)
on the other hand, i never thought on developing for iWhatever, but since there are already hundreds of apps on the appstore created with air, it should have some mass to it. you should try it too.
currently i’m working (waporwareing) on optimization. trying to find out just how fast things can be in AS3.
The genius Steve is gone and soon Apple will be. One way or the other, everybody’s framework will lead back to Flash itself. HTML5 is well, HTML. It’s purpose is mainly for text. It can’t do multi-level keyframing and all the good stuffs in a fast and easy way for both UI and dev. It’s one of the best things every made. Flash will live forever.