As a web developer I've had a love-hate relationship with Flash — and I'm not alone. In the beginning, when Macromedia brought this technology to the fore, it was simple, basic, but cool. A lot of things you couldn't do with HTML technologies were possible (animation, better fonts, better layout, better transitions, slide shows and then video). But over time Flash has become problematic not only from a consumer standpoint (What version do I have?" and this site doesn't work on the iOS?!?!") as well as a developer's point of view.
Three Quick Reasons Why Flash Failed
- Adobe didn't improve the codec. While changes have been made to the "Flash player" it is sitll riddled with bugs. Sometimes at night, I'll hear my wife's laptop's fan roaring away because she has gone to bed with a web page loaded that has some flash animation which is causing conniptions with the browser, sucking CPU cycles, causing the CPU to get hot and thus the fan to roar like a lion. Closing the page, fixes the problem... but this shouldn't be. I'm not the only one who thinks this. Reread Steve Jobs' open letter about flash if you need more details.
- Adobe went Left Brain instead of Right Brain. Adobe took Flash from Macromedia and instead of making it easier for right-brained graphic designers to use, they created a language called Action Script to take over for most of the cool functions the program now enjoys. The problem is most graphic designers don't like to program. This would be like Adobe adding some cool functionality to Photoshop CS6, but the only easy way to access those features would be through Action Script programming.
Today it takes both a left-brained person (programmer) AND right brained-person (designer) to product a sophisticated flash piece. If you don't think so, have your Flash artist create a button that links to a PayPAL shopping cart item, without using Action Script. Yeah. This simple little task that takes two seconds in HTML can take hours of research until someone who's done it before steps to the fore.
- Adobe didn't take the codec and embed it in hardware. For a long while Flash was a web-standard. Adobe should've used this advantage and worked with Intel and other chip makers to embed the codec in their chip designs, so the codec became far more efficient in running in hardware than as software. I'm not a chip designer so I'm sure there would've been hurdles but this would've paid off as we become more mobile device driven and therefore more battery conscious. Hardware and software Flash would be way more efficient than Software-Only Flash is today.
In summary, Adobe took a cool technology and did all of the wrong things to it. Now it's trying to make Flash a mobile development platform in a world where new mobile development platforms seem to be announced on a daily basis. Too bad.
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