Wednesday, November 9, 2011

mobile flash in the pan

So the news is making the rounds, Adobe to stop doing mobile browser Flash.

For some Apple fans, this is a giant validation of Apple's view that Flash was the wrong technology for portable devices. (And as some have tweeted ActionScript might still be viable for making standalone apps.)

At work, our designer's response was "Aple wins!" and our lean startup guru marketing guy responded "The Internet wins!". That, along with Gruber's tweet thinking 2015 would mark the end of Desktop Flash players got me thinking...

What's next?

The most common opponent for Flash is usually described as "HTML5" which seems a little funny to me-- technically, HTML5 is about the semantics of markup, more of a topic for wonks than anyone else.

In practice, then It feels like there are two fronts for "not Flash", both powered by javascript. One is, and this is what I'm making my living with now, is what used to be called "DHTML"-- pages full of divs and graphics and one not, providing a faster and more interactive experience than the static pages of yore.

The other is stuff that makes heavy use of the "canvas" object. A lot of my gaming buddies are way into this as a technology. It's pretty cool, but there are two giant challenges for it to overcome to take the place of Flash: one is support for sound is still kind of iffy, you really have to dig if you want something that is very cross-browser and can provide "real time", synchronized sound effects. The other is support in IE (version 8 and earlier) tends to be lacking. (There are some libraries that use shims that do a good job of faking canvas support.)

I'm not sure what this means for me... Flash was on my "I should learn this" list, and now it's a little lower down.  (I took one 2 day intro class and it was frustrating because the class was geared at designers, and focused on the timeline, which STILL confuses me, as opposed to ActionScript, which felt very familiar when I helped a friend recode a few things.)

(UPDATE: Gruber also pointed to this CNET article that points out somethings Flash still does better than its alternatives...)

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