Every time I read articles and comments to the effect that Flash is dead I think of the Monty Python scene Bring out your dead.
If you’re reading this blog then I don’t need to convince you of the gloriousness of Flash. But I have had a few thoughts that I haven’t seen anyone else explore that I’d like to bring up.
Influencing the young
After all the recent Flash-bashing the only lasting effect it will have is on those who are new to the field of web development or experienced developers thinking about picking up Flex. When they read all this news about Flash being dead it is likely that they will be a little more reluctant to dive in. It’s a huge investment of time to learn something like Flash. It takes years to master. If they perceive, wrongly, that Flash will be a minor player in 3-5 years then they may focus their learning elsewhere.
The upshot to that is there will be slightly less competition for jobs and freelance gigs. However this doesn’t do Adobe any good at all. It reduces their base of users and therefor their profits. And I want Adobe to be flush with money so that they can continue to pour money into improving the Flash player and Flash development tools.
Hopefully Adobe will make up the difference with CS5 – and eventually Flash Builder – being able to port Actionscript projects to Apple mobile devices.
Just who is bashing Flash?
We all know who it is that is bashing Flash. The stereo-typical web standards fanatic. I understand that this is an ideological battle for them that they are passionate about. I feel exactly the same way, if not more-so, about Apple: a company I hate with every fiber of my being and will do them harm in any way I can think. And I’m sure that most everyone has something that they get all worked up about. It’s good to be passionate about things. Gets the blood pumping.
But what good are these people in influencing the direction of web development? Not much. They may play around with HTML5 in their spare time but little of it is going to make it into public websites for 3-5 years. We all know that until Microsoft IE fully supports it HTML5 is still-born.
I can see the conversation a HTML5 fan might have with his department manager:
fanatic: We should embrace HTML5 and use the <video> tag for our corporate videos.
manager: Why would we want to do that? Will it save us money? Will it provide a better user experience? From what I hear support for the <video> tag is limited. So we’ll still need to have Flash video as a fallback, right?
fanatic: Yes, I suppose so.
manager: let me get this straight. You want to complicate matters while simultaneously spending more money?
fanatic: Well, ummmm, I didn’t think about it that way. But…
manager: Shut up and get back in your cubical. For your punishment I want you to whip at 5 Flash banner ads before lunch.
HTML5 in the long term
What is the long term outlook for HTML5? According to the recent news it seems like it is destined to kill Flash. But HTML5 just barely catches up with Flash 6 capabilities. And HTML5 has years to go before it is even fully baked. In the meantime Flash just keeps revving up faster and faster. It seems that many in the HTML5 field see the world of web development as heading to some plateau and at that point they will be able to catch up. But that’s not going to happen. Changes aren’t just coming. They’re coming faster and faster. There is absolutely no hope that HTML can stay on the cutting edge. That’s because in many instances Flash defines the cutting edge. And a new Flash Player comes out every 18 months or so. Plus we all know that new player penetration just keeps coming faster and faster and should continue to do so. Whereas with HTML it is only going to get more and more difficult to push out new features because of the fragmentation of the browser market.
I really feel sorry for the HTML5 fanatics. Like I said, I understand their passion. And I’m sure they will have lots of fun playing around with it just like we have fun playing around with Flash. But in the long run their entire approach is antiquated and inferior. It is a simple matter of evolution: Flash evolves faster than HTML. The things people are doing to push the envelope with HTML5, that is getting to the front page of Digg, is the same material that we use to make beginner tutorials for Flash newbies.