We represent a community of over 150,000 Flash developers and we’re trying to keep up with everything related to the Web, and especially to the Flash technology. Since we heard a lot of questions and answers about what’s going to happen to the Web after the restrictive moves that Apple has made, we felt that somebody neutral to this cold war needs to shed some light on the issue.

We think Flash can’t just fade out like some have insinuated. Moreover, Flash is going to rule the next decade. Here’s a list of 10 reasons why:

1. Video streaming

Video is the most important media consumed on the web and finally something else than Flash can play video in the browser (not so well though) – this is why Flash and HTML5 are somehow seen as competing technologies.

While many people claim that HTML5 is ready for video streaming, that’s not the actual fact. HTML5 doesn’t support streaming nor progressive play. Also there is no support for live broadcasting, or teleconferencing. All these can be achieved only with Flash and it has been this way for many years now. What can be done using HTML5 is playing videos, not streaming them.

2. Input support

All major websites (like Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, etc.) when they need to capture video and audio they rely on either Flash or some desktop app that has to be installed specifically for this task. All those fancy augmented reality sites that just started to emerge are based on Flash video captured directly by the device’s camera, and this can only be achieved in Flash. Most file uploaders that really work are made in Flash. Also, Flash has just introduced full support for touch screens and gestures; we’ll going to see some cool things evolving from this in the near future!

3. Gaming

Most people install (or update) Flash Player because of a game they want to play at any cost.

Warning: tech lingo ahead! There are some technologies that are needed for the browser-based games to evolve: object-oriented programming support, 3D frameworks, advanced math calculations, collision detection, contextual FPS, full-screen layer, event model, peer-to-peer (this has been around for over a year now), fast graphic filters (such as pixel bender), gesture support, RTMP and AMF protocols for fast and accurate data synchronization, the ability to send objects through these connections (not just string variables), and media servers especially made for data synchronization – to name a few.

The point is, Flash supports all these technologies, and it does it great. It’s obvious why so many developers choose to use Flash to create in-browser games.

The fact that Flash is such a flexible technology is enough to support the idea that Flash is not going to die, but on the contrary, it’s going to rule the next decade and continually raise the standards.

4. Interactive banners

The new advertising era is here. Whether you want to create a cool interactive corporate ad, like any of those showcased daily on the BannerBlog, or you want to create an animated flash banner that runs on multiple devices, Flash is the way to go. More powerful than a GIF or JPG, a Flash banner can create near cinematic experience in a 10th of the size of a video while enabling rich interactions that can significantly increase users’ attention.

With online tools like BannerSnack.com, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world have built Flash banners without actually writing a line of code, and there are more and more apps that allow anyone to create Flash content, right in the browser, without any programming skills. This rapid growth of Flash content “developers” can’t be overruled by the growth of the Objective-C community. That just won’t happen anytime soon.

5. Web apps

Within the first years of the web 2.0 era, a lot of server-based apps started to appear, and most of them used a clean design with nice fonts and HTML/JavaScript front end. That is cool, but that’s not enough. Some apps are built to run heavily on the client side, and these can’t use JavaScript and HTML5 because of their low performance. Moreover, most of HTML5 is not even supported by the world’s most used browser: Internet Explorer. Apps like Picnik, Aviary, Google Apps, BannerSnack, SlideRocket and many more rely on Flash because there is no other way to create such complex online apps.

6. Tools, frameworks, components

Over 7 years ago, a whole set of tools started to emerge along with a new Flash IDE at a two-year interval. Now there is a solid base of thousands of free and premium Flash tools, components and frameworks that just make a developer’s life much easier. Also, at this moment, there is no other language, other than AS 3.0, that brings so much of the OOP (object-oriented programming) and high-level programming into the browsers’ world.

A language that has such a healthy natural growth is unlikely to fade out.

7. Safety & protection

There are many kinds of safety-related issues that we can look at: your computer’s safety, your safety as a computer user, your company’s intellectual property, your code’s copy and distribution protection, etc. Flash enables the possibility to protect both the end user and the provider (and also the host). Maybe one of the most important facts about Flash is that Flash movies are compiled before they get published on the web, meaning that the images, video, audio, texts, fonts and code inside these movies are protected from hacks and abuses. This is one of the reasons why there are so many successful Flash components (like FlashEff or SlideshowBox) out there.

Flash authoring is safe. Also, hacking Flash is not an easy task. If you really want to protect the end-user, this is the way to go, because Flash Player can’t take control over computers or mobile devices.

8. Cross-platform

The established idea is that the only devices that can connect to the Internet are desktop computers, laptops and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. However, more and more devices that are emerging right now and in the near future have the ability to connect to the Internet and are able to render text, images and perhaps run scripts/plugins such as JavaScript and Flash (although not necessarily inside a browser).

Due to the costs involved, some of these devices will not be able to run more than text and they may not even support CSS. Some devices will not be able to run more than one frame per second and will display only black & white graphics (Kindle is the most obvious example). However, the devices that are powerful enough to run Flash and AIR will certainly enable these plugins because obviously this adds great value to the devices and extends their potential use.

Because of this large variety of devices, cross-platform must win, and we’re not talking only about Flash, but also about JavaScript, HTML, CSS, JPG, PNG, GIF, web fonts and other technologies and standards. For obvious reasons, most developers will not be able to deploy their content for a multitude of platforms unless they’ll be able to rely on cross-platform technologies and tools that will enable them to reach their more and more segmented audiences.

The point is, at least for now, Flash is the best cross-platform technology that enables users of different devices and operating systems to access and create rich media content at the highest level of performance. Unfortunately, some less capable devices will not support multitasking and processor-consuming tasks and therefore they will not be able to run Flash. However, the strong competition in the market will make this “unadapted” devices to fall behind just like the iPhone 3GS is currently losing ground in the fight with the much powerful Droid.

9. Progress

Progress always takes what’s good and makes it better. If we can agree that in the past 5 years Flash has been the only game in town, then we should be able to make the assumption that everything that comes after it should either evolve from it or be able to outperform it in all respects. If Flash has a real advantage over any other technology (and it has), it will thrive.

10. Community

We, the Smartketer team, have attended to many IT events, and we can say for sure that there’s nothing that can compare to a Flash conference. You won’t find so many creative people in the same place anywhere else! If there’s something else that can be considered close to a FlashOnTheBeach conference for instance, it will certainly be a C4 conference – an unofficial Mac event that has been put on hold this year by their hosts in order to let Apple know that they’re not supporting the section 3.3.1.

If there’s something that makes Flash so unique, it’s the people that constitute the Flash community.

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11 Responses to “Top 10 reasons why Flash = Future”

  1. Peter Otte says:

    Very well put. It seems to me that there are good points to be made on both sides of the fence.

    Neither side mentions the difficulty of implementing search-engine optimization techniques with Flash web sites.

    It’s true that Google and Adobe have been working together on this, but how long will it take before Flash is fully search-engine friendly?

  2. Apple Fan says:

    My god Steve says Flash is forbidden, so I know it will surely die, it is already dead in my eyes. I will go buy another iPad now. Multitasking is inefficient, to the battery

  3. mario says:

    Mostly fringe features. Flash is not cross-plattform, it may run on the main CPU architectures; but not on my ARM-based netbook (but neither does a HTML5 browser).
    I’ll give you that: (4) Flash is indeed nicer for ads. Because you can turn it off. The horrible DHTML layer ads are not going to go away. I’d like to go back to how things were…

  4. marquex says:

    All the things you are pointing in the article are the present facts. Future means what is going to come, and nowadays all the research and new improvements are being made to html5.

    In many ways, HTML5 is inspired by flash, and a lot of ideas comes from it, let’s face it, flash has shown us all the things the web can be used for, so what HTML5 is trying to do is offer the same as flash but in a web developer friendly way.

    I’m sure it’s coming a time where both will co-exist but eventually html5 will beat flash.

  5. raul says:

    @mario,marquex
    I really believe that HTML5 is going to grow very much and eventually will be able to better perform some tasks that now can only be done in Flash. That’s it, it has nothing to do with beating Flash.

    Let’s talk about a different thing: JavaScript2 (ES4) is a new standard that now is only needs Microsoft approval to emerge from a latent prerelease spec state. It can blow away both Flash and HTML5. The point is that Flash is not competing with HTML5, it’s enough cross-platform to be present on most computers that have enough resources for this task (unlike others).

  6. raul says:

    In 2007, the JS2 specs blow our mind and we all thought that Flash is going to die and the Web 2.0’s JavaScript2 is going to rule the browser… we’re in 2010 now, Flash has got wings!

  7. Paul Deluge says:

    I think all the tech discussion covers the fact of the matter: Apple and Adobe want to be the our “Gatekeeper” for all on line content. They want to control the ways we consume content. The difference is that Apple is hardware closed – Apple software only runs on Apple hardware – and Adobe is not. Also, Apple is trying to change the Web business model from content is “free” (trough advertising) to content is payed – everything you want has to be bought on a Apple store. It seems to me that us – the consumers – will prefer hardware choice and “free” content (Flash) against no choice for hardware and payed content (Apple).

  8. carl schooff says:

    there are some great points here and I appreciate the balanced tone.

    For the most part Flash also has a very small learning curve and it is a super fun program to use even as a hobbyist. What other tech gives you so much control over working with video, audio, vector art, bitmaps and wraps it all in a package with massive programming capabilities?

    Let’s just say are a total newb and you want to mess around and build a little slideshow or multimedia presentation.

    Are you going to want to learn 3 languages: HTML, CSS and Javascript all which have various levels of support on a multitude of browsers? You can also throw in HTML5 (not many books or any tools) and jquery if you want to do anything worthwhile.

    cross-browser optimization is a total nightmare.

    Flash remains the quickest and most powerful tool for converting your creative vision to an interactive and dynamically visual experience that can be enjoyed by the largest user base.

    Current gen mobile devices are now sporting 1ghz processors and can stream HD video. Seriously, there is no way an ipad / iphone can’t physically handle a majority of the flash work out there. Jobs is just being a wuss.

    I watched strongbad emails on a droid the other day. it was fabulous.

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