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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.