Adobe and Apple have been at each other’s necks in a sort of corporate, well-mannered wrestling match – and it’s all over Adobe’s ubiquitous Flash plug-in.
Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs has gone on record saying that the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad will never support Flash, citing the abilities of HTML5/CSS3 as well as the closed nature of Flash as reasons why it’s is on its way out. Adobe’s founders, John Warnock and Chuck Geschke countered with their open letter on open markets. So we know what they all think. But what do I think?
In true non-confrontational fashion, I disagree with neither viewpoint. Flash isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but the days when entire sites are built with it are numbered in my opinion. Anyone who insists on their site being done in Flash is missing the point (Flash for Flash’s sake).
HTML5/CSS3 will make it possible for designers/developers to create rich, animated and interactive experiences using nothing but browser technology. Check out these 2 examples of what’s possible with the latest CSS.
Now, currently no-one can see these as shown here unless they’ve got the latest nightly build of Webkit, and here-in lies the problem. I’m all for graceful degradation, but it’s a difficult thing to sell in – especially if the client isn’t seeing all the bells and whistles that they’ve requested.
There are sites from Dusted’s past that were 100% Flash and, if they were to be designed and built today, there is no reason why the majority of them couldn’t be done using current browser technology (XHTML/CSS/JS) to achieve comparable results, let alone if we used HTML5/CSS3. In fact there are probably a couple that could be rebuilt without anyone actually noticing. The obvious advantage to this is not having to worry about users without access to the Flash plug-in, which is greater now, thanks to Steve Jobs’ insistence.
One group of people that have always loved a Flash solution is photographers. When it comes to the iPhone/iPad, and photographers websites, I think an approach that acts a lot like the Photos app (flipping through full-screen images) would be a great solution and would be totally possible in HTML5/CSS3. In fact, that’s not a bad idea. Make a note of it for me!
On the flipside, take sites with gaming elements to it, such as our recently launched Ani-mates website. There is no way that this site could have been done in anything but Flash, and for the target audience it was definitely the right way to go. So it’s a classic case of the right solution for the problem. Flash may well be the right solution in many cases.
So, yes, I think that Flash-built websites will eventually go the way of the dodo, but Flash will live on for some time until every single user is on IE 9+ / Firefox 3+ / Safari 4+ / Chrome 5+ / Opera 10+ … and, yes, it pains me to say it.