The problem with Flash as I see it…

There’s an uproar at the moment on the interwebs. You may have heard about it.

The iPad will not support Flash.

Just like the iPhone before it, the Flash plug-in cannot and will not run in the iPad’s browser. Apple say it’s because the Flash plug-in is the single biggest cause of Safari crashes. I can’t say I’d blame them for being pissed. The window to the internet on your default install can be crippled by a third party proprietary plug-in. Not cool.

So, because Apple have a closed platform in the iPhone and iPad they can choose who plays ball.

A lot of web folks are predicting the end of Flash. It’s on it’s way out. along with HTML5 putting the boot in and promising to handle streaming video (possibly Flash’s biggest single use online) with acceptable CPU levels on a Mac, there will be a decrease in the plug-in, whilst this may be true, I don’t see a funeral anytime soon.

If you also look at who’s screaming til they’re blue in the face, we see something interesting. It’s mostly (if not all) Mac using standards authors who’re quick to announce Flash’s passing. Mac users. A minority group who’ve been consistently bummed by Adobe and their plug-in technology for over a decade. We’ve been second-hand citizens for years with both the Flash authoring app and the web plug-ins. I know people who, years ago, turned from Mac to PC, because their core skill was Flash, and that was an utter cluster-fuck on a Mac.

Even today, watching a 2.something GHz Mac CPU tilting at 50% when running a YouTube video isn’t fucking funny. It’s obscene, and a slur to all Mac users. Adobe should not be surprised the oppressed masses are now turning.

But really, that’s just the technology, what about the software and possibilities it presents?

I have a long history with Flash, which has to some extent tailed off in the recent years. I remember being completely confused by FutureSplash, before it was acquired by Macromedia. I saw my whole world change with the introduction of ActionScript, not the clicking of option boxes, and the fear that I might not “get it”.  I was invited to the launch of Flash 5 with Subnet, in London with a handful of other companies such as Kerb and Razorfish, teams of young talent who’d been reared on video games and enjoyed creating something new. I’ve written chapters and articles, tech reviewed, demoed and taught Flash. I know it pretty well.

If Flash goes, we’ll lose important things on the web. Diversity, experimentation, inspiration and art. Flash is the single quickest way for a designer to do something quirky, with audio and animation, to tell a story or create an experience, then publish it to the internet. While I’m not Flash’s biggest fan, I still think it has it’s place, and more so now that it’s being used to create elements of a site rather than doing whole sites within Flash.

I don’t think Flash will die, and really I hope it doesn’t, because the bar for entry into web authoring for young designers and coders may be raised so high, and focussed so narrow, it will stop a lot of abstract and creative talent getting involved.

So just be careful what you wish for.