A tribute to Adobe Flash

Thoughts By 5 years ago

Yesterday I stepped back 14 years to my first Macromedia Flash experience that inspired me to take a first step into the digital world. The site was for a web design company called Gabocorp, and through a myriad of motion tweens and dramatic audio bytes they inspired thousands of web developers (including myself) to dazzle audiences with rich multimedia.

Today the web audience is less excited by the glitter, and instead they want information fast. Very fast. With the huge growth in mobile browsing and IDC predictions that mobile internet will shortly surpass wired/desktop, what in the world will happen to Flash?

We have fond memories  đŸ™‚

Everyone has a fond Flash story be it from high school assignment, to a university project. It puts a smile on your face, followed by a little embarrassment in hindsight of what you used to think was cool. It was an enabling technology that allowed game developers to share their projects with the world and beyond the school LAN. I asked around the office for some nostalgic Flash moments.

Tom shared with us a very cool game he built in high school called Night of The Pumpkin Men

Marco shared a little animation that he built for his SEO business that showcases the character “Little Business“.


Flash still looks great

Its amazing that you can load up a Flash website from 1998, designed for a 640 x 480 monitor with low colour specs  and load it in 2012 on a massive 27 inch monitor and it still looks bloody good. My point is that there is nothing in the web sphere that performs as well as Flash when it comes to screen size compatibility.

The same goes for animation. Sure we are seeing CSS and HTML5 move leaps and bounds but its not there yet. What is the middle ground between static informational websites and multimedia experiences? Do users want a multimedia experience on the web for anything else other than games?

It never became native

Flash has never really been accepted like other web technologies, and it has never just worked seamlessly on all browsers. On re-building my web design company site in 1999, I had a choice to make. Do I use flash, dazzle my audience and potentially shy away business when visitors don”t want to download the plugin? Or do I build 2 websites, one flash and a second HTML and use an auto forwarder? Eventually I put a flash applet in my html site, a win-win. (Its still , many thanks Optus!)

Ironically 14 years later we face the same decision. Building a website solely on Flash means it won”t be natively supported on Apple technology and other browsers that don”t pre-install the plugin. One must ask if its worth losing visitors in exchange for some dazzle.


The final blow

The web is more mobile than ever, technology powerhouse Apple decided not to support Flash, Native applications are in extremely high demand and mobile web is the focus for business presence globally. So when Adobe announced it would no longer support mobile Flash, market confidence in the once booming multimedia technology plummeted.

With 750 jobs cut at Adobe late last year, and a continued focus on developing wrapper solutions to Apps through Adobe Air (see Will”s post on middleware), one must question the sustainability of Flash on all platforms. I think its time to start saying our goodbyes to a technology that inspired us all.

If you have any old Flash projects you have worked on, please email them to me (josh at b2cloud.com.au) and ill add them to this tribute!