John Gruber writes a typically thought-provoking piece about Flash, the ubiquitous software platform that designers and marketers love because it enables animation and video that make a website act just like a TV or interactive game. Except, that is, when people do what I do and use things like the Firefox browser plugin Flashblock that keeps Flash from taking over my browser — unless I want it to.
Flash can be great. But more often than not, it just slows down a web page. I grew so frustrated with Flash that I installed Flashblock months ago and haven’t looked back. Developers — and excuse me, marketers, but we’re the worst — use Flash for reasons like: “Our boss likes it when the photo whisks across the window” or “The client wants the site to look more modern.”
So, for reasons of pleasing the boss and the desire to look “more modern,” a software platform that is buggy and sloppy and many times, at odds with the marketing objectives of clients (check out how I see those invisible Flash ads on the front of NYT.com), Flash is used — and it pleases bosses and clients who view their ads and websites on controlled platforms.
Gruber (echoing a post from Robert Scoble) suggests there’s a better way to accomplish video and animation and interactivity than using Flash: web standards that support video without a Flash plugin.
There are those who say that the iPad will fail because it doesn’t support Flash (however, that non-support doesn’t seem to have deterred the iPhone’s success). Perhaps, however, it will be the iPad that finally breaks the back of the Flash cartel. Developers, as Gruber suggests, must decide if they are “Flash” developers or animation/video developers.
Likewise, I’ll add, they will soon have to decide if they are iPad developers, or open apps developers.
What a great — and chaotic — time to be living.
Bonus: Dave Winer joins in the discussion.
Later: The NYT examines the Apple-Flash issue in an article in Monday’s paper.