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fiannaFailMan's Journal: Why slashdotters really hate Flash 14

Journal by fiannaFailMan
Slashdotters hate Flash. Period. Try posting anything in favour of Flash anytime the subject comes up and you'll see what I mean. I even saw one guy go as far as to say that 'Flash can only be used for evil.' Gawd! Tell us how you really feel!

Here are the criticisms that they come up with:

  1. Flash is bad because it is used for annoying animations that get in the way of website usability
  2. Flash is bad because it is used to spring music on people without warning
  3. Flash is bad because it hogs the processor

Let's take criticism 1.

The web is full of websites that have annoying popup and popunder ads. I find popunders to be the most annoying thing in all creation. What happens is an ad pops up and blocks my view of what I'm reading. I go Ctrl+w or Apple+w to close the popup. Just before my command makes it, javascript kicks in and puts the popup under the window I'm reading from, and I lose the window I was reading only to be left with an ad for Netflix that I don't need to read because I already subscribe to them!

I'm sorry, but that is the most annoying thing on the web today, not Flash. So where is the chorus of anti-javascript hatred? Where are the claims that javascript 'can only be used for evil?' Nowhere.

Why?

Because javascript is something that slashdotters feel more comfortable with. It fits in with their way of doing things. It's a programmer's language. Programming-types use it, therefore it must be good, regardless of how much it is abused and badly-used. But Flash is a whole different matter. Flash was initially used by graphic-design type people. And of course those bozos don't know what they're doing, not like us geniuses, eh?

So what happens is we have two technologies, both of them used well and abused in roughly equal amounts. One is used by programmes, the other is (supposedly) used by artists. Well programmers are better than artists, therefore 'our' technology is okay but 'their' technology sucks. Stands to reason doesn't it? Never mind the fact that it's not the technology's fault that it gets abused, let's blame the technology anyway while saying nothing about the people on our own side of the fence who abuse javascript.

Moreover, Flash has moved on from the days of animations. In fact, go to any Macromedia user group and confess to creating animations and the response will be 'shame on you!' Flash is nowadays used for querying databases and displaying data without refreshing a whole page of HTML. For example, e-Trade used to have a little Flash app on their website that let you query prices of a particular stock. You type in the ticker symbol, press the button, and after a second or two the price would appear in the swf without having reloaded a single byte of HTML. A bit more efficient than redisplaying the whole page for the sake of updating one little string of characters. This is a whole different approach to web-based applications. The metaphor of the 'page' is inefficient for complex interactive sites like Travelocity or Netflix etc.

Oh, and Flash is also the most sophisticated web-based video-playback platform yet developed.

Criticism 2: "Flash is bad because it springs music on people without warning."

Well Flash isn't the only technology capable of doing that. I seem to remember java applets doing that to me in years gone by. Once again, I didn't hear any complaints from slashdotters about the evils of Java. The fallacy behind this criticism is the same as that behind criticism 1 above. It's not the technology's fault that it gets abused from time to time.

Criticism 3: "It hogs the processor."

Okay, I'll give you that. But for Joe Consumer surfing the net in his living-room, I don't think he's gonna be aware of any problem unless he's doing a bit of finite element analysis in the background.

Bottom line: Don't blame the technology. Flash has moved on from creating animations. In fact a lot of Flash stuff is now being done without making any use of the timeline. I've seen some people create apps in which they never show the stage. The developer tools are getting more powerful with each release, it has evolved into a fully-fledged software development environment. If you're a programming type and you had doubts about Flash before, I invite you to look again and get into it. You might actually like it if you opened your mind and gave it a chance!

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Why slashdotters really hate Flash

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  • In the US it is what ~30%, and even less in the rest of the world. Flash, shockwave, and java, take far more bits to convey the exact same message that XHTML + CSS + Javascript can, it just takes a good programmer to get it to work cross platform. Your example of etrade could easily be done with an IFRAME + Perl/PHP/Ruby/$language on the server side, and transmit far fewer bits.
  • Flash is bad for a number of reasons. The three that you enumerate are minor factors, but you're missing the most important ones:

    • It's bloated. Most Flash-based advertisements consume more bandwidth than every other element of the page on which they're displayed.
    • Those monuments to "developer" hubris known as splash pages. They're useless and wasteful. See previous entry.
    • No source access. One of the nicest features of the web is the ability to view the source of whatever code your browser is curre
    • "It's bloated. Most Flash-based advertisements consume more bandwidth than every other element of the page on which they're displayed."

      What you said doesn't imply that Flash is bloated, but rather that people make bloated content. That's not Flash's fault. I can make JPEGs or GIFs the same way.

      "Those monuments to "developer" hubris known as splash pages. They're useless and wasteful. See previous entry."

      Again, not Flash's fault.

      "No source access. One of the nicest features of the web is the abilit
      • So? I don't provide Photoshop .PSD files for every image I make. I don't make the Premiere or After Effects files I used to make .AVIs available on the web. Why should Flash be different?

        Apples to oranges. When you're talking about Flash in the context of animation, I agree. But as an HTML replacement, it fails to provide a lot of the functionality that HTML has always offered. That's my problem with it.

        Being that it's vector based, it can be resized to any resolution. That may not be the desired ef

        • [Flash] fails to provide a lot of the functionality that HTML has always offered

          And HTML fails to provide a lot of the functionality that Flash offers.

          There are certainly ways of doing this with some careful CSS and DHTML application.

          Yeah, and the chances of it working in every browser are proportional to the number of weeks you have to spend tweaking it. I remember spending weeks trying to get a simple set of DHTML rollover menus working on a decent number of browsers. No sooner did I fix a problem i

          • And HTML fails to provide a lot of the functionality that Flash offers.

            Like...? Aside from the timing and animation features that I mentioned in a previous post, I can't think of anything. (Provided, of course, that you have a server that supports some manner of server-side scripting [PHP, ASP, JSP, etc.].) If you're talking about dynamically updating only part of a page, you can achieve the exact same effect with an <iframe>, at a considerably lower cost in bandwidth and CPU cycles.

            Yeah, and

    • *Sigh*

      I have dealt with most of these in my journal entry but I will try again and hopefully someone will listen:

      It's bloated

      I disagree. It is only bloated when not used properly, just like jpg or gif. Because it's vector based, it's less likely to be bloated.

      Those monuments to "developer" hubris known as splash pages

      This is an abuse of the technology, not the fault of the technology itself. I've seen splash screens in HTML with big jpg images on them too. Does HTML and jpg suck?

      No source ac

      • As an animation technology, I have no problems with Flash. But in about 95% of the situations in which it is used, it shouldn't be.

        JavaScript (or, in this case, DHTML) is a fantastic technology. It has a myriad of legitimate uses, including truly dynamic web pages, client-side data validation and processing, and many others. Yes, it is frequently misused. But it has a few things going for it that Flash does not:

        • DHTML adds an amazing number of things to the Internet "experience," as you will. There a
  • I think there's a reason why creating animations with Flash is looked down upon (as you claim): the program was not made for animation. I'd go so far to say that as an animation tool, it flat-out sucks, and there are far more versatile and friendlier vector and layer-based animation apps from the likes of Adobe. It's being increasingly used in broadcast animation these days (not only commercials, but whole TV shows!), which is why I'm not so sure that it's days are numbered as an animation platform.

    However

  • Surfing...reading news website.

    Suddenly, the sound of squeeling tires fills my ears? Oh no, has some lunatic gone flying down my street? It sounds like it's coming straight for me!

    No, turns out it was just a flash ad.

    I was not expecting sound at this time!

    (Thankfully, I've installed flash-click-to-view. If you want my attention, you'll need my permission.)
  • i dont actually hate flash. im not a programmer, im not a web developer, im just a guy who is aware of how these things work but cant do it.

    from a user perspective flash can be great or it can suck. in firefox it's fine, because i can install flash click to play and adblock, and still use the flash i want. same goes for javascript. can block what you dont want and allow what you do.

    but this isnt a discussion of how great firefox is. the point is that they are both abused in conjunction i.e., popup flash w
  • Look, as 'Joe Consumer' I really don't have a problem with Flash other than the occasional loud 'smack-you-in-the-back-of-the-head' kind of ads.

    My issue probably has more to do with plug-ins in general than Flash in specific.

    Question: Is it possible to surf the Internet today without Flash?

    Answer: Yes, but it sucks if you're a teenage girl.

    I'm the admin of a small private girls school. I once had what I thought was a brilliant plan of putting all of the dorm access through terminal services. It worked g

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