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Summary:

When Flash appeared near the end of the last millennium it promised a bright new world of rich multimedia content creation and delivery via what would otherwise be drab old web pages. At a time when Geocities was the best the Web had to offer, Flash […]

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When Flash appeared near the end of the last millennium it promised a bright new world of rich multimedia content creation and delivery via what would otherwise be drab old web pages. At a time when Geocities was the best the Web had to offer, Flash was a tempting — and not to mention dazzling — new kid on the block.

Over the years, as web technologies evolved and matured, Flash proved to be problematic; for those who make websites (and care about accessibility and web standards in a way ordinary people just don’t) it has gradually aged into an unwieldy, outmoded platform.

Even for those enjoying the most remarkable fruits of early Flash labor — for instance, YouTube relied on the technology heavily in its formative years — Flash was simultaneously the bringer of video entertainment and the most common reason for all browser (and a great many System) crashes. Also — did I mention the security vulnerabilities?

I hoped (foolishly, it seems) that it was only the big movie studios who, paranoid we’re all stealing their stuff, were still insisting on Flash-based content delivery, but according to Erick Schonfeld over on TechCrunch, there’s a whopping two million Flash developers out there, and they’re simply dying to bring their Flash-authored wares to the last platform on Earth that has, so far, remained blissfully Flash free — your iPhone.

Limitations

The iPhone has always been marketed as a breakthrough Internet device, in spite of two limitations considered by some people to be significant — the iPhone’s browser, Mobile Safari, has never supported Java or Flash.

While the absence of Java is no big deal (honestly, is there anything more horrid than Java web plugins?) the lack of Flash support on the iPhone was considered debilitating enough that, in the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority upheld viewer complaints and banned one of Apple’s iPhone commercials for ‘misleading’ customers with the line “All the parts of the Internet are on the iPhone.” It sounds rather like an over-reaction, but consider that in his 2008 WWDC keynote, Steve Jobs proudly announced, “Mobile browsing has gone from nothing to 98 percent with iPhone.” With so much mobile browsing going on, it seems any limitations matter profoundly. So, after almost three years browsing the web on our iPhones, how has the lack of Flash truly affected us?

Here’s the answer to that in three succinct syllables; not at all.

Seriously, has it so greatly inconvenienced anyone that they were driven away from the iPhone forever? (That rhetorical question will be read by our resident comment trolls as an open invitation to loudly proclaim their Android-based phones ‘superior’ because they do support Flash.)

Schonfeld offers an ominous prediction for 2010.

Adobe is going to bring its 2 million Flash developers to the iPhone, with or without Apple’s blessing. As it announced in October, the next version of its Flash developer tools, Creative Suite 5 […] will automatically convert any Flash app into an iPhone app. So while Flash apps won’t run on the iPhone, any Flash app can easily be converted into an iPhone app. This is a bigger deal than many people appreciate.

While Schonfeld thinks Apple’s lack of Flash support represents a “gaping hole in iPhone’s arsenal” I rather think the opposite is true. For all the iPhone’s inimitable prowess as a mobile computer, it’s not supposed to replace a laptop or desktop-class machine. What the iPhone brought to mobile phones (both in terms of functions and ease-of-use) was revolutionary in ways we readily take for granted today. But just think again of that figure; 98 percent browsing? That had never happened on mobile phones before, and it happened despite the lack of Flash.

Steve Jobs announces 98 percent of iPhone owners are using it for web browsing

But while I (perhaps incorrectly) assumed the lack of Flash was a usability consideration on Apple’s part, Schonfeld thinks the decision was motivated by a less obvious, and far more cunning, desire.

[Apple] wanted a chance to become ingrained with developers. Apple had to hold off Flash not so to control the video experience on the iPhone, but because it needed to establish its own Apple-controlled iPhone SDK. The last thing it needed was a competing developer platform getting in the way.

But Adobe Creative Suite 5 will provide precisely the magic button developers need to port their Flash apps to the iPhone.

…those 2 million developers will be able to keep working with Adobe tools and simply turn them into iPhone apps automatically. …if you thought there were a lot of iPhone apps now, just wait until the Flash floodgates are open.

This, frankly, scares me. I’ve rarely seen a flash site that I enjoyed. Even those which I thought impressive at first-blush rapidly became cumbersome and slow. And don’t get me started on the platform’s propensity for random crashing. If developers are granted the freedom to assault the stable, clean and comfortable world of my iPhone with gaudy, pointlessly-animated applications with inconsistent, ill-conceived UI’s, I can only hope there’s a quick and easy way to identify them in the App Store so I can avoid buying them altogether!

Schonfeld thinks CS5 will result in an avalanche of Flash-authored iPhone apps; I hope he’s wrong. Even on the desktop, Flash is something I prefer to avoid when I can. (I use three browsers — all of them employ a flash blocker — and as a result I feel my experience of the web improved markedly.) I honestly thought that, as 2010 gets under way, we’d all come to the same conclusion; that Flash is an antiquated technology whose security vulnerabilities and performance issues make it deeply undesirable.

If Apple can block these flash-authored apps, would it? Should it? Tell me how wrong I am, and why I’d better embrace it, in the comments below.

  1. No. If anything Flash is being frowned upon by my corporate clients looking for SEO friendlier solutions for both web and mobile content.

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  2. Unless something has changed in the last week or so, the whole “porting Flash apps to the iPhone” thing is not what it seems. when it was first announced, all the other tech sites were saying that it was a misconception and that aside from using Flash to show movies, Flash apps couldn’t “really” be ported and that it was primarily just a marketing blitz from Adobe.

    I’m not enough of a developer to know the details, but I don’t think you *will* be seeing any of those crap Flash games on the iPhone any time soon, and even if you did … they would still look like junk compared to a native app using the SDK anyway.

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    1. There are lots of tools out there that convert code automatically from one language and environment to the other. There are several for the iPhone, for example, that let you write once and “port” to iPhone and Android. They work fine.

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  3. Absolutely agree with Schonfeld. The reason Apple didn’t develop Flash for the iPhones is for the SDK. At $99 a pop to join the clan and 28,000 developers out there (without counting those who purchased the SDK and didn’t submit an app), that’s at least $2.8 million in revenue for Apple.

    But even if CS5 makes it possible to create apps, will developers still need to join the iPhone Developer Program? If that’s the case, then we might see a transition from iphone apps to Nexus apps…

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    1. you don’t purchase the SDK it’s free. You’ll still need to pay $99 to submit Flash garbage

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  4. Flash (and Silverlight) enabled websites could offer much of the functionality that the App Store presently supplies so Apple have “technical” challenges around this is no surprise.

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    1. @Rob, I think not: remember how vociferously devs objected to the “you can do web-based apps” message at the iPhone intro? … and how the iPhone took off based on a full, native app development environment?

      Those tools may be fine for browsers, but the world of mobile apps is so much more than that.

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  5. Apple will not allow Flash in the iPhone ecosystem for many, many reasons.

    1. Flash is a perfectly good waste of bandwidth, processing cycles and battery life that is almost always unnecessary, even more so with the dawn of HTML 5.
    2. Flash is proprietary, if it doesn’t work efficiently or correctly, Apple has to wait on Adobe to fix it. In a handheld, mobile device, that is unacceptable. Remember how fast Adobe was getting out new versions of Photoshop and and Flash for Mac OS X? Neither do I.
    3. In spite of all the propaganda about how “closed” Apple is, Apple has actually pushed for open standards, technology and codecs on the internet—Webkit, AAC, HTML 5, H.264, Quicktime. Any internet plugin/codec/technology that is proprietary is bad for everyone, especially if it becomes “to big to ignore.”
    4. Flash has the ability to become the de facto UI on a mobile device. Like Apple is ever gonna let that happen.

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    1. AAC and Quicktime can hardly be open standards. You have to pay to license the right to make AAC Files. Even if Apple pays it for you, and Microsoft (I hear) started paying for in Windows 7.

      Are you forgetting the Apple makes you pay to sell your app, then you pay them for each download, and that is when the finally get to ‘approving’ your app for quality? hello Fart app, good-bye Google voice mail app? not closed… ok!

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  6. Flash apps versus Flash-containing websites are two very different beasts, as the proposed Adobe functionality makes manifestly clear. Flash may be an easy, if not terribly compelling tool for developing simple apps, but its implementation on the user side has, to date, been awful in Apple’s experience (mine, too).

    Apple has been overwhelmingly and apparently, unexpectedly successful with the iPhone due to the App store offering low barriers to developers. That’s a formula they won’t want to mess with. Adobe wants to let devs translate Flash into something resembling native iPhone code? Wonderful!

    Note that apps are mechanically checked at submission time for a variety of technical flaws such as memory leaks, which destabilize or crash any platform (even more so under full multi-tasking). That’s the huge difference between a Flash-authored app and a website that puts up a buggy Flash script or inadvertently trips a flaw in the Flash runtime. Mac users see those flaws all too often… Flash (and Silverlight) are always close to the top of my crash logs for Safari.

    So I think Apple is very wise to prohibit Flash runtimes until such time as Adobe can create a better runtime, or until Apple can put Flash into its own very protected box, so that bad Flash crashes only that page, and not the browser or system.

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  7. I really can’t understand why so many people still think that flash is really needed. I’d tell them just that I don’t change the peace of mind I got after installing Click2flash in all of my machines: I got the “multicolor spinning ball of death” reduced in about a 98% just by blocking flash!!! (and I’m not talking here about vulnerabilities, that’s another chapter) and my eyes also feel really much better without all those annoying banners, really Flash isn’t worth at all the troubles it brings…

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  8. Please do better research.

    The main reason Flash isn’t on the iPhone is because Adobe is unable to get it to use less process power (it drains the battery tremendously more than any other app).

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  9. “But even if CS5 makes it possible to create apps, will developers still need to join the iPhone Developer Program? If that’s the case, then we might see a transition from iphone apps to Nexus apps…”
    Please, Flash developers, as an iPhone owner I beg of you, go develop Flash for the Nexus, leave the iPhone alone. That will certainly kill the Nexus if it isn’t dead already.

    For anyone with a straight face to think they could produce a flash app that compares to native Obj-C Cocoa app reveals a very, very deep cluelessness.

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    1. Do you think you could tell which apps already in the app store were authored using Flash versus Apple’s tools? Can you point them out without referencing a press release?

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    2. Idiot.

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  10. Man you talk such shit.

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    1. you smell like it…

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  11. Matthew Frederick Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    Every time I read or hear that the lack of Flash is related to technical challenges, battery life, or that it’s proprietary to Adobe I have to cringe.

    It’s very straightforward. Look up at the beginning of the article where the other missing common technology is noted: Java. Java runs on my 8 year-old Nokia with a processor 1/50th the capability of the iPhone’s. Flash and Java do not run on the iPhone for one reason: Apple has made well over a billion dollars on app sales. If you could have had the same apps via Flash or Java that number would be a small fraction of itself.

    If you’re still sure that Flash isn’t there for one of the first three reasons I mentioned (tech, battery, Adobe), explain why Java isn’t on the iPhone.

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    1. This is the most rational comment i read for this post. Lack of flash and java on iphone may not be bothering blog author but it definetely puts severe limitations for users like me. For example, i would like to see “hulu” episodes on my iphone. If iphone supported flash, i could have used iphone safari for accessing hulu videos. But now i have to wait for hulu to create an app which will most likely get rejected from apple.

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  12. There is a little bit of misunderstanding: In this case we are not talking about Flash, we are talking about Adobe IDE + Actionscript + LLVM compiler! Garbage can be produced using anything, regardless what platform people chooses to build on. The App Store is flooded with usless and poorly designed/implemented apps. (Does it really matter if a farting application is done with Flash or the iPhone SDK?!)

    Great developers/designers will produce great applications, the rest will produce shit, as it’s always been. In the end, people will decide if they want to install shit, or great apps onto their iPhone. The only difference is that developers can come from different backgrounds, which will inevitably reflected in the apps they make. Never forget: Flash is not only about banners and Youtube player; it’s also a platform on which thousands of creative professionals expressed their own unique views, at the times when the web was nothing more than badly designed HTML pages. Sure, as the browsers evolved, the need for an alternative display engine reduced. But this doesn’t mean the people who made difference at that time died as well.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m neither a Flash, nor an Apple SDK fan. It’s just short-sighted to believe that Flash is the evil itself, and everything which developed using Adobe’s IDE is straight from Belzebub. As for me, I’ll install only the very best, and skip the rest; Flash-originated applications will not be an excepction. Sometimes you just won’t be able to tell from which development environment the app came.

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    1. From years of experience with the Macintosh, Apple knows that standardizing the user interface adds value. While it is true that a bad developer can write bad apps for any platform, a developer who uses Apple’s iPhone SDK is much more likely to produce an app that behaves as expected than one lazily ported from Flash.

      There is no shortage of iPhone apps, and no reason to open the floodgates to the chaos of Java and Flash applications.

      You might say “open it up and let the user’s decide.” Sounds good, but the downside is that users will have to be cautious and do more research. The iPhone will also be judged by it’s worst apps (how many times have Fart apps been used to slur the iPhone). Apple must to walk the fine line between complete control and chaos. Drawing the line where it does is fine with me.

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  13. mosspuppet you are an Adobe apologist. There are like, 2 apps in the app store that were created the way you suggest. This whole thing is just a PR point for Adobe.

    A year or two from now, there will be some tiny number of games in the app store that were ported from Flash, they won’t be anywhere near the top of the popularity list. Almost no one is going to go to this amount of bother. Any serious developer targeting the app store is going to go Cocoa. Even if they begin with one of these dirty ports, they will eventually re-write it for speed and compatibility. At best, this is a helpful tool for a distinct minority, not a full solution for creating apps on the iPhone in Flash.

    The main purpose, and the biggest upside is just PR for Adobe.

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    1. It doesn’t matter if there are 2 games or 200. The comment made was this:

      For anyone with a straight face to think they could produce a flash app that compares to native Obj-C Cocoa app reveals a very, very deep cluelessness.

      All you have to do is produce 1 that compares, yes?

      Also, how exactly are Flash developers a minority when they outnumber iTunes developers? I am a Flash developer, and have been for a long time. I’d like to get into iPhone app dev, but there’s an issue of taking the time to learn a new environment. I’ll be utilizing my existing skillset to make products on a new platform as soon as I’m able to, and I know a *lot* of people who will, too.

      I don’t know why so many people are acting threatened by this; who cares what app compiled the code, as long as the code is good?

      If you think this is just PR, I would suggest that you acquaint yourself with some Flash developer communities; we get as excited by real functional increases as iPhone fanboys do by copy and paste.

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  14. Flash is evil and must be destroyed.
    There will never be any Flashcrap on my iPod Touch.

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  15. “Here’s the answer to that in three succinct syllables; not at all.”

    Speak for yourself. I hate not being able to access large parts of the Internet on my iPhone, and I can’t wait until Flash-Lite is supportable on it.

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    1. Amen. Last nite at SF’s modern art museum, I heard about an interesting architect so went to his web site. All I could see was an “install Flash” message.
      I’d like to be able to see sites that now use Flash heavily, and there are two possible ways that’ll happen:

      A. Adobe gets their butt in gear and produces decent browser plugins or apps to run Flash. Lots of work to do on Windows mobile, Palm, Nokia, BlackBerry, etc., none of which have Flash and none of which is run by Steve Jobs. When Adobe shows success on enough devices that Apple sees a competitive disadvantage, they will capitulate and find a way to make it happen.

      B. Webmasters wise up that putting up site inaccessible to a few hundred million mobile users is suicidal. They detect mobiles and offer an alternative. Eventually, this morphs into detecting IE versions less than 9.0, and using Flash just for them.

      I’ll hazard the guess that Plan A is at least two years out. Adobe has all the hardware resources they need on modern Android phones, and yet they only have a feature-incomplete “beta” running on one device. (Once upon a time, “Beta” meant a feature-complete program that was ready for wider testing, even if there were still bugs. Now, Adobe means it as “some things kinda work.”) Android has been out two years; Windows Mobile for longer than that; BlackBerry’s current incarnation for years… and no official Flash to be seen anywhere.

      I don’t really think Adobe engineers are incompetent. They’re just trying to shoehorn a desktop-type program into gizmos with roughly 10% of the CPU, Graphics, memory and power of the desktops that Flash was designed for. Incompetent management, maybe, for saying repeatedly that they were going to have it done, year after year.

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  16. I don’t get the point of the title used for this article. The obvious “click bait” title claims: “Opinion: Flash is the Real iPhone Killer”, yet the article goes on to make just the opposite point. While my there are a few cool flash based sites for kids out there, for most adults, the omission of Flash is more of a blessing. Who needs that garbage slowing down your web browsing?

    There are newer technologies in HTML 5 that all but eliminate the need for Flash. Yes, it will be a while before Microsoft gets up to speed with their browsers, but that’s essentially their problem.

    As for Flash apps on the iPhone, there will be a few inconsequential apps, but none of the important apps will be in Flash. For starters, performance issues… Programs like games will always run best on native apps. Additionally, only native apps will have full access to the necessary APIs to do anything worth while. As for the 2 million flash developers, is there a survey of how many of them are actually itching to develop mobile apps for the iPhone? I suspect the number is much smaller. Also, it’s not as if Apple is having a problem getting developers on board for the iPhone anyway.

    No, instead, the iPhone is more likely a Flash killer. The iPhone is the platform to be on right now. Many businesses are flocking to it and they are doing so with native apps, not with generic Flash garbage. This is the beginning of Flash’s irrelevance. Apple will likely further bring that home with the tablet device they introduce soon. The web should be based on standards, not proprietary crap like Flash or Silverlight, etc.

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    1. The “Flash” apps won’t be flash files running in an emulator; the Flash IDE gains the ability to output apps to the iPhone codebase, which would mean they’d be identical in abilities and resources.

      Also, that canard about HTML 5 is silly; Flash can do WAY more than HTML 5, and has across the board support. HTML 5 support is Microsoft’s problem? You’re suggesting replacing a ubiquitous and highly functional tech that anyone can use with one that only the newest browsers support, sort of, and which can’t do as much. That’s not much of a trade-off.

      Flash IS a standard, by the way. It’s a de facto standard of the web.

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  17. Flash, like Nexus, is in the pan.
    Apple rules as it should.

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  18. Death to Flash! Long live HTML5!

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  19. I’m happy to NOT have Flash on the iPhone. But that’s just me. If it does come to the iPhone in some fashion, why not offer ClickToFlash (Flash blocker) for those who don’t want or need it. Then you can appease all parties. “Don’t like Flash? There’s an app for that!”

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  20. As a flash developer since 1999, I feel a lot of what you experience and expect now-a-days is because of flash/java, HTML5/CSS3 integrating animations and such. I agree with people’s issues on security and power consumption, but good flash developers spend MUCH time on garbage collection and security measures. Everything evolves, remember when HTML first debuted? UGH! I was completely excited for ANYthing else! frames?? blinking links?? ..there are more, but I digress.

    I do think Apple is keeping flash and java out for their developers to have elbow room and to propagate, hell, I’ve looked at the SDK and I know I could learn to code for the iPhone, but I like flash, i’m used to it and i like the flexibility of the environment. I learn as much about flash and flash design concepts as I can to make better and better products for my clients.

    That said, I have an iPhone, and OF COURSE I want flash on it! ..to be able to check my site out on a slick mobile device like this would be awesome! ..but I don’t think it will be for quite a while .. if ever.

    I am content in publishing content for Full fledged OS’. Why do you think they’re making an ‘iSlate’ (name pending of course). People NEED a bigger screen! I realize, not everything is for mobile content consumption. Companies build ‘Versions’ of their site anyways for different browsing environments.

    But, all in all, to hate on flash/java is harsh. Don’t forget what brought you and your internet expectations to where you/they are. The powers that be are working on making all these things better all the time! Everything can co-exist in the right environment. If the components are used in the right way, hell, it makes for a fuller experience and more options, IMO.

    Long live evolution/change!

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  21. I agree that I don’t like Flash web sites, but I find myself having to go to my Mac to visit a website after viewing it on my iPhone and seeing the brick. The things I am missing on the iPhone are data graphs that are being done in Flash, for whatever reason. I would rather not need to go back to the Mac to view a website.

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  22. I want Flash mostly to be able to access Street View-like websites and for Hulu. Those two (for me) necessities will make my iPhone Internet experience complete.

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  23. Flash runs like crap on OSX Snow Leopard compared to Windows XP or Windows 7. It is Adobe’s fault for not fine tuning it to run well on OSX. I can run Flash in a virtual machine like VMWare 3.0 with Windows XP and it runs with less processor strain than Flash runs natively in OSX Snow Leopard. That’s totally sick.

    I use a 3.06 GHz iMac and even though I don’t have much of a problem running Flash with it, I still use ClickToFlash with Safari just so I don’t have to see all those crappy Flash banners and such. Until Adobe does something about this, then I hope Flash disappears. That bastard company is paying too much favoritism to Microsoft and Windows, so screw them. I hope HTML5 takes over the whole internet and Adobe fails big time.

    There are just a few sites I use that have Flash, like youtube and Google Finance and the odd gossip sites like PopEater. Flash seems to be such a resource waster so it it goes away, all well and good.

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    1. Second that.

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  24. [...] should support Flash; to be fair Apple may have reasons to not support Flash.  Check out a much different take on Flash in general. Share and [...]

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  25. Adobe had concentrated it’s development for Flash to work with Microsoft Windows. Any Unix based system was much less of a priority, if any. The fallout of this still shows today. So, in essence, Adobe chose who they wanted to support, that is Microsoft. I hope Flash dies the death it deserves. Microsoft is already stabbing them in the back trying to push their Silverlight.
    Developers may like to do xyz, but I am talking about the experience the end user sees on their hardware. Adobe Flash is technically flawed on Unix based systems – 15-20% CPU for one flash-laden website is unacceptable. Yet, in 2010, this is what I am seeing on a desktop computer. If I was designing a mobile device, this would not be allowed.

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    1. It goes further than that. It isn’t just that Flash developers have been focusing on Windows–it seems evident that from the start they have written extremely poor, nearly unmaintainable, non-portable code. They did not have the vision all those years ago that the internet would become such a universal content delivery medium for everything from financial transactions to video on your phone. With their blinders on they wrote a non-portable, monolithic, quick-and-dirty Win32-only binary plugin.

      Flash doesn’t even work natively on all WINDOWS versions–on 64-bit editions you have to run 32-bit browser in emulation! Adobe’s glacial pace at releasing flash for other OSes and hardware architectures over the years. The iPhone has gone so long without flash not because of any particular Apple strategy, but mostly because Adobe, the sole steward of Flash code and specs, dragged its feet for YEARS on providing a STABLE and EFFICIENT flash engine for the ARM processor platform on which the iPhone is based.

      Above all I think the best solution involves TRULY open standard protocols and codecs and ditching the browser as the answer to everything in favour of natively compiled apps built atop portable development frameworks/libraries/APIs–again they must be truly OPEN. Adobe’s trying to make itself into that portable framework but number one it is poorly executed, and number two (andof most concern) it is proprietary.

      Unfortunately it’ll take some time for this to come about, if it does at all. With gobs of computing resources we are accustomed to on the desktop to support bloat, we’ve become accustomed to thinking that we should not only surrender control to corporate “clouds”, but that the best interface to “the cloud” is a big, bloated HTML browser full of plug-ins and script-interpreters all interconnected with bubblegum and binder-twine so we can write-once, compile-never, and run-badly/slowly everywhere.

      Yes, flash is evil on many levels–it makes the internet less accessible, more proprietary and less reliable. On one hand the lousy Flash plugin perpetuates the “bloated browser” client paradigm, and when it doesn’t do that it promotes the continued lock-in of a stale old vendor-specific technology.

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  26. I believe that Apple’s reasons for not putting Flash on the iPhone are simultaneously selfish and perfectly acceptable. With a platform like Flash, many users could circumvent the app store and get the same functionality (animations, rich media, connected to dynamic data) on a website. I see why people argue that the iPhone doesn’t have the “real internet” when a lot of the real internet is Flash based. They’re right. That said, none of the sites I regularly go to use Flash. It’s like the copy and paste thing. It’s a big deal for people who want their not-as-good phones to beat the iPhone at something, but now that it has copy and paste, everyone realizes that while it’s nice to have, they’ll never really use it.

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  27. you such a Flash hater =)

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  28. I think the main reasons for deflashed iPhone is, that we already have hundreds of smart and free apps running on Flash, which would dramatically cripple iPhone Apps sales.
    Or in other words: Apple is forcing us, the consumer, to buy Apple’s expensive iPhone Apps rather than allowing us to load cheaper or even free Flash application software, that’s already available not just for other Mobiles but will run on and will synchronize with your PC as well.
    So for large organisations, this cost-factor really matters and even if you use your private iPhone for business, I really would be sure, to stay compatible with the increasingly large number of significant and serious business applications available today built on the Flash/Flex framework.

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  29. The masses of sheep are glad to have someone decide what software they can and cannot use. It is best for them that their machines stay “sanitized for your protection.” However, truly curious, or creative, technically minded individuals cannot tolerate such boundaries. Choice rules.

    Objective-C is an old, cruft-ridden and tedious language. Nor is Flash itself ideal for programmers. Hence Flex, which combines Actionscript with declarative XML that is particularly convenient for defining user interfaces in a direct and reasonably terse, high level fashion. Unfortunately, one must give credit where it is due; Flex Builder’s Eclipse IDE is nowhere near as slick nor responsive as Visual Studio. Toss in the fact that C# is an excellent language and we arrive at the scary reality that the iPhone should support Silverlight.

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    1. JP your spot on with your remarks =)

      I code microsoft c# at work mixed in with flash as3 (actionscript 3) at the front end, so I got my foot in the water at both camps.

      The thing that strikes me is that the best IDE I ever used is visual studio, and c# is the most powerful language of them all in combination with vs studio.

      Flex IDE (Eclipse) is old and bloated bastard ! it dosen´t deserve a slick language like as3 to run in it.

      Adobe never really learned what the devs need they just pull out their swiss army knife of apps, bloated them all to hell with new features so people buy a new license leaving the programmers looking for alternative apps to solve the problems they create.

      The only good thing Adobe done right sence destroying macromedia is putting their filters into flash and adding actionscript 3 to the platform the rest is BLOAT.

      As for Objective-c I think it is an OLD dinosaur it´s amazing how people love to work with it ( hello old welcome in the new naaa Bob I want to use the old, talk about the devs at apple crul revenge on evolution ! )

      I quess Im just from a diffrente camp (the new school of high level languages) were I like freshness of c# and as3, and I highly disslike the mess in low level language objective-c.

      But it scares me to see how Xcode works compared to visual studio.

      How someone even make apps with it is a mystery for me, but the mac os is mashed up with great apps so people seem to use it ;-)

      But when you coded in visual studio and try xcode I can´t help to think that apples dev tools are old compared to ms visual studio, and coding a iphone app can´t be much better, but then again there always monodevelop for everyone coming from win vs studio to mac os :-P

      Let the Flame Ware Continue ;-P

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  30. The reason Apple didn’t develop Flash for the iPhones is for the SDK. But I think the main reasons for deflashed iPhone is, that we already have hundreds of smart and free apps running on Flash, which would dramatically cripple iPhone Apps sales.

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  31. I really would be sure, to stay compatible with the increasingly large number of significant and serious business applications available today built on the Flash/Flex framework.

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  32. Oh – so right. Flash tends to rhyme with trash! Whenever a site uses Flash you know it will be slow, full of gratuitous imagery slowing down the information gathering process.

    One of the worst and most frustrating sites I have to use occasionally is Adobe’s – I wonder why!

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  33. Wow, seldom have I read such a biased article that expresses a personal distaste as a universal truth.

    There are several reasons why flash is rapidly becoming a more competent development platform than HTML5, for example:

    – Actionscript3 is a real object oriented development tool meant for building applications, and using standardized, open source libraries.

    – HTML5 is still based on the idea that you’re building a text page. If you want to build a state-based application, it quickly becomes a javascript nightmare full of hacks. HTML developers spend weeks debugging and arguing about standards.

    – Complex javascript applications are far more clumsy and choppy than complex flash applications. There’s only a few really good javascript apps out there (gmail, wordpress) but just consider the huge amounts of effort that was needed to build these apps! I dare say that the same app can be made in flash or flex in 10% of the development time.

    Mind you that I’m talking about applications, not about text-based web pages. We can all agree that there’s less and less reason to use flash components in a page based traditional website.

    The fact that flash is used for annoying banners and that you shouldn’t need flash for web video is frequently used as an argument against flash, but isn’t it really an argument against annoying advertising and against the fact that “modern” browsers still haven’t decided on a standard for video?

    And last but not least, the complaint that flash is less open source and that you need a flash developer for every little change in the app is also rapidly becoming outdated. Modern flash apps are just as open as a javascript application.

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    1. Henk – Maybe you are right, Flash is used where it really shouldn’t be used. Most web site can easily do what they need to do with good old fashioned HTML. With perhaps some javascript and good old Perl/CGI etc. Moving into applications then that is a different game, here you do need a proper environment, whether flash is the answer is of course a matter of opinion!

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  34. I think that the main article is very anti flash. And maybe you should stick to just plain html pages.

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    1. I think the web educated world has become anti Flash and for good reasons. Its development environment an is unstable memory hog, its runtime is an unstable memory hog and its company (Adobe) is an unstable money hog.

      Add all this to Adobe’s lack of commitment to excellence on the Mac platform and you get a lot of Mac people whose blood curdles every time they here the word Adobe. Even those of us who use Windows have become awfully tired of Adobe’s shenanigans.

      Even the luddites agree, it is time to let Flash die.

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  35. Oh, come on — that’s nonsense. One can do no more damage with a big, shiny compile-to-iPhone button than can be done compiling to iPhone native format directly.

    Apple’s opposed Flash inclusion because a full-featured Flash player running in the browser would provide an alternative to buying apps from its App Store, not out of concern for its customers’ user experience.

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  36. Hey no one wants to use flash to develop for the iphone. We want to use a windows development tool such as .. idk.. maybe C++?!

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  37. I rather think everyone is really missing something here. The problem seems to be an issue of content delivery more than anything. It has VERY little to do with code optimization and runtimes.

    Currently flash can be used to provide some annoying content. So can ObjC. Apple chose to make a deal with youtube to convert its entire library to a video format that was compatible, and youtube accepted that deal. Remember, when the iPhone first came out, not all youtube videos were available. It took time for the backlog to be completed. So the real question, is not how much does Flash suck, but why has Apple not made a deal with Adobe to make an optimized Flash API for iPhone?

    The fact that Adobe is working to do exactly that, and compile code written using Adobe tools into a runtime that is supported by the iPhone platform, seems to indicate a desire on Adobe’s part to make that deal.

    No, all existing Flash “enabled” sites would not automatically work. Apple will have set the standard for Flash apps in the requirements they set for the iPhone optimized Flash API. Adobe gets to move their product to a platform they want.

    I’ve worked with embedded machine technologies and I know that you can run a Windows environment with .Net technology on a vending machine. Why do that? Its extreme overkill. That is the point everyone wants to make when they say that Flash is bad for the iPhone. Battery life, screen limitations, and other factors would come into play if you wanted to run OS X on an iPhone.

    Obviously, Apple wants to work with other parties (youtube) to enable content. The fact that we can’t watch Hulu on an iPhone only means that Hulu is not re-encoding all content into iPhone compatible formats. I have Hulu Desktop. I like that application. I imagine that they ARE probably working on something for the iPhone. But Apple didn’t go to them up front. They partnered with youtube.

    For flash based applications, we are talking again about content. Data access, charting, vector graphics, unique user interfaces, all these things are content. A Flash API optimized for iPhone could be a way to enable 2 million programmers an easier entry point for iPhone development.

    I think the real concern is that the negative user experience of having a flash banner flashing in their face on a webpage has people not seeing the forest because their view is obscured by some leafy growth immediately in front of their eyes.

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  38. You are scared of Flash? You run Flash blockers on your phone? You sound like a typical idiot apple whore.

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    1. Ouch.

      Share
    2. Personally, I’m not scared, I don’t run flash blockers on my phone because luckily the iPhone don’t need that, and you sound like an unpolite troll, the typical uneducated reason-lacked who’s only possible comment is pure rubbish … (you seem to deserve all that flash…)

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  39. even if you could convert a flash app to iphone it would still not be acceptable what we are looking for is flash in safari no on applications or be able to create applications. i have had an iphone for 2.5 years now and i can tell you how frustrating it is to go to a website and i can do anything because this peace of junk does not support it. and yes this is the reason i am going to switch phones as soon as my contract is over at&t sucks, and apple is to much off a big brother (maybe they should look at their on commercials from the 80’s). i love the IU and the way it handles but it doesn’t do what i want. ill see how WinMob 7 is cuz i really didn’t like the G1, i haven’t see the new Nexus, but ho well my contract isn’t over yet. and don’t get me started on how much i hate itunes……. just pisses me off just in case you were wondering i had not change before because other phones didn’t have flash and they suck. but as soon as one doesn’t suck and has flash… Peace I’m out apple.

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  40. ActionScript developer Thursday, January 14, 2010

    I agree that Flash is being used in places that it shouldn’t be used. For example, many of the Flash interfaces out there should be done in JavaScript. However, for a complex web app, I would develop it using ActionScript, the language of Flash, not JavaScript.
    Firstly, the SWF format is open. You can download the open source FlexSDK and open source FlashDevelop IDE and create a Flash application using ActionScript3. You can also add and remove content to an SWF. As a game developer, I don’t see the need for buying Adobe Flash.
    Secondly, each browser has their own implementation of the HTML5 standard and JavaScript. If you create something using one browser, it may not work in another. This risk increases when the application is complex, such as a game. Testing becomes difficult. With AS3, as long as you can get a SWF to display in the different browsers, you are gauranteed, at least on Windows, that the logic will behave the same across all browswers. You also can’t guarantee the performance across all browswer. For example, to showcase the canvas tag, a developer created a game with complex graphics and animations (I can’t remember what it was, but I think it was an attempt at a remake for a 90’s PC game). It worked great on Firefox and Safari. It was very slow to the point of unusability on Opera. It took a lot of memory on Chrome. It didn’t even display on IE. From my experience (on Windows), Flash behaves nearly the same performance wise on a machine and the same logic wise across all machine-browswers. The benefit
    Thirdly, from my experience, AS3 is a better language than JS. In addition, as a developer, you want the compiler to help you catch errors, such as in incorrect typing. Adobe’s compiler isn’t the greatest at errors at compile time, but at least it’s a compiler.

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  41. I do agree with the flash-garbage association as it is REALLY a freaky annoying technology that freaky annoying people used to make easy and shitty money or even sometimes not.
    But I also do agree with some that says that from great dev will come great apps and that from great designers will come REALLY great stuff. Some guys are so good that it gives Flash all its value by itself. I would be sad to prevent them expressing this.

    So my conclusion is: Ok, flash is shit. Replace it by a good alternative then. Until that time, let’s use flash for the good one and let’s hope that 1. Apple will block the shitty guys/apps 2. Shitty guys app will not want to come to iPhone. It is valid for Palm that will enable the Flash in its next webOS release. Which is great.

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  42. I’ll repeat what else has been said:

    The PRIMARY reasons that Apple does not support Flash is that it (a) gets a sizable chunk of all app revenue, and (b) ensure that applications cannot use a shared code base to target other (competitor) devices.

    It’s not about “controlling quality” as many put it. Flash is a cross-platform tool for mobile development. That’s the last thing Apple wants. (oh but Microsoft is the only one that plays that game, right?)

    There’s cathedral vs bazaar, may as well as add ‘trendoid nightclub’ to the metaphor. Just don’t tell those patrons that they’re paying way too much for drinks, and while ‘diversity and freedom’ are their mantra they all seem to diligently line up (dressed the same) to pay the cover charge. ;-)

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  43. Unfortunately, I was unaware of the no-Flash problem when I recently bought my iPhone. And, for the first week or so, I reveled in the ease of my Internet access. Until one day I was on my way home and asked my fiance if she would like to see a movie that night. By that time I had just assumed that it would be as easy as looking session times up on Web and booking a ticket. Long story short – our plans for the night were ruined because our local cinema chose to implement their site predominately with Flash.

    Bad site design? Maybe. But, anyone who sells me a product claiming to deliver a Web browser and that product does not include Flash support is a LIAR! Sure Flash is NOT a standard, but the ubiquity and maturity of Flash on the Web means that any browser that does not support it is substantially limited in its capacity as a ‘browser’.

    Don’t give me any of the crap about Apple’s reasoning. They misrepresent their product when they do not provide warnings about this sort of thing at point of sale.

    I remember the days when Microsoft was the big bad boogey man that was restricting their users in ways that they shouldn’t. Well, I’m sorry, but I don’t think Microsoft was ever as bad as Apple is now. So, to all those smug Mac users out there, good luck! I’ll stick with my Microsoft products on my desktop, Google (from now on) for my phone, and you can all suffer as much as you like while you smile and say “hey, its not so bad”.

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  44. The flash problem on the iPhone will be a thing of the past. Recently this javascript idea popped up and makes flash work on iphone. It’s still a work in progress but it proves flash on the iPhone can be done regardless http://github.com/tobeytailor/gordon

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    1. Well, I do hope someone bring a blocker/enabler for it (Click2Flash&Gordon). Even it seems less resource consumer than flash itself, they say it’s still highly resource consumer, and anyway I don’t wan’t a way for flash creators to force me to see awful banners and waist iPhone resources without my permission.
      I want to have as much choices as possible, but not at any price.

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  45. OMG you macistas are funny! I do not know about you, but I want my “mobile browser” to be an allroad kind of tool, to access ALL data or services anyone has chosen to put on the web. And it is doable. Just check N900/mameo – a device that has really taken smartphone browsing to next level.

    And besides, 0-98% :). I do not what kind of technological vacuum mr. Jobs has been living in, but afa I can remember, I started mobile browsing five phones ago. I do not ALWAYS change phones every year so I recon it was c. ten years ago…

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  46. [...] Opinion: Flash is the Real iPhone Killer When Flash appeared near the end of the last millennium it promised a bright new world of rich multimedia content [...] [...]

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  47. Flash is an antiquated technology whose security vulnerabilities & performance issues make it deeply undesirable…pointlessly-animated applications … inconsistent, ill-conceived UI’s ???

    I doubt the sum of 2M developers and designers is as bad as you describe here. Without Flash, Apple already has tones of apps that are really irrelevant, however quantity in the end increases the chances of finding real gems. 2M more developers will definitely bring more usable apps.

    Apple promised a full internet experience, I find irritating that I can’t see content on my iphone because there is no Flash for it. I think if anything as consumers we should be given the choice of what I want to run on my phone.

    Did you realize the banners conveniently located on your blog at the top and right side of this blog are made in Flash? I am sure someone thought there were pretty compelling in Flash otherwise they would be an animated (.GIF) Well if I visit your site in my iPhone Apple decided I can’t see those banners.

    Just a nugget to think about.

    Kind regards.

    +LA

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    1. I agree with you, but I’d prefer to ALWAYS have the choice, I mean I would choose first not to have flash at all than no to be able to block flash, since there are very few cases that I’ll choose to play it. Off course, I think the best is to have by default a flash blocker/enabler (just for certain cases) a la “Click2Flash” (maybe now “Click2Flash$Gordon” since the Gordon flash enabler is appearing although still seems to be highly resource consumer) So users might have the choice to punctually enable certain chosen contents (for me, to be able to choose to block them is not enough, since most users just use the default options, and then just complain about speed, battery, etc…)

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  48. [...] iPhone’s lack of support for Adobe’s Flash platform has been a topic of much debate ever since the smartphone’s 2007 début. However, a recently developed JavaScript work-around [...]

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  49. [...] iPhone’s lack of support for Adobe’s Flash platform has been a topic of much debate ever since the smartphone’s 2007 début. However, a recently developed JavaScript work-around [...]

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  50. flash sucks. big time. you type a URL and it shows a slow loading progress bar. you cant control click on MOST flash sites to open the link in a new tab. you cant copy paste text (sometimes you NEED to). its silly stupid.

    flash’s biggest advantage is it allows non-techies to create compelling websites. i am a non techie. i can create a website with flash quickly which looks teh way I want it to look and a work the way iwant it to.

    can I do the same with open web technologies? i am clueless when it comes to css, javascript, php, xhtml etc. cant hand code. so that does mean as a designer I will be redundant because I cant code?

    if there were a web authoring tool that let regular people create fantastic content with a WYSIWYG feel it would be a real killer!

    the coders that I know are too expensive, too slow, and too un responsive. flash liberates the non techie.

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    1. Wait.. what? you mean WYSIWYG like Dreamweaver? There are tons out there.

      Also, I agree. Flash is slow, doesn’t respond right, and is generally a bad idea for general website purposes. I would NEVER use it for layout purposes.

      I really don’t care if flash ever gets to iPhone, I am an iPhone owner and really don’t care for flash.

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    2. ” flash liberates the non techie.”
      my answer is: At what price? it seems that those who are using flash to deliver what should have done by other methods, but they just don’t know how, just don’t care about the cost for the user isn’t too hight…

      I know it’s not entirely their fault, is mostly Adobe’s, they in most cases just ignore the problem, and a minority know the problem but are too lazy to do it (or learn how to do it) in another way… Adobe make it so easy to port other CS works into flash and then build something with that with little effort, that is really difficult to resist…
      That’s the real problem as I see it: Adobe isn’t interested in bringing the right tool to CS, since they want to impose their proprietary technology no matter what that mean for the users or for general technological evolution…

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    3. Please excuse the mistakes and misspellings in my post. English isn’t my language (not even my second one) and sometimes that became too clear… ;-)

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  51. [...] iPhone’s lack of support for Adobe’s Flash platform has been a topic of much debate ever since the smartphone’s 2007 début. However, a recently developed JavaScript work-around [...]

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  52. We are one of those Flash (ers..?) who deployed Flash on the iPhone using Adobe CS5 beta.

    The web experience can be seen here; http://media-fuse.com/Yahoo2010MostPopularEnglish/

    The iPhone APP can be downloaded and compared here; http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/yahoo-el-bello-51-most-popular/id349571762?mt=8

    The Android supports Flash.

    The accurate statement in the article was in the first paragraph and it holds true via mobile; Flash = bright new world of rich multimedia content creation and delivery via what would otherwise be drab old web.

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    1. Wow!, you know?, I was one of those who hate flash due to de troubles it brings me, but that thought it wasn’t so bad that there was a “translator” if the result isn’t so resource consuming…
      Well, that was until I have seen your app. Now I’m really scared, because I realized the real danger: It’s true that we can end up with the appstore triplet with this type of apps… This is just disguising those awful things that would make me use click2flash even if flash would not have been that resource eater that slow my entire system.

      And you seem very proud of it…. wow…

      Share
  53. [...] The iPhone’s lack of support for Adobe’s Flash platform has been a topic of much debate ever since the smartphone’s 2007 début. However, a recently developed JavaScript work-around [...]

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  54. ¿Are you from the past?

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    1. Who?… (It seems you’re asking to the article writer, but, what is really from the past is Flash, and the attitude of prefering to keep something obsolete and troubler in front of the efford of changing to new things)

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      1. I’m sorry but you have absolutely no idea what Flash can do now, do you?

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  55. I wonder if Adobe is working on a device of their own, that would totally save us developers a lot of time.

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    1. How would that save you time? You think people would buy a device specifically for adobe products? I Think not.

      You could always learn other languages that are friendly to all devices. The only thing flash is good for is Games and Video Streaming, I see no practical reasons other than that.

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  56. [...] Donc au final l’iPhone se passant très bien de Flash, il n’y a pas de raison apparente pour que cela soit différent sur l’iPad. Ceci venant en plus s’ajouter à des histoires de DRM et de modèle économique qui font que Flash est perçu comme un danger pour l’iPhone (cf. Flash is the Real iPhone Killer). [...]

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  57. The author obviously biased against Flash.
    I think Flash has brought to the multimedia world whatever it has promised, and much more. It allows for boundless creative web expression that conventional HTML pages cannot achieve. Above that, Flash also has many other uses other than using it as a web applet.

    http://www.thefwa.com

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  58. There’s a lot of confusion here. Liam Cassidy doesn’t seem to know the difference between a website and an application. And neither do most of the biased, yet ill-informed comments. Liam says “I’ve rarely seen a Flash site that I enjoyed.” That opinion is irrelevant. Has Liam used Adobe AIR? Has he browsed Adobe’s AIR marketplace?, and tried any of the applications? We are talking about the ability of Flash CS5 to convert AIR applications to the iPhone aren’t we? (The article was written prior to Clause 3.3.1). Why does Liam go off on a tangent and start bitching about Flash websites? Lets compare like with like.

    Flash is a tool. It can be used badly by a novice graphic designer who makes a bloated eye-candy style over substance experience. But it can also be used well by an experienced ActionScript 3 developer. Which of these people do you think is more likely to make an application?

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  59. Yes, a quite good variant

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  60. Flash is the most advanced cross-platform development tool out there, the apps you can make with it are slick, fast and stable, and Apple is making a big mistake blocking Flash for commercial reasons only. Your blog post is FUD.

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  61. HTML5 is a fat pig. If you write the same app with Flash/ActionScript and HTML5 the latter will run slower. You’ll also struggle with compatibility problems across different browsers.

    With Flash you have professional grade tools that help you create something with a minimum of fuss, not just a text editor. Flash apps run on anything with Flash, and will look and behave as intended for decades (all my old stuff still works). With HTML5 apps may stop working with the next browser version or whenever the HTML5 spec changes.

    I don’t care if native iPhone apps run faster than a scalded cat. Compared to working with Flash, development with Xcode and Objective-C is a slow process, and there’s still no guarantee your app will even be approved. It just doesn’t seem fair what they are asking of the developers. Until they lighten up on some of their policies I won’t concider the iPhone.

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