We have been making websites here for quite some time. We have been using Flash here for almost as long. At one point in our time line I can actually remember making whole websites entirely out of Flash and wondering why the world was not doing the same. Then we all grew up and realized that this was a bad idea. The world however did largely pick Flash up for a ton of things which we all still enjoy today.
That being said the world has progressed yet again and Flash is no longer a requirement to do some really cool stuff. (On a side note we are crafting a post on very cool HTML 5 stuff so stay tuned for that). Forget for a moment that we have other options, let’s focus on the fact that we have different devices now. While Flash clings to this notion that it is the be-all-end-all of the modern web experience, let’s begin to accept the fact that it may be time to simply move on. Even speaking from our client base, one after another they come to us asking to start exploring non-Flash routes to display their work. Why? You guessed it, iPhone/iPad.
As the Jurrasic Park ecosystem found a way to procreate, an enterprising group of tech folk have strung together various tech tidbits and found a way to display Flash on the iPad. They use only Sarafi and no third party plug ins. You can read their post here to get a better feel for how they did it. The gist however is that they send everything to a proxy which essentially runs Flash for you and delivers you only the result. Your interactions are then sent back to them for further processing. This is a very cool idea and, once they are out of proof of concept stage, I will be keenly interested in giving this a test drive. It does however bring up one very good question, why?
Why would we spend any amount of time trying to bully the iPad into displaying Flash when it so clearly does not want to? With all of the other ways of doing this, do we really want to invent lesser productive ways of doing things? Again, I absolutely appreciate the effort put forth here; it is great. That being said, given our limited number of hours in the day and heads that are not busy, it is hard for me to justify spending time on an effort we think will ultimately be outdated in the very near future. One of the strongest oddities here to me is that it actually takes more CPU to run due to the back-and-forth to the proxy. According to Steve, this is one of the biggies as to why he won’t allow it on the device in the first place. I happen to agree that, while Flash can be lean, most coders don’t know how to do that or simply don’t out of laziness. Flash does have a tendency to be a bit beefy in the memory department. This is not a solution I really need.
I am guilty, as are they, about using this as a headline when, in reality, I don’t think this truly heralds the arrival of Flash on the devices but I do greatly appreciate the effort. If companies though spent this much time crafting HTML5 solutions then we would not have to argue this point ever, the proof would be in the proverbial pudding. I anxiously await that day.