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Archive for July 2010
1 July 2010
Flash In the Pan
IE9 has announced they’re giving decent support to the <video> tag. And that, my friends, spells the beginning of the end for Flash.
I’m a Web-standards guy, so my inclination has never been toward Flash anyway. Admittedly, there are some things for which Flash is ideally suited — namely, for animation and video. To date, there really hasn’t been a reliable way to do that kind of thing, other than the fairly ubiquitous Flash plug-in.
My big beefs with Flash, though, are:
- it doesn’t play well with others. CSS z-indexing is tricky. It also steals keyboard focus, preventing Tab and (on Windows) Alt-Tab from working normally.
- that designers use it for things like site navigation and to display text, be that out of a control-freaky desire to control all things related to the user experience, or out of a lazy refusal to learn how to do such things in DHTML/CSS.
The latter has become a real issue now that I have an iPhone. Sites with Flash splash pages, but no HTML “skip this” link, prevent me from seeing their site. Sites done up entirely in Flash, as is very common for musicians and artists, prevent me from seeing anything. Recently, while driving, my wife and I thought about visiting a new restaurant nearby, so we called up their site to see their menu. The site was all Flash. That restaurant lost business that day — and we still haven’t eaten there. If you can’t be bothered to give me your menu in HTML — a text medium! — I can’t be bothered to find ways around the all-too-familiar iPhone brick icon.
Now, when I mention the iPhone, neither here am I defending Steve Jobs. On the one hand, his public position that the iPhone wants to support HTML5 over proprietary standards is a good one. His refusal to allow Adobe’s tools to export into an iPhone-friendly format, insisting that iPhone developers use only Apple-endorsed tools, shows his real motives.
But Jobs is right about one thing: HTML5 is a big win. With it, we get video, audio, and lots of other good stuff that, to date, has required us to use Flash. IE has, as always, been the laggard; that IE9 will support these HTML5 technologies is a big win for the Web. Mind you, it’ll be years and years before IE6-8 have been suitably flushed out of our system, but we’ll at least be able to plan for the future.
HTML5 doesn’t do everything that Flash can, as Ajaxian points out. Flash will do full-screen video, for instance, which none of the browsers will currently do for HTML5 video. That, however, is a problem for the browser makers, not a problem with HTML5. Hop to it, ye browser coders!