The famed “death of flash” blog postings and speeches have been making their way like wildfire around the interwebs. It doesn’t show any sign of stopping soon. I think a big part of this is due to fear on the developer end of things. Nobody wants their technological livelihood to disappear. Another part is the lack of clarity on Adobe’s end. Anytime they publish something regarding the direction of the platform, it has people asking more questions than it answers. Take a look at the Flex Team blog post here for an example.
Because this technology affects me and my preferred development environment personally, I’d like to touch briefly on it as well. However, I’m not going to make any predictions, but rather try to imagine where we’d be if the flash platform were to disappear.
The first point I’d like to make is that I think the quality of web development would go down across the board. I know, it sounds crazy, good old Steve told us that flash==memory leaks/bad programming/etc. But hear me out. When I began as a web developer, I had a natural inclination toward architecture. I’m a big picture guy. When I understand high level architecture, it helps me make the most minute decisions better because I understand how the pieces fit together. So, I did my research and attempted to learn design patterns and MVC.
At the time, however, I was having trouble reconciling MVC with the page refresh and stateless nature of HTML. I wasn’t around anyone that could provide me a good example of MVC in my development environment (Coldfusion, and for the life of me I couldn’t understand Mach-II). I began experimenting with Coldfusion forms, which was really a subset of Flex 1.5 functionality stuffed into a Coldfusion server. I liked this a little better because I no longer had to refresh the page every time I wanted to change data.
The web would still be ugly in the area of applications as well. I think in this regard, Flash and Ajax pushed technology forward, but one would never have gotten as far without the other. One of my beefs with the user experience when I first started development was always having to refresh the page and redraw everything, just to change a little bit of data. Flash and later Flex enabled huge breakthroughs in UI development. We could now have designers and developers working together to create awesome user experiences, in the enterprise and for consumers, with no page refreshes to slow things down.
Web video. Would we even have a Youtube or Hulu without Flash? Flash was the first platform to enable easy development of video players coupled with the server technologies to truly protect your content.