POINT/COUNTERPOINT: The Great Flash Debate, Part II

This post is part of a series of point/counterpoint arguments proposed by different members of the Pixels & Pills staff. Were strong believers that healthy arguments can yield the best solutions, and we hope that you enjoy our series. Feel free to add your own arguments in the comments section below!

By Kimberly Reyes (@CommDuCoeur)

Here on Pixels & Pills, we get excited about writing the Point/Counterpoint series. It gives us a chance to flex those forensic muscles we learned on the debate team in high school. The counterpoint to my post in defense of Flash yesterday was supposed to be written by Sven Larsen. But then I read something¢‚Ǩ¬¶and simply had to write the counterpoint argument.

In April 2010, Steve Jobs published his Thoughts on Flash. If you are a designer, web developer, or have any opinion on the subject whatsoever, Jobs statement is a must-read. First, he established the historical relationship between Adobe and Apple: “The two companies worked closely together to pioneer desktop publishing and there were many good times. He also established the contemporary relationship between Adobe and Apple, pointing to the fact that “Mac users buy around half of Adobes Creative Suite products. Then he goes into open versus closed systems, and thats where Jobs gets a little too political for my taste.

Apple, Google, and many others, are huge proponents of HTML5, CSS and JavaScript the current darlings of web standards. Among Jobs most compelling argument (in my opinion the most compelling of them all) is the fact that Flash was built for mouse computing, and not Apples touch-based devices. Say what you want about user friction, security, etc. but the idea that its pretty tough to click on some Flash elements may be a deal breaker for a lot of technology users.

But lets go back to my point about friction. Yesterday, I defended the fact that Flash is a plugin. That was great for running that game demo without an Internet connection, but not so great when you havent installed Adobe Flash onto your device yet. Another point that Jobs brought up in his statement is the issue of battery life. As more and more people adopt mobile technologies, power-efficient software is going to become a major factor.

A number of blog posts and articles have been making a strong case against Flash. Among them is Jeff Hendricks aptly-named Case Against Flash. There are some flawed arguments here, such as “Flash doesnt let you right-click, to which I respond: neither does Apple in fact, Steve Jobs would prefer it if we didnt click at all. But a great point that Jeff does bring up is the fact that Flash is not SEO-friendly. To that same point, you cant track user activity on an entirely Flash-based website. You cant return to specific pages or areas within the site without re-tracing your steps. Dennis Portello, our VP of Technology, favors HTML5 over Flash “because it isnt proprietary, among other reasons.

So after exploring both sides of the argument, heres my conclusion: Try as you might, Steve Jobs, you cant make Flash go away. Popular video players, apps, etc. still rely on Flash to deliver a rich media experience to their users. Flash, with all its faults, isnt meant to be the entire online experience; its supposed to enhance and supplement it.

You can make up your own mind by clicking over to http://html5vsflash.tumblr.com.

Check out other installments from this series:

POINT/COUNTERPOINT: The Great Flash Debate, Part I
POINT: Is Social Media Better than Face-to-Face Interaction?
COUNTERPOINT: Is Social Media Better than Face-to-Face Interaction?
POINT: Social Media Helps Patients Make Better Health Decisions
COUNTERPOINT: Social Media Hurts Patients Health Decisions

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