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back to article Is it ta-ta for Flash?

I hear you're a bit of a Flash programmer. Why is Flash in the news so much, Verity? Flash seems to have become the whipping boy for just about everybody in the IT crowd. Now it is under attack from Authentic Steve Jobs, who won't let it play on the iPad, just because the runtime is supposedly a tad flaky. Computer Engineer …

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Unhappy

AAAARGH!

MY EYES! MY EYES!

That Barbie link should carry a public health warning.

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Pint

I Just Wish...

...that I could reboot my computer and start a browser window without needing a new download and install of the flash client.

At least it gives me more 211 time.

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Amanita design are a shining example of excellent use of Flash

Kudos to Verity for mentioning them, Machinarium was probably my favourite game of 2009.

It's also worth knowing that in addition to the downloadable version, there's a collectors version available from the likes of Amazon and similar, released in four days time.

Amanita aren't alone, either - although I'm not a huge fan of Flash in most information based websites, there's some very inventive uses of it out there.

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Unhappy

XKCD link

>As xkcd noted

Just as well you put that at the end verity, because I would have stopped reading right there.

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Dead Vulture

Anyone else think..

that flash will be out the door once html 5 (for the multimedia side) is fully utilised and developed?

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Reg fails usability 101

Wow, the second page was so short I got bored of clicking next. What gives?

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Flash in the early days

If I remember correctly, Flash in the early days was meant to be a simple tool for artists to use to make animations. There was only the barest minimum of support for programming, and it was that small amount that got perverted into making Flash the de-facto standard for everything you can't easily do with HTML + JS (and plenty of things you can do too).

Macromedia's Director was the more fully featured system with a "proper" programming interface and language, and it was pretty good for its time if I remember correctly. Unfortunately the simplicity of Flash meant any designer could use it, whereas Director required a bit more programming nous and so faded into obscurity. The time since then has been spent bending and twisting Flash's Actionscript into something that resembles Director but is infinitely more annoying to use thanks to the timeline metaphor (at least until Flex arrived, I've not had a chance to play with that).

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adobe are useless now...

after having every version of photoshop since version 4 i can see how as more features are crowed in, the quality has reduced. they rarely patch any bugs and some have been around for many versions.

i used to use flash for some things, but havent used it in years now. although until recently some things couldnt be done outside of flash.

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Horses for courses

Flash has it's place - unfortunately most web "designers" have no clue about programming and use it for all sorts of silly things. When used appropriately, Flash can be the only viable solution for certain requirements.

The Amanita stuff is an example of Flash done well - would it be possible and easily cross-browser with Javascript? Not a hint of CPU overload or fan whir, and this is on a Mac!

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You Want A Kewl Flash App?

Check THIS Puppy Out:

http://www.rubenswieringa.com/code/as3/flex/Book/

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Should have known

Yeah, it's cool.

So ?

What a waste of bandwidth.

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Badgers

As the Success of the Aurora Attacks Shows

People seem to want to use their bandwidth for...other purposes (THINK: What's the most common malware vector out there? HINT: Not scareware).

Kewl isn't useful. It's...cool. That's all.

Personally, I'm not a huge Flash fan. I can write it and use it, but I think it's inefficient and bloatworthy.

That being said, I appreciate good artistry when I see it. I'm an artist and [former] musician, as well as a developer, and get SO SICK of the hideous, fugly sites that nerds make. As noted, Nielsen's site is bugly as all git-go. It's usably fugly, but depressingly unattractive.

I try for a median between functionality and aesthetics, which means that designers and geeks hate my sites, but users (the ones that actually matter) like them a lot.

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Stu
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Hear hear

I myself think flash should die a horrible death for what its done to the internet, it should be consigned to the internet past as a forgotten olde tech, its highly proprietary and just not the right way to do things any more.

One of my regular use old machines, a TC4200 laptop, bought in 2005 and still in regular use running XP has serious issues with flash heavy sites - but why should it? its aroundabouts 2Ghz Pent M, 2Gb RAM. Its never been that much of a slouch, very responsive in normal Windows duties, can run some older 3D games pretty well, runs Google Earth at high settings, and full screen animation and video. So why should 2D website animations run slowly? You can coax a machine half as powerful to do flash style animations if they were written reasonably in a different language than flash! Hell some sites even grind to a halt on pretty fast modern hardware too!

Think back prior to the 3D gaming revolution on PCs, perhaps in the DOS days or Windows 3.1 or even Win95. Sure the screen resolutions were way lower back then, but those classic old 2D titles ran like a dream at high colour depths. Its hardly worth mentioning that hardware tech has somewhat improved a smidgeon since then, so whats the dill-e-o Adobe?

Thats why Adobe are having so much issue getting Flash to run on handhelds at a fraction the screen resolution of your typical desktop machine! Their recent thing about saying their Flash 10.1 mobile directive will only run on Arm CPUs, too is really ignant.

What gets me too, is the arrogance of some site designers to automatically assume everybody reads websites on a screen greater than 1024x768. Thats the native resolution of my TC4200. I see it surprisingly often nowadays. Well done El-Reg for being one of the good guys in this matter.

I suppose the root of a lot of flash issues is down to poor animation design? Script kiddies with their online Flash tutorials and copied around code. I'd laff about it if these types were'nt, in some cases, earning vast sums of money for their multiple plagiarism.

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Anonymous Coward

Sigh

First rule of Internet: when being all smug and better, don't make schoolgirl howlers like confusing Java and JavaScript. Second rule? Don't make the same mistake twice. Third rule? Don't for a second pretend it was intentional.

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Sigh....

First rule of commentard posting. When being all smug and better, make sure you have read and understood what the author has written before making dumb comments.

What was actually written was:-

***"The ActionScript language evolved, becoming more like Java.........."***

Just because something has become "more like" something else does not mean it has actually become anything akin to the something else.

As in "John wore a dress because it made him more like a girlie".

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WTF?

Icon says it all

Sorry, but *you* need to take a closer look. What Verity actually wrote was a sloppy series of sentences in which "Java" and "JavaScript" were used seemingly interchangeably:

"The ActionScript language evolved, becoming more like Java. It took proposed features from the ECMAscript Edition 4 draft standard (pdf), which was going to be the brave new JavaScript. ActionScript got some static typing - whence came a lot of the speed, I believe - and more conventional support for classes: public and private, getters and setters, the class keyword itself.

So why not just program in Java, then?

Oh, they kept plenty of old JavaScript's agreeably mad features."

Pay particular attention to that last Q&A. Apology accepted.

Journalism isn't just an attempt to be technically true when picked apart (that would be politics), it is also an attempt to communicate ideas effectively. Verity just added to the Java/Javascript confusion.

> Just because something has become "more like" something else does not mean it has

> actually become anything akin to the something else.'

Since one meaning of akin is "to be similar to in property" or "like" that remark gets my Fail Of The Day.

> As in "John wore a dress because it made him more like a girlie"

Do you think all gay boys want to be girls or something?

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Happy

Jackson

"Do yo think all gay boys want to be girls or something"

Proposes that all all boys / men who dress as girls want to be gay. Good luck with those cage fighter / rugby types.

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Many Apologies.

***"Do you think all gay boys want to be girls or something?"***

Many apologies. Didn't realise. If I'd known I would have used another analogy. Will remember for future reference.

I rather imagine that Verity is *well* aware of the difference between Java and JavaScript. The phrase "teaching your granny to suck eggs" comes to mind when I read your diatribe.

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Anonymous Coward

My Diatribe?

> I rather imagine that Verity is *well* aware of the difference between Java and JavaScript.

I don't really care what you imagine. She either doesn't know the difference, or doesn't care to write her articles / diatribes with any attention to detail. Again:

"So why not just program in Java, then?

Oh, they kept plenty of old JavaScript's agreeably mad features."

Why not program in Java? Because JavaScript / Actionscript / ECMAScript / JScript are nothing like Java (beyond a few simple syntactic similarities). You just wouldn't write such a thing. And JavaScript's features aren't mad - they make it one of the most flexible multi-paradigm languages on the planet. Sorry, but I really don't think she's that clued in.

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Grenade

Where are we?

And when did Apple become OZ and Jobs become the wizard? Since we called Microsoft a monopoly and tried to break them up, it's high time we call Apple a dictatorship and over throw them.

Why do people hang on every work that comes out of Jobs mouth as gospel?

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sigh

youtube videos at normal size shudder along grabbing 46% of the CPU.

mplayer will play them even at full screen size using less than 0.5% of the CPU

Do the math :-(

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Go

@Jamie

"youtube videos at normal size shudder along grabbing 46% of the CPU."

You must have incredibly slow HW. My hardware says it is a "Intel(R) Core(TM)2 CPU 6300 @ 1.86 GHz" and I can run all youtube videos at about 17 % average CPU load. It goes up and down between 12 and 20 %. (IE7, XP)

Maybe it is time to restart your browser; possibly some of that AdCrapWare is monopolizing your CPU. Youtube is doing pretty well, normally.

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Could be an OS difference

Flash is substantially better on Windows than on either of the others. On my Core Duo 2.16 Ghz Mac, Flash takes 55% CPU (ie, 55% of one core) to play http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R8JMIAWS20&feature=grec. If I join the HTML5 beta, causing the video to play through Quicktime, it costs 25%.

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Great article

Loved every bit of it.

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Perhaps I am just opposed to progress.

Some people I've met seem to get annoyed, for I am clearly just being stubborn, when I remind them that lots of that pre-Flash 2D animation from the late 1990s ran fine on things with a tenth the power of machines that now can barely play Youtube videos, if I may be so generous with my words. There were lots of neat little Java applets (only way to play Shobon Action on non-x86 hardware) and just plain video files, and they worked on hardware from over a decade ago.

Oh, but Flash is interactive and vector-drawn so it can be any size (and surely nothing else did that or does that now)! Why, some of those older things get grainy if you blow them up too big, and are just not suitable for high-quality animation like Flash is! How fortunate that I can resize Flash so readily. I can make it any size I like; four inches across on the screen is usually small enough for the animation to play smoothly, if I've restarted Firefox recently enough. High-quality stuff indeed.

The usual retort: Well, then you ought to throw a few hundred bucks at a new computer so that you can more fully appreciate all the things you missed so much since installing NoScript, and we don't care if Flash is the only thing that ever seems to run slowly. (Toss in a few reiterations of the old "computing power is cheap these days" excuse for good measure. What sin of computing can't be swept beneath that magical rug?)

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Happy

Director vs. Flash

> Macromedia's Director was the more fully featured system with a "proper" programming interface and language,

Not really - it was no more sensible than earlier versions of Flash.

> and it was pretty good for its time if I remember correctly.

That it was. I miss programming it.

> Unfortunately the simplicity of Flash meant any designer could use it, whereas Director required a bit more programming nous and so faded into obscurity.

Sorta maybe - Director was still pretty open to producing the sort of simple useless animations which made Flash unpopular.

> The time since then has been spent bending and twisting Flash's Actionscript into something that resembles Director but is infinitely more annoying to use thanks to the timeline metaphor

No! Both Director and Flash are based around a timeline metaphor. The other thing they have in common is that no one past a certain level of programming ability actually *uses* the timeline because it's a pain in the ass.

Actually the timeline has some uses - namely for artists to do layout and pass it on to programmers - but it's certainly not the way to write an application. One of the good things about both Flash and Director is that they make it possible for artists and programmers to communicate - vital for all except those one in a billion freaks who are skilled in both fields.

> (at least until Flex arrived, I've not had a chance to play with that).

Sine Adobe has made the command line compiler free, you can make Flash apps - using the Flex libraries or not - for nothing. If you want to use an IDE there's a pretty decent one for Windows (sorry) called FlashDevelop - sadly there is no equivalent for Mac or Linux - but a bit of command line work won't kill you.

For a good starter on making flash/flex from the command line using free tools, look at http://www.senocular.com/flash/tutorials/as3withmxmlc/ - very good way to get started.

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FAIL

As good as it gets ?

It is still NOT ACCESSIBLE !

Flash is trash.

Amanita wouldn't get my work.

It looks good - but one cannot increase the font size, so web sites that use Flash are generally unreadable YAAAAAH.

Way to go Mothf*ckers !

ALF

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WTF?

@Jamie

Same as Jamie,

But my problem is because I'm running Linux as opposed to Windows.

HONEST !

I had to ditch Ubuntu, no tell a lie, it ditched itself during a software update. I couldn't read the register because the adds took my humble P4 2.2 Ghz machine back to the old PII days.

In all truthfullnes, OpenSuse is only slightly better, in that the adds take up about 50% CPU cycles when using SeaMonkey to read the register, compared to the 100% CPU cycles with Ubuntu.

PS the same machine works without a hitch running Windows XP !

So go figure ?

FLASH is still a load of bandwidth grabbing shite.

IF I land on a web site with Flash and it takes longer than 5-10 seconds to load, I'm gone.

BUT !!!!!!

Having said that. One of the best music sites I've ever visited is still going,

http://www.pianographique.net/

and it is Flash, and it's been going for years !

ALF

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Checked the Mattel web site.

Nasty.

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"A dunghill with occasional jewels"

Thank you, FJ Child.

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Cumulating

"But the ECMA standardisation committee had a titanic falling-out with itself, cumulating - to Adobe's chagrin - with ECMAscript Edition 4 being abandoned."

Er, culminating?

-A.

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Flash plugin vs Flash software

The Flash plugin will definitely die just like all the other plugins did in the past. Now it's up to adobe if they manage to have an "HTML5" export function for their content creation software. If they do, their software will live on. If they don't, it'll die.

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Jobs Halo

Die faster Flash, die die die.

Whenever I see a site that uses flash for no good reason (and HEY yes I'm looking at you, EVERY damn "official movie website") and see the stupid little 0% loading progress bar pop up and am forced to wait for their tat to load like it's 1997 again, I go a little bit bezerk and close down the browser.

Will these people never learn? That's NOT the way to build a website. I'm sure they only do them in flash because it's the way they've always (well for the last 10 years) done it and they are afraid of change. Yes i'm sure they can write dumb slow-loading Dynamic HTML sites too, but perhaps they'll need a programmer and not just a "designer" in the future, so there's half a chance it'll be done properly.

Well, for once Steve Jobs has the right idea. Goodbye flash.

Jolyon

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But really...

Does Steve Jobs care about the technical perfection, or lack thereof, of Flash? Or does he want to close an uncontrollable content hole?

Further, it makes me curious if Apple has some sweetheart licensing deal on H.264, as in they're already paid up forever, or better yet, so invested they might see returns off wider adoption.

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