As all web developers know, they do not develop for themselves. These days there are more and more things to consider when developing a website: Google rankings, target audience, mobile device compatibility etc. And now you have had to add to the list, should I use flash or HTML5? Or both? Maybe a developer should keep two or more versions of their site and serve up the right version depending on the browser used to access the site.
For an ordinary user the questions do not become any easier. Should flash support still be a factor when I buy my new smart TV? Does the new tablet need to have a “supports adobe flash” sticker or logo somewhere on its box? Does it really matter anyway? Why is it Apple continues to refuse Adobe’s attentions.
Adobe’s answer a few years ago: Adobe appeared at the IBC, and introduced Adobe Flash Media Server 4.5 and Adobe Flash Access 3.0. This, Adobe’s solution repackaged content in real-time, changing the protocol to suit the target device, HTTP Dynamic Streaming or HLS, for example. If you are little confused about what this means (or meant) then you are not alone. I am too.
Years before Ajax became a buzzword, Flash developers were building rich internet applications with state-maintaining clients. However all this was happening on the desktop. The major difference in creating a cross-platform runtime in our smartphone present as opposed to our desktop past is that instead of having at most three major platforms (Windows, OS X, and Linux) and a handful of browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and maybe Opera) to support, there are a plethora of platforms (Android, Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 7.5, Windows Phone 8, iOS, Symbian, MeeGo, Blackberry OS) and hundreds, if not thousands, of different devices.
Last year Adobe announced in a blog post that from 15 August 2012 it would stop any new installations of its Flash Player onto Android devices, and that only devices which already had a mobile version of its Flash player already installed will be updated. Flash for mobile is dead therefore.
As said before, flash was more of a desktop thing however with the rise of HTML5, it is becoming less and less relevant. In fact it is now possible, as IOS users can testify, to live a Flash free life. In fact you should consider ridding your desktop of flash. Piece of advice: get rid of Adobe’s Reader and Oracle Java Runtime Environment unless you really need them.
Kaspersky the leading security firm agrees with me here. The company reports that all of the top ten most frequently detected vulnerabilities are to be found in Adobe or Oracle products. Almost 41 per cent of the computers tested were affected by a critical vulnerability in Adobe Reader for which an update has been available from Adobe since last autumn. However, the worst performer was Flash Player, which was responsible for six of the ten most frequently detected security problems. “The auto-update features in Adobe Reader, Flash and Java are clearly not yet managing to ensure a sufficiently comprehensive roll-out of the latest and most secure versions.”
The diagnosis: Adobe Flash is not well, has not been for a while. Prognosis: The developer is better served by stopping its use or developing and serving user agent based content. For example mobile users should be redirected to a site that is optimized for their devices. It is probably much more expensive but you will get points from mobile users who are the majority in this country. Econet alone has 1.8 million broadband users.
If you are a student you have to learn everything, I am afraid. There are two reasons for this: the student has to have an appreciation of the merits and demerits of flash as a way of channeling rich content to the user. Secondly the student, either on attachment or as an employee, might be tasked with maintaining a flash based system
As for the user: who cares? Just listen to the sales lady, enjoy her mesmerizing smile, suave voice and everything else. When the time comes just go with whatever she recommends. Try watching the Gangnam video on your favorite site. If that does not work have a fit and blame the site’s administrator, start a campaign on www.avaaz.org and leave a comment here so others can avoid the site and your worthless device of course.
So what do you think? Flash or no Flash? Flash or HTML5?
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