Defending The Flash Player

I am an avid follower of tech news. It seems that as of late, the Adobe Flash Player has been taking a lot of hits in the tech press. I’m now writing to defend it.

Criticism of Flash reached a head last week when Apple announced their new iPad. As everyone knows, the iPhone OS does not support the Flash Player. Apple’s lack of support for Flash on their mobile devices is quite deliberate. The general consensus is that Apple hates Flash and wants to use the iPhone and iPad as weapons to try to kill it. This irks me.

The exclusion of Flash on the iPhone and iPod Touch is understandable, but I believe that the lack of Flash support on the iPad is a huge mistake. I don’t want to buy the iPad, but if I were interested, the lack of Flash would be a deal breaker for me. Far too many websites rely on the richness that Flash provides. Sure, YouTube videos play on the iPhone and iPad via H.264 video support in a dedicated app. However, web video isn’t the only area where Flash is popular.

Websites for musicians and restaurants are two areas where web designers lean heavily on Flash. One can complain about that fact all they want, but it is a reality. I personally have no problem with it whatsoever.

In addition, most all of the web-based games on the Internet are played within the Flash Player. Think of the gaming destinations Pogo, Kongregate, Farmville, etc. People enjoy playing these games. To simply not include them in a product that is designed to browse the web is totally unacceptable.

Flash has been a standard on the web for a very long time. More than a decade ago, it brought static web pages to life with animation, sound, and interactivity. I’m tired of hearing the growing calls for the format to be abandoned.

The anti-Flash camp contends that the Flash Player is a slow, buggy resource hog, often hitting 100% CPU usage and crashing web browsers. I have never noticed this on any of my computers. I can stream Flash video and multitask on my aging machine without issue. In fact, I have a decade old IBM Thinkpad that sports a Pentium-III processor with 512 MB of memory. That Thinkpad plays Flash perfectly fine, without struggle, overheating, or 100% CPU usage. When you consider that modern computers have dual and quad-core processors, what difference does it make if Flash is heavy on system resources?

To conclude, I have no problem with the Flash Player. I’ve never noticed it slowing down my computer or crashing my web browser, even once. In my opinion, Macromedia and Adobe have historically done a pretty good job at maintaining the Flash Player across all platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, and Solaris. It is ubiquitous, and it just plain works. So I say this to everyone who is bitching and moaning about the Flash Player: Get over it. If you don’t like it, uninstall it. See how great your web experience is after you do that.

Author: Craig Tisinger


4 thoughts on “Defending The Flash Player”

  1. I’ll agree Flash isn’t as horrible as it once was. Still, Flashblock is one of the first add-ons I install on a fresh version of Firefox. Well before it was used for actual creative and entertaining content, Flash was used as a way for ads to get around pop up blocking and in general be a nuisance. It has gotten better, and I agree that the iPad and iPhone are sorely lacking without Flash support. But I say death in a fire can’t come quickly enough to Flash. It does hog my resources, or can, and more than that, it’s too prevalent a technology on the web for it to be so proprietary. I’m ready for HTML 5 to come along and eat Flash’s lunch. Flash came to such prominence because of its power and the lack of that power with traditional standards. Now that there’s an open standard for that, Flash’s days are numbered…or at least I hope so.

  2. I see what you mean, Kevin. One of the complaints about Flash is when someone has many browser tabs open and suddenly one of them randomly starts talking or running some Flash ad. I see your point there, but don’t you think the next standard will be abused the same way? I can’t imagine an HTML5 “blocker”!

  3. after years of contortions attempting to make standards-based development work as expected (or at all) across browsers/versions/platforms, i hold no hopes that HTML 5 will perform consistently across user agents. especially since relevant portions of the HTML 5 specification are years away from ratification, much less adoption. i’m not a fan of Flash apps that break the browser navigation paradigm, and those hyper-annoying (usually movie) websites that are all flashy (sorry) transition effects burying the content.

    aside from Photoshop, i’m no fan of Adobe. but, like it or not, Flash has evolved as a de facto standard. (i looked up “de facto” btw.) Flash will always outpace HTML in feature set. (reread that sentence, please.) and i like that my Flash app/rectangle will work as expected, regardless of user agent. that’s the whole point.

    then there’s the overwhelming amount of current Flash content i view every day. (this has nothing to do with porn. no it doesn’t.) i’ve tried Flash blockers, but i got tired of manually enabling Flash practically everywhere! i want to block ads, not Flash generically.

    i love standards and code to them. but, IMHO, currently, and for the foreseeable future, Flash plugs some enormous functionality holes in HTML’s very underconstructed dam. (is that a mixed metaphor?) also consider how easy HTML 5 will make it for the average schmoe to create annoying Flash-like ads. as craig mentioned, what does that spawn? HTML 5 media blockers. oh yeah…

  4. It’s true, ads will adjust to the new technology, and the effort to fight annoying ads will have to evolve just like the ads themselves, the same as the case as with antivirus software and viruses today. I think the mere existence of a browser plug-in that blocks a particular technology entirely goes to show just how misused and abused Flash was. Hopefully there’ll be something else that evolves to stop the HTML 5 ads from taking over our browsers. Plus I’ll take any open format over a proprietary one.

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