Why Flash is not disappearing

All the debate about Apple vs Adobe really got me thinking lately. Last night , I woke up at 4 in the morning with the idea for this post. It suddenly hit me. Most of the latest trends on the web happened because it was allowed by Flash. If you think about 3D, Augmented Reality and ChatRoulette; all of those could not have happened if Flash didn’t exist and are currently not possible to implement using HTML5.

3D

3D really picked up when Papervision3D ported there library from ActionScript 2 to ActionScript 3. ActionScript 3 made it faster so you could actually do some interesting 3D without automatically killing the user’s CPU. Right after that we saw a wave of Flash website all using 3D in them. I’m not saying that was good; plenty of sites used the 3D for no reason at all except for the fact that it was cool. Now that the hype on 3D as dimmed down, we see better uses of the library. My point is that Flash opened up new possibilities. There are now a few more libraries for 3D (Away3D, Sandy3D, Five3D, etc) and I don’t think those would be possible with the current state of javascript. Right now everybody speaks about HTML5 and the Canvas but, boy, JavaScript is so not on par with ActionScript 3. jQuery makes it better but still. Here is a good example of a site that uses 3D.

3D models in Flash

Augmented Reality

AR was all the buzz last year and 3D is what really made it possible in the browser. AR is a concept that has been around since the 90s but it never picked up until it came to Flash because it made it accessible. For AR you mostly need 3D and a camera. The webcam is easily accessible in Flash and since Flash is so ubiquitous. Now video is possible with HTML5 but webcam won’t happen; maybe HTML6. So as AR evolve we will see tons of new applications coming our way.

GE augmented reality

ChatRoulette

Now ChatRoulette is really interesting. I don’t know if it is going to last or if it is going to disappear or change, but it definitely showed an interesting facet of the internet ( not talking about the impressing number of male exhibitionists out there). ChatRoulette could use the webcam and a media streaming server, but that is not what is happening here. Already all that is not possible in HTML5. What ChatRoulette is using is the new P2P service Stratus by Adobe integrated FlashPlayer 10. That is a new feature in the Flash player that most people are not aware of. What it does is that it connects users directly to send the video without going through the server ( in this case the ChatRoulette server) so it save a lot of money in bandwidth. Is this a cool feature? fuck yeah. Is this close to being included in HTML5? Not in years.

Chatroulette interface

The general conception is tying Flash to video, but that is not all that Flash does right. 3D, AR, and P2P are just some examples I took to illustrate the fact that Flash is pushing the web forward; I can easily think of many more: microphone access, Pixel Bender, ActionScript 3 (so much more fun to work with than JavaScript), AIR, etc. And that is just what is available right now in Flash Player 10. I can’t wait to see what will be available in the future.

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  1. #1 by Steven - April 22nd, 2010 at 05:18

    Very good article! Flash is not going to disappear. This is just a faze and stating something like this has become just another trend. I’m sure it will pass soon, more due to the release of CS5.

  2. #2 by ___peps - April 22nd, 2010 at 12:56

    You are totally right, those latest buzz originated because of Flash and its possibilities, and all those Facebook games also hugely rely on Flash capabilities.

    The mobile market is also growing fast, and naturally clients will ask for their website to be accessible no matter what platform you come from, no matter browser or plugin you have enabled.

    You made a good point on the fact that flash, more than a platform is also a vector of innovation. Let’s hope that HTML5 will not just try to be the other flash, but also a vector itself !

  3. #3 by zedia.net - April 22nd, 2010 at 13:10

    @ ___peps Ya I didn’t think to mention Farmville and the likes. I mean I don’t think Farmville is particularly good for society, but it is part of the internet landscape and I am sure something good can come out of it.

    It would be nice if HTML would have innovations of it’s own. Then there would be some features that would make you choose HTML5 over Flash, not like now where you choose HTML because some iProduct doesn’t have Flash. Then there would be real competition and good would come out of it.

  4. #4 by bannersky - May 27th, 2010 at 10:52

    Yes. I think Flash won’t die. Though Mac and portable service don’t support it. But there are so many flash site, flash movie on the WWW.

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