What should you do with your Flashed-based Web site? | ITBusiness.ca

What should you do with your Flashed-based Web site? | ITBusiness.ca.  (No longer available online. Original text included below.)

Despite recently saying that Flash was “critical” for mobile communication, Adobe today announced that it will no longer continue to develop Flash for mobile devices. For some, the writing has been on the wall since Steve Jobs said Flash was written by lazy developers, was buggy and a battery hog, banning it from the iPhone and iPad. Now, there is no doubt, Flash is a dying platform. Does your businesses website, like 85% of the web, include Flash? What will you use when Flash is gone?

Why Flash was Popular

Adobe’s Flash was, and still is, one of the most popular platforms on the web. Its ability to contain images, audio and video made it well suited for many needs. More importantly, the tools to develop Flash were easy for designers to use. “Build it and they will come” applies here; developers wrote their websites, applications, widgets, and anything else they could in Flash, and people installed the plugins and readers required to consume it. 

Why Flash is Dying

The first strike against Flash was when Apple decided it wouldn’t include or support it on the iPhone. The argument was that it wasn’t properly optimized for mobile devices, and used to much valuable battery life. Apple also didn’t pre-install Flash on the Macbook Air, which increased its battery life by two hours. Strike two was when Microsoft announced that its Windows 8 Metro interface will be HTML5 based, and won’t support plugins like Flash. Strike three is today’s announcement by Adobe that though it will still support Flash for certain desktop applications, it will no longer support it for “new mobile device configurations”.

What Will Replace Flash?

If you hadn’t already started evaluating going “Flashless” on your business’s website, now is a good time to start. Thankfully, the successor to Flash is apparent. Though there are less popular and less capable options available, HTML5 has garnished the most attention and though still under development, is already being widely adopted. Along with being able to handle most anything that Flash could and being non-proprietary, its ability to include application programming interfaces (API)s for complex web applications makes it a great candidate for accessing cloud based services from mobile devices.

Welcome Adobe Edge

Adobe didn’t make this decision overnight, in fact we reported a few months ago about Adobe’s new product called Edge, which uses a similar interface to Flash, but “allows designers to bring animated content to websites, using web standards like HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3”. Adobe wants to control this type of development, and their Edge product, though still only a “preview” version, is the front-runner in this space. Being from the same vendor, with a similar interface to Flash will certainly make it easier for developers to transition.

Flash won’t die overnight, in fact, it will still be around for years. Flash developers will still find work maintaining existing Flash based sites. New development, however, is going to be HTML5-based, and anyone looking to update their Flash-based site would be wise to transition to HTML5. Not only will it make your site available to the growing number of mobile devices, but will prepare it for the upcoming HTML5 developments that could give your site capabilities not yet available on the web.