Is Flash On The Way Out? More Evidence

Flash or Flame Out?

It may have seemed like a typically hyperbolic Steve Jobs when he labelled Adobe “lazy” during an internal Apple town hall meeting. Yet, as people start to question whether Flash’s time has passed, more evidence mounts that Mr. Jobs may not have been suffering from a fit of pique after all. Case in point: a nasty little bug in Flash that crashes any browser without fail every time.

The bug was discovered by Matthew Dempsky in September 2008. Yes, that’s right, September 2008. And it remains unfixed to this very day. If you go to Matthew’s web site at http://flashcrash.dempsky.org/ there are links to all of the technical details of the bug. Be forewarned though, the site also contains a demonstration of the bug. Unless you’re running a browser that isolates crashed plug-ins like Chrome the site will probably crash your browser window if Flash is running in the background.

How ridiculous is it that Adobe allows a 16 month old bug that crashes any browser window without fail to continue to exist? That doesn’t sound like a leading edge development house that’s responsive to its installed user base. It’s situations like this that reinforce Steve Job’s one man crusade against Flash. It points a glaring spotlight at the shortcomings of the technology, and the company that backs it, and shines another on the technologies waiting to replace it.

As we’ve mentioned on several occasions, the primary technology posed to replace it is HTML 5. Not only will HTML 5 support browser rendered video, something now primarily accomplished with Flash, it will also replace Flash as a means to produce dynamic content. The HTML 5 Canvas Experiment uses pure HTML 5 and Javascript to produce an animated, dynamic web page that’s rendered entirely by the browser, no plug-in required. The project takes 100 Tweets about HTML 5 and displays them using a Javascript-based particle engine. Click on a displayed particle and you get a Tweet. The really fascinating thing about it though is how much it looks like a Flash web site. It’s web sites and technology demonstrators like this that show how quickly time is running out for Flash. Why deal with Flash when you don’t have to any more?

Flash’s days are numbered and it’s only a matter of time before developers start to leave it behind. Internet Explorer is the only mainstream browser that doesn’t fully support HTML 5. That’s bound to change sooner or later. When the web iterates again, it will be browser plug-ins like Flash that get left behind.

Is Flash on the way out? Is all the noise about Flash’s failings and shortcomings just coming from a media in love with Apple? Leave us a comment and weigh in with your opinion.

By: Erin Peterson

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