A moment of silence for Flash

It looks as if Flash is the forgotten soul in the mobile arena. Like a shunned outcast, the multimedia platform has slowly been left out and finally replaced. With the release of the Android ‘jelly bean’ OS the widely used Adobe product is in a downward spiral toward desktop only applications and other non-mobile markets. Apple was the first major player to turn its head away from Flash and with Android following suit it signals the demise for Flash in the world of mobile computing.

Some third party applications may do CPR for a short time but the mobile community will see the Flash platform quietly slip away. In a last gasp of AIR, Adobe may try to hold on to some of the mobile computing future but it seems the leaner HTML5 and its co-worker CSS3 will be the eventual providers of rich mobile multimedia.sadandroid.jpg

One interesting facet of this is that it really isn’t coming as some big surprise. There have always been buggy issues with Flash on mobile devices. And if you factor in the bandwidth, CPU, and battery drain problems, it really didn’t take a Steve Jobs to predict this. The fact is mobile users need leaner applications not more CPU and battery power hungry programs. This doesn’t mean we can’t deliver rich content, it simply means we have to deliver it on a platform that is responsive to the needs of mobile devices. This includes HTML5CSS3, and a littleJavaScript magic.

There has always been a persistent and wrong opinion that JavaScript is bad web programming; especially for sites that are designed for mobile devices. In reality, JavaScript has never really been an issue. All major browsers support it, including those on mobile devices. So JavaScript is a good thing, as long as you have graceful degradation for the minute percentage that has JavaScript disabled. And to answer that nagging question of “What can we replace JavaScript with”? The answer is nothing, you can’t replace JavaScript.

I’m not totally convinced that separate web sites for mobile users are such a great web developing concept either. There is no reason to offer different content to a connection just because it’s a mobile connection. If the web site is built on good programming principles then a mobile connection will offer the same user experience as a desktop connection. If you feel in your heart-of-hearts you must re-direct mobile users to a different site then give them the choice. I would guess most would opt for the real site.

Programmers have the tools, RESTful programming for one, to see what the device can do and push content based on that. If a site is programmed for sharp, clean delivery to mobile devices then desktop connections would benefit also. In fact with mobile devices outselling desktop systems shouldn’t we be programming for the larger market. We don’t need to change the content in either case; we should deliver the same rich content no matter how the user connected.   

Flash is not being supported in mobile devices going forward because the platform is too much of a drain on mobile devices and the future of mobile computing needs to be smarter on content delivery. Isn’t this true for computing in general? HTML5 and CSS3 is a great advancement for web content delivery on mobile devices, especially multimedia, so how much more is it beneficial for desktop computing?


by Jim Atkins "thedosmann"

Memphis Web Programming