My previous post didn’t quite get the reaction I expected, which is great. This is why I love having a blog. While some misinterpreted extended metaphor as simile, I certainly accept equal blame for miscommunicating the idea. It was meant as lighthearted parody, but it’s clear that people want to have a dialog about the issue at hand. Thank you, readers and friends, for making that clear.
I’m ready to speak plainly about Apple’s stance toward Flash.
To defend and protect
Steve Jobs’ Thoughts on Flash is significant. While it contains many logical fallacies and even factual errors, there are some great points being raised, both direct and implied. In some respect, Apple is forcing everyone who creates content for the web to justify the use of technology—namely Flash. Honestly, the need for full Flash sites is shrinking. I’m happy about that. That means we’ll see less and less inappropriate and gratuitous uses of Flash.
Please forgive the directness, but I think this needs to be said. Some of you are fighting this battle ignorantly. You’re using Apple’s opinion to justify your personal perspectives as gospel. I’d wager that a large majority of you reading this are happy to see Flash go. Yet, you don’t fully understand it. If you haven’t opened Flash since version 4, you don’t fully understand it. If you haven’t had client work that explored the possibility of using Flash, you don’t fully understand it. If you’re only reacting to executions of Flash—SWFs, not FLAs—you’re reacting to the execution, not the technology; you don’t fully understand it. And how can you pass judgment on what you don’t understand? Loyalists often become collateral damage in holy wars; enlightened revolutionaries make a difference.
Held at gunpoint
What I hate most about the situation is the generality. If I worked at a company that had a standing rule to never use WordPress, I’d go nuts. (Thankfully, I don’t.) What happens when we get a client that WordPress would be perfect for? Even if that’s 1 out of 10 clients, our hands are unjustifiably tied. And for what? A bit of technological dogma?
Because Apple devices don’t support Flash player (note the distinction), the freedom of choice is taken away. I certainly believe that it’ll make for better experiences the majority of the time. But in those cases where Flash would be better, it’s not even an option.
(Aside: there are cases where Flash would be better. Perhaps I’ll write that post next.)
I don’t know all the reasons Apple made this decision. But from what I’ve observed and heard them say, they’re solving the wrong problem. Banning content created in Flash won’t solve anything; the same idiots that made all the annoying Flash stuff will just figure out how to make the same stuff in HTML5, Canvas, Processing, Objective-C… you name it. Taking away a tool is pretty near-sighted; we should be focused on changing mindsets.
As I’ve said before, I believe a huge part of the solution is education. Instead of
banning Flash (edit) and hoping that will fix the web, can we talk about what would make Flash a tool whose output is worth including on any device that can browse the web? For instance, if Flash compiled to
<canvas> in addition to SWF, would it be the GUI people are asking about?
Here’s what I’d love to see happen, if it hasn’t happened already:
- An honest airing of grievances at Apple’s campus. This should include decision makers from both Apple and Adobe. It should also include people who use Apple and Adobe products—especially Flash—in conjunction every day. I volunteer to moderate it. I also nominate a few friends to join in that discussion, like Jamie Kosoy, Jeff Croft, Ian Coyle, Kevin Sweeney, Yaron Schoen, Mike Davidson, Matthew Smith, Aaron Gustafson, and Todd Dominey. We’ll talk openly about what legitimately sucks about Flash on Apple devices and what solutions can be put in place to alleviate them, if any.
- I’d like to see Adobe stop their latest campaign. Fighting fire with fire will likely escalate conflict, not resolve it. For the sake of the future of Flash, I hope they know what they’re doing.
Both companies care about their bottom line; I get that. They’re both acting primarily with their livelihoods in mind. But if they care more about user experience than making a buck, I’d like to see them prove it by working together for the benefit of all the people that use their products and services.