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February 3, 2010 9:13 AM   Subscribe

The iPad, which you may have heard of, has brought HTML5 into the consciousness of many. Here Gizmodo explains what HTML5 is and why it wont save the internet. Previously.
posted by shothotbot (95 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
YouTube's future hinges on the ability to integrate ads into their videos, to sell access to DRM'd content, and to reach the largest audience possible. Until HTML5 video can pull this off, Google and YouTube are going to keep on doing what they've been doing—using Flash.

This argument is exactly backwards. The future of the web isn't driven by what features YouTube will support. It is driven by what features users flock to, on YouTube or not.

YouTube wasn't begun as a way for Big Media to put DRM'd "content" on for "consumers". It was begun as a way to share funny cat videos. Once everyone started going there, Big Media had to come along.

So it doesn't matter if YT doesn't adopt HTML5 video. Somebody will and people who hate Flash (like mobile device and Linux users for whom it barely works) will go there. That site will become the next YouTube and Big Media will court them.
posted by DU at 9:21 AM on February 3, 2010 [16 favorites]


Wait, the gizmodo guy doesn't like h.264-based video because it's proprietary? What does he think flash is?

I see HTML5 having as much impact as HTML4 did. The cool kids will make cool things with it, but the majority of people out there will continue to use deprecated tags until browsers stop supporting them.

And what does the internet need saving from? And who was looking to HTML5 for that salvation?

Every time someone bemoans how the iPad or iPhone doesn't support Flash I start to think it sucks, then I remember none of the sites I enjoy going to emply it for anything other than ads (which I don't see thanks to clicktoflash).

I can think of few things done in Flash that don't annoy the hell out of me.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:23 AM on February 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


Teh internets need saving?
posted by jimmythefish at 9:27 AM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm a little confused. So Youtube won't use HTML5, despite the fact that the author is aware that Youtube is beta-testing HTML5? What kind of nonlogic is this?
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:31 AM on February 3, 2010


"So it doesn't matter if YT doesn't adopt HTML5 video. Somebody will and...that site will become the next YouTube"

I am confused.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:31 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here Gizmodo explains what HTML5 is and why it wont save the internet.

Good on it. I'm getting a bit annoyed with this idea that HTML 5 is magic.
posted by Artw at 9:33 AM on February 3, 2010


Google has dropped support for IE6 on YouTube and for Google Apps (or is in the process of). This, and other sites following suit, will do far more for HTML 5 than the iPad will do. But the key is Microsoft supporting HTML 5 in future versions of IE, unfortunately.

If I have to install QuickTime to view h.264 video or a similar codec for Firefox because it's a proprietary format then there is no fucking difference in having to install Flash so I don't see the great advantage and indeed, it's less, since Flash for animations and games is miles better than video.

As for Flash, I love it for technical animations, entertainment animations, not for site content, but then you can do just as annoying things (like ads) with HTML 5, HTML 4, HTML 3, and JavaScript, not to mention animated GIFs.

When we develop sites and the client insists on Flash (usually Mac hipster clients we've found) we try to make an argument against it (on grounds of standards but that doesn't go far so we go on grounds of lack of easy and quick updates) and when that doesn't work, always provide an alternative if the browser doesn't support Flash. We do the same, if we can, for browsers with JavaScript disabled.
posted by juiceCake at 9:34 AM on February 3, 2010


I'm a web developer, and I'm just now getting excited about the possibility of not needing to support IE6 anymore. The marketshare graph in that article is by far the most telling one; it'll be 5 years at least before I can use the new parts of HTML5, because it'll take 5 years for IE8/9's marketshare to drop to the point where it's not an issue that they don't understand the svg and video tags.
posted by Fraxas at 9:39 AM on February 3, 2010


So it doesn't matter if YT doesn't adopt HTML5 video. Somebody will and people who hate Flash (like mobile device and Linux users for whom it barely works) will go there.

I'm not sure I'd bet on the fact that an audience which consists of Linux users and mobile devices that support HTML 5 but not flash is going to be very big.

I guess Apple's and Google's decisions might get it to critical mass...
posted by weston at 9:39 AM on February 3, 2010


If it weren't for Flash, there wouldn't be a restaurant with an online menu in the US.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:42 AM on February 3, 2010 [9 favorites]


If I have to install QuickTime to view h.264 video or a similar codec for Firefox because it's a proprietary format then there is no fucking difference in having to install Flash so I don't see the great advantage and indeed, it's less, since Flash for animations and games is miles better than video.

Well, quite. It basically falls back to getting excited about semantics, which is fairly meaningless in the real world - i don't really care if your webpage has an EMBED or a VIDEO for it's video content if it still fails the same way when I click on it in iPhone.
posted by Artw at 9:42 AM on February 3, 2010


Look in your plugins folder, you will probably see four video plugins at a minimum.

Uh, no. In fact, Hell no I haven't had quicktime installed on my PC in years. The only video-related plug in I have on my machine is Flash. I have Windows Media (came with the machine), but I never use it, and I sure as hell don't have real player! I also don't have silverlight.
posted by delmoi at 9:43 AM on February 3, 2010


I thought the article was fairly well-reasoned. It's certainly refreshing to see someone looking at HTML 5 with a degree of objectivity. There's way too much "Yay, HTML 5 will kill Flash and all other proprietary web technologies", without much analysis of (a) when this is likely to happen, and (b) how exactly it's going to supplant those technologies in all of the different ways in which they're used.

The issue iis going to be that HTML 5 probably won't see widespread use until, say, 2013 (and I think I'm being optimistic there). By that time people will be doing stuff in Flash that right now you only see on games consoles. Look at how long people have been talking about how great CSS3 will be... when we can finally actually use it.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 9:44 AM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think this will be a great year for HTML5. We will see broad usage of sqllite databases and usage of h.264 as Chrome and Safari become widespread. Apple and Google have built very large distribution channels for web content and are heavily pushing their browsers forward. Google's abandoning of IE6 and successful marketing of Chrome may make Firefox less and less relevant to the shape of browser development. Additionally with WebKit underpinning Blackberry, iPhone, iPad and the Chrome browser I think this will drive the standard in the same way that the Netscape browser did in the early days. Also the increasing instability of Flash makes it very vulnerable to being dropped. I remember when you couldn't browse web video without Real player and we all know how that turned out.
posted by humanfont at 9:52 AM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


A Terrible Llama: "If it weren't for Flash, there wouldn't be a restaurant with an online menu in the US."

Not true. Some of them use PDF!
posted by brundlefly at 9:52 AM on February 3, 2010 [19 favorites]


Never underestimate the importance of greater-than-screen-height two column JPGs!
posted by Artw at 9:53 AM on February 3, 2010


Instead of making a smarter, safer, plugin environment we can just glom all the functionality of the plugins into a giant, monolithic browser. Sounds like a plan!

Is it really too hard to wait until they finish hacking the last five years worth of sparkly new things (MathML, active SVG, a working layout language, et cetera ad absurdum...) into the browsers we already have before we move on to the next buzzword?
posted by ecurtz at 9:55 AM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the author is missing the simple fact that HTML 5 is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Sure, it is a move towards a more open web but then again, so was XHTML and we know how that turned out.

As always, browser vendors will lag behind developers and we will have a whole new set of hacks and workarounds to fiddle with. Woo-hoo, for us. Now, instead of just using Flash to embed video we will have to use embed video using *three* methods to assure that it works on all platforms. In the end HTMl 5 may be just the savior some pundits would have you believe it to be, but in the short term it is little more than a new set of tags that some browsers will render and others won't.

It isn't coincidental that Safari -- well, WebKit -- is one of the few browsers to support enough HTML 5 to actually be useful, happens to come with Macs. Apple desperately needs HTML 5 as anyone who has watched their CPU usage hit 100% because of a 150x150 pixel Flash advertisement will confirm. Adobe and Apple are not communicating well and it shows.
posted by cedar at 9:56 AM on February 3, 2010


A lot of the demos are Chrome and Safari only. I don't care about IE, but is Firefox behind on HTML5 adoption? Or is it a matter of Apple and Google doing their own innovation that they'll then try to integrate back into the standard? (full disclosure: I'm halfway thru TFA..)
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:57 AM on February 3, 2010


HTML 5 is not actually a standard yet, so it's not actually possible to be "behind" on adoption, there are only varying degrees of ahead*.

As far as the CANVAS based examples go, Webkit is going to have a lead on those as currently CANVAS is a proprietry tag that they developed and that Firefox followed along with later.
posted by Artw at 10:00 AM on February 3, 2010


Flash won't be killed unilaterally any time soon, and I'm okay with that.

What I hope the rise of HTML 5, and the increasing popularity of smartphones without Flash, does is destroy Flash-based websites, "Click here to skip" homepage interstitials, and so on, in places where the user experience is worse than a well-done HTML production would have been. These have always been annoying and bad, and if it requires people to see their incredibly expensive websites represented by big grey boxes and blue lego pieces, well, that's sad but oh well.

The production suite for Flash includes a pretty good scripting component, but also a very good scoring and WYSIWYG object manipulation component that plain ol' doesn't exist for any HTML/Javascript/CSS-based system, and this is what makes complex character animations in Flash easier to do than simple generated effects involving Javascript and Canvas. I like Flash-based games (and spent a while on a pleasant one last night). They're easy to produce (and getting easier with frameworks like Flixel), the buy-in to production is low, and this has led to a new renaissance of game design that I don't want to see throttled for the sake of somebody's pure doctrine.

So: Flash is not evil. Flash-based sites (and Flash-generated navigation) almost always are. Video is video, and it's going to be in your computer by some means or another, so I don't even see the reason to argue that point.
posted by ardgedee at 10:04 AM on February 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


These Premises, Firefox doesn't support the same codec as Chrome and Safari because of patenting and licensing issues.
posted by octothorpe at 10:07 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and can I add that I don't see how replacing the proprietary Flash plugin with a proprietary h.264 video codec is really progress?
posted by octothorpe at 10:13 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm holding out for HTML6, or possibly HTML6.1 TURBO.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:19 AM on February 3, 2010


"The issue iis going to be that HTML 5 probably won't see widespread use until, say, 2013 . . ."
SERIOUSLY??
posted by 4Women at 10:21 AM on February 3, 2010


This is very, very far from the best of the web. Gizmodo has been improving lately, but this is a falling-on-your-face-stupid kind of post, shot through with arguments that are just plain wrong.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:25 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given the history of browser lifecycles that's optimistic.
posted by Artw at 10:27 AM on February 3, 2010


HTML5 is coming whether it will save the net or not.
posted by clarknova at 10:28 AM on February 3, 2010


The tl;dr version for mefites: IE8 is the reason HTML5 won't see widespread adoption.

The really funny thing is, even with such a massive market share, Microsoft is on the outside of this "battle" of the browser wars. Google, Apple, and the Mozilla Foundation have a vested interest in getting HTML5 up and running, because it will result in a richer web experience--there's no argument there.

I get the sense that Microsoft doesn't really care either way; so long as they have a browser which will run Sharepoint they're probably happy. Microsoft has seen, over the past few years, that the browser isn't the driving point of sales of any of their products-- they have been, and will continue to be unsuccessful at making that viral uptake that Office, Active Directory, and IIS tend to do within the enterprise.

The Microsoft IE developers these days are clearly just playing catch-up to the guys in charge of Webkit and Gecko. You get the sense from the blogs coming out of Redmond that if Brendan Eich or Dave Hyatt spent a week up on the Microsoft campus just talking to people, that IE 8.5 might very well have a rendering engine not developed by IE, with whatever proprietary IE extensions just bolted on. Microsoft is getting their asses absolutely handed to them in the mobile landscape-- I don't know of any major device that's not looking to have a Webkit or Gecko-powered engine. When your mobile device offers a better, richer browsing experience than your _desktop_, that's a gigantic red flag.

The audio/video codec argument is spurious, and is basically equivalent to the circa-1997 argument between RealVideo and Windows Media. Users don't care what format the bits are in, so long as they see the results. Whichever format is easiest to encode, and easiest to distribute will win; hence why FLV wound up destroying pretty much everyone else.
posted by mark242 at 10:30 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


HTML5 is coming whether it will save the net or not.

So's Christmas. But I'd bet on a lot of Christmasses coming first.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:30 AM on February 3, 2010


Right now I can cut out 90% of non-ad cruft by using Flashblock: autolaunching videos/music, annoying animated banners, whatever, they're all opt in. And if I arrive at a site and it's all flash, then I only persevere if I'm really interested.

When these things become part of HTML 5, how will I protect myself from people's bad web design?
posted by Omission at 10:31 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


These Premises, Gecko (Firefox) seems to be sticking with Theora.

WebKit (Safari, Chrome) and Opera (Opera and, wait for it... Nintendo) like H.264.

MS is being vague muttering about not adding specific elements beyond HTML 4.01, whatever that means. Then again, I don't know many IE users who don't have Flash installed.

So, I guess to be safe, you need to embed all three. Oh, yeah. This is an improvement.

Sure would be nice to see Adobe open up Flash, get a grip on that insane memory usage (for Mac in particular) and let us all use one open-sourced standard. Why not, it isn't like a third-party is going to reverse engineer FlashPro. Use GIMP lately?

Flash has gone a long way towards making streaming video practical and it would be a shame to kill something that has been so widely adopted.
posted by cedar at 10:36 AM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


When these things become part of HTML 5, how will I protect myself from people's bad web design?

You'll use VideoTagBlock and CanvasTagBlock? That's one of the great things about the extensibility of Firefox.
posted by jedicus at 10:40 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


When these things become part of HTML 5, how will I protect myself from people's bad web design?

Scriptblock.
posted by device55 at 10:41 AM on February 3, 2010


Microsoft doesn't need to be a driving force in the browser market; they can afford to be conservative. They want their browser to be able to render the content that's out there on the web, so it's enough to stay a comfortable distance behind the other players. And since the share of web traffic going through their browsers is so high, there's little incentive for anyone to build websites that push the envelope and break IE anyway. As long as they continue to dominate the OS market and bundle a browser, the web continues to be IE-friendly.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:44 AM on February 3, 2010


I don't really see how awesome cross-platform web enabled applications helps Microsoft. No reason for them to help make Google Docs better. Also, Sharepoint: yuck.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:47 AM on February 3, 2010


but the majority of people out there will continue to use deprecated tags until browsers stop supporting them.

Fuck IE, I still love blink!
posted by Chuckles at 10:47 AM on February 3, 2010


I think this will be a great year for HTML5. We will see broad usage of sqllite databases and usage of h.264 as Chrome and Safari become widespread. Apple and Google have built very large distribution channels for web content and are heavily pushing their browsers forward. Google's abandoning of IE6 and successful marketing of Chrome may make Firefox less and less relevant to the shape of browser development.
Ugh, is that really a good thing? I mean, for google to own that much of the web? The primary search engine and the browser and the add platform, etc?

Mozilla wants to avoid another GIF fiasco, and I think that makes sense. Maybe they should concentrate on developing their own codec.
posted by delmoi at 10:56 AM on February 3, 2010


But the key is Microsoft supporting HTML 5 in future versions of IE, unfortunately.

I think Microsoft will in fact support HTML 5 in some form, as evinced by their joining the working group last August. Don't conflate the audio/video aspects with the whole of the new specification. M$ may or may not include codecs that line up with what Safari or Firefox has, but they do seem to be interested in supporting the <audio> and <video> tags.

Apparently IE8 has some support already for the spec, and it's early days. And there's plenty more to read up on by typing "html5 microsoft" into Google....
posted by Jubal Kessler at 10:59 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


(er, 'add platform' should be 'ad platform)
posted by delmoi at 10:59 AM on February 3, 2010


Oh, and heres the thing. You won't need to install codecs, with javascript engines getting faster and faster, we'll soon be able to do codecs in javascript.
posted by delmoi at 11:00 AM on February 3, 2010


An Early Look At IE9 for Developers
posted by Artw at 11:00 AM on February 3, 2010


What's all the fuss about Internet 5? My Windows has Internet 6 since forever already! I for one will not switch.
posted by rlk at 11:26 AM on February 3, 2010 [7 favorites]


When we develop sites and the client insists on Flash (usually Mac hipster clients we've found)

Do they actually use Macs or was that just snark? Because if you can't talk Mac owners out of Flash, you're doing it wrong. Just open an app and leave it running for a minute or two. When the fans start screaming, point and say "that's why".
posted by bonaldi at 11:55 AM on February 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


I've noticed that designers will sometimes refer to things like slideshows as "the flash" but not actually notice if you just go ahead and implement them in JS, so you could just try sneaking stuff in.

of course if they want the entire thing to be done in some weirdo nonstandard navigation paradigm you are pretty much lost.
posted by Artw at 12:00 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


If it weren't for Flash, there wouldn't be a restaurant with an online menu in the US.

Bull. Part of my IT/webdesign job I had was that I used to do menus in just html, with fancy graphic headers and whatnot, for 25 restaurants. And they looked nice, for circa 1999 websites. It was a royal pain in the ass to update, but they were done.

At the time, I thought I had it easy. I was using GoLive at the time. My predecessor used to do them by hand in notepad.
posted by chambers at 12:09 PM on February 3, 2010


"The issue iis going to be that HTML 5 probably won't see widespread use until, say, 2013 . . ."
SERIOUSLY??


That depends on what your definition of "iis" is.
posted by Dr. Send at 12:54 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


You won't need to install codecs, with javascript engines getting faster and faster, we'll soon be able to do codecs in javascript.

Well, that's going to be a while off. Right now netbooks, for example, can't even do software decoding for HD video period (with native code). Hardware decoding is still pretty much essential for smooth HQ/HD video. Even on platforms where software decoding works, it chews up the CPU.

(although yes, you could make the argument that you might be able to do lower quality video this way, but even there you'd pay a CPU penalty for now. plug-ins would seem like a better way to add codec support to browsers independently, at least for now).

So it doesn't matter if YT doesn't adopt HTML5 video

While you're probably right, we already do :) Although it's still pretty rough, but it's no longer just a demo/side project for us (but there are of course a lot of things I can't talk about yet).
posted by wildcrdj at 1:14 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


IE8 is the reason HTML5 won't see widespread adoption.

Well, that just means you can't _replace_ Flash with HTML5. For something like video, it's not that hard to support both, especially if you were already doing Flash streaming video. Which is better will depend on a combination of hardware, browser, and operating system.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:17 PM on February 3, 2010


No, you can’t do that with H.264: A lot of commercial software comes with H.264 encoders and decoders, and some computers arrive with this software preinstalled. This leads a lot of people to believe that they can legally view and create H.264 videos for whatever purpose they like. Unfortunately for them, it ain’t so.

See also Video, Freedom And Mozilla
posted by finite at 1:32 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


humanfont wrote: "Additionally with WebKit underpinning Blackberry, iPhone, iPad and the Chrome browser I think this will drive the "

WebKit underpinning mobile browsers has absolutely zero to do with real-world HTML5 video support. The important part isn't the engine, the important part is supporting a common codec. Until that happens, HTML5 video will remain experimental. Well, that and DRM. Sadly, DRM is probably the biggest stumbling block to widespread adoption of HTML5 video.

Now, if people really get a bug up their asses and want to do interoperable HTML5 video and go Theora, that's a win for everybody.

If I'm using proprietary bits anyway, I don't really care whose bit of proprietariness it is anymore. Now that Flash works half-decently on Linux and most smartphones, Flash doesn't bother me like it used to. With 10.1 on the way with hardware acceleration on mobile devices, it's looking even better.
posted by wierdo at 1:37 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Monoculture is dangerous, and Flash is the only real monoculture left on the web. Remotely exploitable security vulnerabilities in Flash endanger far more web users than bugs in any other piece of software.

It is nice that Adobe finally made it work well in linux on a few architectures (please, sir, may I have another?), but it is still an abomination.
posted by finite at 2:00 PM on February 3, 2010


This is an unexpectedly rational thread so far. As an ex-MACR/ex-ADBE employee that helped create Flex, I find myself acting as defender-of-Flash far too often. As ecurtz snarked,

Instead of making a smarter, safer, plugin environment we can just glom all the functionality of the plugins into a giant, monolithic browser. Sounds like a plan!

This is an important point. Plugins are a *good* thing. They allow for cleaner architecture and independent development of components. (I really don't want to have to wait for a browser update to get a fix to feature-specific bugs that may be "Priority 3" for the general browser population, but "Priority 1" for people who care deeply about that particular feature.)

Just a few Flash 10 demos to calibrate your understanding of where Flash is today:
Video rendered to 3D surfaces
Bumpmapped Rhino
Doom cross-compiled to Flash SWF using Adobe Alchemy
Cloth demo

With respect to rich media, HTML5 is barely scratching what Flash could do in in 2002. I'm sure HTML/JS will someday catch up to what Flash can do in 2010, but by then, Flash will be further ahead. (Adobe will make lots of money selling HTML5 tools, so trust me, they're quite happy to embrace that as well.)

Even if everyone gets a reasonable HTML5 implementation out there, how long until designers can count on cross-browser pixel-perfect alignment with videos on top of each other, overlaid with vector graphics and complex typography, and filters/effects/transformations modifying the whole thing? Browser authors couldn't even get simple CSS boxes to work compatibly for over a decade, so I'm skeptical. You might not think this stuff is important, but it's what designers want, and it's what the Flash Player team spends a lot of time working to get right.

Flash may well be obsoleted someday, but I would be more inclined to bet on an ambitious and fast-moving plugin developer (Unity 3D, I'm looking at you!) than anything that depends on standardization committees... still, it's a hard problem. Java failed, Curl failed... there's a Flash killer out there somewhere, but HTML5 certainly isn't it.
posted by argh at 2:01 PM on February 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


That depends on what your definition of "iis" is.

I read it as "is, and only is." Nothing more, nothing less.
posted by JHarris at 2:34 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Java failed, Curl failed... there's a Flash killer out there somewhere, but HTML5 certainly isn't it.

Thing is, HTML5 doesn't have to "kill" Flash, it just has to steal its lunch, and that's a much easier task. The web's shown time and again that "good enough" trumps everything else, and the Flash runtime (on everything but Windows) just isn't good enough ... but HTML finally is becoming good enough.

(If Flash was good enough this would be an entirely different story -- if the Mac runtime was good, the fanboy army would be besieging Apple to get it on the iPad and their mobile devices. Instead, they're cheering this move as it might mean the sidelining of that bastard plugin and its battery-swiping ways.)

People have compared the future of Flash to IE6, but I don't think that's quite right. I think its future will be more like the Java plugin: sites will use it when there's really nothing else that will do, but when it comes up, if it works at all, users will go "jesus, eurgh" unless there's a damn good reason for it. If those uses are nothing more than complex typography and vector graphics to keep designers sweet, good luck keeping them around.

It's interesting that, since the iPad storm broke, the only people you see defending Flash are a) Flash developers and b) ex-Macromedia employees. The users, even the tech ones, pretty much just don't care, and nor should they. They raise questions like "how will I be able to watch video?" and "how can I play the games on x?" Their questions are all about outcomes. The sites and developers that want to keep them as users are going to have to answer those questions. So far, the answers have been "with h.264 video" and "with our iPhone app or javascript versions".

This isn't like it was with ActiveX, where developers could foist it on companies and just demand that they used IE internally. Flash development isn't like corporate stuff: it's driven by the public, for the most part, so the target is where all the users are. Now the users are going far away from Flash -- its market share has nowhere to go but down, and that's exactly where it's going.

If moving to HTML5 lets the developers keep the users at the expense of some of the more esoteric things that Flash makes easy, I think I know what they'll do.
posted by bonaldi at 3:47 PM on February 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's interesting that, since the iPad storm broke, the only people you see defending Flash are a) Flash developers and b) ex-Macromedia employees. The users, even the tech ones, pretty much just don't care, and nor should they. They raise questions like "how will I be able to watch video?" and "how can I play the games on x?" Their questions are all about outcomes. The sites and developers that want to keep them as users are going to have to answer those questions. So far, the answers have been "with h.264 video" and "with our iPhone app or javascript versions".

This assumes that the iPad will be popular enough to pull everyone down that path. The alternative is that enough people will reject the iPad because it requires everyone to go down that path. Which is king, the device or the content? Right now, there's a world of content out there that people simply will never be able to get to, because of Apple's obstinacy. Should the Homestar Runner guys redo all their existing content in HTML 5?
posted by me & my monkey at 3:53 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I respectfully submit that a number of people who are not Flash developers or ex-Macromedia employees have also suggetsed that Apple STFU with the whining and implement flash on it's phones already.
posted by Artw at 3:55 PM on February 3, 2010


I respectfully submit that a number of people who are not Flash developers or ex-Macromedia employees have also suggetsed that Apple STFU with the whining and implement flash on it's phones already.

Yeah, but when they do it's because they want x to run on it. They're not clamouring for Flash qua Flash. (Consider the difference if it didn't have HTML rendering and the suggestion was you just use PDFs instead, when the demand would very specifically be for HTML already and no amount of sites offering PDF pages would satisfy that demand.)

Right now, there's a world of content out there that people simply will never be able to get to, because of Apple's obstinacy. Should the Homestar Runner guys redo all their existing content in HTML 5?

It's a good question. One indication, as it is surprisingly often with tech, is to watch what the porn guys do. A porn site was one of those included by the Flash blogger in his blue lego image, but it turned out that the site he chose had already coded a non-Flash version, and there are more on the way.

The thing about the content is that there is a lot of Flash content which isn't exactly stuff that users want and seek out in its own right. There's a lot of advertising, and that'll go to whatever the users are using. There's a lot of quasi-advertising stuff, like subsites made for Pepsi promotions and so on, that'll chase the users too. Games, things like Disney.com, they're already besieging the App Store.

Content that users want that's in Flash, the sort of thing that will make them kick up a fuss when their device doesn't support it, really boils down to video and games. The iPhone has games licked. HTML5 is having a go at handling the video.

Apple, Google and Mozilla are all actively gunning for Flash. For it to survive in its present form, it'll have to take them all on and win. That really means banking on Microsoft/IE and Adobe. I know what side of that bet I'd take; especially as the first three are actively trying to meet users' needs in better ways while the Axis powers are either asleep or in the huff.
posted by bonaldi at 4:08 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but when they do it's because they want x to run on it. They're not clamouring for Flash qua Flash.

Well, yes, I want x to run on it. So I want flash. Because flash is what x works in.
posted by Artw at 4:12 PM on February 3, 2010


Another way to put it, Artw, is that users would actively defend HTML against any Apple whining; they'd have use cases coming out of the woodwork for why having it on the phone would be great.

Nobody apart from Flash devs and ex-Macromedia types defend Flash though. From users it's all "I know it's shit, but I want Flash to play my games and watch my stories" or "what, it's shit and would mean a 30-minute battery life? Oh, I see. Still want the games, but. App Store, you say? Why, let me tap. Oh my."

If Apple was trying to channel the web through some PDF gateway, the complaints would never end, because people want HTML in its own right. When there are enough non-flash replacements for x, the complaints will just evaporate.
posted by bonaldi at 4:19 PM on February 3, 2010


Nobody apart from Flash devs and ex-Macromedia types defend Flash though. From users it's all "I know it's shit, but I want Flash to play my games and watch my stories" or "what, it's shit and would mean a 30-minute battery life? Oh, I see. Still want the games, but. App Store, you say? Why, let me tap. Oh my."

Ah, the "Flash is a resource hog" argument. Here's the thing... if HTML5 (or 6 or 8) gains sufficient features to steal Flash's lunch, it will also be killing your CPU and eating your memory and draining your battery. Flash doesn't inherently hog resources, the content hogs resources. When you port your content over, it isn't going to suddenly stop being heavy. (And if you think that the JS VM will somehow be magically better than the Flash VM, you need to read up on Tamarin.)

So basically, your system is just going to transition from being brought to its knees by badly written animated Flash ads to badly written animated HTML/JS ads.

Users don't care about Flash, nor should they. They care about the content. And Flash will continue to dominate in that area for some time to come - as they say, it's the worst thing out there... except for everything else.
posted by argh at 5:32 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes ... And no. There are plenty of html5 demos that *do* use a load of CPU, yes, but the people who care about my platform -- Apple --have a much better track record for optimising stuff for OS X than Adobe do.

And for the area I really care about (video) the difference between h.264 via Quicktime and h.264 via Flash is *dramatic* (ie you can measure it in hours). So, no, is this major use case it *isn't* the content that's the resource hog, it's the Flash. Likewise obj-C games vs Flash.

(as for ads and other shite, at least when they're HTML5 I'll be able to use much finer-grained blocking tools than the bazooka that is flashblock. Hell, the web going html5 might mean I see more Flash, as I might be able to retire clicktoflash)
posted by bonaldi at 6:00 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's right buttons all the way down...
posted by Artw at 6:32 PM on February 3, 2010


How exactly are Google gunning for Flash, again? Next release of Android supports it.
posted by kafziel at 7:47 PM on February 3, 2010


How exactly are Google gunning for Flash, again? Next release of Android supports it.

They can both be true. But one example is the above mentioned youtube HTML 5 experimentation (which I switched to immediately and have seen zero problems so far... and MUCH lower CPU use)
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:27 PM on February 3, 2010


Do they actually use Macs or was that just snark? Because if you can't talk Mac owners out of Flash, you're doing it wrong. Just open an app and leave it running for a minute or two. When the fans start screaming, point and say "that's why".

Bullshit. Not "doing it wrong" at all. They are usually Mac users who want nice flashy fucking design and when it doesn't run well on their Macs it's our fault. They are not in technology, they're just hipsters who use Macs because they're hipsters. Nothing against Macs or Apple, just hipsters who insist on Flash. There are Windows and Linux hipsters as well, but among our clients, the demand for Flash is highest amongst the Mac hipsters. This was not meant to be a statement of fact or trend for others and was qualified as such. If you could do better than congratulations, I bow before a superior human who can convince clients who are Flash happy to not be Flash happy. My success is mixed. Some I have convinced entirely to abandon the idea and use of it, others not. I use the same arguments, sometimes I guess they're wrong and sometimes I guess they're right. None of them involves screaming. Screaming at meetings usually doesn't go down well. That you can do so is a testament to extraordinary ability.

Funnily enough, we are able to get it to run well on their Macs anyway, after some frustration, we've learned what not to do and how not to do it. So sure, you can believe your experience is the experience of all others but it isn't sunshine.
posted by juiceCake at 10:20 PM on February 3, 2010


I've noticed that designers will sometimes refer to things like slideshows as "the flash" but not actually notice if you just go ahead and implement them in JS, so you could just try sneaking stuff in.

We do this all the time when we can, though of course JS solutions don't always suffice and development time can, at times, be increased and therefore budget. We do not, however, sneak the stuff in. It usually goes like this.

Client: We want it like this (cites a number of Flash heavy sites).
Consultant: We can do that, we're going to use a slightly different method (no need to mention JavaScript) however so you can update the content more easily, it will be SEO friendly, it will be viewable on mobile devices. There will be some differences but...
Client: How can you do it exactly like this?
Consultant: That will require the use of Flash (arguments against Flash ensue, including that it doesn't run very well on their "look, look, I'm using a Mac" systems, won't run on all mobile platforms, etc...).
Client: But this runs ok on my Mac, we don't care about semantics, cell phones and we heard you can make it searchable now, design is more important and music for my site, annoying instant music.
Consultant: Actually... (why are we talking to another fashion retailer, night club, or artist who wants a "cool" interface?)

Fortunately we're in position now to just drop those types for the most part but we have quite a laugh when someone comes to us having just spent $45000 on a Flash site wondering why they have to pay through the nose to get it updated regularly and why it doesn't do well on Google.

It is not unlike trying to argue for a lofi version of the site for IE6 to reduce their budget. That is even more difficult.

Most of our clients listen to advice and take it to heart. Those that don't are another story of course. It's not uncommon for a redesign using standards a year or so later. As has been mentioned up thread, a lot of clients don't give a fuck about issues that web developers do. IE remains, for me, far more of an issue than Flash.
posted by juiceCake at 10:36 PM on February 3, 2010


From the Gizmodo article: The beardier parts of the web-o-sphere have been abuzz about HTML5 . . .

Am I the only one that wanted to cock-punch the author for that?

My girlfriends and I have been geek about the promises of HTML5 for quite some time now.

But I don't have a beard. Neither do the female friends that I've been talking html5 with. Maybe when we hit menopause, but for now...
(I hate to call boyzone, but do they really need to open the article with the suggestion that only the male gender would be excited about the new tech?)

----

On to the subject at hand. It seems like just in the past few weeks I have seen quite a few things that in the past I would have assumed were flash, but right-click to find that they're css3 and/or jquery. Not even HTML5 yet. It's only going to keep going in that direction. Will it kill flash? No, but it will relegate it to a much lesser role. If nothing else than because you can make Search Engine friendly websites that behave like flash. That's a win for everyone.

IE will of course continue to be the stick in the mud, but I think that's the beauty of progressive enhancements that CSS3 early adopters have been pushing. Make it work in IE. Make it great in the other browsers. And because IE refuses to keep pace, more people will continue to move away from it. Yes, its true that many people don't even know that they can change browsers - but every day more catch on, and IE loses more market share. Pretty soon, your average joe is going to wonder why that web page looks so much better on Bob's computer than his own.

I like to explain to non-savvy users, it's IE vs Every-Other-Browser-Take-Your-Pick is the difference between standard definition tv and HD tv. Sure, you can watch tv and get the same story. But the picture is so much better in HD (and unlike upgrading your tv, its free!). I don't doubt that IE will continue to be the thorn in all of our sides for years, but it will be less and less relevant because Microsoft has shown they have no really interest in keeping up, they only scramble when they start to lose market share, and its frankly too little too late.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:07 PM on February 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


That's an extremly beardy thing to be upset about.
posted by Artw at 11:20 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


None of them involves screaming. Screaming at meetings usually doesn't go down well. That you can do so is a testament to extraordinary ability.

Not to knock your hipster hatred while you're on a roll, just to point out I said the fans would be screaming (ie, the cooling fans on the computer). You're right that doesn't usually go well, which is the point.
posted by bonaldi at 6:41 AM on February 4, 2010


bonaldi wrote: "The users, even the tech ones, pretty much just don't care"

They should care. They should care about Apple's refusal to let Adobe write a flash plugin for iPhone and iPad. Sorta like they should care, but don't, that Apple refuses to let other browser makers write a browser for their devices.

If Microsoft were behaving that way, there would be much gnashing of teeth.

And to be quite honest, I no longer hold the hatred I once had for Flash. Between its improving as a functioning platform (from an end-user perspective) in the latest few releases, finally getting decent mobile versions out there that don't choke to death under their own weight, and better Flash ad blocking, it's doing pretty well, thanks.

I find Apple's emulation of Microsoft to be far more upsetting than sites locked away behind Flash. They are doing their users a great disservice by foreclosing to them the option of viewing much of the content on the web today.

Even if everyone moves to HTML5 video in short order and cross-browser codec support gets worked out, there will still be a ton of old sites with useful information on them inaccessible to those without Flash. It sucks, but that's the reality of the situation. Many websites just don't get updated.
posted by wierdo at 10:56 AM on February 4, 2010


Not to knock your hipster hatred while you're on a roll, just to point out I said the fans would be screaming (ie, the cooling fans on the computer). You're right that doesn't usually go well, which is the point.

You can knock it all you want. I'm just jealous because I'm not cool.

Thanks for the correction.

However, as I said, your scenario simply doesn't happen for these people. If the site works, and it's Flash based, on their Macs, they love it and want it rather than complaining about screaming fans on their Macs. I appreciate that it can be a problem, but it is not always so, and there are ways to run Flash on Macs without these difficulties. It seems to me that Flash video is the problem but there is way more than video to Flash, such as technical animations, entertainment animations, font replacement techniques, uploaders, games, etc. Much of it thankfully can be done with jQuery and the like, but not all of it, and some if requires absolute top level programmers.

Even Flash video doesn't seem difficult in my personal experience with Macs and all the people I work with who use them, not to mention non-hipster and hipster clients but I understand that experiences differ, and in the world of many others, it's so horrible that they feel they have to save the rest of it from it's evil while not caring about a replacement that is also proprietary. Thanks for your help. I don't need it and many of us don't, but we appreciate the thought, regardless of the righteousness behind it.

They should care. They should care about Apple's refusal to let Adobe write a flash plugin for iPhone and iPad. Sorta like they should care, but don't, that Apple refuses to let other browser makers write a browser for their devices.

Agreed. It's horrible. The user can make the choice whether or not to use Flash in a browser. Apple has this annoying tendency to effectively say that their customers are morons who would get confused with the choice of another browser, or get confused over using another map application instead of the one provided to them. Unbelievable. It's just as annoying as corporations who cling to IE which makes development difficult to kowtow to old standards. Now with the non-Flash devices, for video, we have to provide Flash based and non-Flash based, all because Apple refuses to allow it's users to choose for themselves outside of OS X full.

I tend to believe the blocking of Flash (no idea about blocking other browsers) has more to do with the fact that Flash can go around the App Store and iTunes distribution model, so you can view and purchase movies from other services via a web browser that supports Flash, you can play games in your browser rather than buying the game through the App Store, etc. At the same time a move to support HTML 5 outside of video (supporiting video with yet another proprietary codec instead of an open one is just the same as supporting Flash and shoots Firefox in the foot) is a fabulous things, but they could support both.

If I want to buy something off of iTunes do I still have to install something or can I finally buy it through a browser without installing the nonsense that is iTunes on my system, like I can for many other online stores selling music? If the answer remains yes then fuck that, if no, then maybe they are moving to using a standards supported web model where we can do things online without additional software. Not holding my breath.
posted by juiceCake at 4:31 PM on February 4, 2010


Good News for HTML5: H.264 Streaming Will Remain Free (till 2016 at least)
posted by Artw at 4:45 PM on February 4, 2010


If the site works, and it's Flash based, on their Macs, they love it and want it
I'd genuinely love to meet these people, or even get a link to their existence, because I've never seen Mac people campaigning for Flash qua Flash in the way you describe.

From what you're saying it sounds like the same sort of thing you get when MacMacs demand their apps be in Cocoa and not Carbon, but while I've got examples coming out of my ears of that, the idea of any Mac person champing at the bit for something to be written specifically in Flash is something else. Demanding showy visuals and whizz-bang? Sure.

I appreciate that it can be a problem, but it is not always so, and there are ways to run Flash on Macs without these difficulties.

[Citation required], and it had better be a good one, because Adobe's CTO just today admitted that "given identical hardware, Flash Player on Windows has historically been faster than the Mac" (here) and went on to promise improvements, well, real soon now (as they have been since v8). Even John Dowdell, champion of all things Flashy, tells Mac people to just "Use a Flashblocker". Hell, ClickToFlash just appeared on the web anonymously one day, and the rumour goes that it was smuggled out of Adobe by a Mac-using dev (the depth of Flash internal knowledge required to write it points to that, as well).

It's easy to prove that there are many web things that are only possible in Flash. To try and argue that it performs well on the Mac is to take fanboy to a special new level.

it's so horrible that they feel they have to save the rest of it from it's evil while not caring about a replacement that is also proprietary. Thanks for your help. I don't need it and many of us don't, but we appreciate the thought, regardless of the righteousness behind it.

I'm not sure these "they" that drifted into your sentence feel any particular urge to save your Flash-pushing ass, they just don't want it on their own machines. HTML5 is a potential liferaft, so it's no surprise people are grabbing it. They'll invite you on, but if you want to drown, be their guest.

I tend to believe the blocking of Flash (no idea about blocking other browsers) has more to do with the fact that Flash can go around the App Store and iTunes distribution model, so you can view and purchase movies from other services via a web browser that supports Flash, you can play games in your browser rather than buying the game through the App Store, etc.

This doesn't stand up, at all. The App Store didn't exist when the iPhone launched, and Steve Jobs was reportedly dead set against the idea. He didn't want any code on there that wasn't written by Apple. That's why they were pushing the idea of web apps so hard. And you can, er, already watch movies outside the iTunes model: BBC iPlayer is just one example.
posted by bonaldi at 5:03 PM on February 4, 2010


So, believe it or not I'd not heard about this Flash-doesn't-run-on-Macs-thing until this week, but let me just get this... Flash video on Macs performs less well than Flash video on PC or QT video on mac, and this is because Apple keeps the APIs for hardware acceleration to itself... and this is Adobes fault?
posted by Artw at 5:48 PM on February 4, 2010


Flash video on Macs performs less well than Flash video on PC or QT video on mac, and this is because Apple keeps the APIs for hardware acceleration to itself...

No, that's the Adobe talking point. Flash video on PC has only just got hardware acceleration, and it's still the only runtime that has it. The performance differences are much bigger than video, and they've existed for years.
posted by bonaldi at 5:56 PM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, video does rather seem to be the issue here. I mean, if we're talking comples vector animation here it seems a little unlikely that CANVAS will be replacing Flash anytime soon.
posted by Artw at 6:26 PM on February 4, 2010


Also, FWIW, of all the devs I've worked with over the years that have supplied Flash to be integrated into sites that I've worked on, often arguing for it in favour of more JS based solutions I've propossed, the vast majority have been Mac based. Which makes all of this all the more peculiar.
posted by Artw at 6:32 PM on February 4, 2010


I don't know why, but I find it absolutely hilarious that there are people here on MetaFilter arguing against giving users the choice to run whatever browser plugins they desire.

IOKIYAA, amirite?
posted by wierdo at 6:34 PM on February 4, 2010


I don't know why, but I find it absolutely hilarious that there are people here on MetaFilter arguing against giving users the choice to run whatever browser plugins they desire.

I'd like to have the choice to watch web video without it all being trammelled through one badly-stewarded plugin. If that means some positive discrimination, I'm all for it. Just like I'm all for Microsoft forcibly ripping IE6 out of existence in the name of the overall good.

There's more than one way to cut this cake, and the "there's no consequences, it's only about choice, choice is good, amirite?" steez is sub-republican at best.
posted by bonaldi at 6:47 PM on February 4, 2010


bonaldi wrote: "I'd like to have the choice to watch web video without it all being trammelled through one badly-stewarded plugin. If that means some positive discrimination, I'm all for it. Just like I'm all for Microsoft forcibly ripping IE6 out of existence in the name of the overall good."

I like choice too. This is why I'm happy about other video streaming choices (including HTML 5 video)

Apple refuses to give its users that choice. Very Microsofty, yet crickets are heard from the MeFi peanut gallery. I wonder why that is?

It's not about Flash specifically so much as the principle of the matter.
posted by wierdo at 7:18 PM on February 4, 2010


If you own a GPS, or a bluray player, or a game console or a digital photo frame that can't run flash you have no right to complain about the iphone.

All electronics that can't play flash should be banned.

Steve Jobs was reportedly dead set against the idea

bonaldi, where do you get all your secret apple info?

posted by Wood at 10:31 PM on February 4, 2010


TBH I don't really mind Flahs not working on the iPhone - it seems like a legitimate design decision, given the form factor and the nature of surfing on the phone, and I can half buy that technical limitations might be a factor even though they aren't for other similar devices. It's always going to be at the back of ones mind that it's probably more about preserving a business model than anything else, but hey, whatever, you can always hop on a real computer

But a tablet that can't do flash? That's just silly. They're going to need to get that in there pronto, because if you're paying more than a laptop price to surf the web while lying on the sofa you're going to want all of the web.

And all this guff about how Flash is the worst, most terrible thing on the web and a source of all evil blah blah blah in order to dissuade us from that is just lame.

Also it seems to be responsible for a lot of people running their mouths about HTML5 and assigning it all kinds of magical properties without half a clue as to what it actually is, transforming it from a prosaic standards document it the new Web 2.0 - thanks for that, Apple, we really needed another one of those.
posted by Artw at 10:42 PM on February 4, 2010


I'd genuinely love to meet these people, or even get a link to their existence, because I've never seen Mac people campaigning for Flash qua Flash in the way you describe.


That's nice for you. I believe you, and I don't want to meet them to believe it.

From what you're saying it sounds like the same sort of thing you get when MacMacs demand their apps be in Cocoa and not Carbon, but while I've got examples coming out of my ears of that, the idea of any Mac person champing at the bit for something to be written specifically in Flash is something else. Demanding showy visuals and whizz-bang? Sure.

What the hell is a Mac person? I know people who use Macs, use Linux, use Windows. None of them are Mac, Linux, or Windows people, that's just the computer they use. If they where are Reeboks are they a Mac and Reebok person? I'm afraid I don't understand what a Mac person is.

[Citation required], and it had better be a good one, because Adobe's CTO just today admitted that "given identical hardware, Flash Player on Windows has historically been faster than the Mac" (here) and went on to promise improvements, well, real soon now (as they have been since v8). Even John Dowdell, champion of all things Flashy, tells Mac people to just "Use a Flashblocker". Hell, ClickToFlash just appeared on the web anonymously one day, and the rumour goes that it was smuggled out of Adobe by a Mac-using dev (the depth of Flash internal knowledge required to write it points to that, as well).

I understand and know full well it's better on Windows. Never said or implied otherwise, but I know many Mac users, I work with many Mac users, who can run Flash sites (or sites with Flash content) just fine on their Macs. I can even run them on my Linux netbook although others swear I can't.

It's easy to prove that there are many web things that are only possible in Flash. To try and argue that it performs well on the Mac is to take fanboy to a special new level.

Nice, and fuck off. Fanboy? How so? I go out of my way to convince people to not use Flash. Fanboy as an argument. Are you fucking serious?


I'm not sure these "they" that drifted into your sentence feel any particular urge to save your Flash-pushing ass, they just don't want it on their own machines. HTML5 is a potential liferaft, so it's no surprise people are grabbing it. They'll invite you on, but if you want to drown, be their guest.


I don't push Flash, I actively attempt to not use it and have others not use it. However, I do not attempt to prevent them from doing what they like and giving them the choice. I love the idea of HTML 5, I'm a standards nut. However, using a proprietary coded for HTML 5 video I am not a fan of whatsoever. You apparently are, great.

This doesn't stand up, at all. The App Store didn't exist when the iPhone launched, and Steve Jobs was reportedly dead set against the idea. He didn't want any code on there that wasn't written by Apple. That's why they were pushing the idea of web apps so hard. And you can, er, already watch movies outside the iTunes model: BBC iPlayer is just one example.


One's that don't use Flash yes. The services that you have to pay to view that do use Flash, you can't.
posted by juiceCake at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2010


I'm afraid I don't understand what a Mac person is.
And you've been on Metafilter how long? I'm afraid you're being disingenuous.

Nice, and fuck off. Fanboy? How so?
Trying to make the argument that Flash runs "fine" on the Mac is to take the sort of blinkered obliviousness of pro-Apple types (the "fanboys") to a new level. Because it objectively doesn't. It's not down to the opinion of the many Mac-using friends you have; it's decidable with nothing more than Activity Monitor. Not even Adobe itself claims it is "fine" on the Mac: they suggest you use Flashblock.

Fanboy as an argument. Are you fucking serious?
From the guy who has been dripping condescension on his "Mac-using hipster" clients? Your high horse is a bit lame.

I'm a standards nut. However, using a proprietary coded for HTML 5 video I am not a fan of whatsoever.
And yet your preferred choice is that same proprietary codec wrapped inside an effectively proprietary runtime? Your high horse is foaming at the mouth.

The services that you have to pay to view that do use Flash, you can't.
So, wait, your argument is that they don't have Flash on the iPhone so that you can't ... view Flash video ... outside the iTunes model? Guh? There is pay-for video on the phone outside the iTunes model. There's free video on the phone outside the iTunes model. There's a YouTube client on the phone. The no-Flash-to-protect-iTunes thing? It doesn't work. Your high horse has passed on.
posted by bonaldi at 9:55 AM on February 5, 2010


Wood wrote: "If you own a GPS, or a bluray player, or a game console or a digital photo frame that can't run flash you have no right to complain about the iphone.

All electronics that can't play flash should be banned.
"

Way to make unfounded conflations there. There's a big difference between a smartphone or a tablet and a single purpose device like a Garmin/TomTom box or a digital photo frame.

One is a general purpose computer, the others are not. Oh, you say that an iPhone is not a general purpose computer? What's this AppStore thing again? Apple put itself in this category on purpose, because they wanted to compete with other smartphones that could run third party applications.

Note that I'm not saying that Apple should even go so far as to provide Flash. I'm saying they should get the fuck out of the way of people who want to do things like that. I'm quite sure that the Fennec folks would be quite happy to build Firefox for Mobile for the iPhone. Similarly, I have little doubt that Adobe would be quite happy to build a Flash plugin for the iPhone that would work in third party browsers, even if Apple was short-sighted enough not to include any sort of plugin architecture in the iPhone's bundled browser.

Too bad Apple's policy doesn't allow someone to release another browser or someone like Garmin to release a replacement for the built-in Maps application, like they do for all the other popular smartphone platforms.
posted by wierdo at 10:07 AM on February 5, 2010


Anyone remember the dynsrc attribute you could give IMG in old versions of IE? Old School video tag!
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on February 5, 2010


Not even Adobe itself claims it is "fine" on the Mac: they suggest you use Flashblock.

Cite, bonaldi? It would be great if this is true!
posted by finite at 12:11 PM on February 5, 2010


It's not quite a TechNote, but this John Dowdell piece on improving your Flash performance recommends installing a Flashblocker, and this isn't the first time he's suggested that his Mac solution is flashblock (JD is their paid Flash evangelist; it's his job to be the mouthpiece of Flash).
posted by bonaldi at 1:23 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmm...

But if your baseline performance is much better than your usual performance, then you've got to figure out how to prevent things from gradually going slow. Here are some of the top factors:

•Background SWF: If you've got two dozen pages open, and each page has five SWFs, each trying to run at twenty frames a second, that's 2400 frame events you've theoretically trying to execute each second. Different browsers choke off background pages in different ways, but they're constrained by public desire to run video or audio in a background tab. If your performance bogs down midway through a session, cast a glance at how many SWF you're running in the background, and whether reducing this helps performance. (The upcoming generation of Player 10.1 will help too.)

•Background AJAX: This is an increasing problem, as more webpages include runtime elements. It's harder to control this than SWF. Overall browser response is often the tipoff here... slow to switch tabs, slow to type, beachballs as the Macintosh reassigns memory. If you're trying to regain baseline performance, cast a keen eye on what other tasks the browser is performing, perhaps without your knowledge. (And for goshsakes, be careful with those "HTML5" demo pages!)

•Too many things on each page: If your system slows down after too many webpages, try reducing the number of things each page does. Flash blockers, Ad blockers, JavaScript blockers, third-party monitors -- all are great tools in a world where webpages have ballooned up past a hundred HTTP requests, invoking scripts from half-a-dozen domains. If the content is overwhelming the system, you can put those pages on a diet.

•Widgets, toolbars, messaging systems, taskbar alerts, background updates, music players, typing utilities... there are many additions which can affect system performance. This is why that initial test in a clean condition is so important... it lets you compare your system's true capabilities.


He's suggested an end to tabbed browsing, Javascript, multitasking and HTML 5 as well!
posted by Artw at 1:35 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ha! There's no shortage of posts where he doesn't do that, though, like this gem where he says that if you're having troubles with Flash bogging down your Mac you should just get a flashblocker. Hey, it'll still crash, just slower. (That link is via a ranty bit of meta commentary, you can't link directly to his comment)
posted by bonaldi at 1:41 PM on February 5, 2010


Sounds pretty reasonable responses if your machine is so crawlingly helpless that a few flash movies will grind it to a total halt. Certainly worth trying out. Again I'm suprised at the degree of the problem being described. I'd actually be interested in some non-pointscoring analysis of this.
posted by Artw at 2:28 PM on February 5, 2010


Maybe Adobe should consider bundling flashblock? Except, then we couldn't have flash ads, which are the primary use of flash side from streaming video, so I guess that wouldn't really work.
posted by finite at 3:43 PM on February 5, 2010


Get Ready for HTML 5

You know, the fancy new EMBED and DIV tag replacements are getting all the press, but the form extensions are actually more exciting to me - being able to apply a regular expression to an INPUT, that's huge, that replaces a whole bunch of Javascript workarounds with something that makes far more sense. Oh, and a maxlength attribute for TEXTAREA? How many times have I coded that? It's the W3C giving us actual sensible practical stuff! And we don't even have to wait for browsers to support it, we can fake it with JS.

(Yes, yes, I know, using Javascript to fake something so that we don't need JS, but still... pretty exciting)
posted by Artw at 8:38 AM on February 6, 2010


I'm afraid I don't understand what a Mac person is.
And you've been on Metafilter how long? I'm afraid you're being disingenuous.


Sure fine. You're wrong, but you're welcome to your point of view. I know a lot of people with Macs. I have one running on my desktop right now. I still don't know what a Mac person is.

Nice, and fuck off. Fanboy? How so?
Trying to make the argument that Flash runs "fine" on the Mac is to take the sort of blinkered obliviousness of pro-Apple types (the "fanboys") to a new level. Because it objectively doesn't. It's not down to the opinion of the many Mac-using friends you have; it's decidable with nothing more than Activity Monitor. Not even Adobe itself claims it is "fine" on the Mac: they suggest you use Flashblock.


Bullshit. Flash runs fine on a lot of Macs from my personal experience. I'm not denying yours but to deny mine and pass it off as fanboyism is simply lazy assholery. They visit a site, it has some Flash. They use it. They move on.

Fanboy as an argument. Are you fucking serious?
From the guy who has been dripping condescension on his "Mac-using hipster" clients? Your high horse is a bit lame.


Agreed. It was an asshole thing to complain about hipsters. Guilty as charged.

I'm a standards nut. However, using a proprietary coded for HTML 5 video I am not a fan of whatsoever.
And yet your preferred choice is that same proprietary codec wrapped inside an effectively proprietary runtime? Your high horse is foaming at the mouth.


Never said I prefer it. Never said I liked it. Don't like or prefer either actually, but that doesn't give me the right to deny it's use by others.

The services that you have to pay to view that do use Flash, you can't.
So, wait, your argument is that they don't have Flash on the iPhone so that you can't ... view Flash video ... outside the iTunes model? Guh? There is pay-for video on the phone outside the iTunes model. There's free video on the phone outside the iTunes model. There's a YouTube client on the phone. The no-Flash-to-protect-iTunes thing? It doesn't work. Your high horse has passed on.


High horse? You're the one sitting on a high horse flinging down your wrath upon those who dare to defend the rights of others to use what they want. Your the one failing to comprehend simple sentences and being disingenuous suggesting others support Flash or favour Flash or prefer Flash. You argued that MS should force corporations to get off IE 6 so we can get on with standards. And yet you're not arguing for Google and Apple to support an open video codec. Jesus H. Fucking Christ.

But thanks for setting me straight on my thoughts of the Flash economic angle. I was wrong, and I appreciate your information.
posted by juiceCake at 10:49 AM on February 12, 2010


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