To this day, I am super mad at all the people who put for the codswallop that HTML5 was this perfect replacement for Flash. It’s been 10 years since “Thoughts on Flash” was published and HTML5 STILL doesn’t (in actual practice) replicate what mattered about Flash.
What really mattered about Flash, in my view: 1) For 95% of applications you can just distribute a single SWF file 2) You have a robust authoring tool that is animation/graphics-first and newbie friendly 3) You can send a link to your mom and she can just play it w/ no issues
HTML5 *at its very best* accomplishes most of 3), and is still in the stone age when it comes to 1) and 2).
RE: 1) HTML5/JS has arguably gotten worse, not better, in this regards since 10 years ago. HTML5 applications are a constellation of confusing dependencies and packages and versioning hell, a big plate of glass spaghetti
RE: 2) HTML5/JS is a programmer-centric environment, which is fine. But Flash was content-first, the exact opposite, and it enabled a wave of creativity we’d never seen before. It got all kinds of weirdos like me on the creative on ramp who would never have come otherwise.
The thing that REALLY REALLY pisses me off is all the people who beat the war drums for Flash’s demise, very clearly did not understand what made it so special. “I don’t see why this is valuable, therefore it is not valuable”
All of the common arguments raised against it: – It runs like crap on mobile – It’s bad for battery life – It breaks accessibility guidelines – People make annoying ads with it – It’s a security risk All true, all worth addressing, but HTML5 managed to tick all those boxes too
Remember this? “Anything you can do with Flash you can do with JS+Canvas+SVG” Clearly written by a non-artist coder who never used Flash, equivalent to: “Anything you can do with a paintbrush you can also do with a toothpick and an infinite amount of time.”
Flash was a very real security risk, and I always hated that it was proprietary. It doesn’t bother me that people brought up these concerns, and sought to address them. What specifically bothers me is the plain falsehood that HTML5 would perfectly replace what made Flash great.
Ultimately this is all Adobe’s fault. They just decided Flash wasn’t the effort. This is ultimately the problem with all proprietary software platforms — the risk that the platform holder will one day just give up and let it rot but not let YOU pick up and carry the torch.
I mean, I use windows and photoshop and a million other proprietary things. They’re super great. And the risk is just one day something I absolutely depend on that I don’t have the rights to will get yanked away, again.
The meta principles I want to underscore here are simply: 1) Because YOU didn’t value something doesn’t mean you understand all the ways it was valuable to others 2) It’s possible for technology to regress in big ways even as it moves forward in others, esp. when 1) applies
Chesterton’s Fence: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”
I’m not grumpy because Flash was destroyed. I’m grumpy because those that contributed to it’s destruction (*ESPECIALLY* ADOBE) did not see the use of it, but we did.