Reconsidering Flash

There's some big new facts on the horizon for people considering the Flash platform. (They're in a pdf so they _must_ be both important and correct ;) So if you've ever rejected Flash in the past because you needed feature X, and it was a showstopper and it just wasn't available in Flash, then odds are it was one of these three.

Flash 8 is billed to include

Dynamic loading of .gif/.png images and progressive .jpg's. This is hugely important. The vast majority of images on the web are either .jpg, .gif, .png. Flash has been capable of dynamically loading .jpgs for some years now, but only non-progressive ones and not .gifs or .pngs. This new capability means a big boost to displaying dynamic content within flash. DENG - for example, an xhtml flash browser can now have much greater functionality.

File upload and download. Previously it has been impossible to select files from flash except by using a cumbersome javascript solution. That meant stepping outside of flash for any file operations. So imagine a Flash e-mail client - if you wanted to add sending or saving of email attachments for example, you couldn't handle this within Flash. Now you will be able to.

Improved Text Rendering. I think this could be the most important of them all. I don't think that Flash rendering fonts fuzzy at small sizes is something that is often identified as the problem - but may be the main underlying reason why Flash is not selected for some projects. It immediately identifies the content as something rendered in a different way. It also limits the amount of textual information that can be rendered in Flash as compared to HTML. If this new text rendering lives up to the promise, it could remove that distinction.

To finish up, I just want to include a short note on my thoughts on AJAX. Often the choice will be between Flash and AJAX for a certain type of web application. Ajax is definitely the best solution for some projects, but it is no panacea and giving something a new name doesn't make it a new technology or solution. It still has all the problems it always did.

Posted by Alexander at June 7, 2005 12:30 PM

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