How come Flash isn't well liked?

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by definitive, Dec 24, 2009.

  1. definitive macrumors 68000

    definitive

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    Aug 4, 2008
    #1
    From time to time I see people advising against ever using Flash to build websites. How come?
     
  2. Quu macrumors 68020

    Quu

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    Apr 2, 2007
    #2
    Because developers get over the top with it. Instead of using it in places where it makes sense some go overboard and do the entire site within flash so you never navigate between pages just within a single flash applet. Meaning if you hit Back on your browser you exit the website to the site you were looking at previously.

    Flash also takes up a lot of resources on the client machine viewing the site, you can't copy and paste images or other content from within a flash applet and in extreme cases text may also not be able to be highlighted. The applet may not be made to resize so if you have a large screen you may be left viewing a tiny little window with tons of wasted space.

    There are lots and lots of reasons to hate flash and most if not all stem from developers using it improperly.
     
  3. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #3
    It seems to me also that other methods of dynamic content, now at the end of 2009, are so effective for most things, that Flash seems unnecessary. Honestly, now when I browse the web with my iPhone, there is surprisingly little, outside of ads and embedded video, that cannot be rendered without Flash.

    My other problem with Flash is that, while it's nice to pretend that all civilized people have at least four cores running faster than 2GHz, at least 4GB of memory, and at least a 6mbps internet connection, the reality of the corporate desktop computer that many of us use during the day is just not in that world. :p
     
  4. snickelfritz macrumors 65816

    snickelfritz

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    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    #4
    Some reasons Flash sites get a bad rap from developers:
    • No Browser back/forward functionality.
    • No SEO to speak of.
    • Limited cell phone access; sites often show nothing more than a download link for Flash Player.
    • Spotty performance on low end hardware.
      Some sites are so badly coded, that they run poorly even on the latest hardware.
    • Flash sites are often not dynamic (data coming from XML, RSS, MySQL etc...) and are costly and time-consuming to maintain.
    • The vast majority of experienced web developers do not have the time or desire to learn another scripting language.
    All of these problems are addressable, if the developer has the skills, time and desire to do it.

    The main virtues of Flash are the Integrated Development Environment, the ability to parse native layered Illustrator and Photoshop files, and the mature Actionscript 3.0 scripting language created by Adobe.
    Interestingly, if you are already skilled in HTML/CSS/PHP/XML, etc... you can really do some amazing stuff with Actionscript 3.0, if you take the time to learn the language.
     
  5. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #5
    The biggest problem is with search engines, and in today's interconnected world of social networking and continuously updated content that needs to be text and metadata searchable by the twitters and facebooks of the world, not to mention Google, bing, whatever... Flash just falls way, way short. If you want to make your site fancy, pretty and interactive, but very difficult for people to find it - use flash. Also, most people surfing the web are mainly interested in content and ease of navigation. Nothing is more irritating than having to wait for a flash page to load - all those various little animations people spend so much time on designing just to keep your attention while you wait... It actually can drive potential clients away. Flash is more and more irrelevant, although it does have its purposes, like short animations, etc.
     
  6. snickelfritz macrumors 65816

    snickelfritz

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    #6
    Finding Flash sites with search engines is not a big problem; parsing the data within the Flash site and returning useful results is the $64,000 problem.
    I have built Flash sites that land near the very top of google searches, but unfortunately, the results are not as precise as those from an HTML/CSS site.
    (you essentially just get a link to the index page)

    Personally, I don't think it's ideal to use Flash for sites that contain enormous amounts of data, such as for e-commerce or repositories.
    Online brochures, image/video/music galleries, portfolios, etc... are really what Flash does best.
     
  7. A.list.face macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    #7
    I like to add Flash elements to html pages like buttons, little animations and stuff like that. Coding an entire site in AS3 is time consuming and and usually confusing for me. I don't really like the idea of an entire page being a single frame in a Flash animation.
     
  8. michael.lauden macrumors 68020

    michael.lauden

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    Dec 25, 2008
    #8
    Flash isn't liked because there are still people out there who still don't use new browsers, or JavaScript - let alone Flash

    if you create a site in Flash - you also need to create a backup site for those who don't use it.

    it's a waste, the sites usually are annoying - and not everyone has the plugin.

    i don't think anyone should have to wait for a site to load, nor should there be music in the background.
     
  9. cube macrumors G5

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  10. THX1139 macrumors 68000

    THX1139

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    Mar 4, 2006
    #10
    I think the main reason the consumer might not like Flash is because of the many poorly designed sites that have been done over the years. Some websites have really gone over the top with Flash animation and created bloated eye-sores that hog bandwidth and computer power. I've seen many Flash sites that have a pre-loader on every section that loads really crappy animations. You click on a link and get a graphic saying the content is loading... then you wait, only to be presented with gratuitous and badly done animation. For years, people made stuff move with Flash on their websites because they could... and it created a bad reputation for Flash.

    Though I will say that there ARE a lot of Flash websites out there that are innovative and designed well. Just depends on what the content is. Websites that feature games, portfolios, and other interactivity comes to mind. Websites that have a lot of written content need to stay away from Flash because most users want instant information and Flash usually gets in the way of that. If I'm trying to order something off the web, the last thing I want to see is a chunk of text flying around on the screen... or a pre-loader graphic that wants me to wait while they load a bloated advertisement.

    People who DON'T have fairly recent browsers, JavaScript or some kind of Flash plugin is extremely rare nowadays. Most developers don't consider this small demographic because they just aren't worth the extra expense and hassle of providing for them.
     
  11. snickelfritz macrumors 65816

    snickelfritz

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    #11
    All of this points to the fact the internet as we know it is essentially a work in progress.
    Flash, Silverlight and AJAX are evolving the medium rapidly toward an online application paradigm.
    ie: the internet will eventually be dominated by desktop quality applications with full file system access, OSX-like interactivity, and so forth.

    Flash sites are, for all intents and purposes, functional prototypes for what the internet could eventually become.

    Here are some examples:
    http://kuler.adobe.com/#themes/rating?time=30
    https://www.photoshop.com/
    http://aviary.com/
     
  12. astroot macrumors regular

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    Nov 12, 2009
    #12
    The main problem with Flash, in my opinion, which hasn't even been mentioned, is that it's not accessible to those with disabilities, for the most part. Screen readers and Flash are not best friends.
     
  13. snickelfritz macrumors 65816

    snickelfritz

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    #13
    Actually, that's not entirely true; the problem is solvable via proper development methods.
    Flash developers are the problem, not Flash itself.
     
  14. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

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    Sep 22, 2006
    #14
    As a user I hate it because you have to wait for sites to load before you can see them, it feels like 56k days. Also flash sites behave strange and dont give a lot of content thanks to being confined to a little square in the window (theres ways to get around that but its insanely difficult).

    As a web designer I hate it because actionscript is a programming language and you need to have a background in programming to do anything decent with it. If you dont have a flash programmer to write the code then its hell. Even the most simple things can be ridiculously complicated.

    Adobe needs to come up with a new language that people can pick up as easy as CSS and is as flexible. No more preloaders and little squares, it should load dynamically without breaking and not be confined to stages.
     
  15. JackAxe macrumors 68000

    JackAxe

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    In a cup of orange juice.
    #15
    Posting this question on a "Mac" site is bound to bring on the HATERS! :)

    As others have noted, Flash's sites can be SEO and also have access to the back and forward button along with the URL history. There's also plenty of design docs on accessibility, which Flash can accommodate, given the developer has it in mind.

    I love Flash, of course I know how to program in AS3 now days, plus I know all the other web blah, so there's really nothing I can't do in it. I also have a background as an artist -- started at game companies, so I know how to optimized my work for both file size and CPU usage. Anything I can create in Photoshop, I can dynamically recreate in AS3, the difference is that it's only a few k in Flash with no loss of quality and completely re-sizable, something that's really not possible even with AJAX, at least not to the same extent.

    Anyways, I use Flash for building web+desktop applications now days and it does an excellent job and IMO, above the rest.
     
  16. Nostromo macrumors 65816

    Nostromo

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    Dec 26, 2009
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    Deep Space
    #16
    Just for curiosity:

    One argument against Flash is that you can't send someone with a link to a particular page of your site.

    Another one is that Flash sites are always a huge chunk of data to download.

    I don't use Flash (I use CSS and Javascript), but it can't hurt to hear the "other side" ;)
     
  17. savar macrumors 68000

    savar

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    District of Columbia
    #17
    It's generally not very accessible for users who are vision impaired.
     
  18. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #18
    You can change the URL of the content being viewed from Flash so that particular spots are bookmarkable. There's a few ways to do it if you hit up Google. I came across one that works well for AJAX as well, which has some of the same criticisms of not being able to bookmark certain pages of RIA. It's all up to the developer to get those things right. It doesn't happen automatically.

    Flash files can be somewhat big, but mostly because people use them for media rich pages. A site done in pure HTML, CSS, and JavaScript giving the same visual experience will take a comparable amount of file size for the user to download.

    http://www.actionscript.org/resources/articles/142/1/Enabling-a-back-button-within-flash/Page1.html
    http://articles.sitepoint.com/article/accessible-flash-parts-1-2
     
  19. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

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    Sep 22, 2006
    #19
    Flash files are not very big if they dont have audio. Its just that you have to deal with a bunch of stupid preloaders for everything, which makes it seem big because you have to wait and wait and wait, and then wait again. Oh ya, and wait some more.
     
  20. snickelfritz macrumors 65816

    snickelfritz

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    Oct 24, 2003
    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    #20
    The progress indicators on many Flash sites are simply provided as a courtesy by the developer.
    File download size is not a Flash-specific problem; all websites that host large files have longer than normal download times.
    The quandary faced by virually all developers is whether to load content on demand or to load it all up front.
    Personally, I prefer to load as much as possible up front, so the application runs seamlessly thereafter.

    BTW, "feature creep" and file bloat is a constant development issue that Flash developers have to "reign in" periodically.
    Bloated Flash sites with low framerates are not fun to use, and the Flash Platform is first and foremost supposed to be fun and engaging for the end user.

    Most HTML/CSS/AJAX sites are boring to use and are rarely engaging in the same way that Flash can be.
    In this respect, Flash is more akin to video game development, than to traditional web development.
    The Flash platform is an ideal medium for skilled designers and animators, and is probably not appropriate for those that cannot properly leverage its virtues in terms of creating high impact site layouts, graphics and animation.
    Code:
    if (you can easily accomplish your design goals with HTML/CSS)
    {
        use HTML/CSS;
    }
    
    else if (you have to jump through hoops and make compromises in order to achieve your design goals in HTML/CSS)
    {
        use Flash or AJAX;
    }
    
     
  21. Nostromo macrumors 65816

    Nostromo

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    #21
    But Javascript and ActionScript (Flash) are much alike.

    So one should be able to do similar things in Javascript...
     
  22. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #22
    Both are based on EcmaScript, but ActionScript has more capabilities by going beyond EcmaScript, and Flash and Flex gives it even more capability by allowing it to interact with hardware items like the microphone and web cam. JavaScript can do similar things to ActionScript, but not nearly as much and often takes more effort. The two languages are barely comparable really.
     
  23. UTclassof89 macrumors 6502

    UTclassof89

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    Jun 10, 2008
    #23
    The only problem with Flash is the people who are ignorant about what it can do and propogate the myth that it's incapable of these things (you CAN deep link, it IS searchable, and it DOES work with the two most popular screen readers in the world, and large sound, image and video files can be linked rather than embedded in Flash). As an earlier poster pointed out, lazy developers who DON'T choose to leverage these capabilities are the problem, not Flash.
     
  24. Nostromo macrumors 65816

    Nostromo

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    #24
    So what you are saying is that all those Flash downsides aren't Flash downsides, but mistakes by Flash developers who didn't learn their business well enough (you used the euphemism "lazy", euphemism, because it still sounds better than "incompetent" :D)
     
  25. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #25
    People hate it because of the way it is used. For example the worst is when you have to wait through some non-informative antimated intro screen.

    The other really bad way to use flash is to have a fixed size box that can't work on small screens.

    It should only be "op in" where the user has to click a button to see the animation. Then it would be fun to keep track of how many choose to chickit. Maybe 2%?
     

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