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Friday, August 28, 2009

Is Flash going to die a slow and painful death?

Friday, August 28, 2009   

Will Flash find itself at a crossroad in the near future? I just spent some time reading a rather interesting post from a well-defined iPhone developer (Jeff LaMarche - I own a few of his very solid books) about the state and future of Flash. Some points are quite valid and some are fairly wild assumptive statements. Things like

When I say that Flash sucks, I'm not talking about ActionScript or the developer tools or anything of that nature. I'm not a Flash developer and never have been. Developing for Flash might be better than receiving oral sex for all I know. When I say that Flash sucks, I'm specifically referring to the leaky, crash-prone implementation of Flash available for Mac OS X. I'm selfish; I rant about things that affect me. And Flash definitely affects me. I'm talking about something that is the polar opposite of a "thin-client" - Flash is a client that can suck up 60% of processor cycles on a high-end machines to run a recreation a a 40-year old arcade game. I'm talking about a technology that is more likely to bring up the SBBD than any other piece of Mac software. Flash on Windows is tolerable (barely), but even on a fast Mac, it can be a horrible, horrible experience to have even a single Flash item on a web page. Every Safari crash I've had in recent memory was directly caused by the Flash plug-in.

Now, I am going to let you read the entire post and perhaps comment here, Tweet about it amongst your followers, or just talk amongst yourselves. I almost stopped reading the post when it started with all of the "Flash sucks" verbiage, but I continued on and there are some valid points certainly.

I do not think blaming memory leaks on the platform itself makes much sense since it's the developers who are mostly responsible for this. I am sure there are leaks here and there, but I wouldn't go far as to blame the whole platform for shortcomings. One of the things I really like about Objective-C and development for the iPhone is the attention everyone makes in regards to memory management. The iPhone doesn't have oodles of it, so you need to watch what you're doing and autorelease or release objects.

I run Instruments quite a lot when nearly completing an application looking for leaks. Perhaps Flash can get something like this too. GC on the iPhone? I have no clear idea how that works and I haven't seen a way to invoke it myself... but I know that if I am concentrating on my memory use I shouldn't need to worry too much.

I would agree that Flash can be a resource piggy. Especially when multiple instances are running, the fact that for almost all use cases there is no threading we can tap into, etc. it just hasn't matured into some uber technology that can compete with other languages and how they are hooked up to run. Maybe some day.

It's interesting to read someone else's take on Flash developers moving towards iPhone development - I think we've all seen a bit of that recently. I'll raise my hand too.

I love developing for Flash. As with anything, if done properly, it's utterly amazing. I really love developing for the iPhone as well. I certainly hope Flash doesn't go anywhere... it stirs a ton of creativity out there: desktops and web alike.

Get your comment hat on and have at it. Remember, Jeff isn't bashing Flash developers. It's late here and I haven't really proofed what I've tried to communicate here. I hope it makes sense for what little I have added to the conversation.
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There are currently 1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...
“I read your whole post with great care and came to this conclusion: Flash sucks. It really does. Any platform that allows the developer to bring a modern system to its knees to essentially display a slideshow is horrid. The platform itself must be more strict to avoid this since there is no incentive for the developers to write efficient code.”
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