Flash, and the future of the web
Recently, there’s been a lot of debate about Apple’s decision to not support Flash player on the iPhone and iPad. Both Adobe and Microsoft have said their pieces, and now it’s up to the community to figure out what to do, as developers and consumers are the ones being affected by these decisions. I think debate is healthy, especially around a topic that affects the core of today’s web, and the future. But there’s a lot of mud being thrown, and a lot of people missing the point.
So what is the point, exactly? It’s not about who has a more closed proprietary system, or who’s arguments are hypocritical, or who stands to make the most money.
It’s about what’s best for the future of the web.
Here’s what I believe open standards bring to the party:
1. Better education
When I was learning to design and code for the web, I relied almost entirely on being able to view the source of a page, and dissect what someone had done to achieve a particular result. With open standards like HTML/CSS, this is possible. With compiled SWF’s, it is much much more difficult.
2. Access for all
The problem with technologies such as Flash and other plugin-based technologies, is that they are exclusive instead of inclusive. They say “unless you download our software, you can’t view this content”.
But now the core technologies of HTML and CSS are catching up, and most importantly, they’re doing it from the point of view of being as inclusive as possible They’re taking into account backwards compatibility, a huge range of other devices, and how things may be needed in the future as the web evolves.
They can also be developed using any text editor, on any platform. No single entity is going to create a monopoly on development tools for these technologies, and what we can hope for is healthy competition in the market, which will drive everyone forward.
3. Community driven
HTML5 and CSS3 are not only open standards, but they are standards that have been built completely due to the needs and requests of the web development community. Any one of you can make suggestions to the specs, and discuss anything related to the implementation of these via things like the HTML5 mailing list. These specs are written by developers, for developers, and I believe that will help make for a great future indeed.