Flash on the IPad & IPhone or the awful thought of HTML5 – A Flash Developer’s Perspective

We’ve been looking at the Adobe vs. Apple war over here with a bit of a jaded perspective. We’ve read a bunch of nonsense from both companies, and some reporters on the sides of both camps writing some positively absurd things (some Flash is no good for touch interfaces meme…wha?). I thought it might be a time for somebody from the trenches of everyday flash development to weigh in. A little disclaimer or background on us, we are a 100% apple shop, phones, server and all. The only pc’s in the office are used for testing, and sending off invoices. So yeah, we’re in that weird place that a lot of flash developers find themselves in these days. I like to think we are using a little bit of the best of both worlds. We’re also about to release our first forays into the IPhone AppStore world, so I’ve got a head full of Objective-C right now…which might be why I am writing this.

Okay, manifesto or thesis time. My main points for this reality check are these:

  1. I don’t want the flash player on my iphone at all. Not anywhere near it.
  2. HTML 5 is not going to replace Flash for web interactive anytime soon.
  3. Goddamn, coding for the IPhone is tedious.  (more of an observation, really)

You probably don’t agree with me on some of the points above, and I am sure that the bad – ass Ob C devs out there are going to flex, (no pun intended) but let me explain myself here. Point #1. The Flash player is a memory gobbling whore. There, I said it. There is no way that Adobe or anyone else will be able to get any virtual machine running efficiently enough for me to what to run it on my Iphone.

The code that I want running on my Iphone is stuff that uses memory like it was the early 80’s. Especially when its running on a device that I could wind up really needing in an emergency. (or for that matter all of the time.)

Point #2. I may eat my hat on this but HTML5 canvas element? Really? Am I not the only one who remembers the marquee tag? How about the fact that I have to create 6 different versions for every HTML website we put out? The real beauty of the Flash player is it’s consistency across platforms. Nothing is perfect in this regard,  but Flash is pretty damn good.

Point #3. Garbage Collection aside, coding for the IPhone is pretty darn laborious. And that brings me to an important point: Flash, hands down has the best toolsets to code in, period. (I say this as I’ll be cursing a corrupted Flex dot-dammit project file tomorrow.)

The conclusion of this ill advised mess is that Flash is going to be around for quite sometime. Not on Apple’s mobile devices, and for good reason. And honestly, not for serving up video on the web either. And here is the kicker. I think that the flash developer’s toolset will evolve to match the current popular platforms, One IDE to rule them all…

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We are a web development firm in New York and Chicago, providing development resources and consulting for websites and mobile apps since 2004.