How web users been painted into a corner by Adobe Flash

It's 2010. Mobile access to the web, either on a portable PC or on a handset is a reality thanks to WiFi and 3G. But we only have access to certain parts of the web, thanks to the widespread adoption of Adobe Flash.

It's 2010. Mobile access to the web, either on a portable PC or on a handset is a reality thanks to WiFi and 3G. But we only have access to certain parts of the web, thanks to the widespread adoption of Adobe Flash.

Let me put my cards on the table right from the start and say that I'm no fan of Adobe Flash. Not only is the Flash Player client buggy and crashy (accounting for almost all crashes on some of my systems), but it's a security nightmare, needing constant attention to prevent hackers from gaining a foothold into my systems. In short, I hate Adobe Flash.

But there's a much larger issue with Adobe Flash, one that goes beyond the fact that the player is buggy and a constant security nightmare. It's to do with how widespread Flash has become, and how Adobe is insidiously using the terms such as "open" and "platform independence" to push what is in fact a proprietary format.

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Adobe is a master at playing word games, and has been able to fool enough people enough of the time (in particular, web developers) to allow this proprietary to seep into almost every corner of the web. Adobe will argue that while browsers are not platform independent, Flash is. That wasn't true 18 months ago, and it's certainly not true now.

Part of Adobe's problem is that it is still stuck in thinking that the web is the dominion of a small handful of operating systems ... Windows being the dominant OS, then Mac OS X, and then a small but vocal group of Linux users. Problem is, this is thinking from a decade ago, and the web is now accessible using a whole raft of platforms. Adobe is trying to claim to be "open" and "platform independent" by simply creating a few versions of the player for a handful of platforms. Your platform not one of those, then get lost.

Note: Microsoft is doing much the same thing with Silverlight.

Adobe can't even seem to respond to the changing OS market for well-established platforms. For example, where's the 64-bit Flash Player for Windows?

Platform independence means something completely different to me. It means being able to access web content not matter what OS I'm using, no matter what browser I'm using and no matter what processor that device is running. Open means freedom to use whatever platform suits me. Flash no longer offers this.

We, web users, have been painted into a corner by Adobe. Developers have been suckered into a using the platform based on a few buzz words and the promise of "write once, deploy everywhere" (web standards themselves played a big part in creating this mess, allowing far too much fragmentation, but that's another story).

What we need is a two-fold solution

  • A scaling back of the unnecessary use of Flash for web elements such as navigation and interface.
  • A truly open alternative to Flash.

Yo! Smart people! FIX IT!!!!!!

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