Another Piece of Flash Bites the Dust

The real secret to web 2.0 (the bullshit bingo word everyone is throwing around these days) is that good websites can make money. Part of that means making sure things are easy to use. As much as I like Flash, it’s rarely what makes a website userfriendly. And so, like Flickr dropped their Flash-based image note viewer, so have I dropped my Flash-based installment teaser image viewer located on the right hand side of the index page. The result? A faster, more compatible, more user-friendly piece of web code on which middle-click/open in tab works. There’s a time and place for Flash, this wasn’t it.

18 thoughts on “Another Piece of Flash Bites the Dust”

  1. mo says:

    So I noticed that it loaded MUCH faster than before, I thought my connection had gone through some magic improvement, heh.. nice touch !

    Thank you for information on the lines of web 2.0 and flash usage.. I wonder as photography presentation sites become more common and established – I mean the self hosted ones – I still see most people attracted towards flash presentations, like the popular and complete BlueDomain package… How does that affect their SEO results and is it a good or a bad thing in general in this case?

    I mean SEO vs “the Aww and WOW” of presentation… taking into consideration, that most their business will be routed through f&f and maybe business cards probably..

    This has always been a question for me, I’ll appreciate your more experienced opinion here Joen.

    Thanks…

    (I personally went for php and ajax myself..)

  2. Cyrris says:

    Having a slower connection, seeing these gray boxes endlessly load to the side there was pretty annoying.

    Much better =)

  3. Joen says:

    How does that affect their SEO results and is it a good or a bad thing in general in this case?

    Generally it’s bad search optimization. You can use certain tricks (and I don’t mean the shady ones) to optimize Flash SEO. Even so, it definately won’t help.

    I mean SEO vs ?the Aww and WOW? of presentation… taking into consideration, that most their business will be routed through f&f and maybe business cards probably..

    Well it’s all something to consider… there’s a reason Flash got popular, it can be used well! So it’s a matter of who’s going to be using it.

    If it’s a business, I’d say “no” to Flash.

    (I personally went for php and ajax myself..)

    And I must say that works great. Way better than Flash.

    Having a slower connection, seeing these gray boxes endlessly load to the side there was pretty annoying.

    Trust me, I’m also glad to rid of the Flash. It does work better now.

    One thing though, I haven’t ported the “cookied selection”. Previouisly, your selected image would be cookied. I had a hunch no-one used that feature, so I haven’t yet ported it.

  4. mo says:

    ah… so the certain tricks.. I think i know the shady ones.. (? like including low contrast small text links in the footer) yet still you are right.. when the complete package is flash.. you are almost invisible .. with the exception of google that I’ve heard can read into flash text ‘to some extent, if the flash is not complicated‘… would you be kind enough to give us a hint on the “certain tricks”; for scientific purposes 🙂

    Well it?s all something to consider… there?s a reason Flash got popular, it can be used well! So it?s a matter of who?s going to be using it.

    yes…true point.. would need some weighing.

    If it?s a business, I?d say ?no? to Flash.

    disaster, for sure.. lol…

    And I must say that works great. Way better than Flash.

    Thank you! your article on ZenPhoto and the other photo galleries was where I started 🙂

    I like flash, yet I think JavaScript is more available to php code than flash is.. I may be wrong..

    but back to your article..

    Flickr dropped their Flash-based image note viewer

    they also dropped their flash photo organizer .. though it always worked for me, and loaded faster also…

    A faster, more compatible,…

    It is much faster, so faster that it makes you wonder why it is so.. is flash handled on lower priority by browsers? are the images cached after everything is loaded? hmmm..

    But about compatibly, I think that plays the most important role – in the JS / Flash decision ..I understand that you have a JavaScript code in replacing the container.. how is JavaScript more compatible than flash, CrossBrowser speaking?

    ________

    Note, the company’s name is BluDomain and not BlueDomain, sorry about that

  5. Joen says:

    ah… so the certain tricks.. I think i know the shady ones.. (? like including low contrast small text links in the footer) yet still you are right.. when the complete package is flash.. you are almost invisible .. with the exception of google that I?ve heard can read into flash text ?to some extent, if the flash is not complicated?… would you be kind enough to give us a hint on the ?certain tricks?; for scientific purposes 🙂

    Yep. Use SWFobject

    SWFobject works like this. You create a div, say

    <div id="flashcontent"></div>

    Then the SWFobject javascript replaces the contents of that div with the Flash.

    So, since it’ll be replaced by the “real” contents anyway, you might as well create a tiny HTML representation inside that DIV. That’ll be readable by search engines.

    yet I think JavaScript is more available to php code than flash is.. I may be wrong..

    Oh sure.

    It is much faster, so faster that it makes you wonder why it is so.. is flash handled on lower priority by browsers?

    Well, there are two things in it. First of all, the Flash plugin needs to initialize. That’s relatively fast. Then Flash has to start processing. Depending on the quality of your code, this can take some time. Finally, when Flash loads JPEGs, it doesn’t show it “progressively downloading”, like Firefox does. It’s either not loaded, or loaded.

    That brings me to the second thing: there’s a lot of “feeling” to it as well. The Flash and JS solutions might have been equally fast, but the JS just feels more responsive because you see the effect right away without all the bling Flash can bring.

    .I understand that you have a JavaScript code in replacing the container.. how is JavaScript more compatible than flash, CrossBrowser speaking?

    Well since I use SWFObject to embed my Flash, i need both JS and the Flash plugin to be available for the content to be shown.

    In the case of crossplatform compatibility, that means if the solution is JS only, I won’t need the Flash plugin.

    These days the Flash plugin is pretty ubiquitous, so we’re not talking leaps and bounds here.

    The important parts of this conversion from Flash to JS is twofold:

    • It feels faster
    • The “middle-click / open in new tab” now works.

    By the way, check out the Installments section, where I’ve added a larger version of the switcher.

  6. Gareth says:

    I am in favour of not using flash wherever possible, but I actually think the example you provide works better in flash as it would be a smoother experience. Also wasn’t your flash code just broken? hence the endless grey loading boxes.

    A few points for flash:

    – You can load progressive jpg and png’s

    – more widely adopted than javascript

    – back button, deeplinking, bookmarking etc can be easily obtained using the excellent swf address and swf object, as can good SEO.

    – it has 100% cross compatibility, unlike javascript

    – you can create better right click context menus

    – in my opinion ajax never feels as smooth as flash

    p.s the new full screen feature in AS3 would be great for your installments.

  7. Joen says:

    Also wasn?t your flash code just broken? hence the endless grey loading boxes.

    Yep, it was just broken. The choice I faced was whether to fix the broken Flash or rewrite it in JS. I chose the latter.

    – You can load progressive jpg and png?s

    Yes, but do they show as they download ?

    – more widely adopted than javascript

    Yes, but if you use SWFObject for the embedding, you need both Flash and JS.

    – back button, deeplinking, bookmarking etc can be easily obtained using the excellent swf address and swf object,

    I’ve used SWFaddress, it is the best solution out there. But it’s still not great, and it’s not easy as opposed to HTML which is born with back button functionality.

    as can good SEO.

    Maybe “good”, but never “great” or “excellent”.

    – it has 100% cross compatibility, unlike javascript

    Good point. Once the plugin is installed, things look and work the same regardless of platform.

    – you can create better right click context menus

    Yes, but I don’t think this’ll actually come in handy until we start seeing Adobe AIR applications pop up.

    – in my opinion ajax never feels as smooth as flash

    Right. Agreed.

    p.s the new full screen feature in AS3 would be great for your installments.

    Already on it 🙂

    Bottomline, there is a time and place for Flash, and good flash is used in conjunction with HTML, AJAX, JS and so on. On a really good site, you do not notice what’s Flash and what’s not. I still like Flash, and with AIR coming out of beta Flash is far from dead.

    Even so, the traditional 1990 use of Flash for fullscreen websites, navigation and so on, that IS coming to an end.

  8. Gareth says:

    Yes, but if you use SWFObject for the embedding, you need both Flash and JS.

    touch?, but you don’t have to use SWFObject

    Yes, but do they show as they download ?

    not sure, I would guess not, however this is a non-issue as you can use a preloader which looks better anyway.

    I?ve used SWFaddress, it is the best solution out there. But it?s still not great, and it?s not easy as opposed to HTML which is born with back button functionality.

    what wrong with it? takes very little effect to get working and you get the bonus of no unsightly page refreshes and time consuming page loads.

    yes, but I don?t think this?ll actually come in handy until we start seeing Adobe AIR applications pop up.

    you have lost me here! not sure what this has to do with AIR, i just meant you could replicate and enhance the standard right click context menu.

    For the record i am an web standards freak as much as the next guy but I do recognise the use of Flash . You say there is a time and place for Flash , but I am struggling to think of any better than an in-line sideshow. Full screen Flash site might well die (i think they should) but there is the rare occasion when they can be good – a photographs portfolio, a site aimed at engaging young children etc..

    Also what hasn’t been touched upon is for all the love AJAX gets people are making the exact same mistakes they make with Flash!

  9. Joen says:

    but you don?t have to use SWFObject

    In my experience, and despite what this post might suggest I create a lot of Flash, SWFObject is the best solution, all things considered. The JS requirement is rarely an issue.

    not sure, I would guess not, however this is a non-issue as you can use a preloader which looks better anyway.

    Maybe. In this case of the rewritten Flash slideshow, I think the fact that you see the pic start loading instantly helps the thing feel faster.

    what wrong with it? takes very little effect to get working and you get the bonus of no unsightly page refreshes and time consuming page loads.

    It took some effort on my part to get it to work. In this case, I have learned not to underestimate lazyness. If something takes just the slightest extra effort, I usually don’t do it. That means I only use SWFAddress when the site actually needs it.

    In the case of HTML (not AJAX), you automatically get it.

    Let’s be sure we’re on the same page though, deeplinking is only really necessary when Flash is used in conjunction with navigation and such…

    you have lost me here! not sure what this has to do with AIR, i just meant you could replicate and enhance the standard right click context menu.

    Well, I know that Flash 7 got the ability to do right click.

    But because there’s been no real use of this right click menu, people never try to right click on Flash contents. As such, you can’t put system critical items there, without having to educate people that “hey, try right clicking”. I can see the sense in adding a rightclick menu to youtube with the options “fullscreen” and “exit fullscreen”, but that’s about it.

    With AIR, on the other hand, you get a whole new metaphor and people HAVE to learn things anew. If the context menu is being used from the start, there’s a chance it’ll be useful.

    Also what hasn?t been touched upon is for all the love AJAX gets people are making the exact same mistakes they make with Flash!

    So true. Edit: by the way, the revamped slideshow is not using AJAX…

  10. Gareth says:

    great comments Joen, thanks 🙂 I think we are on the same page.

    I see your point on AIR.. I have used right click menus to replicate the Save As. and Open in New window functionality, but you probably right few would try it.

  11. mo says:

    I’ve read all the comments up till now and this has definitely been a worthwhile conversation. I also came across this page, which has some clarifying notes in the speed department.. (especially in the comments).

    I also visited Installments!

    haha.. that page always brings the wow and aww.. to me. =]

    really nice work.

    🙂

  12. mo says:

    I was browsing a flash photography website and I think I realized just now why ajax feels faster – I think it’s because of the html quality of it.. it loads as the page loads, each part separately.. you see a status bar que of the items loading and you know exatly what is being cached not just how much of it. It feels more interactive and you feel like you are more in control of the process that is taking place.

    I’m pretty sure that this can be also done in flash,

    45% percent done

    now loading someName.jpg..

    for example, but then I have also seen some more advanced JavaScript accompanied flash online which to me could mean status bar messages instead..

    I wonder how much of this feel is present in the non web designer world though.

    does it really make a difference in their experience (?)

    .

  13. mo says:

    looks like flickr has brought back the flash

    Gareth, I think the slideshow has always been flash well at least during the two years that I have been active on flickr.They have introduced a new version of the slideshow recently though which incorporated a more professional look and a black background. I really like the change – and I was wondering why they hadn’t done it earlier.

    Though Joen has mentioned the overlaying note viewer, and I have noticed the organizer more to java base.. the later being not so successful by my own experience – why change something that works perfectly?

    cheers,

  14. mo says:

    well if you can read past my typos… wasn’t on my computer xD

  15. Gareth says:

    opps, my mistake, thanks mo

  16. bramick says:

    What has the world come to?

    Joen was one of the first people to really got me interested in Flash. Turtleshell v1 and v2.. Those were the days, before we all got smart and realized sites like Google don’t like flash. Leave it to capitalism to kill Flash.. We all know it’s not going to be a bandwidth issue.

    But yes you are correct. There is a time and place for Flash.

  17. Joen says:

    Joen was one of the first people to really got me interested in Flash. Turtleshell v1 and v2.

    That’s far to kind of you to say. Thanks.

    I’d like to think I’m creating “better Flash” these days, and despite what impression you might get from my opinion of Flash, I still think there’s a definite place for it.

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