They have a fight, Standards Win

Like anyone at all involved in the business of making websites work, I’ve witnessed and participated in a number of intense debates this week regarding the future of Flash. Apple’s iPad will not be supporting Flash, and many have speculated that this is the beginning of the end for Flash. Others argue that Flash is going nowhere, saying that Adobe could turn the tables and destroy Apple in a heartbeat, simply by refusing to release new CS products for Mac. There are several excellent articles on both sides of the issue, but Jefferey Zeldman says it best:

“Lack of Flash in the iPad (and before that, in the iPhone) is a win for accessible, standards-based design. Not because Flash is bad, but because the increasing popularity of devices that don’t support Flash is going to force recalcitrant web developers to build the semantic HTML layer first.”

When Apple and Adobe fight, standards win. Sing that now to the tune of Particle Man by They Might Be Giants (and forget, like I did, about that hater Triangle Man always winning everything). Like the ubiquitous Particle Man, standards -should- be everywhere. Thanks to iPad, standards may finally begin to find the priority they should have had with every designer all along.

Developers will still use Flash, but they’ll have to use standards for their foundation. Without meaningful markup, a Flash site is just a castle in the clouds. Not everyone is capable of finding their way there.

Apple didn’t create this problem. Flash-only sites have been alienating audiences for more than a decade now. iPad will simply increase the number affected, and in the process will hopefully inspire these developers to come down to earth. Once their site does its job regardless of platform particulars, they can build from there as much as they’d like. Getting there might be a rough ride for the plugin-centric, but in the end the web just might be be a more stable place, and that benefits everyone.

6 thoughts on “They have a fight, Standards Win

  1. Stephen Yadzinski says:

    Excellent article. I wonder … it’s my understanding that Apple does not support Flash on its iPod/iPhone and now iPad because they consider it to be a competitor to it’s own Quicktime format. Will there be a time when Apple is forced to support Flash on its devices? Might there be grounds for an anti trust suit?

    It seems Apple may be aware of the legal implications, allowing a compromise of sorts for Flash developers: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-10367697-264.html?tag=newsLeadStoriesArea.1

    Is there consensus within the standards community on these points? Are the legal points considered?

    And to be clear …. viva la standards!

    Like

  2. Stephen Yadzinski says:

    Excellent article. I wonder … it’s my understanding that Apple does not support Flash on its iPod/iPhone and now iPad because they consider it to be a competitor to it’s own Quicktime format. Will there be a time when Apple is forced to support Flash on its devices? Might there be grounds for an anti trust suit?

    It seems Apple may be aware of the legal implications, allowing a compromise of sorts for Flash developers: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-10367697-264.html?tag=newsLeadStoriesArea.1

    Is there consensus within the standards community on these points? Are the legal points considered?

    And to be clear …. viva la standards!

    Like

  3. Kurt Griffith says:

    As a fellow designer, I seriously have a love/hate relationship with Flash. Can do some pretty things with it, but having to be a visual designer AND a serious wirehead programmer to get anything done in ActionScript 3 makes my eyes bleed and I sometimes howl with frustration with the product. But all those Flash interfaces, Flash sites, games and the not to be scoffed at 75% of Net Video is likely to be going away anytime soon. The majority of Web Users are indeed MEDIA CONSUMERS, not Creative sorts like us. The Audience that Steve and Apple squarely aimed the iPad at.

    Seriously, Window Media is a horrid format, and MS subtly sabotages Quicktime with every service pack, so Flash comes out the winner being installed in 90% of the worlds browser. Pain in the butt as it is, it mostly works.

    Of course Steve hates Flash, and it ain”t going into the iPhone OS anytime soon. Beyond tech issues, Steve is allergic to technologies they don’t control. And Apple has in recent years, very much de-emphasized the Creative Pros that were once their core market and most rabid supporters.

    But true, I will not be particularly sad to see Flash fade away. But like IE 6, it’s going to take a while.

    Like

  4. Kurt Griffith says:

    As a fellow designer, I seriously have a love/hate relationship with Flash. Can do some pretty things with it, but having to be a visual designer AND a serious wirehead programmer to get anything done in ActionScript 3 makes my eyes bleed and I sometimes howl with frustration with the product. But all those Flash interfaces, Flash sites, games and the not to be scoffed at 75% of Net Video is likely to be going away anytime soon. The majority of Web Users are indeed MEDIA CONSUMERS, not Creative sorts like us. The Audience that Steve and Apple squarely aimed the iPad at.

    Seriously, Window Media is a horrid format, and MS subtly sabotages Quicktime with every service pack, so Flash comes out the winner being installed in 90% of the worlds browser. Pain in the butt as it is, it mostly works.

    Of course Steve hates Flash, and it ain”t going into the iPhone OS anytime soon. Beyond tech issues, Steve is allergic to technologies they don’t control. And Apple has in recent years, very much de-emphasized the Creative Pros that were once their core market and most rabid supporters.

    But true, I will not be particularly sad to see Flash fade away. But like IE 6, it’s going to take a while.

    Like

  5. velda says:

    All I can say, is that with my Flex class kicking my can this semester, I’m wishing Flash would have faded away a while ago ;-)

    Like

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