Flash has been having a hard time recently. Once loved by all for bringing motion, sound, interactivity and video to the masses it’s fallen out of favour as low powered smart phones and tablets become more common for web browsing and the excitement surrounding HTML5. However mobile browsing accounts for only 5% of all web browsing and some of those devices support Flash. This is a tiny percentage and shouldn’t be enough to put the world off Flash, sadly it seems to be another case of marking hype winning over reality. That being said I strongly believe in using the right tool for the right job and there are a lot of things once dominated by Flash that can now be handled just as well in the browser. Can the release of Flash 11 change people’s opinions?
By far the biggest change is Flash has entered the third dimension. Up until now to use 3D in Flash you needed to use a library such as Papervision3D. Stage3D is a new architecture for creating hardware accelerated ‘console quality’ 3D graphics. I’ve tried a few of the tech demos and have been very impressed. It’s Fast and can achieve some great looking results, however the browsers have WebGL, the open standards contender, up their sleeve which powered the recent ro.me website. From my research Stage3D seems to edge it performance wise and as it’s plug-in based will work in older browsers like IE8. Game developers are going to love Stage3D, and I think so are car websites who always jump on exciting new technologies, also e-commerce could be radically changed in how they show products.
Other improvements include boosted video capabilities such as high quality video streaming for conference and video chats as protected streams for easy and secure licensing. Native text input on mobile devices will improve usability on phones and tablets as will the general performance enhancements. Developers have lots to look forward to under the hood too.
I think that Flash needs to realise that it’s no longer loved the way it once once, but still has a place that it’s going to occupy for a very long time. If you want a super slick, website that integrates video, motion graphics, effects and quirky interactivity then there is nothing that matches it, however for most websites there are now better options. You can update Flash here.