Sometime I really get asked why I hate Flash? Question come from people not using Free Software and that "find Flash cool" because "it allow such cool things", or from people that clain that since it is really widespread, it can't be that bad... That last argument is seriously flawed, because viruses and spyware are really widespread, but they aren't any good. If that argument was true we would all be eating fecal matter.

Here is a summary:

  • Flash breaks the principle of hypertext because. It is often mis-used to replace HTML and/or pictures in an open format, and that complete breaks the principles of the World Wide Web set for hypertext navigation accross documents.

Can I use the File Format Specification to create a SWF interpreter or player?

No, the File Format Specification is provided for the specific purpose of enabling software applications to export to the Macromedia Flash File Format (SWF).

In short you can download it, but you can't use it to make your player. That breaks the rules about IETF standard or w3c standards. Wait. It isn't one, but some people tends to believe it is.

2 b. You agree that Macromedia may audit your use of the Software for compliance with these terms at any time, upon reasonable notice. In the event that such audit reveals any use of the Software by you other than in full compliance with the terms of this Agreement, you shall reimburse Macromedia for all reasonable expenses related to such audit in addition to any other liabilities you may incur as a result of such non-compliance.

Well not exactly, as it is only if you infringe their unclear licensing terms about usage. Unclear because they talk about desktop, not laptop, etc. And on the otherside, it is buggy, it crashes, it mess up with your sound card on Linux (freezing the browser), and stuff like that. Bad quality, that no one can fix.

I see people saying "But there are free (open source) Flash viewers!" As far as I know they don't even support correctly the previous format that were documented, and no one can't blame them. But it is useless as everything is Flash 6 or 7. If you want to know more go to Open Source Flash. I can see: Flirt which does not seems to be anywhere, GPL Flash which seems to have started again, swfdec that gstreamer use and that people seems to be happy with even if it is far from working everywhere, and gameswf which does support Flash 6 to some extent according to its own documentation... Don't take that as a bashing of these projects, it is not, and the only thing I can do is be pragmatic.

  • Flash does not make the content really accessible to people with visual deficiencies. That for all these website that think that it is a good idea to use Flash for navigation. And I'm talking about website from public institutions, those paid with tax payer money.
  • Flash does not cope well with search engine. Well I personnaly don't care, I don't use Flash, and don't intend to ever use it.

Some random googling bring some random and valid argument as well as examples: A well known camera manufacturer, about his product, even more goes to ask you about having it, while it should just "detect it". So much for marketing. Same marketing studies that show that 80% of the consumers hate Flash intros. I don't if it is true, but I'm one of these.

I really hope Adobe kick Flash to the curb with the merge. The only positive thing with Flash is that lot of ads are made with it, so without Flash I don't get bothered with the ads.

But how can we replace it?

  • For vector graphics, use SVG. But most of the time you shouldn't need vectors.
  • For images, JPEG. I have seen people using Flash to make slideshow of pictures...
  • For interactivity: HTML + CSS + JavaScript, w3 compliant.
  • For sound? Just don't. There is nothing more annoying than sounds on a webpage.

And the last question: when will Microsoft screw up things more by bringing their own version since they missed the Macromedia purchase deal?