Being in the internet industry (or outside of it, as well), its likely you’ve either heard people say they hate Flash often enough, or you yourself say it. But have you ever stopped to wonder at the hypocrisy and complete bias shown by this statement?
For the sake of full disclosure, I have a rather lengthy background in Flash and virtually all of Adobe’s product offerings. I no longer develop in it professionally, but have managed and ran extremely large Flash-based projects and products. I don’t hate Flash. Flash irritates me at some points, but most of those irritations are due to Adobe or the way some people write half-assed non-abstracted and poorly constructed code. But that doesn’t make me hate Flash.
What seems to make other people hate Flash, in my experience, is the use of Flash. Annoyingly in-your-face ads, being a resource constraint, significant browser bugs and crashes associated to poor implementations, to name only a few. There are plenty of reasons people say they hate Flash, but I have yet to hear of a single reason that is actually due to Flash. Every reason I have heard thus far is actually due to the underlying ways and reasons why that particular flash element was created or used (its buggy, its not optimized, it doesn’t use proper loading techniques to ensure speedy delivery and performance, etc.), or bad browser support. It’s just far easier to say “I hate Flash” than “The guy who wrote this AS code is a jerk, does he even know OOP? And why is this thing loading in 17mb of data on page load? And why isn’t the browser keeping its process cleaner than this? WTF?”
Nope, way easier to say “I hate Flash.”
What one has to realize is that “Flash” is now a media term, its a popular term in the common lexicon easily used by people who know almost nothing about computers, browsers, or the internet. Its the same with “OS” and “iOS,” they are just a minor sampling of what have become popular terms that the masses are exposed to, so now some guy who lives in his mom’s basement and still has to use a 40-year old 50lb. rotary phone from Ma Bell because he can’t figure out buttons can talk about Operating Systems.
So Flash is easier to single out, it’s more visible to people and can be pointed to more easily, I get that. But it is blaming the entire technology and platform based on marginal evidence and only sporadic issues, combined with perceived issues that are often due to having mass spyware on a machine, or bad JS/front-end code going on, or memory leaks, or just not really understanding what they are talking about.
What I do hate are things that are used without thought or diligence, bad code, memory leaks, inefficient and lazy code that cause sites to run slow or throw errors or generally kill my browsing experience. Flash doesn’t do that all on its own. Flash is no more guilty of that than any of the other elements or languages used in the browser or the browser itself. Otherwise, Flash doesn’t cause these issues for me until I hit a Flash element that seems to run and trace and profile/load like it was written by a monkey…or someone who works at an ad agency (the two are the same, really, monkeys and people who work at ad agencies… What?).
So what about people on Macs? Isn’t Flash unusable on Macs and causing everything to hang and lag and spawn little teeny tiny demon dwarven mages to wreak havoc upon one’s entire life, running all over the house and peeing in the mayonnaise and kicking the family furry pet right in the gonads just because one looked at a site that uses Flash on a Mac? Nope. Unless that person has no idea how that computer they’re using works or cannot differentiate between what they think Flash is doing that they hate versus what they don’t know that is doing what they hate. Or they’ve been cursed by a witch of some sort. In my experience, teeny tiny demon dwarven mages don’t do that to mayonnaise or pets unless they’ve been ordered to do so by magical incantations (don’t ask how I know that).
I’ve used Macs for years, worked on, built, lead, and maintained Flash heavy sites and platforms, I’ve met with and argued with Adobe multiple times about various uses and plans for Flash, Flex, ActionScript, and more, browsed and used Flash heavy sites (like most of the people on the web), etc. etc. The only problems I’ve had with Flash are related to some pretty annoying slip ups by Adobe, or horrible browser integration (I’m talking about you, Firefox, though IE and Safari have had more than a few moments), or (and this is far more common) Flash elements that are too slow, doing too much, and/or insanely badly written and thus badly performing. The technology, Flash itself, isn’t really to blame there, it’s the people who created and abused that technology by not applying solid design and engineering principles to its creation.
Then there’s the Steve Jobs factor. Some people just want to repeat whatever Steve Jobs says and he doesn’t like Flash all that much because it will completely ruin his slavery day App Store for the “iOS” devices, I get it. It’s easier than thinking on their own, for some people. I guess thinking can be hard, being informed about what one accuses is tough. One would have to actually understand what they are saying, and that’s not very American, that doesn’t taste like freedom. Plus Steve is bandied about in the media constantly, and looked up to by quite a few, so some people seem to think if they have the same opinions he does (or merely repeat what he says) then they are, by association and feigned like-mindedness, at Stevie’s level and made of smart. He’s popular these days, his mom thinks he’s special too, and he likes thinking for other people, so why not, right?
But for those who say they hate Flash, just make sure they are informed enough to even know what they are talking about before these accusations or generalizations are leveled, especially those neophytes out there who say they hate Flash. Being opinionated (especially negative opinions, in this country specifically), contrary to popular opinion, does not immediately make one an educated or informed person.