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An Adobe Flash developer on why the iPad can’t use Flash

Daniel Eran Dilger

Morgan Adams, an interactive content developer who knows a lot about building Flash, wrote in with an interesting perspective on Flash and the iPad. The remainder of this piece is his comments on the subject.

Inside Apple’s iPad: Adobe Flash
I’m biased. I’m a full-time Flash developer and I’d love to get paid to make Flash sites for iPad. I want that to make sense—but it doesn’t. Flash on the iPad will not (and should not) happen—and the main reason, as I see it, is one that never gets talked about:

Current Flash sites could never be made work well on any touchscreen device, and this cannot be solved by Apple, Adobe, or magical new hardware.

That’s not because of slow mobile performance, battery drain or crashes. It’s because of the hover or mouseover problem.

Many (if not most) current Flash games, menus, and even video players require a visible mouse pointer. They are coded to rely on the difference between hovering over something (mouseover) vs. actually clicking. This distinction is not rare. It’s pervasive, fundamental to interactive design, and vital to the basic use of Flash content. New Flash content designed just for touchscreens can be done, but people want existing Flash sites to work. All of them—not just some here and there—and in a usable manner. That’s impossible no matter what.

All that Apple and Adobe could ever do is make current Flash content visible. It would be seen, but very often would not work. Users would hate that broken promise much more than they hate gaps in pages, missing banner ads, and the need to download a game once from the App Store instead of re-downloading it every time they visit a Flash game page.

Mouseover examples:

* Video players where the controls appear on mouseover and hide otherwise. (This seems to be the norm, in fact. Whereas a click on the same video does something different: usually Pause. Try Hulu for instance.)

* Games where you steer with the mouse without clicking (extremely common).

* Menus that popup up subpage links when you mouse over a main button, vs. going directly to a main category page when you click.

* Buttons that have important explanations/summaries on mouseover, which you need to understand before deciding what to click.

* Functions that use mouseover to preview and click to commit; such as choosing hair colors for an avatar: you mouse over the colors until your character looks the way you like, and then you click to commit.

* Maps and diagrams that don’t use click at all, but pop up info as you mouse around.

* Numerous other custom mouseover functions that “just work” with a mouse and need no explanation.

None of these things can work right with a finger (or traditional stylus) because on a touchscreen, pointing at something without clicking isn’t a mouseover: it’s just holding your finger vaguely in the air. The device doesn’t even know it’s happening.

In addition, some Flash sites rely on right-clicks (such as for security settings), and many rely on a physical keyboard. Especially games, which are the main kind of content people want from Flash. (I’d say video, except video can easily be done without Flash, and sites are increasingly doing so. Much of the video missing from your favorite Flash site is probably easily found on YouTube anyway.) Games often use realtime key control, requiring a distinction between a single press and a long hold, and including the need for chording. For instance: holding right arrow continuously to walk, while simultaneously hitting the space bar to fire, and either hitting up-arrow once to jump or holding up-arrow longer to jump higher. A touchscreen keyboard can’t handle these kinds of rapid, precise combinations well. And the keyboard would block the game view, too. Games on a touchscreen need controls suitable for a touchscreen (and/or tilt).

The only potential “solutions” to the mouseover problem are terrible ones:

A) The best case: every Flash app on every site is re-thought by its designers and re-coded by its programmers (if they’re even still available), just for touchscreens. They wouldn’t use mouseovers any more—or else they’d have dual versions of all Flash content, so that mouse users could still benefit from the mouseovers they are used to. That’s a ton of work across the Web, for thousands of parties, and just isn’t going to happen. Plus, with many sites, mouseovers are so fundamental that the very concept of the site would be altered, creating a whole different experience that would annoy and confuse the site’s existing users. (And would this be any easier than simply re-designing without Flash at all? Not always.)

B) Gestures, finger gymnastics or extra physical buttons are created that simulate mouseover—which is absurd since mouseovers, by their nature, are meant to be simpler than a click/tap, not more complex. And meant to be natural, not something new to learn. Not a whole set of habits that violates our desktop habits. And any additional complexity is unworkable when it comes to games: you need to react quickly and simply, not remember when to hold the Simulate Mouseover button, or use three fingers, or whatever. The game itself is enough to deal with. Anything on top of that takes away fun.

C) Make clicking itself—the fundamental, constantly-used action—MORE complex. Such as requiring a double-tap or two-finger tap before anything is registered. (Two taps is how Mobile Safari does JavaScript popup menus: the first tap pops it up, the second selects.) But many Flash apps and games already use double-click (or rapid-fire clicking) for other things. Extra taps only make sense for certain limited situations (like menu popups). And it’s not just clicking: you have to allow for movement: dragging vs. a moving mouseover. And even if a system could be created that was quick and simple enough to do all this in the middle of a game, how would the user know which parts of a web page played by these special rules? One part of a page (the Flash elements) would do fundamental things like scrolling or link-clicking differently from the rest of the page! (Not to mention the rest of your touch-based apps.)

D) Have a visible mouse pointer near your finger, and not interact with things directly. Use Apple track-pad style tap-and-drag gestures, as seen in some VNC clients. This kind of indirect control violates the very principle of direct touch manipulation. This is making the touchscreen be something “like a laptop but worse” and has little reason to exist. And again, you’d have to keep remembering whether you were in direct touch mode or “drag the arrow” mode, and which parts of the page behaved in which way.

E) Require extra force for a “real” tap. So you’d have to learn habits for a light tap vs. a hard tap. This extra complexity is non-intuitive, cramp-inducing, and easy for the user to get wrong (even with click feedback, as in RIM’s failed BlackBerry SurePress experiment). This complicates the whole device just for the sake of one browser plugin, and makes it more expensive to build.

So it’s not just that Apple has refused to support Flash. It cannot, logically, be done. A finger is not a mouse, and Flash sites are designed to require a mouse pointer (and keyboard) in fundamental ways. Someday that may change, and every Flash site could be redesigned with touch-friendly Flash. But that doesn’t make Flash sites work now.

Even if slow performance, battery drain and crashes weren’t problems with Flash (and they truly are), nothing can give users of any touchscreen, from any company, an acceptable experience with today’s Flash sites. The thing so many complainers want is simply an impossibility.

By the way, imagine my embarrassment as a Flash developer when my own animated site wouldn’t work on the newfangled iPhone! So I sat down and made new animations using WebKit’s CSS animation abilities. Now desktop users still see Flash at adamsi.com, but iPhone users see animations too. It can be done.

Morgan Adams, adamsimmersive
interactive design and games


1 uberVU - social comments { 02.20.10 at 4:43 pm }

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by DanielEran: New: An Adobe Flash developer on why the iPad can’t use Flash – http://tinyurl.com/yfzqcyc

2 jomi { 02.20.10 at 5:03 pm }

What about the most obvious solution: A single tap means a “click” while holding the finger down for a moment means “hover”.

The same principle is already used in many ways in Mac OS X (e.g. on the current MBP, when pressing F4, Dashboard pops up and disappears when pressing F4 a second time. However, if you press and hold F4 for a short time, Dashboard pops up, stays on screen while F4 is pressed and disappears when F4 is released…)

“* Functions that use mouseover to preview and click to commit; such as choosing hair colors for an avatar: you mouse over the colors until your character looks the way you like, and then you click to commit.”

Well, guess what? The iPhone OS has used the principle explained above in exactly such a situation: In the keyboard. Just tap and hold the letter a…

So, although partly true, some arguments in this post don’t sound very knowledgeable…

3 bartfat { 02.20.10 at 5:16 pm }

Actually, tapping and holding a website is already used in Mobile Safari. It scrolls the page. So that wouldn’t work, because you can’t assign two different functions to the same control. So in reality, Flash sites will have to be rethought from the ground up to be built using touchscreen principles. If you’re rebuilding the whole site anyway, why not just use CSS animations instead of relying on a proprietary plugin?

Great article Dan, got me thinking on why Flash isn’t practical on a touchscreen.

4 nat { 02.20.10 at 5:53 pm }

Actually, tapping and holding a website is already used in Mobile Safari. It scrolls the page.

And if we want to get even more technical, scrolling the page is done by vertical swiping.

Tapping-and-holding in MobileSafari is used for magnifying/selecting text and/or choosing other contextual options, e.g. tapping-and-holding a link to copy it or open it in another browser window.

So, when interacting with Flash on an iPhoneOS device like the iPad, the user would be expecting to select text or pictures and instead would get some weird onscreen cursor.

Morgan’s email further demonstrates that even if Apple allowed Flash on the iPhone or iPad, most of Flash’s unique applications that can’t yet be replicated with things like JavaScript simply would not make sense on a multitouch device.

Fortunately, those unique Flash applications are 1) in the minority, 2) may be largely duplicable with HTML5 canvas, 3) ported to iPad using Adobe’s Packager for iPhone, or 4) rewritten from the ground up as native apps. The most common uses of Flash on the web—video, ads, and relatively simple menus—can be done in JavaScript and H.264 video.

Here are two examples of what Packager for iPhone can do:

Simple Metronome (if you don’t want iTunes to launch, copy/paste this link into the address bar and hit Return):

Wired-Adobe’s digital version of Wired (the text of the article even mentions the iPad by name, twice):

Thanks for posting this, Dan.

5 lmasanti { 02.20.10 at 6:03 pm }

Flash could become the “new IE6,” as there are lots of sites that uses it and will break if Flash disappears, people do not move away from Flash.

Maybe, in no so time , we’ll forget of Flash as we already forgot of diskettes… But it took the guts from Apple to build a diskette-less iMac first!

6 davesmall { 02.20.10 at 6:20 pm }

So how are they handling these issues on the Nexus One and other touch screen iPhone knock-offs that are supporting Flash?

7 t0m { 02.20.10 at 6:40 pm }

Holding a finger down currently (over a picture ) brings up the save option. Moving your finger around once it’s held down cues the copy blue box to work. Apple’s not going to let Flash muddy the UI waters on this one.

8 ianf { 02.20.10 at 6:40 pm }

Morgan Adams’ objections are so insurmountably valid, that one has to ask why hasn’t Adobe, present owners of Flash, seen it coming and/or done something about it. After all, it’s not like they were entirely unaware of –from their point of view– limitations of touchscreen interfaces prior to launch of the iPhone (2007). If transition [to a potential touchscreen-aware Flash] handled right, the triggering functions of present MouseOver and similar could probably be assigned to other events and common gestures. ActionScript would have to be extended to recognize multitouch patterns and the Flash as a whole “learn” to accept input from e.g. device tilting, shaking, compass-alignment, and other tactile entry methods. Adobe KNEW the premises, yet they didn’t lift a finger[sic!], and kept schtum. Why? What did they hope(d) to accomplish by making Apple shoulder the blame for Flash’s absence on iPhone when they already knew the score?

9 ianf { 02.20.10 at 6:53 pm }

@davesmall : badly. And then mainly for presentational, chiefly ad use, where the sole permitted interaction is of the MouseDown = SingleFingerTap type.

10 David Dennis { 02.20.10 at 7:24 pm }

Jomi, the problem with this is that the hover is truly a casual gesture. You move your mouse over an object and something changes, usually immediately. So in web pages that use this, when you hover over a link it changes color, indicating that it can be clicked. To require a press for any kind of hover action clearly does not make sense.

You will note that iPhone simply does not support the a:hover construct in CSS.

It’s true that you could tap and hold something. But generally the amount of time it takes to register a tap and hold is very long compared to the amount of time you would want to wait for a “hovered” element to pop up. Apple has done this in lieu of right clicks for a long time, and it drove me nuts when I still used a one-button mouse. Much easier to Option-Click on the Mac than to hold a key down that long.


11 carlo.98 { 02.20.10 at 7:42 pm }

This article reminded me of this: http://counternotions.com/2008/06/17/flash-iphone/

12 cy_starkman { 02.20.10 at 8:57 pm }

Thanks, I had not thought of these deeper UI issues, just the hoggy nature of it. Oh that and I block all flash on desktop anyway, why pay for data to be shown ads.

13 WebManWalking { 02.20.10 at 9:34 pm }

Morgan Adams, do you, by any chance, live in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC?

Just curious.

14 markhayden { 02.21.10 at 12:28 am }

I think everyone has some good insights but realistically if Apple wanted to support flash they could easily integrate a touch pad that slides up on the screen similar to the keyboard. It would not be optimal but it would be sufficient to give users the ability to view flash content. I think its a very bold and daring move to exclude flash since a majority of the web utilizes it in some way, shape or form. Its clear that things are moving from flash but in my opinion viewers are not quite ready to cut it out completely. Long story short I think it will kill the iPad. You can’t have “the best” web experience without flash as of now.

15 === popurls.com === popular today { 02.21.10 at 12:48 am }

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yeah! this story has entered the popular today section on popurls.com…

16 beanie { 02.21.10 at 1:05 am }

Flash 10.1 (next version) will have multi-touch, gesture, accelerometer support and run on mobile phones. Seems like almost every major phone manufacture has agreed to support it except Apple. Seems like a killer app to me.

Most active Flash sites force you to install the latest runtime. When Flash 10.1 is released, watch how active Flash sites will probably be updated to support new features such as screen rotation, accelerometer, and mult-touch.

So what Hulu’s current video player uses hover. Obviously, they will update their video player to support Flash on mobiles when 10.1 comes out. As will most other active Flash video sites.

Anyway, the iPhone/iPad user should decide to use Flash or not instead of Apple deciding for everyone. Apple just wants total control of the content. So if the user do not like Flash then do not use it. Apple lets a bunch of crap in the App Store and lets users decide to use it or not.

17 Pacific Tides » When Hover Becomes a Drag { 02.21.10 at 1:17 am }

[...] at Roughly Drafted is a very interesting article about the UI issues of having Flash on a touch screen [...]

18 ianf { 02.21.10 at 1:38 am }

OK, you’re the man, beanie. Let’s say Apple lets Flash loose on the iPhone, ‘Touch and iPad (and potential future devices). Day 1 we get to read how millions of end-users’ fav. games, written but not updated for the new version, open but do not run properly. All that works are splash screens and animated banner ads. Day 2 is more of the same. Day 3 the search for the guilty party begins. Day 4 various self-styled pundits all over the blogosphere explain how Apple is to be blamed for not having equipped the iPhone with even the tiniest of mouses. So that existing stock of trashy shoot-em-ups could run on users’ new pricy iPhones. All 40 minutes of it on full battery, but, hey! it’s their CHOICE, innit?

19 I Am Not an Animal - I'm a Flash Developer - Page 2 - MacTalk Forums { 02.21.10 at 2:21 am }

[...] another Flash developer who has a very good reason why Flash will never really work on the iPad.. An Adobe Flash developer on why the iPad can’t use Flash — RoughlyDrafted Magazine __________________ Aluminium MacBook 2.0Ghz / iPhone 3GS 32Gb and 3Gb 16Gb / iMac G5 rev B My [...]

20 nothingGrinder { 02.21.10 at 2:40 am }

1. Building an overlay controller for your game solves all of the problems you discuss.

2. Use of proper OOP practices should allow you to port your Flash projects to new screens without the need to modify the existing code.

3. Anything older than AS2 should be reprogrammed anyway. Event AS2 should be reported or reprogrammed for AS3 and Flash Player 10. If you are still trying to make money on games created years ago then you have lost sight of Adobe’s vision for Flash.

There are so many excuses for being a lazy programmer. We are Flash developers and we should be trying to prove to the world that Flash is worth the struggle of its learning curve. Adobe has gone to great lengths to bring Flash back to the top of the web game over the years. They fought through all the “Flash is crap” hype in the 90s and they will continue their fight against all the “Flash is dead” rumors happening today.

Flash is the future of the internet. Adobe’s partnerships with Google, Microsoft, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and everyone in the Open Screen Project is proof. The only one left out of the entire deal is Apple.

Open hardware is the way of the future. Google has proven this by giving away free Nexus One phones to thousands of people all over the world. Apple needs to realize that Flash is now the leading web technology and as Flash developers, we need to knuckle down and start porting our old projects for touch devices.

21 Berend Schotanus { 02.21.10 at 2:57 am }

Great post! I didn’t think of it. It makes so perfectly sense.

Yet the problem is not just a Flash problem, it is there in HTML as well (be it to a lesser extent). Fundamentally it means that content must be designed with regard to interface. We can distinguish:
- “Classical” GUI desktop metaphor with keyboard and mouse.
- Portable touch device with motion sensor, GPS, compass, …
- TV + remote with DVD-type interface where iTunes LP/extra seems to be targeted at.

and of course we also still have the non-interactive interfaces like print and cinema.

22 iPad y el Flash según desarrollador Flash « bitaminados { 02.21.10 at 6:51 am }

[...] Las razones que da no tienen nada que ver con el ahorro de batería o por el uso excesivo del procesador por parte de las aplicaciones Flash, argumentos muy utilizados por Apple, sino más bien porque el mayor problema del Flash lo tiene con cualquier terminal de tecnología tátcil por culpa de no tener puntero como el del ratón en los ordenadores tradicionales. [...]

23 Dorian { 02.21.10 at 6:52 am }

Good point! I agree that the experience of Flash content in the iPad browser would probably be very unsatisfying with most of the existing content. So even as a Flash/Flex developer I think it is not too bad to be forced to switch to HTML5 for interactive apps on websites. It makes a lot of sense on the long run.
The real problem in my eyes is that as of now there are no professional tools for interactive developers to create the same stuff in HTML5/Javascript that they used to make in Flash. I wrote down my thoughts about this here:

24 FreeRange { 02.21.10 at 7:01 am }

@Beanie – Yes beanie, we can read adobe’s vaporware statements as well. The reality is that even with the new version of flash (10.1) there will be a ridiculous amount of overhead that is going to drastically impede performance and suck the life out of batteries. What needs to happen is for flash to die a quick death while better, more efficient open standards take hold. What Apple needs to do is not give the consumer “choice” but to hold their ground to force this pig out of the market. If people will stop building sites with this bloated crap, we’d all be better off.

25 screaser { 02.21.10 at 7:12 am }

Excellent points.

Might be a tiny hole in the logic behind “no tablet, ever” — there are several companies working on proximity sensing tablets (including Apple, according to one patent filing).

It’s conceivable that a proximity sensing tablet could let you “mouseover” by moving around within say an inch of the screen, with intelligent software to detect the difference between mouseover-type activity and coming in to tap.

26 mhodges { 02.21.10 at 7:31 am }

Is this a good argument? Basically, it says: flash should not be allowed on iPad/iPhone because some sites–those sites not properly designed for multi-touch, won’t work. But what’s a better experience: to prevent access to ALL flash sites? Or allow flash so we can at least access the sites that DO work?

It seems like flash image galleries, like Autoviewer (which I use on tokyorealtime.com), could work on iPhone/iPad without any of the problems he talking about which affect games. Or am I wrong? There are other kinds of flash content, like animations and banner ads, which are not interactive at all. Who knows what kind of dynamic content the marketplace would create specifically for the iPhone if Flash were allowed.

I think the real reason is very simply: allow Flash on the iPhone and apps could be created in flash and sold through some 3rd-party, cutting Apple out of the vertically integrated monopoly they create with these devices as platforms for official App store software….

27 if { 02.21.10 at 7:53 am }

I agree the interface to flash is a problem. Hover isn’t the only major problem and is likely to be easier to fix that the other one (press to hover, release to click, like the iPhone/iPad keyboard).

The bigger problem I see for mobile devices esp smartphones and Flash is the small screen size results in small touch targets, and that a finger held to a screen obscures what is underneath — unlike a mouse pointer — and this becomes much more the smaller the screen size. Last major issue I see is processing power. Phones and tablets are becoming smarter and faster, but so are computers, and the gap will remain. So, any Flash app or game built for a computer that uses all that power will deliver an uneven experience, or flat not work, on a mobile device. Flash is nice, but the UI should have “flashblock-style” click to activate, should suspend if a window/tab is not foreground, and needs to have some clever zoom controls to make touch point interaction easier. There’s a lot to do to make Flash usable.

Last thought – have a look at the HTC Hero and Nokia n900 is you want evidence for the difficulties of putting Flash on mobile devices. I have tested both. My thoughts here are based on that testing!!!

28 Donald { 02.21.10 at 8:28 am }

Mouse-over-activated pop-ups are becoming too common as annoying occurrences in content sections of websites (i.e., sections apart from overt advertisements, graphic hyperlinks, and games). In the past, we could have a fairly reasonable expectation that pop-ups or menus only appeared when the mouse was moved over a graphic or word that was clearly identified as being a menu or hyperlink. (You moved your mouse to point at something that was either pre-identified as a hotspot or became highlighted in some way when hovered above.) Not anymore. Nowadays you can hardly move your mouse anywhere without something popping up! I would love to see that change.

29 stefn { 02.21.10 at 9:02 am }

The HTML5 train is leaving the station; I don’t want Apple to stand there waving goodbye. Leadership is the ability to get folks to places they would not go otherwise simply out of fear of change. Apple has often led (GUI, USB, iTunes, Multitouch) the way out of dead-ended technologies. Flash is one more example.

30 tfk { 02.21.10 at 9:02 am }

Regardless of the platform used, Flash. HTML5, isn’t there a problem if there’s isn’t an agreed upon convention of what touch signals translate to what action across Apple’s, Android’s, Nokia’s, Samsung’s, etc. operating systems developers will have a major problem. They’ll have to develop different version of heir apps for every different OS. It will be difficult unless the companies can agree on a common convention which will involve these companies giving away or cross licensing a lot of touch IP. Then you have the the problem of transitioning to the next generation “Majority Report” input mode.

31 Beto { 02.21.10 at 9:33 am }

This must be the most compelling, rock-solid reason on why the iPad won’t do Flash. Flash, as a developing platform, is too invested on the mouse as interface paradigm. And as we’re headed towards a mouseless UI paradigm (touch), Flash development will increasingly make less sense. Could the millions of Flash sites out there be rebuilt to embrace touch conventions and standards? Theorically, yes. But will it ever be realistically done? No way. Not even if that translated into a new business opportunity. Developing for Flash will eventually become as backwards as developing for IE6 nowadays.

32 Flash & the iPad – Fundamental Problem | Mac Fanatic { 02.21.10 at 9:55 am }

[...] Roughly Drafted Magazine has published an article with a few more technical details and insight into the problem and I encourage you to read it.  With all the buzz about Flash, HTML5 and Apple, the more educated you are on the matter, the better. February 21, 2010 11:55 am Add a comment Under: Articles, News Share and Enjoy: [...]

33 Technical Perspective – Why iPad can’t use Flash « Calathus Blog { 02.21.10 at 10:13 am }

[...] Technical Perspective – Why iPad can’t use Flash Posted on February 21, 2010 by mukesh51 There have been a lot of buzz around, why Apple won’t allow Flash to be on any of its gadgets. There have been a lot of blame game going on from being Memory Hog to battery drainage, slowness etc etc. But i still wondered, why can’t these two companies, come together and work out the issues. I read this  interesting  article from Daniel Eran Dilger. He talks about the technical aspects as to why iPad can’t use flash and why either of these companies can’t resolve the issue. Read the full article here. [...]

34 al2o3cr { 02.21.10 at 10:17 am }

@mhodges: the gallery you’ve linked to is a perfect example. There’s absolutely no reason that you couldn’t get the exact same functionality with standard JS. As for banner ads, the less time Apple spends helping advertisers puke annoying garbage onto my phone the better…

35 Gophero { 02.21.10 at 10:18 am }

So… let me get this straight… instead of recoding or redesigning some of the Flash content that won’t work with touchscreens like the iPad, we should redesign all of the Flash content to use something else so it can be seen on the iPad.
Hey, sounds like more jobs to me. Yay, it’s economic stimulus!

[Yes, you got it. Instead of completely redeveloping tons of legacy content created in Flash, developers should move to open web standards moving forward. And that way, the 70-something million iPhone/iPod touch users will be able to see their work. - Dan]

36 pks4» Blog Archive » Linkpost | 2.21.2010 { 02.21.10 at 10:20 am }

[...] An Adobe Flash developer on why the iPad can’t use Flash – Big problem: The way Flash applications react to the mouse cursor. On a touch-based device, [...]

37 Gophero { 02.21.10 at 10:42 am }

Saying that you shouldn’t have Flash because some of the content won’t work right is like saying you shouldn’t have an Internet browser because some of the pages contain Flash.
I fully support developers moving to other standards but the conversion of all content is not going to happen rapidly.
The only reason the lack of Flash support is such a big deal is that Steve Jobs claimed that the iPad would be the “ultimate browsing experience.” Clearly this isn’t the case when Flash has such a significant penetration in TODAY’s Internet. Even the first promo video demonstrating the iPad contained a website that had Flash content on it.
The big difference between the iPod touch/iPhone and the iPad is that most people use the former for a little browsing and a lot of apps, whereas people are likely to want to do a lot more browsing on the iPad and expect a more desktop-like experience.

38 bananaboy { 02.21.10 at 10:50 am }

I suspect you may not fully comprehend the meaning of the word “proof”.

“Flash is the future of the internet. Adobe’s partnerships with Google, Microsoft, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and everyone in the Open Screen Project is proof.”

The Open Screen Project is neither open, nor the prove that Flash is the future of the Internet. In fact it looks to me like the big proprietary (not open) technology holders trying to bribe more devs into hanging around their sinking ship.

And yes, I said it. Sinking. It’s been that way for years, and the biggest smartphone and tablet platform to hit the market in years forsaking it merely seals its fate.

“Open hardware is the way of the future. Google has proven this by giving away free Nexus One phones to thousands of people all over the world.”

And should I even be asking why you think Google handing out free phones establishes open hardware as the way of the future? And by the way, which part of the Nexus One’s hardware currently are you referring to as “open”?

39 nat { 02.21.10 at 10:51 am }

@ mhodges

It seems like flash image galleries, like Autoviewer (which I use on tokyorealtime.com), could work on iPhone/iPad without any of the problems he talking about which affect games. Or am I wrong? There are other kinds of flash content, like animations and banner ads, which are not interactive at all.

The instances you list where Flash would work on touch-based devices like the iPad—non-interactive ads, videos, simple navigational menus and galleries—can be done just as well or better using JavaScript/CSS and H.264 video.

@ nothingGrinder

Adobe has gone to great lengths to bring Flash back to the top of the web game over the years.

Adobe hasn’t been the scrappy underdog since the ’90s.

Flash is the future of the internet. Adobe’s partnerships with Google, Microsoft, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and everyone in the Open Screen Project is proof. The only one left out of the entire deal is Apple.

Actually, no. Flash is the de facto way to deliver video and ads on the desktop Web, yes, but it has no such grasp on mobiles. Flash Lite != Desktop Flash.

And there’s a big difference between Google, Palm and RIM saying they’ll support Flash 10.1 and actually doing it and an even more crucial difference between allowing users to install Flash 10.1 and actually shipping it on their phones/with their OSs. Then there’s the fact the smartphone platform with the lion’s share of the mobile web share pie—iPhoneOS—does not and very likely will never allow Flash.

40 iPhone et iPad : quelques raisons techniques à la non intégration de Flash - TechnoManiac, technologies et gadgets utiles ou futiles - Blog LeMonde.fr { 02.21.10 at 11:06 am }

[...] d’informations (en anglais) : RoughlyDrafted Partager et [...]

41 mhodges { 02.21.10 at 11:15 am }

nat wrote, “The instances you list where Flash would work on touch-based devices like the iPad—non-interactive ads, videos, simple navigational menus and galleries—can be done just as well or better using JavaScript/CSS and H.264 video.”

OK, but what’s your point? My website uses a flash slideshow (autoviewer: http://www.tokyorealtime.com). You have any idea how I can use JavaScript/CSS and video to get the same functionality and performance?Both from the user experience and from my point of view as someone who can edit this slideshow by uploading an image and modifying the xml? Don’t you think it sucks that countless people need to hire programmers and spend countless hours to re-design and write new code to get existing content to work on these new devices?

42 stefn { 02.21.10 at 11:30 am }

HTML5 equals mouseless, mobile, open standards. I get it. So does Apple.

43 Gophero { 02.21.10 at 11:42 am }

stefn wrote “HTML5 equals mouseless, mobile, open standards. I get it. So does Apple.”

Well, one out of three aint bad, right? At least it’s the good one – open source. Oh wait, it’s only developers who get excited about that, isn’t it?

I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned yet, but HTML5 supports mouseover as well so you can just as easily create new websites without flash that still don’t work well with the iPad. In fact, if you check out YouTube’s HTML5 beta, it uses mouseover.

44 mhodges { 02.21.10 at 11:58 am }

well, this is what you get when you buy devices that limit your experience of the web by only allowing access to bits and parts of it.

The iPhone also doesn’t let you install another browser right? It doesn’t let you download any software not sold by Apple, nor does it allow you to download audio or video into your device’s library.

The iPhone, Kindle and XBOX stifle innovation, in that there may be new and better ways of delivering content–be it dynamic website content, games, videos, or music–but those new technologies and services are denied access to the marketplace. The computers and the internet were built on open standards, but these new devices threaten the kind of innovation that’s gotten us to this point.

45 dallasmay { 02.21.10 at 12:17 pm }
46 fmlogue { 02.21.10 at 12:18 pm }

nothingGrinder, Adobe didn’t own Flash in the 90′s. Get your facts straight if you want your comments to be taken seriously.

47 nat { 02.21.10 at 1:00 pm }

@ mhodges

I was too brief and you bring up an understandable point but it’s a point only web developers will recognize. Users simply see a blue square with a “?” on it or, in the case of your site, nothing:

Did you code the non-Flash image galleries that are also on the front page? If Adobe Dreamweaver or some similar program was used to create those, then I think that’s the answer.

As someone said, “[Adobe] isn’t in the Photoshop business, or the Acrobat business, or the [take-your-pick product name] business, either.

It’s in the helping people communicate business.”

Right now, Adobe isn’t offering tools for creating HTML5 sites. Right now. In a couple years from now (I would bet less) and Apple still hasn’t allowed Flash on the iPhone and iPad, I think Adobe will adapt.

48 miloh { 02.21.10 at 1:43 pm }


“Don’t you think it sucks that countless people need to hire programmers and spend countless hours to re-design and write new code to get existing content to work on these new devices?”

Yes, it does suck, but it’s a risk one takes when adopting any technology.

49 hd1080i { 02.21.10 at 1:55 pm }

Keep up the good work, finally someone with functional braincells is speaking out.
However i would like to adjust your knowlege a bit, i own several touch screens, code flash and am in the CS5 preview using packager. I suspect you are not in the adobe preview program and therefore dont know a couple things that will help you do what you are doing very well.

1) touch strokes and mouse emulations are in fact all available in 10.1 ( a real 10.1 – with the authoring and compiling to use it )
NDA prevents me from saying more, but i did make a demo you should see
http://www.lookbookhd.com = a focus group test flash magazine
from http://ctndigital.com/ctnd/video/
touchscreen video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKllsUmagck same book but its win7 HP and a bit different than apple. ( sorry about the quality, was cramped for time )

The Apple SDK is supported in the Packager part of CS5 flash pro, and 10.1 which you cant really see because its not released or IMHO ready enough anyhow, will multitouch.

Most all of your observations are quite good, especially since neither you or i have an iPad yet to really wring this stuff out, relying only on info available right now is very hard to do well.

I wil help in any way i can so you can nail this stuff, code a test or make a video of real actions for you, i think it matters and honestly i think we all need you to keep doing what you do.

– jeff johnson ctndigital

50 SteveBaumann { 02.21.10 at 1:57 pm }

It seems that Flash (or CSS, or [insert favorite web technology here] ) is not what needs to be rethought, but how device makers with touchscreens implement sufficient UI controls for users. An easy way to remedy the mouse-over / hover problem would be to include a cursor button (say, next to the text entry button that brings up the on-screen keyboard) as part of the UI. When you click this UI element, a cursor appears, which you can drag around with your finger, like on a touchpad. Perhaps it could even be programmed to appear by default when the device observes appropriate content on the screen, giving the user the ability to go back to ‘normal’ non-cursor mode if they chose to. Although this may not be considered the most elegant way to go about it, it seems that if there is a substantial amount of content and applications out there that require this type of interaction, then it is the responsibility of device makers to enable their users to interact with it, just as no PC maker would sell a PC without USB ports (or formerly ps/2) ports for plugging in a mouse and keyboard. No one would buy the damn thing, but more importantly, it makes the content that could be accessed by that device less valuable as a whole, just a giving users MORE ways to interact with content makes the content more valuable as a whole.

51 Gophero { 02.21.10 at 2:06 pm }

“Yes, it does suck, but it’s a risk one takes when adopting any technology.”

No that isn’t a risk with just any technology. Particularly less so with technology of this sort where the lack of compatibility isn’t necessary to force improvement.

Asking for Flash isn’t asking for backward compatibility or legacy support. It’s asking for support for a current, widely used medium.

When Apple brought out the iMac with no floppy drive (which is Steve Jobs’ own analogy to dropping Flash), the floppy drive was a nearly dead technology that had no real avenue for improvement and dwindling demand. Flash, being software, doesn’t have these limitations and still continues to grow in its online presence so this is a very poor comparison.

52 dallasmay { 02.21.10 at 2:15 pm }
53 brainspin { 02.21.10 at 2:23 pm }

Mouseover, nice, but should that be the only (major) way? What happened to accessibility…This looks like the same arguments around single mouse button vs two mouse buttons(with l/r), no proper answers just usability preferences galore.

54 miloh { 02.21.10 at 3:03 pm }


“… it seems that if there is a substantial amount of content and applications out there that require this type of interaction, then it is the responsibility of device makers to enable their users to interact with it …”

Why is it their responsibility? Why can’t they choose to do something different? Why are they obligated to follow the herd?

55 miloh { 02.21.10 at 3:12 pm }


“No that isn’t a risk with just any technology. Particularly less so with technology of this sort where the lack of compatibility isn’t necessary to force improvement.”

When adopting any technology, there’s always a risk that it will one day cease to be as useful as it once was. If one ignores this risk and does not plan for it, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

56 nat { 02.21.10 at 3:24 pm }

@ SteveBaumann

An easy way to remedy the mouse-over / hover problem would be to include a cursor button

From a software engineering standpoint, that’s an easy solution. From an end-user standpoint, it’s clumsy and antithetical to what the user is accustomed to in the rest of the system, which is direct multi-touch manipulation.

Mouse-over has no relevance in an environment designed for direct touch. The closest analog is clicking on a JavaScript menu element that pops up info or expands into a menu/list.

Maybe one day Apple will provide mouse support, but I guarantee you it won’t work like it does in a windowed desktop environment of today. At the very most it would simply replicate a finger hovering millimeters above the display’s surface.

That or touch screens with proximity sensors that detect the user’s fingers hovering over the display will be invented, in which case: problem solved, without an awkward visible onscreen cursor.

Devices like the iPhone and the iPad are mobile, personal devices that you operate primarily while holding them in your hand(s). If you just have to have mouse-over, there are netbooks, laptops, desktops or those same old tablet PCs that never took off in any major capacity. For large scale computing of the future, things like this will probably become the norm:

it seems that if there is a substantial amount of content and applications out there that require this type of interaction

If that were true for mobile touch-based devices, how do you explain the runaway success of the iPhone (and lesser but increasing success of Android phones and Palm’s webOS devices), which doesn’t run existing Windows, Mac or Linux mouse/keyboard-based software?

57 So Long, Flash « Asymco { 02.21.10 at 4:21 pm }

[...] 21, 2010 by asymco A devastating exposé on the incompatibility of Flash content with touchscreens. Many (if not most) current Flash games, [...]

58 eddieclay { 02.21.10 at 4:32 pm }

@screaser – Your the only one here with a clue and has some knowledge
@nat – your the only other one with a clue

All this is very solvable, and has been, with proximity. Its technology from the 1990′s and Apple actually has additional patents on multitouch for this…they originally believed touch devices HAD to have proximity for usability issues (i.e. provide hints/indication back to user before touch). A major lawsuit was won over Microsoft over this area of technology. It could be why Apple is waiting. The core invention of using a stylus (whether its a finger or not) with a rich interface for direct manipulation and gesturing using proximity was patented and is own by Lucent (from the GO/PenPoint days). Microsoft has lost millions and millions on this…that patent should expire next year.

59 eddieclay { 02.21.10 at 4:32 pm }

I should add though, the other problems with Flash that Jobs outlined are still valid.

60 wizard288 { 02.21.10 at 5:02 pm }

So I wonder how this will be handled on, say, the HP Slate, which has full Windows 7 and thus can run Flash, play hulu video, etc.

[Once sales of the HP Slate explode into the stratosphere, we can all contemplate how the company innovated by bring the Flash platform to tablet devices that are thick as a laptop. - Dan]

61 Silver { 02.21.10 at 6:20 pm }

“missing banner ads”

Users don’t hate missing banner ads. They love them! That’s why people install FlashBlock and ClickToFlash in their browsers!

62 Silver { 02.21.10 at 6:20 pm }

I mean users don’t hate the gaps. They love gaps instead of ads.

63 dom { 02.21.10 at 6:22 pm }

The mouseover could be easily simulated with a two fingers touch…

[Try explaining to your mother that not clicking while moving the mouse pointer in a Flash game is represented by touching with two fingers.

What's up with people's fervent interest in promoting Flash as if it were something other than a mistake on the web? - Dan]

64 stevesydney { 02.21.10 at 8:17 pm }

This just highlights that Flash isn’t the problem, it’s design.

[Actually, the problem is the design of Flash, and that, as is the case with any software platform that runs across multiple vendor's devices, proprietary binaries are not better than open web standards. The same applies to Silverlight. - Dan]

65 snood { 02.21.10 at 8:39 pm }

Now that the screen is much bigger – couldn’t you just designate a part of the screen as a trackpad with buttons below it and drive a visible mouse pointer that way? Anyone with a laptop is used to that.

[Are you seriously wondering why Apple isn't trying to emulate a laptop trackpad with half the multitouch display in order to get the iPad to run Flash in some quirky hack way? Because that is mind-boggling. - Dan]

66 Bjartr { 02.21.10 at 9:19 pm }

Actually, my laptop’s touchscreen differentiates between a press and a motion, so I can e.g. touch the close button of a window and immediately drag away from it and it won’t close. Same thing with flash video and games, swipe=drag.

[Oh come on you people, a drag is not the same as a mouseover. - Dan]

67 mhodges { 02.21.10 at 9:19 pm }

someone was saying how having a mouse cursor is antithetical to multitouch, but there are mobile phones here in Japan with touch screens that implement a mouse cursor style pointer. A friend of mine has one. I could shoot a video clip of it in action if anyone is curious. I believe you select by pressing a button instead of tapping.

68 Brandon { 02.21.10 at 10:23 pm }

The Nokia N900 has a hover mode for its mouse cursor and it works perfect for flash elements and games.It should not be too hard to implement for other devices.

[Why isn't anyone buying it? Perhaps a mobile device running X11 isn't the thing most consumers are looking for? - Dan ]

69 Gophero { 02.21.10 at 10:53 pm }

“When adopting any technology, there’s always a risk that it will one day cease to be as useful as it once was. If one ignores this risk and does not plan for it, they have nobody to blame but themselves.”

That doesn’t apply here as Flash hasn’t ceased to be useful, unlike other technologies that have been superseded such as floppy drives or parallel ports. HTML5, SVG, CSS, WebGL and Javascript all fall well short of providing the rich experience that Flash is capable of supplying. They can replace video players and website navigation that is used on many sites but not everything.

Apple just wants to keep Flash content off of the iPad so it can sell more apps. This is fine, it wants to protect its income and benefit the developers of the apps but they won’t say this and instead come up with these other hazy arguments to make it look like they’re doing something purely righteous. The blind Apple faithful will always just regurgitate whatever Steve Jobs says, or what anyone says in his defence without much thought.

There are good reasons Apple makes all the decisions it makes. Most of them relate to making their devices as successful and profitable as possible. They just have a habit of sugar coating the reasoning behind many things to make people think they’re not getting tricked out of their hard earned money. It’s simply good, effective marketing and business practice.

70 Silver { 02.21.10 at 11:39 pm }

The whole argument that Apple bans Flash in order to protect revenue is absolutely ridiculous.
Hello, people, App Store is full of free apps, for which Apple doesn’t get any dime! How are Flash games on the web? Free. How would be their ports in App Store (if the developers don’t change their minds)? Free. How much money Apple would make off them? Not a dime!

71 Gophero { 02.21.10 at 11:48 pm }

Apple doesn’t get any money from free apps but it gets to control them. If anything would compete with something of theirs, they simply deny it access to the App Store.

72 mchamber@adobe.com { 02.22.10 at 12:27 am }

I think there are some pretty fundamental problems with both the assumptions that the article is based on, as well as its conclusions.

Basically, hover events do work in Flash content on devices. I have put together a post which has a more extensive discussion of which mouse events are available to Flash content running on a device with touch input:


mike chambers


[Thanks for the reply Mike, but you gloss over the reality that existing Flash content does not work well in a mobile environment for a number of reasons, including the fact that mouseovers don't exist on the iPhone. As Morgan clearly pointed out, Flash games and other content makes extensive use of mouseovers in a way that can't be missing if you want the content to work. - Dan]

73 miloh { 02.22.10 at 12:40 am }


“That doesn’t apply here as Flash hasn’t ceased to be useful, unlike other technologies that have been superseded such as floppy drives or parallel ports. HTML5, SVG, CSS, WebGL and Javascript all fall well short of providing the rich experience that Flash is capable of supplying. They can replace video players and website navigation that is used on many sites but not everything.”

My apologies, I assumed you understood that I was speaking from a business standpoint as the content developer, not from a consumer standpoint as the end-user. That was, after all, the original context you submitted.

All companies face the ever present risk that as times change so will their customers’ wishes. If a company has positioned themselves such that they cannot adapt to these changes, they have nobody to blame but themselves. To be more specific, if a content developer selects Flash technology because it’s what their customers want, there is a chance that down the road their customers won’t want it anymore. If that happens, Flash will cease to be as useful to the developer (i.e. less profitable) as it once was. If they cannot change with the times, they will lose customers and die.

It may suck, but that’s business.

74 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 12:54 am }


Flash won’t cease to be useful to developers until there is something that can replace it. HTML5 et al cannot replace the full functionality of Flash. It is as simple as that.

As a developer of websites with rich, interactive media content the only options are Flash and Silverlight.

HTML5 can replace plenty of basic page navigation, video players and non-media rich web applications. It cannot, for example, achieve something like this http://lux.lookbookhd.com/

I fully support using HTML5 and others where appropriate – I would even prefer it used where Flash has been somewhat of a stopgap solution.

HTML5 will not kill flash.

The iPad will not kill flash.

Web developers will still want to deliver rich media content to desktop/laptop users. The iPad will never dominate the browser space as there will always be more fully fledged PC/iMac/netbook/etc users.

75 miloh { 02.22.10 at 1:10 am }


“Flash won’t cease to be useful to developers until there is something that can replace it.”

I don’t recall ever stating that it was going anywhere.

76 anonym { 02.22.10 at 1:43 am }

I wholeheartedly agree that Flash is terrible software which should disappear as quickly as possible. Sadly, h.264 and mpeg4 aren’t open formats. They’re free for another few years to increase adoption, but then you’re out of luck. Theora ftw.

And if you want to talk about ways Apple is limiting consumer choice, how about the exclusive app distribution channel for the iPhone and iPad? Apple specifically prohibits apps which duplicate any of the built-in functions, even if they do things better. There’s no legitimate way to distribute GPL software for the iPhone. Apple is easily the most consumer-unfriendly technology company around these days.

[So your fear of licensing issues means the world should embrace Theora, a third rate old codec based on technology that may have serious patent issues already (and any development upon its existing foundation would undoubtedly run into new patent issues), despite the fact that there's no hardware acceleration available for mobile devices? That's ridiculous.

As is your definition of "consumer unfriendly." Nobody gives a rat's ass about GPL ideology outside of a small minority of free software advocates. - Dan ]

77 olahaye74 { 02.22.10 at 1:54 am }

Flash MUST DISAPEAR. This technology is bloated.

After more than a year of 64bits beta testing under linux, there is still no 64 bit support available while all CPUs on the market ARE 64bits.
This technology is memory hungry, CPU power hungry. IT MUST DISAPEAR. There are far better standard today and I hope that Flash will never run on iPhone like devices.
My Core 2 Duo P8400 uses 100% CPU where a few (1 to 3) sites using flash are running. A SHAME.

IMHO, removing flash from the surface of the earth could lead to stop 10th of power plants….

As for the hover/click problem, the solution already exists on the iphone. for videos, 1st click brings a GUI, then you can play/stop/rewind.
for menus:
one click sends an hover (menu popup or drop down) second click on the same object sends a click. Second click on another object sends an hover. And so-one.
another solution (more compatible) could be to handle that just like the Amiga: press screen: hover, release screen click. (that would require to reduce the scroll areas on the screen borders (just like on modern laptops touch pads)

There are plenty of solutions for replacing flash (like sylverlight, html5 and so that runs on 64bits BTW), but right now, the best one is to refuse flash.

78 Gartalgar { 02.22.10 at 2:16 am }

I don’t see how HTML 5 will solve this issue, except that it will force people to code anew their sites, at which time they could redesign them to take into account the touchscreen functionality. So it’s just like the “potential solution” A, but with a new language.

The mouseover problem does not come from Flash itself, the problem comes from the fact that current content has mostly been designed for PC, mouse and keyboard interfaces and not for touchscreen. If you don’t design your content for touchscreen, it won’t work with HTML 5 either.

[No, the mouseover problem for Flash has two aspects: it negates Adobe's marketing line that Flash content is ubiquitous and runs everywhere (it does not) and secondly, it shows why open web standards that can be implemented on mobile devices by any vendor are better than proprietary binaries like Flash that require Adobe to develop the runtime and the mobile strategy for them, because Adobe has proven that it can't do either one. - Dan]

79 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 2:36 am }

“I don’t recall ever stating that it was going anywhere.”

Sorry, I should have noted where I stopped addressing you in particular and meant to return to the general discussion but the point I make still stands.

@everyone now :P

Flash wish continue to coexist with other technologies both in competition and in complementing them. Steve Jobs ego is far too engorged if he thinks otherwise.

The point of the article is that the current popular interface design is incompatible with touch screen interfacing. To a large degree this is true but this is a design issue, not a technology issue.

It would be less work to modify a Flash utilising website to not use ‘mouseover’ in Flash than to have to start from scratch using different technology. (That said, I would personally prefer using HTML5 where possible for things such as menus and site navigation).

Using HTML5 also leaves the problem of having to code for two versions for people with old computers who for some unfathomable reason don’t update their browsers (yes, I’m looking at you, 20% of Internet users still using IE6!).

It’s going to remain a challenge to ensure that a media rich website offers the same experience to all users including iPad, full function browsers and idiots who don’t update their software but the majority of users are going to remain in the full function browser segment.

80 @flashopen { 02.22.10 at 3:11 am }

To have it in short:
Why is the competition not having any problems with the Flash Player in their mobile devices?
Are they doing better then Apple? And everything else are only ‘desperates excuses’ not to have it implemented?

[Adobe's entire Flash 10.1 mobile strategy is a belated response to the iPhone. Too late, the iPhone already demonstrated that it can browse the real web without Flash, and that it can provide a native mobile development environment far better than Flash.

What you're seeing with Flash 10.1 is an effort to run lowest common denominator, proprietary binary content designed for the desktop on a mobile. What's cool about that? You can't use it to target the mobile platform that matters. - Dan]

81 mwexler { 02.22.10 at 4:37 am }

Mike Chambers, the PM at Adobe for Flash, has a nice response to this, worth reading.


82 pf { 02.22.10 at 5:27 am }

“Current Flash sites could never be made work well on any touchscreen device, and this cannot be solved by Apple, Adobe, or magical new hardware.”

This is just nonsense. Some sites might not work well, but most will. I have created flash apps for touchscreens long before there was an iphone and it always amazes me that people always assume that because there is no mouse pointer, it’s inherently different. It’s not.
There are only two things to keep in mind when creating something for touchscreens: clickable area’s shouln’t be too small because finger input isn’t as accurate. And don’t rely on the hover state for actual functionality. So if a button only changes color for example when you hover over it, but needs to be pressed to actually do something, it will work fine on a touchscreen. They just won’t see the color change, but it won’t hinder for example the user from playing a video. And this is how most hovers are used: an indication that something is clickable.

[No, the point isn't that you can't create Flash content that works with touch panels, but that the majority of the existing installed base of Flash content was developed for the PC desktop and therefore is not optimized in any way for mobile devices. So Adobe's claim that Flash is ubiquitous and pervasive is simply irrelevant. If you're starting from zero, why target a proprietary binary distribution rather than open web standards that already work, and already work on the 75+ million iPhone OS devices? - Dan ]

If you do want to add functionality on a hover for desktops, add the same functionality when you click on it so it will also work on touchscreens.

What would pose a problem is dual functionality. Ex. if a button is made to fold out with extra info on a hover, and a click to take you somewhere else. In this scenario, touchscreens won’t see that extra info.

But this isn’t inherent to Flash, this problem exists in HTML too. Web 2.0 sites may suffer the same problems too. Facebook for example uses hovers that aren’t accessible on a touchscreen. According to your logic, that would also mean not including javascript on browsers installed on touchscreen devices because some sites might not work as intended.

The best solution for touchscreens is to use proximity detection in much the same way that Wacom tablets work.

So on the one hand, it’s a developers problem, much in the same way that anyone incorporating scroll wheel support in their apps: always make sure there is an alternative for input devices that don’t support it.

On the other hand, it’s also technological problem. Touchscreens still need to improve. There is a reason why the mouse has managed to survive for so long. It has some inherent advantages that any input device that plans to replace it must be able to do better.
And touchscreens have two major flaws: the hover state and the size problem: The larger the screen, the more tiring they become to use , even after short periods of use. It’s for the same reason one is always advised to get the smallest Wacom tablet they can get away with.

[So you want to reinvent multitouch hardware devices so that they are appropriate for running legacy Flash apps? How ruthlessly absurd.]

83 timkindberg { 02.22.10 at 8:24 am }

Wow Great article!

You make a lot of good points on why the iPad is a horrible device that doesn’t support a very large portion of the web. I’m now completely convinced that I shouldn’t buy it. Your insights were very helpful.

[Expose yourself to some reality. The "very large portion" of the web you are talking about is animated ads, video that can easily be delivered via better technology, and full page websites implemented in Flash, which is a terrible idea. Everything the iPad does to weaken the proprietary binary grip Flash has on the web is a good thing for everyone (apart from Adobe and its blinded followers - Dan]

I know that the iPad isn’t horrible, it’s probably very fun to use, just like the iPhone. But seriously, most of your reasons that Flash wouldn’t be a good match for the iPad can easily apply to lots of web content, not JUST Flash. It boggles my mind that you have the tenacity and took the time to write up such slander towards your own developing environment.

It truly pisses me off.

[If that's the case, maybe you should chill out. We're discussing a proprietary software trap that limits the task of optimizing the web to one company. Flash is toxic, not a cause you need to promote so rabidly that you lose sight of what is important or your ability to talk rationally.]

Mac Dude: “You’re just mad because you’re a flash dev and you know it’s dying. Just let it go man. HTML5 ftw!”

Me: “No you fool, I’m mad because no one give Adobe any credit. You don’t look at what they are working on to bring developers and designers together. You don’t see that they truly care about their end-users experience and work to speed up Flash Player all the time. You are all just blood thirsty idiots bent on destroying Adobe. All of a sudden, OUT OF THE BLUE, you want them dead.”

[Adobe only recently bought Flash from Macromedia. Prior to that, it was offering open alternatives and doing fine without having a proprietary software trap to peddle. Nobody is trying to kill anyone, apart from Flashtards who have it in for the iPad.]

Flash Hater: “Yeah that’s because Flash player hogs all my resources. I just block it anyway, haha, with my flashhaterplus plugin. Best plugin EVER.”

Me: “Ok, block it. I don’t care. You realize that after Flash is dead, people are going to start making annoying animations in CSS or Javascript? They are going to hog your resources just like Flash did. Flash doesn’t hog your resources, the crazy shit it’s trying to does.”

[It certainly can be bad content, but in the case of Flash, there's also Adobe's notoriously bad plugin. When content is in Flash, only Adobe can optimize its playback. When content is open, then anyone can work to optimize JavaScript and other web technologies, because they are open standards.]

Flash Hater: “Just give it up already. Flash is dead.”

Me: *Round house kick* *Finishing move!*
Me: “Don’t you say it… don’t you dare say it”

Flash Hater: “uuuugggggg… you can’t stop it…. uugg”
Flash Hater: *passes out*

I hope that the iPad fails big time.

84 timkindberg { 02.22.10 at 8:30 am }

Check out some content on the Nexus One with Flash Player 10.1.


iPad users would LOVE this stuff. This is some awesome stuff. Get real you flash haters. Seriously just take a minute to give credit where it’s due.

[That's a great video for demonstrating what kind of crap Flash games are. If that is an important part of Google's Android platform, then we have to worry that Apple isn't really facing sufficient competition. And if Google encourages Flash lowest common denominator development, it can only hurt native Android development - Dan]

85 Matthew Fabb { 02.22.10 at 8:48 am }

Mike Chambers, from Adobe, points out that roll overs on Flash work for touch screens.
What will be is just the following mouse inputs, which isn’t essential for too many applications:
* MouseEvent.MOUSE_WHEEL
* MouseEvent.RIGHT_CLICK

We will see shortly how well Flash works on mobile devices when it’s released to Android and other mobile devices.

86 Djonckheere { 02.22.10 at 9:05 am }

The sheer number of passionate responses to this debate here is quite amazing. Yet once again, as with everything Web culture related, conversations invariably focus on technology ‘X’ or standard ‘Y’; Apple is doing ‘A’, Adobe is doing ‘B’; device ‘Z’ doesn’t support thing ‘C’, …and so on.
C’mon, these debates are healthy but getting a bit monotonous. Maybe it’s just easier to contribute to the prevailing cynicism out there rather than finding creative ways to move forward.

87 kenkopin { 02.22.10 at 9:13 am }

Hold on now. What exactly *IS* wrong with the “virtual track-pad” idea? It would be a simple (and when I say simple, I don’t mean that *I* could do it, but that a company like Apple looking to solve this problem would find it simple) addition to the Flash interpreter, which could allow the user to turn it off entirely, have it always on, or have a Right Click option to invoke it as needed. The experience would be exactly what people have now – no, it wouldn’t be the full iPad experience, but it’s a compromise that makes everyones Flash content work. If THIS truly is the major problem, then it’s not a problem unless Apple wants it to be.

[The problem is that it's not a problem that the iPad does not run Flash. It is an intentional design decision. - Dan ]

88 olahaye74 { 02.22.10 at 9:31 am }

Something funny:
- People are complaining about lack of Flash support for the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, but they are not alone with lack of support.
- Indeed, windows64bits is Not supported (either XP, or vista or seven). (and nobody complains)
Because of that (AND ONLY BECAUSE OF THAT) 64bits computers are still shipped with 32bit windows. THIS IS A SHAME. (the same applies to contivity vpn: not supported on win64 and iphone)

89 Bjartr { 02.22.10 at 9:35 am }


What in the world are you talking about? Flash works fine on both Vista and 7 x64, I can’t speak for XP though.

90 olahaye74 { 02.22.10 at 9:58 am }

These is no stable flash for 64bits platforms. The only 64bits flash available is a beta version for linux.
You’re running flash 32bits on IE8 32bits installed aside your ie8-64bits that has NO FLASH SUPPORT at all.

91 Dorian { 02.22.10 at 10:03 am }

There is no 64-bit Flash Player for any OS. That’s one of the reasons why Apple runs Plugins as a separate process in Safari on Snow Leopard (which is 64-Bit). On Win7 64-Bit you have to use the 32-Bit IE8 and install the 32-Bit Flash Player version (strangely enough, it’s not pre-installed in the 64-Bit distribution of Win 7).

92 Bjartr { 02.22.10 at 10:05 am }


Actually I’m using Chrome, which, yes, is 32bit. However, support, however limited, for running 32bit apps and plugins within the x64 environment is different from your claim of no support at all. Though, to your credit, it is also not the same as native support.

You are right to criticize Adobe for not providing a native version for x64. You are wrong to imply that Flash cannot be used on these systems.

93 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 10:07 am }


That’s because the benefit of the native 64bit browser is approximately zero. More importantly the number of users using the native 64bit browsers is approximately zero.

94 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 10:09 am }

Note that I’m talking about the browsers – not the OS. Plenty of people using 64 OS, just not the 64bit versions of internet browsers.

95 timkindberg { 02.22.10 at 11:24 am }

I can GUARANTEE that if they allowed flash on the iPhone OR iPad, that you would see tons of very useful applications. Flash developers are just as creative and innovative as HTML5 developers. I would put money on it, that at least 1 flash application would become so popular that at least 50% of iPad users would install it and use it on a regular basis. And that is really the main point here.

96 timkindberg { 02.22.10 at 11:27 am }
97 timkindberg { 02.22.10 at 11:28 am }

Sorry two posts up, I didn’t mean the user would “install” the app, but just use it on the web.

98 Lars { 02.22.10 at 11:29 am }

“Video players where the controls appear on mouseover and hide otherwise.”. The SublimeVideo player, http://jilion.com/sublime/video, that is often used as a showcase for HTML5 video, also hides and shows the control based on mouseover/mouseout. So I guess HTML5 video content isn’t suitable for touch devices ;)

[Lars, the issue isn't whether *one can create content that doesn't work* on an iPad or other multitouch device, but that *most existing Flash content* does not work well anywhere outside of the Windows PC desktop, and particularly not on a multitouch device like the iPad.

That provides very little reason for pushing any new development into a proprietary binary that only Adobe has any way to optimize the playback of. And recall that Adobe has a terrible track record for supporting acceptable Flash playback on anything other than Windows.

Given this, it would be irresponsible for Apple to support Flash on the iPad - Dan]

99 Nerd Uno { 02.22.10 at 11:41 am }

Simple answer to Flash problem is a Nexus One. That’s what the trackball is for. :-)

[One might also say that's why Windows was originally built on top of DOS, so PC users wouldn't have to be pushed into graphical computing in one step as they were with the Mac. They could spend another ten years dependent upon a text based environment from the 70s. Or as with the Nexus One, users can remain fixed in a world dependent upon the mouse cursor rather than embracing touch - Dan]

100 ObamaPacman { 02.22.10 at 11:44 am }


iPhone & iPod touch does not use flash. Somehow it’s highly successful, and now it’s the benchmark of the industry.

Original iMac does not have floppy drive. Somehow that’s successful too.

101 xtyler { 02.22.10 at 11:51 am }

meh, the author is not overly concerned with internet users, they just don’t like Flash because of its proprietary nature and are looking to justify an internet without the plugin. To each his own, but the whole discussion is pretty weak speculation:

“Users would hate that broken promise much more than they hate gaps in pages, missing banner ads, and the need to download a game once from the App Store instead of re-downloading it every time they visit a Flash game page.”

The devices (tablets/phones) that will win out (at least with me) over the next 5 years are those that offer an OS, a platform for me to do with it what I will, and not decide for me what it is I really want.

102 timkindberg { 02.22.10 at 11:55 am }

@ObamaPacman good point. Wait no, I’m pretty sure no one used floppy drives a long time before they were excluded from Macs. EVERYONE agreed on that change. Clearly this isn’t anywhere near the same argument.

103 Nerd Uno { 02.22.10 at 11:55 am }

Dan: The Nexus One doesn’t make the world dependent upon a mouse cursor. It merely provides an alternate method to touch technology which you claimed was the deal-breaker for Flash. To me, having a trackball and keyboard makes a mobile phone such as the iPod or Nexus One more versatile rather than less. And, just to refute your basic premise, FarmVille works perfectly fine with Flash on the Nexus One… without ever touching the trackball.

104 timkindberg { 02.22.10 at 11:57 am }

I’m inventing a new phone. It uses elbow sensors. Also I am excluding text and image support, because I decided they aren’t needed. Sound is the only important aspect anyway. Don’t worry you’ll get used to using your elbows for input. Also give me $500. kthxbai.

105 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 12:01 pm }


iPhone and iPod don’t have Internet browsing as one of their primary features. Steve Job’s claims the iPad as the ultimate browsing experience, which it clearly isn’t as it isn’t compatible with a large amount of content available on the Internet right now.

The floppy drive analogy, which is constantly flogged by the Apple faithful, is a poor one. The floppy drive is hardware and became redundant due to its limitations. Apple only helped it out the door. Flash is software and therefore constantly capable of being improved. Flash 10.1 on mobile devices compared to previous versions of Flash Lite are worlds apart.

@everyone but no one in particular :P

I have no doubt that the iPad will be a successful product. I don’t think that point is even worth debating. It probably won’t be as successful as the iPhone since a phone is something many people consider a ‘need’ – they might as well have a good one such as the iPhone. I don’t think many people will find a ‘need’ for the iPad or similar devices but if there is one thing Apple does well, it is marketing.

What is fair to debate is whether the iPad will be the “ultimate browsing experience”. Without Flash, I don’t believe it is.

106 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 12:02 pm }

“I’m inventing a new phone. It uses elbow sensors. Also I am excluding text and image support, because I decided they aren’t needed. Sound is the only important aspect anyway. Don’t worry you’ll get used to using your elbows for input. Also give me $500. kthxbai.”

I’ll race you to the patent office! :P

107 timkindberg { 02.22.10 at 12:08 pm }

oh no you don’t!~

108 olahaye74 { 02.22.10 at 12:11 pm }

Benefit of having a 64bit browser is that it does not require to install all 32apis aside the native 64bits one.
half security fixes to install, half the space used on hard drive.
half memory used. Right now, you have 2 ie engines running in memory: ie8 64bits for desktop and ie8 32bits for browsing. both use their own api (libc and such, all loaded into memory).
This is just plain stupid.
Flash should disappear or run natively NOW
Contivity VPN should disappear or run natively now. (the 32bit contivity can’t run on 64bits) (I admit this is another story).
@Dorian: your almost right: except that Flash 64bits exists for linux as a beta version. http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/flashplayer10_64bit.html

109 miloh { 02.22.10 at 12:18 pm }


“I’m inventing a new phone. It uses elbow sensors. Also I am excluding text and image support, because I decided they aren’t needed. Sound is the only important aspect anyway. Don’t worry you’ll get used to using your elbows for input. Also give me $500. kthxbai.”

If it sells, what’s the problem?

110 ChuckO { 02.22.10 at 12:19 pm }

Gophero 104, Are you a Flash developer? Texas Hold ‘em addict? Hulu fan? I’m not trying to be a wiseguy I’m just wondering what it is about Flash that makes you feel like it represents “a large amount of content available on the Internet right now.”

111 robojerk { 02.22.10 at 12:21 pm }

As stated before, like comment #96.

Mouse events do work on mobile Flash 10.1 (exception of scroll wheel)


[You keep ignoring the point: existing Flash content makes extensive use of mouseovers because it assumes it is running on a Windows PC. While future Flash content *can* be compatible with multitouch devices like the iPad, that is irrelevant to the current installed base of lame Flash games and full page websites. - Dan ]

112 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 12:26 pm }

None of the above :P. Flash makes up most of the media rich content available right now. HTML5 and AJAX cannot replicate the function of Flash for these websites although they can replace many of the other use cases of Flash.

I do not see a genuinely good reason to go without Flash.

113 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 12:31 pm }

I could also quote Adobe’s figures of 85% or something like that of the top 100 web sites using Flash but I think they might be somewhat biased. Even if that were true I think half of those could probably be done without Flash with new browser technologies (except for the issue of people using old browsers – but I hate those people :P) but it’s the other half, which is still a significant amount that I still want to be able to use.

114 ChuckO { 02.22.10 at 12:32 pm }

@Gophero 110,
Give us an example website. What’s an example, some free porn websites? Flash for me is the eyesore ads of how to get ripped without doing any work. Really, you seem way over invested in this not to have some angle of self-interest.

115 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 12:32 pm }

Or I could also point at that this very page is using Flash :P

116 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 12:36 pm }

Okay, now you got me on a rant.

I also don’t see the many websites that frequently embed video switching to HTML5 overnight.

YouTube doesn’t have its HTML5 player ready. There is no option to embed YouTube video with HTML5 yet and the HTML5 beta on YouTube can’t even do fullscreen.

The iPad user is going to be a minority among all web users and so I don’t see web developers dropping everything to cater to such a minority.

117 timkindberg { 02.22.10 at 12:39 pm }

@ChuckO, do you think eyesore ads will go away if you get rid of flash?

118 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 12:41 pm }

Well I personally block adservers so I rarely see adds but are you going to tell me that you never watch any video content on the Internet? Nearly every embedded video on the Internet is using Flash.
If you want a full experience of browsing the Internet TODAY, or even on the day when the iPad releases, you are going to need Flash.

119 ChuckO { 02.22.10 at 12:48 pm }

Gophero, So you can’t be against Flash because it’s ubiquitous? It may suck in many ways but Apple should just go along to get along? I don’t get your passion for Flash. Your arguments are childish and about immediate gratification and not the long term interests of the web.

We’ll see where YouTube goes now that Google bought On2 and VP8.

120 ChuckO { 02.22.10 at 12:55 pm }

@Gophero 116, YouTube will still work just as it does today the day after the iPad is released and no one is coming to your house to force you to surf the web with an iPad. So everythings going to be OK.

Apple’s Flash battle is a long term strategy and they are putting their money where their mouth is on their mobile platform.

121 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 12:58 pm }

“Your arguments are childish and about immediate gratification”
Nice… or they’re based in reality.

Once more, for clarity, if someone is going to market something as the ‘ultimate browsing experience’ it should be able to view all the web content that it out there. Not what might be there in a few years. I just think that it’s a ridiculous claim.

It will be interesting to see where YouTube goes, as you say, but Flash is where it’s at now.

Also HTML5, AJAX and all the rest cannot do things like this http://lux.lookbookhd.com/

As I say, I just do not see any really good reason to exclude Flash.

122 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 1:00 pm }

“Apple’s Flash battle is a long term strategy and they are putting their money where their mouth is on their mobile platform.”

I don’t disagree with that. I disagree on the “ultimate browsing experience” claim.

123 ChuckO { 02.22.10 at 1:03 pm }

timkindberg 115, Don’t I wish but hopefully they’ll annoy me from an open source technology. Maybe that’s the big downside to life without Flash: it would be much harder to implement something like “ClickToFlash” if ads were all served in native html elements.

124 miloh { 02.22.10 at 1:05 pm }


“I disagree on the ‘ultimate browsing experience’ claim.”

You’re entitled to your opinion, but realize that to some it may in fact be true.

125 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 1:08 pm }

“Ultimate but only for some” kind of misses the meaning of ultimate.

126 ChuckO { 02.22.10 at 1:10 pm }

@Gophero 119, That “LookBook” thing is like a bucket of hot sick to me. I’d rather see that content implemented in standard html in simpler format.

127 ChuckO { 02.22.10 at 1:12 pm }

@Gophero 124, Not really Apple isn’t hiding the lack of Flash. This is their take on the ultimate in web surfing.

128 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 1:16 pm }

“That “LookBook” thing is like a bucket of hot sick to me.”
Who’s arguments were childish again? I forget.

It’s just an tech demo effectively of what Flash can do. It’s not actually even a real magazine. Also it’s pretty similar to what Apple will have with their digital magazine subscriptions on the iPad so you better get on hating that too.

There’s also plenty of Flash games and other things that would work just fine on an iPad with Flash without any changes whatsoever.

129 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 1:19 pm }

And because our Lord and Saviour, Steven Paul Jobs, says it is good then it must be so.

Look, I like Apple products, I’m not just here for the sake of hating Apple. I even like most of the things about the iPad but I would want to be able to browse the Internet without unnecessary restrictions.

130 miloh { 02.22.10 at 1:23 pm }


“‘Ultimate but only for some’ kind of misses the meaning of ultimate.”

Sure, if one assumes that what constitutes the ultimate of something is not subjective.

131 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 1:27 pm }

Hmm… now that I consider your view I can see why all those people still use IE6 – they think that IE6 is the ultimate browsing experience. I totally respect their opinion now.

132 Nerd Uno { 02.22.10 at 1:29 pm }

Just wait ’til He covers up all the Ta♥Tas in the universe. Then we’ll see how much you like your Ultimate Browsing Experience.

133 ChuckO { 02.22.10 at 1:30 pm }

@Gophero 127, I’m actually not sold on the whole eMagazine thing. The mingling of text and video doesn’t make much sense to me. I think you could just skip the text at that point. It makes more sense for an eText book. I definitely don’t want to read fiction with any distractions (links,video,etc.).

To me this thing is the first steps in a new world of “appliance” computing. This isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. Apple’s “thinking different” and that’s good.

134 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 1:32 pm }

The iPad is a pretty nice bit of hardware and it should be a great mobile web browsing experience. As it stands, it’s merely a good-enough web browsing experience.

Before I read the “iPhone doesn’t have Flash and it was successful” argument again, on the iPhone, web browsing wasn’t a major part of the experience, with the iPad, web browsing is a major part of it.

135 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 1:39 pm }

@ChuckO 132
Agreed, plain text is a much better way to view novels and such but the digital magazine thing is where print media is headed and one of the things Apple is hyping up.

“Apple’s “thinking different” and that’s good.”
But anyone thinking different from Apple is bad?

“Appliance” computing is a very lovely buzz word but that has nothing to do with why they’re excluding Flash.

136 miloh { 02.22.10 at 1:50 pm }


“… now that I consider your view I can see why all those people still use IE6 – they think that IE6 is the ultimate browsing experience.”

For some it may be. Who are you to decide for them?

“As it stands, it’s merely a good-enough web browsing experience.”

Once again, subjective. What you perceive as good enough may be seen by others as outstanding, excellent, or the best-ever. Not everybody values the same things.

137 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 1:57 pm }

The point is, there is still no compelling reason to exclude Flash.

138 kenkopin { 02.22.10 at 2:08 pm }

[The problem is that it's not a problem that the iPad does not run Flash. It is an intentional design decision. - Dan ]

Well, seeing that the entire premise of you article was “Why the iPad can’t use flash” and “All that Apple and Adobe could ever do is make current Flash content visible.” you can perhaps understand my confusion. Can’t and Won’t are different.

139 miloh { 02.22.10 at 2:18 pm }


“The point is, there is still no compelling reason to exclude Flash.”

Yet again, subjective. Just because you don’t find something compelling does not mean others agree. Apple obviously was compelled enough to exclude it thus far.

140 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 2:43 pm }


And so that reason is? …

Fine, let’s be picky, I will take any reason that can’t be demonstrated to be untrue.

■ The point of the original article was that mouseover doesn’t work – comment 72 cleared that up, it would work fine.
■ Some content wouldnt work well – but what about all the content that would?
■ Flash wouldn’t run well/drain the battery/too buggy – Flash 10.1 seems to run quite nicely on other mobile devices, HTML5, AJAX and WebGL implementations will use just as much power
■ Mobile Flash isn’t the same as desktop flash – effectively not true as of Flash 10.1
■ HTML5 is better – HTML5 isn’t even a complete standard yet, most importantly there’s no standard for the most important component – video streaming, and it cannot replace the media rich content found on Flash
■ Open source w00t – yeah because that’s what Apple is all about, they love open source and open systems
■ I don’t want to see Flash adds – you’ll be seeing adds one way or another if you’re not actively blocking them, which you probably won’t be able to do on the iPad
■ Apple doesn’t want Flash apps competing with the app store – well that’s reasonable but Apple denies this excuse along with the Apple faithful

141 miloh { 02.22.10 at 3:12 pm }


“Fine, let’s be picky, I will take any reason that can’t be demonstrated to be untrue.


I don’t follow. Are you trying to claim that the “ultimate browsing experience” is not a matter of opinion?

142 ChuckO { 02.22.10 at 3:17 pm }

Gophero 134,
“@ChuckO 132
Agreed, plain text is a much better way to view novels and such but the digital magazine thing is where print media is headed and one of the things Apple is hyping up.”

I haven’t seen Apple hype eMags anywhere but that’s neither here nor there. If it means mixing text and video I don’t see the point. I’d rather just WATCH the whole thing. On eTextbooks I could see value in the combo.

“Apple’s “thinking different” and that’s good.”
But anyone thinking different from Apple is bad?

I don’t follow your logic. There’s no implication from that satement that thinking different from Apple is bad. The iPad is a significant break with traditional computing and Apple is trying some new things and extending some ideas from the iPhone. I don’t plan on buying an iPad but I can still appreciate what they’re doing.

“Appliance” computing is a very lovely buzz word but that has nothing to do with why they’re excluding Flash.

Wether “appliance” is a lovely buzzword or not also is neither here nor there but it does convey the idea that these devices are different and aren’t just lazily extending the old desktop metaphors mindlessly. I think it’s great Microsoft will be out there mindlessly extending those metaphors for people who can’t take a chance on the future.

143 Nathanael { 02.22.10 at 3:18 pm }

Observe that the glaringly obvious solution was presented in the second comment. It’s simple. Hold = Mouseover.

Here is the link: http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2010/02/20/an-adobe-flash-developer-on-why-the-ipad-cant-use-flash/#comment-24536

All of this nonsense about “holding and dragging already scrolls in Mobile Safari” completely ignores the fact that in any browser, mouse events which begin within a plugin do not extend outside of its frame and mouse events which begin outside the plugin do not continue inside. The reason that you think that scrolling would take place is that everything that you experience within Mobile Safari today *is* an HTML element.

Similarly, objections that holding is already reserved for copying and pasting or opening links in a new window are useless. Notice that this functionality only takes place when holding on an actual URL.

The only real objection against this intuitive Hold = Hover argument is that you would not be able to click and drag. The solution, again, is obvious. Contextual responsiveness is key. If my initial touch when I begin holding my finger down happens on whitespace, I am simply hovering. If I begin holding on plain text within Flash, I want to highlight it. If I begin holding on a URL in Flash, I want to open it in a new window or other appropriate secondary options. If I begin holding on top of a menu item which has a flyout UI element, then I want to trigger that. If something’s primary purpose is to be dragged, I want to drag that element.

Really. I can’t believe that there are this many people who are as simple as most of the above. If flash is used in a tastefully small dose on a page or if a page is a single Flash app, then exceeding the iPad’s or iPhone’s capabilities shouldn’t be a problem.

144 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 3:21 pm }

Clearly you do not follow. I am simply asking, “Why is there not Flash on the iPad?”

145 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 3:27 pm }

“I don’t follow your logic.”
That’s because their is no logic in that statement but many people seem to just think because Apple says that they’re doing something different then it must be good. Maybe not you but I’d still like to know why something different is good other than just “it’s different”.

“these devices are different and aren’t just lazily extending the old desktop metaphors ”
Is the iPad really that different? I’m not sure that it is. If anything it’s extending the iPhone metaphor… or at least the iPod Touch since it doesn’t make phone calls. I think it’s pretty good but I don’t see the revolutionary device that Steve Jobs is trying to sell me.

146 miloh { 02.22.10 at 3:52 pm }


“Clearly you do not follow. I am simply asking, ‘Why is there not Flash on the iPad?’”

But that’s not what you and I were discussing.

147 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 4:02 pm }

Oh yes, I forgot. We weren’t discussing Flash on the iPad. Hmm…

@everyone who is not miloh or also miloh if he chooses to answer even though it deviates slightly from what we were personally discussing previously

I am simply asking, “Why is there not Flash on the iPad?” and please see comment 139.

148 miloh { 02.22.10 at 4:59 pm }


“Oh yes, I forgot. We weren’t discussing Flash on the iPad.”

You are correct, we were not. I made a passing remark in comment #123 about something being a matter of opinion. But rather than leave it alone and let the main subject of discussion continue, you tried to counter it with a series of statements that did nothing but suggest a failure to comprehend subjectivity. Then, in comment #139, you pulled things back into the main thread so abruptly it was as if the prior matter had never been brought up. Even now, you continue to act as if none of this ever transpired. I can only conclude that you either have a poor memory for conversations or you’re trying to avoid something.

149 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 5:03 pm }

I think you’re reading too much into it. I’m sorry I wasn’t paying enough special attention to you and accidentally slipped back on topic. Speaking of which, can we get back on topic? Or is it too late now? Have we gone too far, never to return?

150 miloh { 02.22.10 at 5:26 pm }


“Speaking of which, can we get back on topic? Or is it too late now?”

I would say have to say the latter. You have demonstrated that you are overly impulsive, that you do not actually understand the things about which you speak, that you have difficulty admitting faults, and that you would rather mock people than actually carry on a conversation. In short, you’re not worth anyone’s time.

Bye. :)

151 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 5:43 pm }

Goodbye :)
Although I would have liked to know your own subjective view of the browsing experience on the iPad from what we’ve seen of it.
Maybe I shouldn’t post comments when I’m tired and irritable but I had to find something to procrastinate with.

152 ChuckO { 02.22.10 at 6:26 pm }

Gophero 144, “Magical and Revolutionary” was a poor choice as far as I’m concerned. It’s the hard sell which is unusual for Apple. I think it shows a little of Apple’s insecurity about the how to sell a new product type.

153 hd1080i { 02.22.10 at 6:32 pm }

whaever – this did divert from iPad touchscreens in general…

But All touch devices have this issue — it is important –so I did more tests and Dan is correct, and not just for win7 HP Touchsmart, but also for the touchpad behaviors on 4 of the 6 laptops in our lab. The fact that CTNdigital can code to satisfy touch systems is not relevant. Its the general case of the web that is relevant.

Though its not hard to make everything work properly for all cases, Dan’s observations are right – Its doable — not happening enough now, and will require a massive re-do for much of the existing Flash hovers and drag/scroll out there.

Developers should be glad for that – more work, easy work, copy paste some extra code and its done. I would hope all of us also prefer best practice code and not whats out there now … were i hiring a design developer i would request the touchscreen interaction be satisfied ( and touchpad for that matter, and mouse scroll wheel, trackpad scroll strips. )

All you need is in Flash CS4 and CS5. Lee will help with his stuff – http://gotoandlearn.com – they are good people doing what it takes and put extra effort into that. Mike was there helping us in were-here.com flash site back in the days before Adobe and i was a forum moderator there for an equally unruly crowd as i see here.

154 ulicar { 02.22.10 at 7:13 pm }

This is by far the stupidest explanation of why Flash should not be on iPad. I was expecting that you somehow reached the bottom, but then you pulled out a shovel and started digging. Amazing!

If the mouse hover VS mouse click is the problem (?) then the JavaScript should not work either, but it does. Go figure!

This was an amazing attempt of using something that doesn’t make any sense as an argument. Well done! Next time you could say “Flash should not be on iPad because leafs are green when on a tree”. That would make more sense than this stupidity.

[Your argument would carry more weight if you actually presented one, rather than just gush hyperbole and call people names. If you have a point please articulate it in a rational way. Your comment just comes off as abusive, pretentious ignorance. - Dan]

155 anon { 02.22.10 at 7:13 pm }


In light of the fact that lacking Flash has failed to stop over 60 million iPod Touches and iPhones from being sold…

…I’d like to see you explain how Flash is even relevent. When you factor in the mediocre-to-flatlining sales of smartphones which actually do support it, it becomes mightily obvious that few people even care.

The way you’re talking about the lack of Flash support as though it were a problem is puzzling, as the market has proven it clearly isn’t one.

I’d also like to see you back up your claim that “HTML5, SVG, CSS, WebGL and Javascript all fall well short of providing the rich experience that Flash is capable of supplying”. Tell me what Flash does that isn’t pedestrian enough to be replicated using HTML5, SVG, CSS, WebGL, and Javascript.

156 kadajawi { 02.22.10 at 7:50 pm }

I haven’t read each and every comment, so sorry if the idea has been mentioned already.

But what I’d suggest is that touching the screen where there is flash means hovering. You would probably do that with the index finger. Since Apple uses capacitive screens with multitouch support… use your middle finger to press onto the screen again. This means normal click. Use two fingers (-> 3 fingers touch the screen) means right click. The index finger (or whichever finger was used for the hovering) will give the location of the mouse pointer. It is not perfectly intuitive, but I think people can learn that pretty fast.

Just think about the “wonderful” Mighty Mouse. Apple forced users to do something similar for the right click, just because Steve Jobs didn’t like the look of a second mouse button (or something like that). If Apple thinks it is ok for such reasons, then why not to let users use Flash?

157 eddieclay { 02.22.10 at 8:11 pm }

The funny thing is about all this is that flash was an accident of history, the technology was originally developed on…yes, that’s right, a tablet running PenPoint in 1992 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Gay

158 ulicar { 02.22.10 at 8:17 pm }

Ignorance? I am ignorant for calling your argument “mouse hover” stupid? For frick sake, JavaScript was built on mouse-hover, mouse-out, mouse-click… Claiming that for some reason there is an issue with mouse-hover or mouse-click, or mouse-drag (whatever that event is called in JS) than JavaScript would not work on iPhone, however, it does, and your argument appears stupid. Do you ever turn on the brain before writting something?

Hey, if that is your game, than you can easily write “Flash cannot be on iPad because I do not like broccoli” It would actually make more sense. You like to claim direct opposite to what is obvious and somehow my argument is a pretentious ignorance? Claiming iPhone is multitasking and nobody can use that but Apple and claiming that mouse events are somehow an issue and that is already supported, that browser supports HTML5 when in fact it doesnt… is quite, quite, quite… I am lost for words actually. Well done!

159 ulicar { 02.22.10 at 8:28 pm }

P.S. I have just went to http://demos.telerik.com/aspnet-ajax/menu/examples/programming/clientevents/defaultcs.aspx which is quite heavy clientside menue and iPhone reacted to all events. ALL. Check it out, then say iPhone can’t do that and that is the reason Flash shoud not be in.

160 wizard288 { 02.22.10 at 9:05 pm }

Personally, I really only want flash so I can watch TV shows through Hulu for free, instead of having to pay for them on iTunes. I know NBC has an iphone friendly site with full episodes, but most other networks don’t. If the other networks would come up with some ipad friendly full episode streaming system, I would probably buy an ipad. But otherwise, I will probably get one of the windows 7 tablets, like HP Slate, Archos 9, etc, on which you can theoretically install flash.

161 Gophero { 02.22.10 at 10:27 pm }

@anon 154
These arguments are irrelevant. The iPhone and iPod Touch were never touted for their Internet browser experience as a major feature. When using a small screen it’s less upsetting to have a crippled version of the net.

Sales of other smartphones also irrelevant. In a phone, it’s not a major feature, other features are going to sell phones. Also previous versions of mobile Flash haven’t always been terribly good. The new version Flash 10.1 is quite good though. Just because it wasn’t widely supported before doesn’t mean it wasn’t wanted – it simply wasn’t widely available.

You say the market has proven this isn’t a problem but you are talking oh the phone market. The iPad is not a phone. It is a portable media consumption device, if you like, or a nice portable media and Internet browser.

Much of the mundane stuff done in Flash can be replaced by other technologies but why should it? To serve the minority of users viewing content from iPads? That’s going to be a tiny fraction of all viewers to a web page. A web site is likely to still be getting more hits from IE6 users than an iPad any time in the next few years.

The implementation of HTML5 is still well short of prime time as well. If you’ve seen YouTube’s HTML5 beta, for example, you’d know the experience is seriously short of the Flash experience. The HTML5 version can’t even go fullscreen with a video. This may improve in time but the iPad is launching pretty soon. The HTML5 web isn’t going to be there for it.

The most media rich demonstration of HTML5 so far is a paint program (http://mugtug.com/sketchpad/). An example of media rich content in Flash is this (http://lux.lookbookhd.com). Can you pick the subtle differences?

162 gus2000 { 02.22.10 at 10:30 pm }

I want Flash…to work on my desktop computer. Without spiking both CPU cores while doing nothing worthwhile. I’d also like Flash on AIX, where I can I download that? Hmmmm?

I HATE the stupid mouseover actions. Highlighting a menu item under the cursor is a nice UI touch, but it can get quite hectic when all manner of submenus swoop in as the pointer travels. On some pages, there’s nowhere for me to rest my pointer so that I can read the actual content, forcing me to move the pointer to the corner until needed. Blech!

163 pf { 02.22.10 at 11:45 pm }

“Tell me what Flash does that isn’t pedestrian enough to be replicated using HTML5, SVG, CSS, WebGL, and Javascript.”

Chatroulette for example. :)
HTML doesn’t have video conferencing capabilities.

And then there is the fact that javascript, just like actionscript 1, is a weak typed prototype based language. A joy to use as long as your programs remain small. But it quickly turns into nightmare as you try to do more complex stuff. Actionscript 3 is a strongly typed object oriented version of ecmascript which is much better suited for complex applications and team development.

There is nothing wrong with Flash. It’s a powerful tool. The real problem is how developers use it. They need to be better educated in programming apps that use computer resources efficiently. Simply switching to HTML5 is not going to solve that problem and may possibly make things even worse.

But more importantly: rather than just shout that HTML5 is better, actually start developing stuff with it today, and prove to the world that it is a compelling reason to abandon Flash. It’s pretty much the same way Flash replaced Shockwave in its day, even though the latter at the time was a lot more advanced.

164 Chipotle { 02.23.10 at 1:26 am }

@Gophero: I generally agree with the idea that Flash could be made to run on the iPad and that one could make a business case for doing so. I don’t think Apple will do it, mind you, unless they decide to allow Mobile Safari to run third-party plugins.

Having said that, I think you’re dead wrong about where Javascript and HTML5 are now, let alone where they’re going. Yes, your book demo with draggable items and video and all that is very pretty and sexy and oo-la-la and oh hey Google has been busy implementing an office suite in Javascript and HTML5. Microsoft Office it ain’t, but it’s certainly the equal of the attempts I’ve seen done in Flash to date. And for that matter, what about:


While I’m aware you haven’t specifically said things like that aren’t possible without Flash, I get the impression a lot of people imagine that things like that, well, aren’t possible without Flash. They are. Really. Javascript is an ugly language in some ways, to be sure, but it’s very powerful; loose typing and prototypal inheritance are just different design choices, not inferior ones. There’s still a performance gap between Flash and Javascript, but as Javascript engines get faster and keep up with newer standards for the language, that gap is closing.

At any rate, if a company really wants to produce a Flash game for the iPhone (or iPad), shortly they’ll be able to use Flash CS5 to compile an iPhone app — and if you’re talking about an application rather than an ad wedged into a web page, that’s really the experience you want. I suspect in practice this is going to be much more of a non-issue than people want to make it out to be.

165 kissmyawesome { 02.23.10 at 1:53 am }

@pf – “There is nothing wrong with Flash. It’s a powerful tool. The real problem is how developers use it.”

Well, there is nothing wrong with JavaScript. It’s a powerful tool. The real problem is how developers use it.

166 anonym { 02.23.10 at 1:54 am }

You say my definition of “consumer unfriendliness” is ridiculous… So you see no problem with Apple prohibiting you from using any browser other than Safari on the iPhone (and now iPad)? Not to mention the countless other useful apps they’ve rejected. Few may care about GPL ideology, but enough developers do, and enough great software is GPL licensed that it makes no sense for a platform to prohibit it.

It’s funny that you so eager to defend Apple. You do realize when Steve Jobs refers to Flash as a “legacy technology,” he’s referring to both mobile and desktop platforms, right? In fact, Steve’s complete dismissal of Flash is about the only thing he and I agree on.

167 olambo { 02.23.10 at 2:26 am }


If javascript uses a mouseover event , it won’t fire either.

The comment about Broccoli isn’t really clever or funny. You appear to want to have a rant rather than add anything constructive.

168 blog der polygonschmiede [ p13e ] { 02.23.10 at 3:04 am }

iPad vs. Flash…

Seit der Bekanntgabe von Apples iPad besteht die Diskussion: Warum auf diesem Gerät kein Flash laufen kann|darf|soll. “Damit Facebook wieder spielefrei wird”, wäre wohl meine saloppe Antwort. Aber man darf davon ausgehen, die Gründe für diese Tatsach…

169 Flash is out of touch (devices, that is) { 02.23.10 at 5:02 am }

[...] But, I have to wonder if the days of Flash are numbered. With the proliferation of multi-touch devices, is Flash out of touch? That’s the conclusion an Adobe Flash developer on why the iPad can’t use Flash. [...]

170 the bandwagon in the shape of flash’s coffin « Boff.se { 02.23.10 at 5:24 am }

[...] to take over the market as to why flash became so popular. On the same article there is this good points on how the “point and click” interface via a mouse (with help via hover effects) would [...]

171 anon { 02.23.10 at 7:38 am }

“These arguments are irrelevant.”

I think demonstrating that Flash support isn’t a deciding factor to a majority of people when they’re faced with choosing what product to buy, is pretty relevent to the debate on how important Flash is.

“The iPhone and iPod Touch were never touted for their Internet browser experience as a major feature. ”

Damn. Let me pause for a minute while I take in the vast dishonesty of your comment. The iPhone and iPod Touch have had their internet browser experience touted as a major feature since the day Apple unveiled them.

Here. These are snapshots of Apple’s website from and January 11th & September 7th 2007(use Select All on the iPhone page so you can read the, uh… Super awesome white on white text):

But hey, you can be excused for not remembering how internet browsing was touted as a major feature of the iPhone and iPod Touch back in 2007, though, right? I mean, come on. It was 2007!

…Except Apple has *continually* touted the iPhone and iPod Touch’s internet browsing experience as major features. Which you say they’ve never done, which is wrong, which you can’t possibly not know. Heh. Is that irrelevent, too?

“When using a small screen it’s less upsetting to have a crippled version of the net.”

There’s a magic treshold for screen size where lacking Flash becomes an actual problem instead of a non-issue, and the poor iPad crosses it? Woah. That’s so uncontrived it’s scary.

“Much of the mundane stuff done in Flash can be replaced by other technologies but why should it?”

I asked you to explain what Flash does that can’t be replicated in HTML5, SVG, CSS, WebGL and Javascript. Don’t try to evade the question by changing the subject to “But WHY should Flash be replaced?”.

“The most media rich demonstration of HTML5 so far is a paint program (http://mugtug.com/sketchpad/). An example of media rich content in Flash is this (http://lux.lookbookhd.com). Can you pick the subtle differences?”

Are you kidding me? The paint program is leagues more complex and does far more than that LookBookHD thing, which is nothing but some cheap animations and video tied together with another, slightly less cheap page flipping animation. It’s a perfect example of an unremarkable Flash app. Everything it does is completely mundane and replacable with other things, like HTML5. Most of it could even be replaced with SVG alone.

So you just proved a point. But I don’t think it’s the one you thought you were proving.

As an side, LookBook was worth it just to see that bamboo Dell concept. It’s so beautiful I could cry. Then I remember it’s a *Dell*, and I could still cry. But for different reasons.

“HTML doesn’t have video conferencing capabilities.”


“There is nothing wrong with Flash”

Well, there’s nothing wrong with certain aspects of Flash. But there’s a lot of things wrong with the Flash plugin itself. A lot. Some of the worst ones can’t be solved just by better programming, either.

172 timkindberg { 02.23.10 at 8:10 am }

@Gophero please stop posting that horrible example of flash. :P I love that you are arguing for our cause but that is a tacky example.

I love Flash. It is SO fun to develop with and amazingly intuitive. I don’t always love to use it though on the web, especially when whatever game or app I am playing with is developed poorly. I will admit that I’d most likely rather use a AJAX developed application like Google docs. BUT there have been multiple times that I’ve used a Flash app and didn’t realize right away that it was flash, because it was so solidly built.

I have nothing but love for the platform.

Here are some good examples of flash where I haven’t seen (yet) the same from HTML5:
- http://ecodazoo.com/
- http://www.us.playstation.com/flOw/ (this was originally a flash game but I guess it’s now only for console)
- http://imakemycase.case-mate.com/
- http://www.chatroulette.com
- http://machinarium.net/demo/

Please, now show me examples of HTML5 that top that list. That is just a few examples. I don’t have the time to find that absolute best, but these are damn good. Seriously shut your traps on how Flash sucks.

I’ve got 5 tabs open right now on my Windows XP SP2 machine in Chrome:
- Gmail: (using 86MB of memory)
- 3 Flash sites—Jim Carrey – official site, Machinarium, The FWA: (using 112 MB of memory COMBINED)
- This web page (26MB of memory, fyi)

The 3 flash sites use an average of 37MB and are doing lots of rich interactive stuff. It all runs just fine. I agree Adobe needs to get the flash player working better on Macs, that’s just embarrassing, but Apple is NO HELP whatsoever, they continually ignore Adobe.

Much love for Flash. (I’m ready for the “Well why don’t you marry it?” jokes)

173 roflmao { 02.23.10 at 9:49 am }

So it is obvious that you are on Apple’s payroll. How much are they paying you to spew painful ignorance like this?

[if I were on Apple's payroll I'd have better production and wouldn't ever say anything controversial. But if you want to talk the company into funding me in any way, knock yourself out - Dan]

174 Impact of Touch on WebApps | CloudAve { 02.23.10 at 10:33 am }

[...] has been a lot of talk on this subject, the best technical explanation I have seen comes from a Flash developer on why Flash is not supported on iPhone/iPad.Many (if not most) current Flash games, menus, and even video players require a visible mouse [...]

175 miloh { 02.23.10 at 10:57 am }


“So you see no problem with Apple prohibiting you from using any browser other than Safari on the iPhone (and now iPad)? Not to mention the countless other useful apps they’ve rejected.”

These things are only a problem if they present an actual limitation. If someone doesn’t need anything other than Safari, if someone has no use for any of those rejected apps, then it’s a non-issue for them. I think one of the main problems with the iPhone/iPad backlash is an overestimation of just how many people in Apple’s target market really care about such things.

176 Chipotle { 02.23.10 at 11:43 am }

@miloh: That’s an important point that I think a lot of people miss. We hear about high-profile cases of App Store rejections, for instance, but we don’t hear much in the way of statistics: what percentage of apps are rejected from the App Store for non-technical reasons? How many of those get accepted on subsequent submissions? My suspicion is that it’s actually a pretty small number. And more to your point, I suspect the majority of iPhone users are not, in fact, in revolt over the lack of a native Google Voice client, or the lack of a Firefox build for the iPhone.

I’m somewhat critical of the App Store — as I’ve written before elsewhere, I think in the long run the “One Store To Rule Them All” approach simply isn’t scalable and it’s in Apple’s best interest to open it to some degree — but I’m also realistic. A lot of people strenuously complain about Apple not making a headless iMac or a netbook or any number of products they don’t make that are ostensibly holes in their lineup, but every quarterly analyst conference call when someone asks about that, CFO Peter Oppenheimer responds, “See my hat? It’s made of money!” (I’m paraphrasing, of course.)

177 miloh { 02.23.10 at 12:37 pm }


Perhaps it’s their very success that is so upsetting to people. Apple seems to be focusing on a particular segment of the market, and by definition that means some are excluded. But to have them be successful says not only are these people left out, they’re also not missed. I can see how that might be perceived as insulting, but only if one desires to be part of the group.

178 stefn { 02.23.10 at 1:43 pm }

Apple is doing what any sane company would do when it is handed the unbelievable opportunity to define a new GUI, which is what multitouch is. Flash freaks better direct their whining to those (Adobe, Microsoft) who had to see it coming and didn’t lift a finger to move themselves or their developers toward the light. Otherwise, shut up and let Apple move on. Apple’s the one taking the risks; it’s not whining like Adobe is; it’s not asking flash folks to do anything different.

179 tonortall { 02.23.10 at 3:00 pm }

It seems to me that the rationale behind this particular dismissal of flash is pretty thin.

The continual theme is that existing flash content won’t work on a touch paradigm because of hover state. Ergo, flash has no place on a touch screen device.

Leveraging a hover state is not any inherent issue of Flash. At all. Adobe does not put a gun a to a designer’s head and decree that you must maximize the use of hover state. It is purely a design decision. You may have a point about existing content not being compatible, but that’s something that would be true of any content developed that leverages a hover state. Hint: Flash is not the only that technology that exposes this state.

You may also have a point that if you redevelop, you may as well use HTML5 where it makes sense to do so. I see two problems with this approach. Firstly, well written code of any kind should be able to be modified to deal with the lack of hover state. Thus fixing the existing the code should, in the ideal case, be – if not a trivial matter – easily handled. In any event, if the code was sloppily written, a good deal of the existing content could be reused: you would not be reinventing the wheel. Secondly, to redevelop the content using compatible technology requires one to learn a new language. So there’s a learning curve to that and the attendant lead time and considerable extra effort to regenerating content that was already in existence. Are there, for example, any high quality HTML5 content production software suites in the wild? I do ask as an honest question.

In short, the issue for me in this article is that you’re conflating the content produced with the tool used to produce it. It’s like saying “Ban guns because there are nonsensical idiots out there who kill people”. Again, you may have a point about *existing content* but it’s not Flash producing existing content. It the people that use the product that do so, and existing content is not the sole domain of Flash.

I have no vested interested in the outcome of this issue. Few of the sites I visit use flash in any meaningful way to me (I don’t play games for instance) but there are other avenues to dismiss flash which are already covered – so there is no need for rebuttal on performance, proprietary architecture, etc. It’s all been heard before.

You can’t blame Flash for the output of people that build content through it any more than you can blame html for some of the abominations you see on myspace and so forth.

BTW, your comments to post 83 strike me as odd. Firstly, you tell the poster to chill, then imply that they are not able to think rationally. Then you go on to talk about flashtards and, on the whole, get pretty defensive. You can see that attitude prevail through several of your subsequent replies. It seems you’re quite emotionally invested in this debate – this can cloud rationality. Disagreeing with your opinion is not being irrational. It’s called having an opinion, and as long as you keep your pages open to public comment, you’re going to get them.

180 dazweeja { 02.23.10 at 3:33 pm }

Dan, you keep repeating the fact that HTML5 must be better because anyone can optimise the browser. But with Flash, anyone can write a better Flash player because the SWF spec is open (though not ‘open source’). Obviously you’ve heard of the Open Screen Project which was Adobe’s effort to enable this? In fact, the only difference between the two technologies in the real world is who you feel is more likely to change the spec if you feel it is deficient, in the case of HTML5, it’s Ian Hickson/Google, in the case of Flash, it’s Adobe. My experience doesn’t lead to me to believe that the answer to this is clear-cut.

[In addition to changing the spec (HTML5 is lead by industry consensus, which includes Adobe -- incidentally, which Hickson reported to be holding up elements of the HTML5 spec in preference to Flash through procedural delays, despite Adobe's insistence that it isn't), there are other issues.

Sure, Adobe launched an initiative to get people to support Flash playback. But who is going to deliver implementations of the Flash player in a way that's going to work, consistently, and over time as Flash continues to evolve at Adobe?

Flash advocates harp on how Adobe can provide a more consistent platform than the variety of web browsers out there, but now they're arguing the opposite in regards to Open Screen. Which is it? Do implementations of open standards work or not?

Safari/Safari Mobile/Chrome are proving that they can. Where's your evidence that Open Screen is going to fix the mess of the Flash platform, where Adobe can't even deliver its own runtimes across platforms that all work? Flash only works well on the Windows PC desktop. HTML5 already works well across a variety of different vendors and across desktops/MP3 players/smartphones and now tablet systems with the iPad.

You can't FUD the idea of open standards and then say Adobe has the bases covered with Open Screen, because it clearly doesn't, and those ideas are completely contradictory anyway. - Dan]

181 miloh { 02.23.10 at 3:39 pm }


“You can’t blame Flash for the output of people that build content through it …”

“… well written code of any kind should be able to be modified to deal with the lack of hover state.”

I would have to agree with this. In fact, one could generalize and say that any good design should be able to accommodate relevant changes in the market.

182 Extensor { 02.23.10 at 3:42 pm }

I can imagine that when the automobile first appeared, people were like, can you make it so my horses can be hitched to the bumper?
These comments about Apple bending over backwards to hack Flash into the user experience crack me up!

183 eddieclay { 02.23.10 at 4:48 pm }

To those who say “The iPhone and iPod Touch were never touted for their Internet browser experience as a major feature.” – well, this hits the nail on the head, right into their head and out the other ear that is.

First, did you notice the “i” in the iPhone and iTouch name?

Yes you are right this is not about a “browser experience” and that’s the point. The iPad is not about a “browser experience” as we know it on desktops as well, its about being another way to experience the internet. Apple says a “better way”, we’ll see.

But the point is its another way, and certainly a “better way” on the iPhone for many things. If I go to Disney.com on my iPhone, I get a better experience than the flash web page I get on a desktop browser *for when and where I need it*.

Forget the desktop browser model. Look at iPhone “apps” . You do realize “apps” on the iPhone most often are Web/Internet experiences? And even through the safari on the iPhone many pages feel like iPhone apps now…the magic of css.

And yes, it was and is touted as so.

The iPad has more screen real estate than the iPhone, that means you think it should work like a desktop. You don’t get it, and therefore shout out ad hominems against those who try to explain it.

184 dazweeja { 02.23.10 at 6:02 pm }

@Dan, I’m sorry but your comments regarding the Open Screen Project don’t make sense. By allowing anyone to implement the SWF spec, the goal is to get Flash to work consistently across as many devices as possible. It’s not “arguing the opposite in regards to Open Screen” as you suggest. Getting Flash on WebOS (Palm) is a good example of the Open Screen Project at work. All other smartphone manufacturers (bar Apple) are following suit. I use Flash everyday on my Mac with no issues (I know that others have them though for some reason) and Flash 10.1 is much faster due to it’s use of CoreAnimation. It would be even faster if Apple would allow access to OpenGL and GPU decoding of H.264 but don’t hold your breath. Flash on OSX is only as fast as Apple will let it be.

No-one is suggesting the SWF spec itself is open like HTML5 but Adobe as a company does listen to it’s customers (though not perfectly). Dropping the Fx prefix in Flex 4 in response to developer concerns is a good example of this. If open standards are so wonderful, why has CSS positioning always ignored the needs of designers? When the CSS1 spec was ratified, the most popular design paradigm on the web was three-column/fixed sidebars/fluid centre content/equal height columns. No one called it the ‘Holy Grail’ then because it was trivial. Implementing this in tables takes 2 minutes, implementing it in Flash/Flex takes 2 minutes, implementing it in pure CSS takes an intimate knowledge of negative margins, hours of testing across all browsers, a sick sense of humour and a bottle of aspirin. I’m sorry but the CSS spec outweighs IE6 as the greatest disservice done to the web, as at least IE6 was useful in its time. Flex positioning (relative, absolute, constraints, advanced constraints, vertical or horizontal positioning, etc) is a good example of what CSS positioning should be. Any design you can think of can be implemented easily using this system.

Finally, do you really believe that HTML5 is not being driven by the editors (Google and Apple) for their own purposes? And what about WHATWG who are also working on the HTML5 spec? This is from their FAQ, “This is not a consensus-based approach — there’s no guarantee that everyone will be happy! There is also no voting”. Hmmm…

185 nednarb { 02.23.10 at 10:36 pm }
186 timkindberg { 02.24.10 at 12:05 pm }

Ok, obviously there are great reasons on both sides. I am a flash developer. If flash is going to die, oh well. I would be sad to see such a lovely language, Actionscript 3.0, go with it. Its a shame that the flash player plays so horribly for so many (for me it always works amazingly well, but I am on PC). I absolutely love how expressive it is and how many tools the language gives you. I’m not looking forward to moving to JavaScript, but hopefully that language will improve with ECMAScript version 4.

This article’s main point, however, is wrong. Flash won’t work on multi-touch, because of hover events? Wrong. I’m sorry, but even if flash haters can tout some very good OTHER reasons, this particular reason is horrible. I could easily make my own blog post called “Why AJAX applications won’t work on Multi-Touch devices”, copy all of this article’s text, and simply Find and Replace ‘Flash’ with ‘AJAX’.

Look if you want to make a charge for why Flash sucks, fine, but don’t resort to nonsense.

Still I appreciate and respect the time it took you to write the article and get a great argument started.

187 hd1080i { 02.24.10 at 12:39 pm }

Re Gruberball:
That guy drives me nuts, he is too close to his own stuff to see past it.

One example anyone with experience can verify about flash crash = doubleclick code usually crashing flash advertising
debug in this very website ( its a Nissan car hightower ad ) shows:

TypeError: Error #1010: A term is undefined and has no properties.
at classes::CShared$/get_val()[D:\Projects\Coockies\src\classes\CShared.as:62]
at classes::CExternal$/eget_cookie()[D:\Projects\Coockies\src\classes\CExternal.as:49]

at flash.external::ExternalInterface$/_callIn()
at ()
at flash.external::ExternalInterface$/_evalJS()
at flash.external::ExternalInterface$/call()
at classes::CExternal$/showInit()[D:\Projects\Coockies\src\classes\CExternal.as:38]
at SetIntervalTimer/onTimer()
at flash.utils::Timer/_timerDispatch()
at flash.utils::Timer/tick()

Ok so maybe I have tools the average user doesn’t know, but still its badly managed flash datatracking roundtrips with timed code that crash and hang browsers. I cant even go into the likes of eWeek.com with firefox 3.6 due to timeouts … “Not Responding” is a likely outcome. if you follow the trail it leads to ads.doubleclick.com owned by google in a lot of cases. Hence: flash is just the abused tool. It looks like DarkAges “shoot the messenger” nonsense to someone that knows whats really going down — banning flash in total is not the correct answer. Flash Ads should be banished, not flash the plugin… i would fully endorse HTML5- only advert treatments.

I could go into more detail but I sense much of the chatter here is not from developer level experience or expertise.

Personally i would like to see a headline stating “FLASH ADS CRASH BROWSERS FROM BAD TRACKING DATA HANDLING”
This would be the real useful underlying truth.

Also, Dan is doing the planet a favor buy REPORTING clearly whats going on, it is Mr Adams that made these claims and he is absent from this conversation from what i can tell. We need more rational people like Dan doing reference quality work on this.

188 iHuman { 02.24.10 at 12:48 pm }

You might want to check this out…sounds like touchscreens and gestures are an option in Flash. http://help.adobe.com/en_US/FlashPlatform/beta/reference/actionscript/3/flash/events/GestureEvent.html

[You're missing the point. It's not that Flash can't be used to create content that will work on a touch device, but rather that all existing Flash content assumes a mouse, and therefore isn't good on a touch screen. It's an installed base problem.

There's no point in starting over using Flash going forward, because it offers nothing but a proprietary lock with Adobe. Why not use the App Store, which does have an installed base and a business model and a lot of hungry customers on the iPhone (none of which Flash has).

Adobe's argument for Flash is that everyone is using it and it has 95% installed base on devices and that there's lots of content everywhere. The problem is, none of that is relevant on a touch device like the iPad, where it can't run and exiting content isn't any good anyway. - Dan ]

189 gus2000 { 02.24.10 at 2:09 pm }

Well, look what just happened to me:

The application Safari has quit unexpectedly. The problem may have been caused by the Flash plug-in.
Process: Safari [26236]
Path: /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/MacOS/Safari
Version: 4.0.4 (6531.21.10)
Build Info: WebBrowser-65312110~2
Code Type: X86 (Native)

PlugIn Path: /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/Flash Player.plugin/Contents/MacOS/Flash Player
PlugIn Identifier: com.macromedia.Flash Player.plugin
PlugIn Version: (1.0.4f348472)

Exception Codes: KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE at 0×0000000000000084
Crashed Thread: 9

190 timkindberg { 02.24.10 at 2:32 pm }

Dan, can you tell me how/why Javascript and HTML pages with hover events will work, but Flash with hover events will not? Why is that? Please can you answer this question?

191 Chipotle { 02.24.10 at 6:08 pm }

Tim: I’ll refrain from going “ooooh can I can I can I tell you tell you tell you.” Except for, y’know, right then.

I assume by “hover event” you mean mouse events, which is what Javascript actually has. And darned if there are in fact no mouse events on the iPhone. Javascript has onTouchStart, OnTouchEnd, onTouchMove, onTouchCancel, onGestureStart, onGestureEnd, and onGestureCancel events instead.

So by bringing this up you’re actually kinda supporting Dilger’s case here, not undermining it.

I’m just saying.

192 timkindberg { 02.25.10 at 3:02 pm }

@Chipotle Really? Well, I have to point out that all those awesome touch events are not native to Javascript, at least not that I could find, I could be wrong. They are native to the iPhone. So if existing content doesn’t support those events, why would it magically work on an iPhone? Couldn’t you argue that you would have to rebuild ALL JavaScript applications to support multi-touch, just like Dan said we’d have to rebuild all Flash apps? Also, simmer down man.

@Dan: I was seriously interested in how Flash wouldn’t work while Javascript would. I actually wanted to know. I wasn’t being sarcastic or anything. I’m confused because mouse events are basically the same in JavaScript and Actionscript. So I would assume they work the same, hence they would be subject to the same handicap on a multi-touch platform.

I wanted to know how or why Javascript works without any issues on multi-touch, while flash’s Actionscript doesn’t.

193 Chipotle { 02.25.10 at 3:44 pm }

@timkindberg I promise I’m not simmering much. I shall, however, promise not to goof on things this time. :)

Actually, yes, there’s a good chance you’d have to rebuild some Javascript applications to support multitouch. The cheating sneaky way out here is simply that there’s all that much Javascript doing really serious lifting out there. The most popular event to link something to is (naturally) onClick — and of course, that would work just fine, as would dragging and dropping, as those aren’t exclusively mouse events. Also, a whole lot of Javascript on web pages is doing stuff behind the scenes, like form validation and XMLHttpRequests and other things that don’t really care about the UI at all; Flash, however, is all about the UI, so by its very nature it’s going to run into the cases where a multi-touch interface becomes an issue more often than Javascript doesn’t.

…so really, the questions are: (1) how much Flash on the web is really used in applications, rather than video containers, annoying sidebar ads or those over-the-top splash animations to restaurant web sites that make you desperately look for the “Skip Intro” link; (2) how many of those applications rely on hover events and other things that have no direct analogue in a touch UI; and (3) how many of those applications can be recreated as standalone iPhone/iPad apps using Flash CS5 anyway?

My suspicion is that the answers are (1) comparatively little, (2) not actually that many, and (3) the vast majority. Point (3) in particular keeps being largely ignored in this debate, but most Flash-based games would be better served by being standalone apps rather than web page embeds. So really, I strongly suspect the “aaah! no Flash!” headless chicken dance is just a sideshow for everybody but people creating video containers, annoying sidebar ads and restaurant web sites. People creating annoying sidebar ads and most restaurant web sites need to be pickled and shipped to Antarctica anyway, so that just leaves the video containers. And if I ran a big web site that contained lots of Flash-only video containers I’d be irritated by Apple’s stance, no question about it. It sucks to be them. But if I ran Apple, I’m not sure I’d find “sites that contain lots of Flash-only video containers will hate you” to be vastly compelling.

194 davesmall { 02.25.10 at 3:53 pm }

@Chipotle said, “annoying sidebar ads or those over-the-top splash animations to restaurant web sites that make you desperately look for the “Skip Intro” link”

That’s my favorite post of 2010 to date Chipotle. You nailed it.

195 dazweeja { 02.25.10 at 4:34 pm }

@Chipotle, your post contained some good points but I would say, 1) Even if it’s comparatively little, it’s still thousands of actual apps I might want the *choice* to access and many that I definitely do use on a weekly basis, eg. Aviary, Babbel, Google Street View, etc. Take Aviary for example – this is a fantastic app that would be impossible to create in Javascript. Sure, Aviary could be rewritten as a native iPad app but why couldn’t I just go to the Aviary website and use the app that’s there? My guess (just a guess) is that it would take the poor devs at least 6 months to rewrite the entire app in Objective-C. What use is an internet/multimedia device that hides some of the best apps on the web from me? 2) I don’t know either but it should be pointed out that Flash 10.1 supports multitouch. Does Javascript have standard events that deal with multitouch (I know the Safari iPhone version has an API but do browsers on other mobile devices)? The events you mentioned in an earlier seem to relate to single-touch gestures. 3) Video sites are a very large part of the web. There’s currently no convenient way of delivering video consistently across browsers without Flash or some other plugin. H.264 is a good codec but you can’t watch it in Firefox or IE without a plugin. Theora is almost as good as H.264 but still you can’t watch it in IE without a plugin. So if you want one solution that’s going to work across all browsers, Flash/H.264 is still the best method to use. It’s fine to offer a HTML5 video solution (with Flash fallback) for browsers that support it but then you can’t take advantage of some features of Flash that are really quite useful (adaptive bitrate, encryption, etc). finally, I don’t think the Flash CS5 iPhone packager is going to be particularly useful for games. It’s fine for simple apps but from what I’ve seen, anything more complex than that is quite laggy. This could change by release though but I think they’ve got a long way to go. You’ll still have problems with the app store approval processes and all that junk as well.

196 miloh { 02.25.10 at 5:24 pm }


“… Even if it’s comparatively little, it’s still thousands of actual apps I might want the *choice* to access …”

But you DO have a choice. You don’t have to use Apple’s products. Nobody is preventing you from using something else that can access those apps. You are free to choose where your money is spent.

People like to complain that Apple isn’t letting the market decide. I don’t think they understand what that means. When someone puts a product out there, it either sells or it doesn’t. THAT is the market deciding. If people don’t like it, they won’t buy it.

Unless there is some evidence to the contrary, this is what I see Apple doing. The market IS deciding. I think some just don’t like the decision.

197 Chipotle { 02.25.10 at 5:41 pm }


(1) In theory, if you can recompile a Flash app, nobody has to rewrite anything in Objective-C. It’s definitely aggressive of Apple to take a “make it an app or beat it” stance, I’m not 100% sure I agree with it, but there it is.

Beyond that, sure, choice is an issue. If for you the iPad is “hiding some of the best apps” on the web, that may be a deal-breaker. For me, this is a fairly minor issue. I can’t use Aviary, but I can use other drawing programs; I can’t use Babbel, but there’s a myriad of language learning tools; and Google Street View is built into the map application. My iPhone’s lack of Flash very rarely hinders my browsing in Safari.

(2) I know Flash 10.1 supports multi-touch, yep. (I’m not arguing Flash is intrinsically Sucky Useless McSuck here, keep in mind!) The iPhone Javascript gestures do indeed handle multitouch events:


(3) Realistically, there’s Youtube, Vimeo, Hulu — and everybody else. The first two already support iPhone OS, and there are persistent rumors Hulu will soon. When you say, “There’s currently no convenient way of delivering video consistently across browsers without Flash or some other plugin,” well, yes. You can choose to consistently deliver video across browsers with QuickTime. No, I don’t like QuickTime either, but there you go. But as you observed it won’t be that difficult to offer a hybrid Flash/HTML5 solution; just make HTML5 the fallback, not Flash. Heck, someone sufficiently masochistic enterprising could make a hybrid Flash/QT solution, one presumes. It’s all H.264, except for those weirdos using Ogg Theora.

As for: “I don’t think the Flash CS5 iPhone packager is going to be particularly useful for games. It’s fine for simple apps but anything more complex than that is quite laggy.” …well, um. the iPhone packager doesn’t do just-in-time compilation at runtime, it outputs native code. While that doesn’t mean it’ll be faster, it shouldn’t be appreciably slower, since it’s presumably using a derivative of the JIT compiler technology to accomplish this feat. This can’t help but raise questions about just how well a “true” Flash runtime on an iPhone would actually perform.

(I do know that if I was an engineer at Adobe, I would be doing positively everything in my power to make sure a few popular Flash browser games run in top form on Android, ’cause if there’s the slightest perception that a complex game is even a little laggy, the sound of iPhone owners pointing and laughing will require me to wear earplugs for at least a day.)

198 dazweeja { 02.25.10 at 6:37 pm }

@Chipotle, I did say “Flash or some other plugin”. Quicktime is a proprietary plugin with less penetration and less features which is precisely why Flash is now primarily used when QuickTime (and Real and Windows Media) obviously had a huge head start in the video space. My comments about iPhone packager performance were about the actual performance of the Flash-created apps available in the app store now which obviously sucks (http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashcs5/appsfor_iphone/). I think this is because “the upcoming iPhone packager in Flash CS5 is essentially bundling the AIR runtime into a compiled .ipa iPhone application” (http://www.flashcomguru.com/index.cfm/2010/2/15/flash-air-for-android). At this stage, it’s not an optimised transcoding process but one that introduces another (slow) level of abstraction even though all code is native. That’s my understanding any way and Kevin Lynch’s recent comments seems to support this. I can understand why Adobe went this route as AIR will be available on most other mobile platforms so it makes sense but performance does appear to suffer with this approach. My comments about multitouch and video relate more to the main thrust of article which seems to be “why rewrite in Flash when you could rewrite it in HTML5?”. Rewriting a solution specifically for an iPhone is obviously less preferable from a development point of view than rewriting for use across all devices which is what Flash is intending to do. Flash aims to have consistent multitouch and video support across browsers/devices and I don’t think HTML5 will be able to achieve the same thing in the next few years at least (codec problems, multitouch support in all browsers, etc). I’d like to add that I definitely think that HTML5 should be used in preference to Flash where it makes sense – which to be honest is a large proportion of the current uses of Flash – but I’d still like the option to use Flash in the areas where it excels. I mentioned those apps – Aviary, Babbel, Sliderocket too – because I think they are the best. Sure, there’s alternatives but why should I have to settle for second-best on the iPad? Of course, I could buy another device but this criticism is all in the context of this article.

@miloh, market forces are one way to change company behaviour but it’s not the only way. There’s plenty of examples of companies adding/changing features in response to consumer feedback even when market share is increasing. Big companies do take note of the chatter on the web, especially if a theme is repeated often enough. You can tell from reading their Blogs that Adobe have definitely taken note of the fact that there’s currently a lot of unhappiness about the performance of Flash on OSX for example (even though each version of Flash has had greater penetration than the version before). I see no reason not to voice criticism of Apple’s policies, especially in the context of this article, and I certainly hope to move across to an Android phone in the middle of the year when my iPhone 3G contract expires, assuming that a suitable alternative is available. I’m not convinced that there’s one available now that I’d be happy with.

199 Chipotle { 02.25.10 at 8:40 pm }


I don’t think we’re in excessive disagreement; it’s in some ways more a matter of weighting. :)

Perhaps I’m prosaic because I’ve had to switch platforms multiple times over the time I’ve been using computers and am used to the idea that sometimes things I really like aren’t going to come with me, and the reasons why aren’t always technical. But I tend to get by. Sometimes I find the thing I thought was second-best, once I get used to it, actually works a lot better for me. On the Mac, TextMate vs. BBEdit is a prime example of that in a personal use case; before that, I terribly missed an obscure word processor called Nota Bene when I moved to the Mac. Nothing on the Mac that I’ve found is really better than Nota Bene, but my workflow’s adapted over time.

As I said, I’m not against Flash. (I actually work at a company that’s done most of the UI of the web-based components for the product I’m working on using Flex, although I’ll admit that it strikes me as an example of one of those places Flash wasn’t really necessary.) There’s still stuff that’s hard to do in Javascript–people keep tossing about “HTML5,” but Javascript is actually the engine pulling the HTML5 web app train, right?–mostly for performance reasons. Google Street View is an example you gave: maybe Javascript could do that, if the engine was really good and it had a strong tailwind behind it. Maybe. But probably not. And there’s no completely convincing reason I’ve heard for Apple not to allow browser plugins, particularly on the iPad.

The one place where “HTML5″ is the right buzzword to use is of course video. For that, I don’t have any pretense to a crystal ball. Issues with codecs, and to a lesser degree encryption and adaptive bit rate and such, are pretty trivial to address on a technical level. Addressing them on a political level is, as Steve Jobs might say, a big bag of hurt. :)

My main thrust is that I think the lack of Flash on the iPad isn’t ultimately going to be a make-or-break thing for most users. Despite some of the more breathless talk about how the iPad is as transformative as the original Macintosh (and maybe in some ways it is), it’s important to remember that for right now it can’t replace a computer. It relies on being managed by iTunes. Not being able to do certain things doesn’t mean the user isn’t able to do them, because the user still has a full-fledged computer. So the question is really, “Is the ability to play Flash so important to me that I’m going to forgo everything else this device does?” For some people the answer is certainly going to be “yes.” But it really seems to me that the iPad versus (as yet mostly unseen) competing “pad” devices–ones running Android or Chrome OS, rather than Windows Tablet PCs–is going to be another variant of the iPhone versus Android and WebOS phones.

200 miloh { 02.25.10 at 8:47 pm }


Criticism is fine. Acting like one doesn’t have a choice is just whining.

201 dazweeja { 02.25.10 at 9:41 pm }

@Chipotle, good points and I also agree that the video codec is a big problem. I can’t see Mozilla ever supporting a proprietary format like H.264 as it’s completely against their philosophy. If Google chooses to open-source VP8, this might become a standard but who knows what Microsoft would do then.

@miloh, surely in the context of this discussion, I don’t have to preface every statement with “On an iPad”. I don’t think anyone reading the statement “it’s still thousands of actual apps I might want the *choice* to access” would interpret that to mean I’m not able to access those apps on other devices like PCs and that I wasn’t referring specifically to the iPad. I disagree that the market has made any decision regarding Flash on the iPhone, other than that it’s not a big enough weakness to outweigh the other advantages the iPhone has over its competitors. If there was a situation where there were two equivalent phones and one had Flash and the other didn’t, then we could identify a market preference. Or better still if Apple offered both a Flash and non-Flash version of the iPhone for the same price and let customers decide which version they preferred. Regardless, I think by the end of the year when both Android and Flash 10.1 has matured, we will have a better idea of market preference.

202 miloh { 02.25.10 at 10:09 pm }


“… other than that it’s not a big enough weakness to outweigh the other advantages the iPhone has over its competitors.”

Yeah, that’s kind of the point. The market, as it presently exists, has decided that the lack of Flash is not a significant enough problem.

203 timkindberg { 02.26.10 at 6:37 am }

Look, you guys all made very good points starting from comment 192. In fact I think almost everything in this very long argument has been resolved (but that’s just me). Chipotle you’re very well spoken when not being so sarcastic, so I appreciate your insights as I actually agree with most of them. I do think Flash is being underestimated though, and I think there is a really good chance we’ll see a resurgence of it. People think it’s dying but really with Player 10.1 and CS5 around the corner, and Catalyst and Flex 4 coming out soon, it may be JUST getting started.

I also hate banner ads, cheesy splash intros, and all that jazz, I apologize on behalf of the Flash community. You’ll still see them, but that’s because clients still want them, and flash happens to be the right tool for those cheesy jobs (unfortunately), don’t hate the tool hate the game.

What I am SO excited about is using these new tools. Flex and Catalyst should be an absolutely revolutionary way to meld design and development for web apps. It would be a shame to see it die now.

204 Chipotle { 02.26.10 at 9:01 am }


You’re not the first person to note that I am sometimes overly sarcastic. :)

Flash got a bad reputation early on, I suspect, because it was targeted to ad agencies who were doing, well, ad agency things with them — hence all the banner ads. That’s not really its fault, no, but I suspect it’s the main reason somebody invented a Flash blocker. I suspect in the iPad discussions, people who have long hated Flash for those sorts of things see this as an excuse to dance on its grave a bit prematurely.

As for the new tools like Flex and Catalyst and Flash CS5, I’m not worried about them “dying” even if the Flash runtime technology is eventually superceded on the web. Remember, Adobe actually wanted to “kill” Flash with SVG before they bought Macromedia; whatever else one can say about them, Adobe’s a pretty adaptable company. If it really looks like the set of tools that ECMAScript 4 and HTML5 give you are (a) comparable and (b) taking off, expect future Adobe tools to target them. ActionScript is a relative of ECMAScript anyway, and they may move closer together with ECMASCript 4 (Javascript 2).

I can also dream that a future version of Flash Builder will move off Eclipse, but that’s an entirely different rant. :)

205 cadillac88 { 03.02.10 at 3:27 pm }

I think we can debate the merits/faults of Flash till the cows come home – as far as the Apple’s OS Mobile (or whatever its called) is concerned, its just not happening – period.

The cynics are right – Apple does want to make more money. But cynicism will only take you go so far before it begins to make sense and therefore gets one to the Ahh… moment. Cynics need to be careful to only go so far as to get their listener to agree that the target is a greedy bastard – to explain and relentlessly push past that point just has this greedy bastard seeming more and more normal. A cynic needs to give up while they are ahead. It shouldn’t be surprising then, after thinking about it for awhile, that Apple wants to position their products profitably.

The Flash Techies are also right. A square peg can fit in a round hole – given a big enough hammer. Flash could fit on a mobile device. And Flash will evolve. And it won’t go away. But, I bought an iPhone 3G S last June and although I noticed then that there were quite a few blue legos, lately there are fewer and fewer of these. Lots and lots of sites are now detecting that I am using an iPhone and they must have a secondary delivery method just for us iPhone users! The writing is on the wall. Mobile is different.

Apple is right too. Flash causes the Mac to crash – a lot. And uses much too much power to do what it does. One can discount this if they like. But pretty soon the discounting can come across like a salesman plugging a product compulsively to passer-bys that haven’t the slightest interest. He’s selling but no one’s buying. No one here buying the compulsive chant that says “Apple’s got no good reason!” Plainly, cynicism and square pegs aside, they seem to have at least one or two valid issues.

Sometime soon there will be over 100 million Apple OS Mobiles. Sometime soon after that, 150 million. Already, at 75 million, many web site developers are taking these numbers into account. Now, the FUD guys will say this represents a miniscule fraction of all web users. But at 100 million plus devices, Apple wants things “Just Right” in their own fussy way. And its just going to be more of the same as these number grow.

Apple got burned real bad a few times in the past. They lost unbelievable amounts of money in the 90’s. I don’t know how many readers are aware of that. Almost cached in their chips at one point. Left for dead they were – by old partners. Adobe included. You may have noticed that Apple now deliberately cultivates their own core competencies since then. Like iWork, PDF reader/editor, digital media software, Web Storefronts, Standards based technologies, and so on. This irritates quite a few people, as it seems to here, but for Apple to rely on Adobe to deliver the web to their mobile devices? Step back and look at that – not allowing that it just more of the same strategy of not being beholden to anyone for their own core needs. Apple’s current strategy was forged in the very fires that almost destroyed them – part of this strategy then, has to include taking all of those fire starters, putting a face on each one, and then keeping them (and anyone who looks like them) doused. That part at least, is very simple.

206 enzos { 03.02.10 at 9:05 pm }

That’s a very fair minded appraisal, Cadillac.

What a lot of commentators forget to mention is that Apple almost sunk in the absence of Steve Jobs. I really can’t imagine the business bungling and lack of focus that infected Apple in the late 80s and early 90s happening under the stewardship of Mr Jobs.

207 Chipotle { 03.02.10 at 10:02 pm }

@enzos: I do sometimes thinks Jobs’ magic gets a little overstated. It’s easy to forget that when he was forced out of the company the first time, there weren’t actually that many people shedding tears for him — he was a terrible person to work for (and by many accounts still is), and the vision he’s shown in his second tenure wasn’t nearly as visible back then. It’s fashionable to dump on John Sculley, his successor, but dumping on him fails to take into account that under Sculley’s leadership Apple’s sales grew by an order of magnitude.

208 fast_hosting { 04.21.10 at 10:03 am }

I have to respectfully disagree with this posting. Mouse over is not any more of a problem with Flash than it is with HTML and JavaScript. I my self have a touch screen tablet laptop, and I completely understand the lack of the ability to mouse over when using touch screen interfaces, but there are plenty of web sites out there that use mouse over flyout navigation with regular HTML and Javascript. Flash doesn’t bring anything else to the table that isn’t already on the rest of the web with JavaScript and HTML. The problem of mouse overs needs to be solved by the device or by the programming of the experience, not by banning an authoring environment. The mouse overs have nothing to do with apple banning flash. It’s a shrewd business decision on Apple’s part, trying make people pay for functionality by buying apps for everything.

[The issue here isn't that Flash introduces problems that simple HTML can't; a variety of content designed for PCs (including standard web sites that don't use Flash) is not going to work well on multitouch devices. In fact, that's why Apple designed the iPhone and iPad to use their own native app platform rather than trying to port over existing Mac apps, which like existing Flash content and many HTML-websites, are dependent upon the use of a mouse.

The issue is that Adobe is pushing Flash as a ubiquitous platform that is "essential to the web," when in fact the majority of existing Flash content is not suitable for use on nor optimized for a multitouch environment. So while all that Flash content could be revised and modernized to support Adobe's new touch features, the question is why would this be a good idea when there are more open, accessible, and web-integrated ways to do this that don't encumber users and developers with the other problems of Flash?

A major problem with Flash is that it isn't part of the web, it's a tacked on binary alternative platform. That means the browser can't render Flash objects as part of the DOM and apply CSS effects or transitions to them, nor integrate how they work with other elements on the page. Flash is a kluge that is now unnecessary, and since the majority of Flash content needs to be redone, it's foolish to redo it in Flash.

You can argue that there are lots of standard HTML websites that need to be modernized/fixed too, but this does not involve increasing dependance on some proprietary plugin architecture that doesn't work well, doesn't integrate with web standards, doesn't support accessibility, doesn't support mobile environments well, and so on. - Dan]

209 fen { 05.12.10 at 12:53 am }

Your theory that most Flash won’t work on touch devices is interesting. It has one tiny flaw, however – that somebody with access to Flash running on a touch device tested your theory, and it turned out to be incorrect.

We all await your correction, I’m sure. ;)

[Looks like you didn't get the point. The problem isn't that Adobe can't change the Flash Player runtime to support touch features, it's that all the existing content that Adobe is saying is so valuable does not support touch. If it all needs to be redone, why do it in Flash when there are better performing, less buggy, more secure, and more web-like and open technologies available? - Dan]

210 stefan { 05.12.10 at 6:11 am }

Dan, let me quote from your post:
“Current Flash sites could never be made work well on any touchscreen device, and this cannot be solved by Apple, Adobe, or magical new hardware.”

Now go to http://theflashblog.com/?p=2027 and watch the video as the previous poster suggested. What you see there *is* existing content. It has not been rewritten. It supports touch features. It works just fine, even where a hover is required to navigate.

So yes, your ‘theory’ is indeed incorrect. Some may call it FUD.

[If you had critical thinking facilities to exercise, perhaps it would occur to you that:

a) this issue was not a theory I invented. It was written by a Flash developer who experienced this issue first hand. It is not theoretical, it is a real problem.

b) the touch device Adobe demonstrated Flash working on was Windows 7, not a real touchscreen device anyone actually uses. Windows 7 has a mouse and cursor. That's why there's a cursor in Adobe's video. At issue is how Flash will work on devices that lack a mouse convention, which are purely touch-based. Windows 7 is not touch-based, it is a conventional desktop OS that can be plugged into a touch screen to add a veneer of touch functionality. This is not the same thing.

c) if this stuff worked well in a mobile environment, Adobe would have demonstrated it working on Android 2.2. The problem is, Flash is still crashing like mad on mobiles, and its would run into the problems described in the article if you try to run most existing Flash content in a touch environment that was not conceived when those Flash sites were built. This is not just an issue for Flash, but for any UI designs that assume a mouse cursor. The problem is that this content needs to be fixed, and that argument erases that idea that "Flash is critical to the web because there's so much existing stuff around."

d) again, I didn't write the above article. It is correct however. Steve Jobs pointed out the same issue. When some emotionally challenged Adobe evangelist stages a misleading demo and you clap like a windup monkey-with-a-cymbal toy, ignoring the huge problems with the demo and the major other issues related to Flash on mobile devices (including performance, efficiency and security) it's not me that looks foolish. It's you. - Dan ]

211 timbb { 05.12.10 at 6:19 am }

Dan, what are you talking about in the above response? Nothing was rewritten, that’s the whole point.

“If it all needs to be redone…”

It doesn’t.

[Sorry I hadn't yet reviewed Adobe's latest ridiculous bit of propaganda before replying last night. Turns out Adobe used the only version of Flash Player that has ever worked (Windows running on a PC) and hooked it up to a touch screen to demonstrate that Flash content can run in a multitouch environment.

The problem is, the issue isn't what Adobe is misconstruing it to be, but rather that mouseover events widely used in 1990-era interfaces (both Flash and non-Flash websites that assume the presence of mouse-based environment) must be updated to be used in touch based devices that lack the old mouse-based conventions.

Windows 7 is not a touch based environment. It's a standard mouse based environment with a layer of touch support. There's still a mouse cursor! This is simply a distraction by Adobe evangelist Lee Brimelow to create outrage among Flashtards and prevent them from thinking about other issues Adobe has not addressed at all:

- How will Adobe support 5 different new mobile platforms acceptably with Flash Player 10.1 when it hasn't been able to support just two in the last decade? Flash being proprietary means nobody can create a Flash Player runtime apart from Adobe. Nobody can fix the bugs, nobody can improve performance, nobody can address security flaws. But Adobe has demonstrated that it doesn't want to itself unless a platform is big enough to get its attention. If Mac OS X and Linux aren't big enough, then why do you think webOS or WP7 will be? Or for that matter, Android?

- How will Adobe address security issues acceptably when it hasn't bothered to keep Flash secure over the last decade? Security experts say not to install Flash. The tech press quotes everything Charlie Miller says when it might seem to be unflattering to the Mac in a theoretical way, but when he directly says "The main thing is not to install Flash!" nobody notes it. Flash is a security nightmare.

- The main reason for wanting Flash is video playback, but video encoding and web presentation are quickly moving to technologies that don't require Flash. Existing Flash video is not optimized for mobile playback. This is a problem Adobe can do nothing to solve. Yet the world moves to standards-based video playback (and it already has to a large degree) and once that erases the main reason for needing Flash, there won't be much reason at all to install a plugin just so designers can create websites that don't use web standards.

So your job as a Flash designer is over no matter what. Don't shoot me for being the messenger. - Dan]

212 fen { 05.12.10 at 8:25 am }

Dan: Lee’s video clearly shows that various well-known Flash contents work fine on touch devices without being re-authored. The sites in the video are regular PC-oriented flash, designed for desktops with pointing devices – and the problems you’re warning of don’t materialize. Those sites clearly don’t need to be redone.

[Perhaps not if you only want to run them on the one platform Flash has ever worked on. But how many people are buying Windows 7 touchscreen devices? That's your audience for your Flash content. See the problem now? - Dan]

213 @flashopen { 05.12.10 at 8:59 am }

Steve Jobs letter, the reason why he doesn’t want those specific devices to run Flash is clear. Therefore, it is not the touch-screen behavior to the Flash roll-Over’s! It is a new Apple business-model that took the hard way of not to support Flash.
They are looking forward to html5 and Gianduia http://flashopen.nl/?AE12R5020 and using their end-user-influence (power… after the success of the iPhone) to ‘kill’ Flash and piss-off Adobe and hundred thousands of Flash Developers!
Note that in the recent interview w/ Kevin Lynch http://flashopen.nl/?AE12R4551 such message has been well understood by Adobe. Adobe looks forward to their OSP and in this way, the successful co-operation with other partners which is already a reality.

[I don't think you understand the issues involved. - Dan]

214 fen { 05.12.10 at 9:58 am }


> Windows 7 is not a touch based environment. It’s a standard mouse based environment with a layer of touch support.

What is the technical difference between a “touch based environment” and a “mouse based environment with a layer of touch support”? It sounds suspiciously like a distinction you just made up. Do they fire events in different orders? Please be specific in your answer.

More importantly though, the sites in that video work the same on Android phones as they do on the tablet. (I hope Android qualifies as a touch-based environment?) See some of them here: http://tinyurl.com/2dg64cr

So we’ve dispensed with the idea that the sites were re-authored, and we’ve dispensed with the idea that Flash only works on one platform (!?). Any others?

215 fen { 05.12.10 at 10:31 am }

Oops! Just noticed in your reply to Stefan:

> c) if this stuff worked well in a mobile environment, Adobe would have demonstrated it working on Android 2.2.

As noted in my previous post, Adobe has done exactly that. So presumably we can agree that these sites do indeed work well in a mobile environment.

216 stefan { 05.12.10 at 11:50 am }

Dan – or is it Appletard? – I’ll leave you to it.
If your strategy is to drown constructive comments with an avalanche of follow-up material which completely ignores the initial points raised and tries to draw the discussion into any random direction then it’s working very well.
In case you hadn’t noticed, we were discussion touch support for existing Flash sites. I’d be happy to talk about Flash security, video playback performance, other supported devices in Player 10.1 or whatever else comes to your mind quite happily, but I fail to see how your edit/reply to my comment relates to the issues of touch support.

Also as a first (and last) time commenter on your blog I find your tone to be quite rude.

All the best,
a Flashtard

217 timkindberg { 05.12.10 at 12:53 pm }

I’ve read this article and every comment on it. I also just finished reading your “Why Steve Jobs Loves Adobe Flash” article.

When I read your articles, I feel like I am reading the cut-and-pasted together spewings of a highly intelligent web crawling bot. You present a bunch of “facts” that seem like they should be swaying me to your way of thinking, but instead I can’t help but feel immensely confused. It’s a similar feeling that I get when I read a well put together spam email that uses real words and phrases but ultimately is just senseless text.

It’s no wonder your articles cause such uproar from your readers, because it’s like trying to have a real conversation with an IM Bot.

You seem like a very intelligent person that has way too much to say and not enough time to say it. You tend to be very passionate in your posts, which further clouds your articles with bias. I’m not saying bias is bad, I love to read articles that are bias to my way of thinking, but they are still bias.

You seem to jump from one topic to another, delving into sub-topics when necessary and then surfacing to the main point when it seems that your sub-points have been defeated. This is fine, because it’s what people do when trying to win an argument. But if this entire article and it’s comments have just turned into one big argument then it’s pointless to continue; Until both sides start to give credit where it’s due.

218 munkey_mike { 05.13.10 at 2:35 pm }

You know nothing about Flash.

Every decent programmer knows that MouseEvent.MOUSE_OVER works independent of MouseEvent.MOUSE_DOWN. So Hulu for example, click outside the video then drag onto the video, and surprise! It works. Those are basically the same thing that is happening on the iPad. The user clicks DOWN when their finger touches the screen, moves around as usual, and then sends an UP even when the finger leaves the screen.

I’m astonished on how poorly you have researched this. It’s extremely frustrating because most people do not understand the inner workings of a flash application and just listen to what “experts” such as yourself say.

[So you point out that mouseovers work independent of mousedown events (yes, this is the difference between pointing and clicking with a mouse), but then say it's all good on touch because you touch and get a mousedown event. Well, the problem is that in a touch environment, there is no difference between pointing and clicking.

That is, incidentally, why users had to be trained on how to use a mouse in the early 80s, but nobody has to teach users how to use a touch environment. Unless, that is, they're trying to sell them a touch device that uses legacy Flash apps that were designed for a mouse. - Dan ]

219 mattlundstrom { 05.13.10 at 4:24 pm }

This debate ends here:

[But only if you're a simpleton rube wowed by overt propaganda. Adobe demonstrated select titles running on Windows 7, failing to address the real issues presented by the Flash developer who wrote the above article. Flash Blog is written by the same "platform evangelist" who so overstepped sanity that Adobe had to censor his rant. - Dan]

220 dazweeja { 05.13.10 at 4:47 pm }

What’s your non-simpleton take on this more detailed explanation of how touch events (including mouse-over) are handled in Flash 10.1 then:


221 dazweeja { 05.13.10 at 4:48 pm }

Sorry Dan, overwrote the link on the clipboard because I can’t log into your site on Firefox through Squid. Here’s the correct one:


222 fen { 05.13.10 at 5:18 pm }

> Adobe demonstrated select titles running on Windows 7,

You’ve been informed already several times that the same demos are up on Android. You’re clearly not interested in knowing whether the claims made in this article are true, merely in arguing with people who show contrary evidence.

If you still believe the claims in this post, let’s see some evidence for a change – name one real website that should suffer from the problems you’re claiming. If the problem is this widespread, surely you can think of an example. Somebody with a beta device can test it.

223 Chipotle { 05.14.10 at 12:07 am }

This is really kind of a pointless argument, folks. Events that can be easily translated to touch events, like clicks, will be. Events that can’t be, like rollovers, won’t be. Doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about Flash or Cocoa or Javascript. Code that relies on things that don’t exist in a touch-based interface will have to be rewritten. Code that doesn’t, won’t. Ta-da.

This is a pointless argument because the iPad can’t use Flash. Period. It can’t use Flash because Apple says it can’t use Flash. Maybe you think that’s stupid. If you’re right, then eventually non-Apple mobile platforms will be full of dazzling, must-have stuff that’s not available on the iPhone and iPad, and Apple will either change their policy or see their mobile devices fade into oblivion. (And if Apple continues to have a thriving platform even without the presence of Flash, then y’know, that means it probably wasn’t that stupid a call on their part after all, no matter how much it may get your goat.)

224 dazweeja { 05.14.10 at 1:24 am }

@Chipotle, I think the point that some people here are trying to make is that rollover/hover events *do* work in Flash on touchscreen devices without any rewriting. Good examples that might come to mind when people think of Flash content that relies on hover events are the controls on many video players. They work fine. The existing Flash content that doesn’t work is rare, not common. Did you see any of the links that have already been posted?


Also, read the link in my last post for a more detailed explanation of touchscreen support in Flash Player 10.1.

225 fen { 05.14.10 at 9:34 am }

Indeed, the salient point is that Flash only has a certain number of events, and they all get dispatched from both touch and mouse interactions. The only way you can really go about building content to break is by putting important interactions inside hover events, and specifically disabling them every time a mouse_down takes place and re-enabling them when the mouse is released. Which you can do if you like, of course, but it’s absurd to go around saying that “most” or “all” content uses such an odd style of interaction.

With that said though, dazweeja, I think the trouble with the video people keep linking is that Dan won’t have any take on it at all. In this post he relayed arguments that were supposed to support a conclusion he agrees with, but his agreement was never actually based on those arguments. He believed it before the arguments were made, because he’s the kind of person who says things like “flashtard”, so it’s natural that he should continue believing in it after the arguments turn out not to reflect reality.

Unfortunately I think this is what tends to happen when non-developers speculate on technology… People who program must unavoidably keep accurate opinions on the tech they use, or they won’t be able to make anything, but people who merely comment are under no such obligation.

226 Chipotle { 05.14.10 at 11:34 am }

@dazweeja: I did see the videos and I’ve read some of the documentation from Adobe on this. My comment wasn’t about Flash, per se, as much as about the futility of this argument. :) Mr. Dilger’s mind is pretty clearly made up and I don’t think he’s interested in whether Adobe has actually solved these problems in the upcoming release. But it really doesn’t matter whether he remains unconvinced or not, since on a practical level it’s about what Apple wants on their platform and so far Flash is clearly not something they want. Demonstrating that Flash 10.1 will figure out the right events to map from touch to mouse and so there won’t need to be as many changes as one might think is only going to go so far. I’m not entirely convinced by Mike Chambers’ demo in that it seems to be sending an awful lot of events at once (it’s the rollover-click-down-up event!), but even if that works great it doesn’t take advantage of the touch interface very well: using multitouch will require new code, and some serious UI rethinking. Remember, Apple are the bastards who left off arrow keys from the original Mac expressly to make it difficult to port apps that relied on them because they wanted to push the mouse. Replace “mouse” with “multitouch” here.

Again, in practice it’s going to be a market decision. If Apple is wrong to cut Flash out and to make it difficult to use anything but their own approved languages, they’ll find out the hard way. The problem is that right now the market really isn’t punishing them for the choices they’ve made. (The recent reports that there are now more Android devices being sold than iPhones is the first chink in the armor, but that’s a rebuke to their exclusivity with AT&T, I suspect.)

227 davesmall { 05.14.10 at 11:54 am }

Adobe’s customer is the developer who wants his work to run the same on multiple platforms. That’s what Adobe is selling – cross platform development tools. According to Adobe, it’s a good thing for customers if applications are the same on various platforms.

Well now, I’m a customer and I prefer Apple’s products. I could care less if they run on Windows or Linux or whatever. Furthermore, I dislike applications like TweetDeck that have an unfamiliar user interface. I think that was developed on one of Adobe’s platforms.

Apple must believe that companies like Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola, HTC, Palm, HP, Google, Dell, and Research in Motion are all working hard to create iPhone and iPad knock-offs. I think that’s obviously true. Before the iPhone there was nothing like it. Now these companies are all coming out with iPhone knock-offs. So why should Apple assist them in their copying efforts by making it easier for them to run software created for Apple’s platforms?

Seems to me that Steve Jobs arguments are pretty much correct. It is in Apple’s best interests, Apple customer’s best interest, and loyal Apple developer’s (those who write Apps using the Apple SDK and Objective C) to discourage cross-platform developer tools. So what if Flash developed products would run OK on the iPhone? That’s not the point.

228 fen { 05.14.10 at 7:32 pm }

As a developer, I would agree with every word you said if Apple was simply encouraging obj-C apps and discouraging platform layers. But they’re not, they’re legally requiring everyone to use one tool over another. What if future revisions to obj-C suck, and developers would be more productive writing their logic in Lua? Tough, they’re legally required to use obj-C even if it’s not the best choice. What if Unity3D does some mad innovation, and allows developers to build apps that run faster than they would if made in obj-C? Tough, devs will be legally required to use the worse technology. It’s the very definition of stifling innovation.

But you’re right that the change is in Apple’s best interest. It’s just not in user’s best interest, and it’s very very very not in developer’s best interest. I mean, there’s no getting around it – if obj-C is best, developers and users can choose it. The problem is that if obj-C isn’t best, they’re still legally prevented from choosing anything else.

229 TheCosmonaut { 05.16.10 at 4:22 pm }

fen has said it all.

Dan, your whole premise of this article is, in your own words:
“Current Flash sites could never be made work well on any touchscreen device… because of the hover or mouseover problem…. They are coded to rely on the difference between hovering over something (mouseover) vs. actually clicking.”

So if this is the point of your article, let’s ignore “slow mobile performance, battery drain or crashes” as you say.

Now, go and watch the video at http://theflashblog.com/?p=2027. Check out the video links to examples on Android devices provided in the comments above. Recognize that whether a cursor is visible on the screen or not, the same programming elements are happening in the background.

You could also try installing CloudBrowse and going to a Flash site to see how it works (although CloudBrowse barely ever can connect).

Now realize that your original argument, namely that current Flash sites won’t work because of the need for rollover & click, is proven incorrect.

No big deal – there’s plenty of other reasons to rant against Flash for Apple. Just admit that you got this one wrong :)

[You can keep insisting that you're right and that you understand the issue, but just consider: the people disagreeing with you are a) a professional Flash developer who wrote the article I published b) Steve Jobs, who knows something about how Flash works and investigated putting it on the iPhone before rejecting it c) Me. In contrast, the person blowing smoke up your ass is the "platform advocate" of Flash, paid by Adobe to blog things that are often completely ridiculous, as his last post I mentioned, where Adobe actually had to edit his hysterics to avoid embarrassment.

Consider the potential that you're failing to grasp the concept of critical thinking - Dan ]

230 genegibson { 05.17.10 at 2:13 pm }

The only potential “solutions” to the mouseover problem are terrible ones:
How about F: When a keyboard or Bluetooth mouse are attached, a Flash plugin works (from a Settings option).
— As large as the onscreen keyboard is on the iPad, I’m not going to learn how to “hunt & peck” again. I know how to type, and if I’m going to do any serious wordprocessing, I’m going to use a full sized keyboard. And, it can’t be something projected on a flat surface. Knowing where certain starting keys are located (by feel, and you can’t do that with a completely smooth surface) is necessary to touch typing.

But, what I would really like is voice command or voice to text that was relatively accurate. Nuance has a product that is very close on the PC side.

Flickr could come up with a Flash alternative to it’s Slideshow, but I’m currently enamored by Prezi (which is Flash based).

231 fen { 05.17.10 at 4:29 pm }


> the people disagreeing with you are a) a professional Flash developer

Are you serious? I’m a professional Flash developer, and almost surely have been so for longer than your source (since 2000). I’m sure many other commenters are too. More importantly, the author of your article is a Flash developer who, when he was writing, had never seen Flash 10 on mobile devices. He was speculating; we are not.

> b) Steve Jobs, who knows something about how Flash works

Steve Jobs, who recently attacked Adobe for being slow to move to Cocoa even though iTunes and Final Cut haven’t moved yet. Messaging from Steve Jobs is marketing, not technical information.

> c) Me.

i.e. a non-developer who, so far, has not been able to name a single website that suffers or will suffer the problems predicted in this article.

232 TheCosmonaut { 05.17.10 at 6:14 pm }

@Dan J
Well, let’s consider your sources:
a) a professional Flash developer
Guess what – I am too. Over a decade worth of experience. So are a number of other commenters who disagree. And it appears that a some staff at Gizmodo agree with us as well. Critical thinking: because one Flash developer says it’s so doesn’t make it so. Particularly when evidence has been presented to the contrary.

[I have to say I find it annoying and irritating that you think I should respond to this platform advocate/evangelist's troll as if it's a credible argument that demands serious attention. Also, you can cite yourself as a Flash developer with an informed opinion if you like, but once you claim anyone from Gizmodo as having something to contribute in terms of analytical skills, it again becomes difficult to take your position seriously. - Dan]

b) Steve Jobs
Where did Steve Jobs say that Flash couldn’t be used on iPad because of the rollover (non-)issue? Critical thinking: This is the premise of your blog post. Steve Jobs doesn’t support your assertion. You can’t cite him as support.

[The idea that navigation and gameplay is often dependent upon mouseovers is established in the article and you acknowledge it below. The idea in general that Flash isn't optimized as a platform for building touch-based interfaces but is subject to improvement as Adobe patches up its platform is a subject open to debate, but the fact that existing Flash content is dependent upon this is not controversial. Therefore Adobe's claim that today's existing Flash content is desperately important is completely undermined by the reality that none of it, from mouseover-dependent games to non-optimized video playback, really has all that much value at all. It's all obsolete and going away, so it doesn't matter if Adobe can fix some specific element. It's irrelevant.

Jobs referenced Flash's lack of multitouch support in general terms, because the details are boring. The fact is, we can all work really hard here on out to entrench Flash as a future standard, or we can work on web standards and continue to build something that Adobe (or any other one company with interests in contrast to everyone else) doesn't own. There's a reason why people who are finically dependent upon Adobe are for Flash, and everyone who wants things to just work well doesn't care that much about it. ]

c) Me
I have to say, you don’t seem like a trusted source. You’re not a developer, you seem to have a clear bias in favor of Apple and are vehemently anti-Adobe (how many articles have you written as cricism of Adobe?), and have been unable to present any logical argument or citation for an exterior source to support your argument. By contrast, you’ve been presented with a number of options which disprove your argument, including:

[This is why I won't be responding to your future comments. You are being a complete dick. You throw out a bunch of unfounded claims, and then fellate a hysterical Adobe shill. I can't respect that. You're being a troll wasting my time without a real point. ]

* http://theflashblog.com/?p=2027 (you assert that this guy is hysterical and seem to imply therefore that his video was doctored or misleading in some fashion. Ok, so let’s ignore this link)
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIl1k7wX7Fk (this video shows how they addressed the lack of a literal mouse in mobile platforms. Seems like the rollover issue is a non-issue again. However, since this guy is an Adobe evangelist, you may assert this reference must be ignored as well. OK)
* As suggested, try running CloudBrowse on your iPhone, going to a Flash website, and attempting to interact with it. While the app is slow as hell, you can see that interaction works just fine.
Critical thinking: Should I take the word of someone who ignores multiple sources of evidence yet provides none of his own?

[The evidence is that the most successful smartphone is doing fine without Flash, as are the most successful media players and tablets. In fact, the only people bleating about how great Flash is are people like you, who make their living from it. There is no evidence you're presenting here, just some attempts to ignore the overall problem and concentrate on pointless ways to find reasons why the industry should stand on its head to make excuses for and complex solutions to solve portions of the problem, so you can keep doing what you did and continue to profit from your relationship with Adobe. You're acting like you've won an argument. You haven't, you've just trolled out paragraphs of answers to the wrong questions. You think you are so very smart, but I disagree.]

By the way: I think the big bone of contention here is not whether gestural devices CAN support mouseovers (all the links above demonstrate that it IS possible).

[That was never the issue. Did you even read the article? ]

The bone of contention comes from two assumptions that Morgan makes:

» Assumption #1: “The use of rollovers is so widespread in Flash applications, and so important to their functionality, that the loss of the rollover renders such a majority of Flash sites useless as to make Flash unusable.” Unfortunately, the reality just isn’t so. While Mouse_Over events are definitely used in Flash applications, most Flash websites usethem simply as decorative rollover effects. Most video players will pause and display controls on click, then stay visible for a period of time, allowing you to click and then control them. All other examples (such as tooltips, maps and diagrams, etc.) are basic “web” functionalities that apply to JavaScript as well as Flash, and it is therefore illogical to say that Flash is impossible to use while JavaScript is OK. I will agree, however, that a large number games will be broken without the mouse_over ability. Does that really mean that it is fundamentally “illogical” to use Flash? I would say no, but I have a feeling you will disagree :)
» Assumption #2: “The only potential ‘solutions’ to the mouseover problem are terrible ones.” Most of the examples of Flash sites working fine on gestural devices that I provide above use Morgan’s solution D) Having a visible mouse pointer. Morgan seems to feel that the visible mouse pointer is so awful as to render the whole gestural device pointless. I would argue that the examples provided above demonstrate that the solution is far from awful, and in fact provides an excellent user experience. Additionally, his assumption also rests on the premise that the only possible solutions are the ones he offers. With all due respect to Morgan, I believe there are other solutions out there. (Assuming it NEEDS to be solved in the first place… see my argument against Assumption #1).

Nobody likes admitting they’re wrong. Just man up and do it on this point :D Believe me, you have PLENTY of other, valid reasons to criticize Adobe!

[Not only are Morgan's "assumptions" well presented, but you even agree with them enough to where your counter-arguments are irrelevant. And your huffing about non-important tangents fails to grasp that the problem here is Flash, not Apple's lack of support for a player that doesn't yet exist, not my articles pointing out the fallacy of Adobe's arguments and its specious attacks that have no merit. The problem is that Flash is a shitty substitute for web standards within the browser, for a lot of interlocking reasons. You can't pick at one part of the overall argument and say, "hey, there's a way we could make this touch stuff work if we do a bunch of clumsy backward stuff to support a terrible platform that is slow, full of bugs, riddled with security holes by design, and really doesn't need to exist."

That's not an argument, certainly not something I have to "concede" to you, and I'm left ashamed to have entered into a discussion where your ridiculous trolling has wasted my time. I might as well be arguing with the idea that life can not shift genetically and all the species on earth were handmade by a supernatural creator a few thousand years ago.

Flash sucks, we knew that long before the iPhone showed up. Did you miss the memo on Java clients not being all that? It got passed around like ten years ago. Having another version of the same thing with not just greater dependance upon a single vendor, but having that vendor being the clusterfuck that is Adobe, is not an improvement that is going to make Flash/Flex a superior replacement for desktop Java, let alone JavaME. It's pretty clearly the same turd with a different owner - Dan ]

233 TheCosmonaut { 05.17.10 at 9:35 pm }

@Dan J
LOL – well, I guess you should have written THAT article instead of the one you did. :)

Can you look beyond your knee-jerk reactions to see that I’m not arguing that Flash is awesome? I’m just saying this: This post argues that Flash CAN’T work on gestural devices because rollovers won’t work. That argument is obviously wrong.

I’m all for criticism of Adobe. I love my iPhone. I’m all for getting rid of Flash in favor of open standards. jQuery is a beautiful thing. If I could program tomorrow in JavaScript and HTML5 what I can do today in Flash, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

What I’m not all for is people taking an illogical premise, presenting it as fact, ignoring all evidence to the contrary, and then attempting to introduce new points when their argument is refuted. If you want to label anyone as a supporter of “grand design” in this argument, I’m afraid it’s you, my friend.

You write good stuff. This is a well-run site. Everyone gets things wrong from time to time. It’s OK! :D

234 MinuteWalt { 08.17.10 at 11:18 pm }

Morgan does not make a compelling argument as to why Apple and Flash don’t mix. It is, however, a great argument that touch-screen UIs don’t mix with applications designed for mouses and keyboards.

All of Morgan’s points focus around UI, and that has nothing to do with what’s currently happening with the whole Flash/Apple hissy fit.

I currently have a all-in-one PC with a touch screen, and for kicks, I tried a bunch of different things totally mouse-free tonight. (I don’t think I’ve actually tried to use the touch-screen much before tonight in fact! I’ve got a mouse and a full keyboard, & the concept of having a touch-screen when you have a keyboard and a mouse RIGHT THERE in front of you frankly baffled me, but this is what they gave me for an RMI’d hardware failure replacement for my old system.)

The results were mixed: I was able to watch Flash-based media sites and navigate most other websites just dandy, but games and applications were between “meh” and “unworkable.”

That’s it. Whoo-hoo.

Using a touch UI didn’t totally kill the content that I can’t (currently) get on my mobile device. In most cases, it didn’t affect it at all (Hulu, Ze Frank, and many others that are based on Flash). In some, not even related to Flash, it just made things weird (copy-and-paste vs. scrolling: which on would you give up?) In some cases (mostly games, Flash and not-Flash), touching was simply unviable.

And that’s OK with me.

I understand that using a mobile will not give me the same experience. Users of mobile devices don’t care: we KNOW that we’re not getting 100% of a website, because we’re holding a phone or tablet in our hands instead of a keyboard and monitor that has to sit on a table or on our laps.

So, the UI argument is kind of semi-valid.

Yeah, mouse-over vs. click does something important, but not all that important. Most applications don’t need it, many are slightly less functional without it. Some applications that are made for things-that-are-not-phones-or-tablets, would be completely crippled by the UI issue. And these are applications like word processors and video games that you’d probably want to access on your desktop anyway, because the UI is better.

What it boils down to is this:

I can’t access a huge portion of the internet from my portable device. I’d be OK with some kind of broken access; it’s better than no access at all. Broken access is what you get with a portable device anyway. It’s expected that a 4×2 handheld won’t give you the same experience of a desktop.

Garbage-y Flash games have brought my tower to a standstill on many occasions, and would probably do the same thing to my phone. This happened tonight, in fact, and I had to use Task Manager to kill my browser more than once. But many phone apps have decided that they needed my phone’s resources more than, say, my ability to call people. That’s just bad programming, and has little to do with the runtime that it was built on.

So I gotta say, mousing habits won’t affect most users’ experiences beyond what what we have to get used to when switching from a desktop to a portable touchscreen device. UI conflicts are important, but they don’t really break the user experience at this point.

spoken from the viewpoint of a user who has used touch UI to experience non-portable developed content

235 lporiginalg { 08.24.10 at 11:45 am }

The argument that flash shouldn’t be on the iPad because it uses Mouse_Overs, Roll_Overs…completely baffles me. Find me a website on the web that doesn’t make use of mouse_overs. Ever hold your mouse over an html hyperlink? Notice something called a CSS Hover ?

So if flash worked on the ipad, maybe we have to port our desktop flash site/app to a mobile version. Kind of like non flash sites. When you go to facebook mobile you don’t get the facebook desktop site, you get one designed for mobile devices? Why should it be any different for flash and for those of use flash developers who find it worth the extra development time to port our flash apps for mobile at least have the option?

I for one find this argument not be stronger than the other arguments (battery life, badwidth) but much weaker since unlike the other problems this can be easily addressed by porting the flash site to be MOBILE. Something you have to do weather your site is flash or not ANYWAY.

Let’s face it Steve Jobs has had a stick up his craw ever since Flash knocked quicktime off the webdar 10 years ago and he’s probably been plotting this ever since.

I don’t think flash is dead at all I think it will continue on for many many years to come and I personally will continue boycotting all apple products as I have done my entire life, because from what I’ve seen every single apple product ever made is over-priced and comes with restrictions that are not present on similar products you can buy cheaper.

[It's kind of absurd to say Jobs has some personal problem with Flash, given that Mac OS 8, 9 & X supported it all along, and that Jobs' initial response to 'will the iPhone have Flash' was "maybe" (and not "no," as it was for Java). But if that makes you feel better, why not believe it, just like some people embrace homeopathy and psychic surgery and whatever other mythology calms them down. - Dan ]

236 assistance informatique colmar { 12.14.10 at 2:18 pm }

Following reading your comments, I better understand why Apple does not use the IPAD technology adobe flash.
In fact I support Apple in this reasoning.
Long live HTML 5 Now!

237 BRINKwerks { 07.07.11 at 2:53 am }

retweeted. this post settled the apple/adobe iOS/flash question for me. really appreciate the information, especially the backstory behind the issue. | used mac in school ’88-’96, pc user since ’92, am feeling a sort of inertia back to mac. this post pulled me further along. hype aside, i think it’s mainly been about developing a sense of the value of the package to overcome the cheapsk8 in me. thanks for posting.

238 Jaken7857 { 09.02.11 at 5:16 pm }

The Nokia N900 has no problem rendering flash in full because it supports mouse hovering and full desktop adobe flash 9.4 (Flash support for 10.1 is available with a tweak to the software). It has a resistive touch screen and when you swipe the stylus from off the screen to the right, a mouse appears. You can manipulate the mouse with the stylus, which does not obscure the screen like a finger would, and click using the space bar on the physical keyboard. I have played everything from robot unicorn attack to shooting and action games that require precise mouse movements. It is the only phone on the market that can do this. It’s operating system is the only one of its kind on the market in it’s class, excluding it’s predecessor the N810, which was not a phone but an internet tablet. I have not come across a single flash site that I could not manipulate or view on this phone. This phone was designed for developers and not the comercial market, so it had more of a full desk top experience in mind, complete with root terminal access. Phones like the Android and Iphone are marketed to those who want a phone that has a flashy interface, but not fully capable like a computer. The N900 can run any linux or debian program I throw at it, and has a full desktop experience, right down to bit torrent clients and full hacking potential right out of the box. If phone OS developers started to design phones with a desktop computer experience in mind and a phone second, then flash would not have to take such a radical step in reformating sites to run on mobile operating systems.

[Oddly enough, cars aren't designed primarily with mechanics in mind, but rather to be appealing to consumers.

Also, sales figures for the entire N700-N900 line should provide you with an answer about how successful Nokia's whole "package a desktop PC in a small form factor" has been. Didn't work so well for Microsoft's Tablet PC either. What's the most popular smartphone on Earth? Oh right, the iPhone and its "flashy interface."

Perhaps if people like you were running Nokia, it would be falling from its position as the world's largest phone maker into a tailspin of crisis. Oh wait, they are and it is. At least their nerdy Internet Tablet can run the majority of yesterday's Flash content! - Dan]

239 enzos { 09.06.11 at 4:18 am }

You’re too cruel, Dan; Jaken seems like a harmless geek with an enthusiasm for 1990s-style software and gee-whiz gadgetry.

240 wawa { 03.12.13 at 11:27 pm }

It’s sooooo annoying that iPad can’t use flash. I wish Apple had big signs that “flash don’t work on iPad”. I wouldn’t have bought one. Huge waste of money. There’s also so many things you can do on a regular Mac that you can’t on an iPad. Every 10 minutes I have to look something up right to figure out how to do one thing. I’m not sure what its good for beside giant surf the net, emails and giant calculator all of which are available on my iPhone. I guess apple never thought about why we loved their product in the 1st pl. it did everything with ease and I didn’t have to think! Now I have to think. I don’t have time for that. I guess I’m on the wrong message broad, should be complaining to Apple. But

241 wawa { 03.12.13 at 11:37 pm }

… Some useful info on here thou. Don’t like the no cant happen attitude. Read & learned & read a lot on here. I think someone even mentioned a unicorn at some point. All I know, from all the postings here, is that IT’S POSSIBLE so make it happen!! Please :) it doesn’t make sense to me to invent technology (the touch screen) that can’t support something that already being wildly and widely used (flash).

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