How Webkit’s CSS Animation could kill Flash and Silverlight …. NOT

Recently, Webkit announced CSS Animation – There are several articles claiming that this new feature could hurt the plugin space for Adobe and Microsoft … One of the most commented articles was posted on MacRumors Yesterday…

CSS Animation Coming to Safari, Already in iPhone. Less Dependence on Flash? – Mac Rumors

The incorporation of animation into CSS could certainly threaten one of the major uses of Flash on the internet.

I really dislike the author’s positioning of Flash’s major use on the internet as an animation tool – that was 10 years ago. When was the last time you saw “skip intro” on a site (unless it was created with template monster)? Yes, it still is a great animation tool, but it has matured into a great development platform; one, that is bringing revolutionary changes to the web.

Some of the comments on the above post are so fun to read because that are so illogical … why does Flash cause such emotion from developers:

I HATE FLASH!!! —–

Flash is a thing of the past, people who have disabilities like to be able to view websites and websites composed entirely of flash are nearly impossible for them to navigate. By using CSS it allows them to view the site, and have descriptions of what is going on through their text reader etc. —–

Yay! I hope Flash catches a computer virus and dies. —–

Animation, flashing, blinking, page sounds ruin the web. They are distracting from real content and used as a substitute for quality design. I hope that Apple provide preferences for turning off this sort of junk in Safari on both the Macintosh and iPhone/iPod. —–

No one should ever be talking about “when will Flash be on the iPhone,”, but rather “When will Flash finally die its long overdue death and make way for lighter better web standards?” Screw Flash and the horse it rode in on. —–

and my favorite:

Flash is slow, bloated and adds little value to the ordinary web experience. It SUCKS… —–

Ug! I don’t want to re-hash an older blog post about flash, but these developers are just missing the point. Flash, Silverlight, AJAX, CSS – are all merely tools. All of them powerful in their own way – all of them appropriate for certain uses. At EffectiveUI, we leverage the more powerful browser plug-ins (Flash/Silverlight) to create web experiences that move away from the traditional page based metaphors… In other words, we are creating software, not ordinary web sites.

Of course we use the other, browser based platforms when and where appropriate. I’m actually very excited about CSS Animation – but we will wait a long time to see how the standard is implemented across all browsers before we begin to recommend the standard to our clients…

One last thing … A simple plea to the technology community : drop the religious fanaticism for or against any particular technology – it shows your inexperience and your unwillingness to do your homework. Focus on the end goal: creating better software for people…


18 comments
  1. ethan said:

    People who value or need a deeper experience appreciate the power of flash-movie sites, experience sites, elearning, complex data visualization/graphs. I’m a pragmatist-to generate the elearning i make, have the least browser issues, have the ability to do data management, and also make complex animation/simulations, in reasonable time there is simply nothing else. Tell me how the new css animations will allow me to do an interactive exploded view of an auto engine for the techs?
    Another example-how can you do this without flash:

    http://microsites.audi.com/vdt-onlinespecial/

    Also bad 508 support has more to do with the developer not setting up the project correctly than a lack of support in flash. You just have to take the time to add it in. Given an interactive exploded 3d model of an engine will not be useful for say a blind person generally. In those cases we just make a standard page turner with a text based description of the content.

    Also when users complain about slow flash performance i find it usually has more to do with older hardware (why can’t i run full screen mpg4 video in flash on my intel 800ghz dell laptop?), overly aggressive virusscan software or some other stupid process the IT dept has running. For home computers the typical issue is having all this adware, malware etc. installed.

  2. eksith said:

    This is like the web equivalent of VHS vs Betamax war. In the end, it’s not about functionality or capability. It’s about consumer adoption and actual usage.

    What is Flash mostly being used for today?
    If it’s rich user interfaces and web functionality, then it’s VHS.
    If it’s mostly widgets and a few nice tricks, then it’s beta. Irrespective of quality.

    I don’t believe most resonable developers think Webkit will rip Flash a new one. If anything a heterogeneous rich UI world may be a good thing.

    And some of those comments make me seriously question if they are indeed web developers… Or if they are, heaven help us!

  3. prashant said:

    hi This is really good

  4. prashant said:

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  5. I can not agree more with your last sentence:

    ‘One last thing … A simple plea to the technology community : drop the religious fanaticism for or against any particular technology – it shows your inexperience and your unwillingness to do your homework. Focus on the end goal: creating better software for people…’

    I’ll say a huge AMEN to that!
    I wish I could work at your company… :)

  6. Michael said:

    I think the attacks on Flash (and most technologies) is somewhat misplaced. I think the concept of Flash is fine, but it’s implementation, and/or usage, is poor.

    For example, the Flash plug-in for Macs is horrible. It causes many of the crashes Safari has. (Personally, I think that the plug-in architecture that constantly has to be updated, such as Flash, Silverlight, etc. is a nuisance).

    Flash is also the poster child technology of many a poorly designed website. All those annoying ads, etc. are almost always in Flash.

    However, you are correct in saying that Flash has it’s uses. It can stretch beyond the boundaries of a browser window better than some other technologies. In the end we do have to use the right tool, for the right job, but also in the right fashion. Personally, if I can use something like CSS Animation, Javascript, etc, that is native to every browser and doesn’t require the user constantly update like Flash and Silverlight do, the better.

  7. Andrés said:

    Kill….??
    come on, bullshit….

  8. Andrés, did you actually READ the post?

  9. Suede said:

    I believe it’s wrong to say “I hope Flash dies”. Flash is there for a purpose and it can materialize things that cannot be implemented with other technologies. People just misuse it.

  10. bit said:

    Yknow… I’ve noticed how every time a developer does something stupid, it’s because he thinks his little website is ment to be a “platform” or an “application”.

    Wake up people! the browser is your tool, and it’s not ment to be anything more than what its name implies.

    If you want to create an application, don’t be such a godamn amateur about it. Create your own software, with its own process, in its own window. Thats how you properly use a computers’ architecture.

  11. Seán said:

    As end users you wouldn’t be aware of important design criteria used throughout the discipline. Suffice to say the Flash product is not usable in any meaningful way. It is undoubtedly one of the greatest killer apps of all time it’s right up there with spreadsheets. It’s not safe to tie a system to a single proprietary component.

  12. It all boils down to the designer. This whole “flash is bad” discussion is useless, it’s like saying cars are bad because they cause accidents, which is not correct as in 99% of all accidents it’s the driver that causes the problem.

  13. flash is only as bad as the designer of the use. I think Flash’s inherent problem is that is is too “open ended”. Designers see it as a blank slate where they can do whatever they want. Many times this results in designers gone wild with requests like “can we put an flv in the preloader” or doing things that are totally unintuitive. at least with html css there are limits and restrictions of what you can and cant do that keep designers more under control.

  14. Bankacı said:

    Very cool. Thanks

  15. Bim said:

    I’ve played with flash and designed a complete website in it – found it very clunky and hard trying to get to grips with the hardest bit is probably trying to relate to the ‘stage’ took hours of banging head on desk to get things working. And then i’ve also just got into webkit with google’s push on chrome for the last couple of months. Personally i think they are 2 different things – webkit being light and simple i found it very easy to understand and very easy to implement definately the future of web design.

    I find flash more like an interactive movie thats either put into the page like an image or a fullscreen interactive movie the big problem with flash is it doesnt interact with anything outside of it easily where as webkit interacts and moves actual on page elements so you can dynamically generate changing content.

    You can check out the webkit & flash sites at http://www.merrehill.co.uk

    The webkit one currently just works in chrome as it’s what i learn’t in, if firefox can do all the animations we hope to support firefox soon.
    It was a quick idea and test to see what could be done with webkit. i think we’ll be moving over to webkit for its interaction with the html page.

    So i think you’re right in that it won’t replace flash, just it will cut out most if not all of their basic users that were using it for simple movement.

    And i dont know about silverlight never even looked at it!

  16. Had a look at http://www.merrehill.co.uk Bim – you have no less than 3 sites there! Flash, webkit and an “ordinary” IE type website – I think it’s like what you are very good at. You can do things with Flash the others won’t or can’t do – it takes more to learn to use it and it is more demanding – horses for courses. Perhaps Adbobe should look at a Flash-light?

  17. Thank you for an article that doesn’t ignorantly bash apples against oranges. Silverlight is primarily for Line of Business development.

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