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The rise and rise of Jquery. What is the future for Flash? Flash v/s Jquery a head to head comparison.
16th May 2011

I never liked Flash. But as a web designer i had no choice but to use it to deliver certain effects which were required for some sites. I must admit that we did some pretty awesome sites using Flash but remaining reliant on a proprietory technology from one company rankled.

The monopoly of Flash and the problem with proprietory software.

Flash technology earlier used to be owned by Macromedia and now by Adobe (who bought Macromedia). This put a lot of power and responsibility into the a single software company. Anyone whose Windows OS  has crashed will agree with me  that relying on a monopoly company to provide good software is not a good idea.

The majority of Flash used is for routine animation effects that Jquery handles efficiently.

If you view usage patterns of Flash on websites you will notice that the majority of applications are for routine tasks such as slide shows, minor effects and navigation effects. These can be handled just as easily now using Jquery scripts. There have been many sites I have visited and been wowed by the effects only to find that the effects are actually through Jquery.

Apple drives a spike through the heart of Flash -  is Apple's justification valid

Perhaps the biggest blow to Flash's credibility comes from Apple. Apple has stubbornly refused to support Flash on its Ipads and Iphones instead promoting support for HTML 5 and Jquery. Apple argues that Flash applications drain device batteries faster than any other application and are not worth the cost to the device battery life. Apple also makes a sideways swipe at Flash by saying that many Flash websites are just plain ugly and over the top. I tend to agree with this. If you have had to go through as many garrish Flash sites as I have you'll understand.

What about those web designers that create fantastic sites using Flash.

Although Flash has been delivered several body blows its not going to dissappear overnight. It is still a pretty awesome tool in the right hands and some Flash sites are beyond brilliant in design and functionality. However now designers cannot take support and tolerance for Flash for granted.

The assumption that users will automatically download the Flash plugin everytime they encounter it may not be valid anymore. Now users might choose to skip viewing Flash sites by refusing to download the Flash plugin unless the site content or brand is very compelling.

The right to use Flash on your site will have to be earned. Professional Flash designers will have to take care to make sure their design and content is worth the cost Flash content usually takes in terms of plugins and download time.

Flash was poison for Search Engine Optimization - Jquery has no such hangups.

As a SEO expert you usually avoid Flash sites as they are notoriously difficult to optimize and promote. Although there are techniques to optimize Flash for search engines its not as effective as an HTML site running Jquery. Jquery merges seamlessly with the site content providing a lot of scope for the SEO expert. Although excessive scripting can hurt a site's indexability its not as bad as Flash.

Here's a quick head to head on Flash versus Jquery

1. The flexibility of Flash effects and the type of animation that can be created is mind boggling. Some Flash sites are jaw dropping in their creativity. 1. Jquery only provides very standard and basic effects such as slideshows, menus and such. It cannot compare with Flash's range of effects..
2. Flash is proprietary software. To design with it you need to purchase a very costly software package that needs to be upgraded periodically. 2. Jquery is open source and is a very advanced form of Java Script and can be downloaded and used by anyone
3. Flash is browser independent provided you can download the Flash plugins for the browser. The plugin is however free for all users and once installed do not need to be installed again. 3. Jquery is also browser independent but is not supported on older versions of most browsers such as IE6 or IE7. Scripts also have to be updated with every new version of browsers launched. But most Jquery script writers make sure they provide support for the latest versions of popular browsers.
4. Flash has a huge and dynamic developer community with thousands of scripts and animation effects available for purchase and download. Flash is also well supported and documented through message boards and designer community sites. 4. Jquery being new has a limited set of developers but is growing every day. Most scripts have poor documentation and support. Paid Jquery script market is also very small since it's based on open source technology. This is changing day by day with new programmers and developers adding to the Jquery community.
5. Flash is not supported on Apple Ipads and Iphones. This is a huge drawback for the Flash community. 5. Jquery works on Ipads and Iphones. However Apple focuses more on HTML 5.
6. Flash is and has always been SEO poison. Since all the content resides in flash files that a search engine bot cannot read, it costs big time in terms of search engine promotion. 6. Jquery is woven into the code of the page and content is available for the search engine bot to index. This is a place where Jquery scores majorly over Flash.

In conclusion it seems Flash is heading for a diminshed and specialized role in web design with Jquery taking over the bulk of the routine effects. Designers looking to create Flash site will no longer be able to get away with mediocre effects and gaudy designs. They will need to justify their use of Flash. As in many other areas this is a battle which only time will tell.

Cheers,
Ron

We have both Flash and Jquery in our portfolio of work. The client gets to choose. Check out both at https://www.miracleworx.com/porfolio.htm

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