Of Prams, Toys and Throwing Stuff Out

Sorry for straying off-topic. If you’ve no interest in the iPhone, or Flash, skip this post.

Adobe’s ‘Flash evangelist’ Lee Brimelow isn’t happy with Apple:

Now let me put aside my role as an official representative of Adobe for a moment as Speaking purely for myself, I would look to make it clear what is going through my mind at the moment. Go screw yourself Apple.

His beef is with Apple’s proposed change of terms in the iPhone OS 4.0 SDK agreement that state that you can’t use third-party frameworks. However I can see their reasons:

1) Developers are likely to miss many of the APIs that make the iPhone experience stand head and shoulders above earlier versions of the OS (and, for that matter, other smartphone platforms). Moreover, if any framework becomes overwhelmingly popular, Apple will lose the ability to rapidly update functionality independently of the third-party’s agenda.

2) Existing apps produced using the Flash iPhone Packager, those that have somehow managed to get approved and are available on the App Store, get resoundingly bad reviews (usually citing poor performance).

3) Adobe are using a back-door method here, one that they didn’t clear with Apple before they started trumpeting it as a tent pole feature of Flash CS5. I’ve seen comments online to the effect that Apple should have said something to Adobe when they made their announcement. But why should Company A react to a pre-release feature in Company B’s software? If you have a tent pole feature it’s manifestly your responsibility to make sure you’re not sticking it into quicksand. You don’t assume there’ll be signs up in someone’s garden saying, ‘No camping’, you ask permission first; it’s only polite.

The developers that Apple are supposedly slighting here are Flash developers, not iPhone developers; nothing is being taken away from them. There are plenty of apps already without opening the floodgates to countless self-indulgent conceptions from mewling, crayon-wielding anklebiters.

Flash on the web is finally being beaten back by a machete-against-weeds combination of common sense design and user-installed Flash blockers (like the excellent Click to Flash for Safari or Flashblock for Firefox).

Don’t get me wrong, Flash has a place. Its ubiquity on the desktop is useful and there are still some things that are best delivered in Flash. But the number of times I come across sites with needless Flash elements just because the designer doesn’t know how to use a free javascript library is enormously frustrating. I suppose Flash files do cost more to update (and few will give up their source files) so I can see the attraction for some designers in the guarantee of future work.

This isn’t about how much I think Flash sucks, this is about a company exerting their right to care for the platform they created. If users have bad experiences with a large number of apps (and the Flash Packager would result in a tidal wave of submissions to the App Store) they won’t simply blame the app; they’ll blame the device.

If you’ve not had enough anti-Flash invective, hop over here and see how someone who isn’t an Apple aficionado feels about it.

Image credit: babydinosaur via Creative Commons on Flickr