Sunday, January 23, 2011

FOSS equivalent of Flash

This thought has been bubbling for a long, long time, at least since February of last year, if not sooner. Why is there no Open Source alternative to Flash? Flash is, no doubt, one of the most essential parts of the internet, hence why Apple takes so much flack for claiming that it is outdated.

I know that already you might be thinking of HTML5. I don't think HTML5 was around back in February, and it could be said that it's not even around now. I mean, it's around, but not in a way that you can just pull up any website and see HTML5 at work, and certainly not in a way that you can see it replacing Flash across the web. As Greensock.com put it,
HTML5 is an evolving standard that promises some exciting capabilities, but it is most definitely NOT a Flash killer.
Now basically, I see several different uses for Flash -some have alternatives, some don't. Also, I realize that they all kind of mesh together here and there, but duh, they are all made from the same source.
  1. Videos.
    Oh come on, you had to see this coming. Everyone loves their flash videos. When complaining that iOS doesn't have flash, watching videos outside of the Youtube app is almost always the driving reason. But the fact is, this isn't even necessarily Flash itself, it just uses Flash to embed a video file (usually FLV) onto the web page. HTML5 is actually a decent replacement for that, as far as I know.
  2. Website Navigation.
    I myself have mixed feelings about this, but it's still a valid use for Flash. Most sites that tend to use this tend to go overkill on the flash (like "zing" or "look-at-me"), so I find it annoying most of the times, but it can be used to subtly add a navigation to your site. I think that HTML5 might also be good for this, but I really haven't looked into it.
  3. Animations/Games.
    Perfect example of Animation: Homestarrunner. Perfect example of Games: Super Smash Flash. Honestly, most Flash games tend to suck something fierce, but there are many, many decent ones out there that can be played right in your browser. Plus, you can download many of them as SWF files and play them on your desktop. This is where I don't think that are any alternatives at all.
 I'm really getting offtrack, since I didn't want to do a complete breakdown of Flash vs. HTML5. But I wanted to clarify where I was coming from: I'm not talking about embedding videos or even website navigation, I'm talking more on the sides of animations and games.Why is there no open source application that can be used to create Strong Bad e-mails, or create games like Super Smash Flash? A while ago, I thought that maybe it could even use flash files, or be able to compile to SWF, but I realize now that it's probably impossible just because Flash is so proprietary (not that I'm knocking it....Adobe's a good company). But even so, any alternative would be good, and I'm somewhat confused as to why there is none.

-Bry

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