Before the Beginning
Let’s go back to when Flash got its start. That was a whopping 15 years ago. Think about that for a minute. We’re talking Internet Explorer 3. The internet was just coming into its own as a multimedia channel, and this arguably didn’t really happen until 1998. Anyway, along comes a little-known startup named FutureWave Software with its FutureSplash Animator. Macromedia, famous for its Director Animation suite, was quick to snap up this little company and its little language that could.
Once a plugin that could play these script files was installed, everyone using a graphical browser could experience multimedia in the browser window over the internet. Admittedly, it was choppy, had horrible sound and equally abysmal synchronization, but it was there, and it would only get better. As broadband came to more homes and businesses, Flash became more ubiquitous on the web, to the point where entire sites were made of nothing but Flash animations. Not only was this relatively slow, but web search engines couldn’t read a Flash-based website, so constructing your cutting-edge site with nothing but Flash could leave you with no visitors. It was also notoriously inaccessible to those with visual disabilities, which became more important later in the 90’s. Fortunately, it was around this time that an alternative was taking shape.
However, throughout its years of dominance, Macromedia and then Adobe hadn’t been resting on its laurels. Flash had been extended into a complete object-oriented programming suite, complete with 3-D animation and advanced IDE features.
Even still, though, by 2006, it was clear that Flash’s days as undisputed animation champion were over.
On to the Future
Here ends the history lesson, and we think about current and future implementations of jQuery and Flash.
But if you’re in the market for a site that will appear exactly the same, (or very close to it,) in any modern browser, or one that uses a multitude of vector artwork, Flash is still the choice for you, as long as you can afford its price tag.
Never Fear, Adobe
The above was a very simple illustration of sites that are more suited to jQuery or Flash. The bottom line, however, is that complex or 3D sites are difficult or impossible to create in jQuery, and it’s a waste of time and SEO to create most basic sites in Flash. In fact, the web is replete with sites that use either Flash or jQuery to do the same thing, such as display photos or sports scores. Alas, then, the reign of Flash looks set to continue, at least until a technology like Canvas can take over in areas where Flash still shines.