Developer Peter Zotov has started a campaign to kill Adobe Flash off sooner rather than later. Some of the reasons he gives include hundreds of security holes, the drain on battery life and the exclusion of Flash from most mobile platforms.
But his chief complaint is that Adobe can’t protect Flash code. His ability to crack protected or obfuscated Flash on the Flash player lends credibility to the argument. He challenges anyone to supply protected or obfuscated Flash code that he can’t break.
Of course, Adobe hasn’t killed Flash on mobile. Development on the mobile Flash player has been stopped but the company says, “Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores.” On iOS this means generating an Xcode package that can be built and deployed as a native code app.
HTML5 has made leaps and bounds but we’re in a transition period, and it will be at least a couple of years before it’s technically superior to Flash. For now, the Flash video player is still better than its HTML5 equivalents. When it comes to desktop games, Flash still has the edge with over 10 years of refinement. In its 2012 Flash roadmap, Adobe says that, “(looking) forward, Adobe believes that Flash is particularly suited for addressing the gaming and premium video markets.”
The larger issue though isn’t really about Flash vs HTML5, but about mobile vs. desktop. That renders the Flash vs HTML5 argument moot. If no mobile platforms run Flash (and Android from 4.1 on no longer will) then the mobile future has to be either native apps or HTML5.
Still, by closing down Flash on the desktop now, we’d be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The world just isn’t ready to drop Flash — HTML5 can’t fully replace it right now.
(The job market for Flash developers is still pretty healthy. A search for Flash Developer jobs in Dice returned nearly 700 jobs.)
Peter Zotov’s campaign isn’t really necessary. The more savvy Flash developers will accept the need to grasp the HTML5 nettle soon enough, and once cross-browser support and WebGL have reached an acceptable common denominator on mobile and the desktop it will be business as usual.