Monday, 18 April 2011

Is Flash Cool?

Fab Five Freddie told me everybody’s fly,
DJ’s Spinning, I said “My! my!”,
Flash is fast, Flash is cool.
- Blondie
A couple of days ago I saw a really great bit of Flash work – Magnum Pleasure Hunt which was flying around twitter. It’s a really fun (silly) bit of interactive media combining gaming, video and animation in a seamless way that only Flash can do on the web at the moment. It’s a classic theFWA-style Flash site. A couple of years ago I used to check these kinds of sites out all the time. Now, not so much. Why is that? Is it just me reaching a jaded, “I’ve seen it all” phase? Or has the world moved on? Is Flash still cool?

So I turned to you guys on twitter and asked the simple question #isflashcool? (and give it a score out of 10 to be scientific)/ Here are your thoughts...

For many respondents, Flash developers themselves are the thing that keeps Flash cool:

Kyle Rodgers offered the pragmatic “8/10 - It's still far more capable than the alternatives (except unity) and filled with hilariously talented people”. James Whiteley: "Flash is 10/10 cool. The coolest people I know are flashers!" Fran├žois Gillet: "Flash is cool because I use it and I'm the coolest guy in the world!"

For others, technology is irrelevant. Dan Stubbs: "Doing anything more creative than veging on a sofa, eating food from a packet & watching X-Factor is cool". One repsondant has never really got over his first love, Adam Montandon: "Is director cool? It's had 3d and physics for years!(wipes tear from eye)".

For some, Flash needs to work a bit harder to move with the times, and keep up with the competition. Miguel Arias: "I would say 7/10, it still has its space but needs to adapt to this new era." Simon Rohrbach: "Flash is an brilliant piece of technology, but its era is over. 0/10, but I'll give it a 1/10 because it ruled my childhood." Dan Rogers: "I'd give it 5/10, because it still has a place, but coolness is dropping."Mark Grossnickle: "7/10. Flash Needs to perform better on mobile. Future is promising with Molehill". Squize: "I think Clint Eastwood is cool, I think Flash is a means to an end and whose star is waning due to real competition". joseeight: "#IsFlashCool - it used to be 5 years ago; #IsHTML5cool - yes, it's the shizzle"

Although my twitter followers skew heavily towards Flash developers, there were still a fair share of detractors. Jon Gold: "Flash is as cool as Coldplay. 0/10". And we also had some jokers in there, like graham milton: "Flash is [THIS_CONTENT_REQUIRES_FLASH_PLUG-IN] cool".

Some rejected the premise of the question: Paulo Fierro: "I'm with @cspelsor. the tools don't matter, its what you do with them". Grant Garrett "It's ALL about how you use your tool!"

For some, the word “cool” was a bit of a stumbling block. Martin Darby: "Is this not a bit like saying are chisels cool?-Well if you want to carve wood yes. If you want to bake a cake, no." Matt Pearson: "Skateboarding = cool. Swearing = cool. Snorting drugs offa Angelina Jolie's back = cool. Can Flash do these? No." Chris Pelsor: "Wow, nice to see Twitter has made that final digression back to high school... it's called getting old. You reach a point where what's cool is your kid getting excited that they flew a kite for the first time."

But anyone who knows me, will know that I’m not really interested in “cool” in the sense of Ugg Boots or Ray Bans – I’m talking about cool in the intangible sense that The Millennium Falcon is cool, or doing a good deed is cool, or yes, flying a kite with your kid is cool. You look at it and say “cool!” But it terms of the highschool meaning of cool, many people noticed that Flash didn’t have the best public perception right now. Mark Burvill: "I'd give it 1/10 right now. But that's kinda why I love it more than ever. Being cool usually means you're a dick."

Richard Lord seemed to pinpoint the indefinable concept of cool the best, so I'll let him have the last word:

Flash is not cool, and hasn't been for some time (5/10). But it gets stuff done, which is more important. Boringly, iOS is still cool. Unity is cool. Kinect is cool. Scala is cool. On the other hand, Flash, C#, jQuery, XNA are not cool, despite being very good at what they do. I don't equate cool with useful, effective or high quality, which are more important in the tools I use. Don't chase the cool, build the cool.
I can't say it better than that!

3 comments:

Mat Janson Blanchet said...

I don't think that such a broad question is easy to answer.

I think Flash sites are not cool. I do not care about them anymore really. Maybe I have a short attention span, but I don't care anymore to interact with advertisement. And I build such interactions too.

On the other hands, Flash for games is awesome. It enables just about to build games. No need to go through crazy processes like console games. Or approval processes, like Apple's. You have a stupid idea that you can execute? Do it.

So is Flash cool? Sometimes. Are the Flash projects cool? Not often, really.

Ryan said...

Mark Burvill and Richard Lord said it best!

Ta'Pete said...

Would The Magnum Pleasure Hunt be cooler if it was created in HTML5?
It's odd but somehow: Yes!
But just to us developers maybe, and to those using an iPad. The rest doesn't really care. So it's more the question if these kind of websites aren't interesting anymore or if we're just all getting old.

The only thing that I know right now is that Flash pays my bills. HTML5 doesn't but will maybe in a year or so.. who cares.