Flash is dead. Long live the internet.

When I was in high school I didn’t own a computer. I used to read the occasional Popular Mechanics magazine and would linger for a while on the articles about the internet or HTML, fascinated by this new technology that I had barely even used. I don’t know why, but for some reason I’ve always been drawn toward computers, but more specifically, computers connected to other computers. Whether it was playing a video game online or browsing through the millions of websites, I could always spend hours every day in front of a computer soaking up information and experiences, interacting with people on the other side of the world.

Soon after I bought my first computer I started building simple websites. I had all of the best animated gifs you could find, along with those awesome water ripple java applets and whatever other bells and whistles I could find. It was awesome. I wanted to push the boundaries of this new thing. To make something unique that nobody had seen before. This led me to Macromedia Flash 4. My new hobby slowly taught me how to program, and over time I got pretty good at it. Eventually I landed in New York City and found a job at a tiny little web design shop, building websites for big corporations and loving every minute of it.

During this time the internet was recovering from the big crash at the end of the 90′s and as browsers slowly evolved, so were the websites we were building. But browsers were slow to update back then, so Flash filled a need to move faster and give us more options to explore and new technology to use (and abuse!). Around this time I wrote a little javascript utility to detect the presence of the Flash plugin and conditionally inject Flash into a website or not, and I watched as it grew over the years and became one of the most used utilities on the internet.

Flash was huge. Everyone wanted a flashy website and the only way to get one that any meaningful number of people could see was to use Flash. As browsers struggled to keep up, Flash charged ahead allowing us to build some truly amazing websites. Admittedly, there was some abuse of this technology, but we still charged ahead, trying to discover and build the next generation of user interfaces. Most older companies still thought of the internet as just another medium to advertise on. They wanted a flashy website to show off to their investors and clients and cared less about building something useful. The ubiquity of the Flash plugin made it an easy choice to build these new kinds of websites. We weren’t held back by the limitations of HTML any more, and that let us all explore wild ideas and try things that wouldn’t be possible with HTML or Javascript for years to come.

But now, years later, the browsers are catching up. Mobile devices are becoming more important than desktop computers (a trend I expect to continue for years to come). As more people use the internet in their day to day lives, businesses have realized that having a useful website is more powerful than just a flashy animated advertisement.

A few months ago I noticed that SWFObject usage on the top 10,000 websites was declining for the first time ever (I believe usage peaked in the summer of 2010). Last week, Adobe announced that they would halt development of Flash player for mobile devices, and refocus their efforts on HTML. Since this news was announced, I’ve seen many sad and nostalgic tweets from friends and colleagues. Some seem to be taking the news better than others, and it’s understandable that some people are sad to see Flash go. But it’s important to remember that no single technology is responsible for this awesome thing we call the internet.

This brings us back to my younger self sitting at home in Arizona playing with Flash and Photoshop, building new things. I’ve always loved making things, and I suspect many web developers feel the same. The pleasure of making something great is what drives us, not a specific technology. So don’t be too sad about Flash evolving, or even dying. Just keep making awesome things with whatever tools you have at your disposal.

Discuss this post here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3227994

Powered by YouTube event this Thursday, July 10th 2008

Are you interested in the various API services that YouTube offers? Are you going to be in the bay area this Thursday? Then why not stop by Powered by YouTube?

It’s taking place at the San Bruno YouTube office this Thursday, July 10th from 10:30am to 5:30pm.

Here’s the blurb about it:

Powered By YouTube is a developer gathering focused on bringing together developers to learn more about the YouTube APIs and Tools. Spend the day at YouTube’s headquarters and learn how to bring YouTube to your website, share best practices, and get hands-on with the APIs. Meet fellow YouTube API developers across a wide range of companies, YouTube engineers and product managers, and leave inspired to enhance your user experience with the YouTube APIs.

Also: It’s free, and you get a free lunch.

SWFObject 2.0 released!

After months of work, we are pleased to present SWFObject 2.0.

The project has moved over to the code.google.com website instead of my blog, so go over there and check out the docs and consider upgrading, as the new version is a lot more flexible than v1.5.

I’d like to give a huge thank you to all of the people who contributed and helped us test out the new release, those no longer with us, and of course to Bobby who is easily the biggest contributor to this new version (and has a new design up on his blog!) and has kept the project pushing forward at a good pace.

Moving foward, we’ll be continuing to work with Adobe to get the word out about SWFObject 2.