Flash needs to go on a diet, JavaScript anyone?

You would think JavaScript has come a long way since the 90’s. In terms of it’s acceptance and usage it has come along in leaps and bounds. In terms of speed JavaScript has always lagged behind available processing power. Only now do we see the scripting technology catching up. JavaScript is a run of mill scripting language. It’s basically still the same language it was back in the early naughties. Was it ahead of its time or just misunderstood?

One of the problematic perceptions was that JavaScript had to deal with that it isn’t a programming language. It foregoes many of the features you would find in a modern language. A simple macro language for simple and possibly unnecessary dropdown menu’s and the like. Most things done in JavaScript could be done server side, as we still see to this day with form validation. This general dislike, or disdain even, in the coding community has effectively held back the utilisation of technologies like AJAX.

What’s actually notable with this disturbing failure by the coding community is that JavaScript has been flexing its muscles for the best part of a decade. Resisting JavaScript these days is simply pathetic. Do any work for the web? Then JavaScript is part of your life, deal with it.

Many coders had it easy because anything that had a bit of interface flair had to be done in Flash. That wasn’t true, it was just a line. These day’s you don’t get the ‘brush off’ like that anymore. In fact custom built JavaScript has become an integral part of web applications.
In some sense Flash still has its niche in specific animation work like in advertising. The problem with Flash is that it’s an isolated platform that has a funky non-webby way of doing things. It’s perceived strengths have often been matched by JavaScript, even surpassed. Modern day JavaScript is fast, really fast, way faster then windows centric Flash. It’s not Microsofts ageing JScript (which will get a major speed boost in IE9) that has helped Flash and the flash wannabe Silverlight hang in there, it’s video. Well, that’s not an exclusive trick and video will remain a battleground for some time. In the end native JavaScript is far superior in terms of speed, flexibility and interoperability than any plug-in technology.

Ironically Adobe abandoned SVG and JavaScript based animation when they procured Flash Technology from MacroMedia. If IE9 adopts SVG then Flash is toast. With the growth of the mobile web it looks like their little power and processor hungry munchkin will have a desperate time fending off JavaScript based solutions. With more and more developers finding their feet with JavaScript Flash may be too late to stop its mindshare slipping in to becoming a niche plug-in once more.

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