Sunday, September 24, 2006

Evolution in a fuzzy future

Mickaël Rémond kindly point out he does not perceive Flash as the magical cure to the multiplatform incompatibilities plaguing many web applications. I agree entirely. It is just a step toward decreasing the collateral effects of having to support several web browser variations. As matter of fact, my remark about unsupported browsers was more destined to highlight the lack of respect many recent web sites exhibit in dismissing the ability of an end-user to use its browser of choice.

That said, why Mickaël only choose 51 words out of the 1165 comprising my post still puzzles me… Is this argument by selective reading? I would rather believe the phrase he quoted triggered the need to express in his own words an unfortunate reality.

He makes the point that ActionScript3 requires an upgrade of the flash player. I do not see anything really new with this approach. From what I understand ActionScript3 requires a more recent version of the associated virtual machine to run. What is so special about it? Other runtime environments evolve similarly. It is true of Java, Flash, PHP, [add you own favorite interpreted language here] and many others. The benefit of added features rarely occurs without an upgrade, otherwise all softwares would already have been carved in stone… As an end-user, what matters first hand is the backward compatibility, so my existing applications do not require rewriting. This way I can decide solely in view of my business requirements that the added features or performance improvements may boost my business and decide to use the upgrade without being forced into it.

On the unfirtunate lack of adequate Flash player releases for the Linux operating system, I can only deduce from what Mickaël has been writing that this particular population unfortunately do not fall within the "target" decided by the persons in charge of the Flash player business development. Frankly, beyond noting the fact and agreeing it looks certainly unfair, I doubt we can do much about it.

For sure the future is fuzzy, but not only in relation to web frameworks. I don't believe I will live long enough to see a single ubiquitous operating system running on many different machine architectures, nor by consequence any universal tool set spanning all contexts and needs. And in all fairness it would be such a bore… But any evolutionary step decreasing the artificially created disparities between platforms is welcome. In this context, I re-iterate that XIFF and Flash together make A very strong contender for building rich client XMPP enabled application. I am not implying this is the only one. I just believe it is an encouraging sign which opens up better possibilities for a population of developers that did not benefit of an adequate toolkit choice previously.

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