- Flash & The Future of Interactive Content – “Adobe is planning to end-of-life Flash. Specifically, we will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020”. Flashes to flashes, Dust to dust.
- Petition to open-source Flash Player to preserve digital heritage.
- TLS Wiretap Fear – “It’s being alleged that there is an attempt to weaken Web security in a deep fundamental way” by Tim Bray
- Enhancing CSS Layout: From Floats To Flexbox To Grid – excellent progressive enhancement article
- <nav> type attribute proposal – to distinguish between types of navigation for Assistive tech
- EME at the W3C – Alastair Campbell reluctantly concludes that it’s necessary. (I agree).
- Detect if your Native app is installed from your web site and, e.g., don’t show a PWA install banner
- We now have a community-approved Progressive Web Apps logo!
- P&G Cuts More Than $100 Million in ‘Largely Ineffective’ Digital Ads – so consumers hate them, they slow sites down (which reduces revenue) and they don’t work. So who gains?
- Passwords Evolved: Authentication Guidance for the Modern Era> – lots of useful advice for making a password policy
- Putting audiences at the heart of VR – long BBC blog post covers “how mainstream audiences currently regard VR, their first reactions to experiencing VR, what types of content resonate and what has impact”
- Social Media Intelligence – Privacy International looks at government collection of data from social media
- A Million Squandered: The “Million Dollar Homepage” as a Decaying Digital Artifact – how linkrot has affected the 2005 piece of web history
- Cash machine hacked in five minutes – “most cash machines are effectively a Windows XP computer attached to a safe”
- Introducing Bluetooth Mesh Networking
- Africa’s Digital Revolution: It’s Not Easy – “some of the transformation discourse is overblown and premature”
- Net neutrality supporters sent over 5 million emails to the FCC – in Trumpistan
- New Tech Start-Up Bubble – Funny and thought-provoking 20 min talk by Dan Lyons on start-up “culture”, VC funding, & where lack of (real) corporate social responsibility is taking us. Highly recommended.
Archive for July, 2017
Yesterday, Adobe announced that Flash will be discontinued after 2020, news that was met with some rejoicing in the web development community, as confirmation that open standards “won”.
But the story is more nuanced than that. Glossing over the fact that Adobe didn’t invent Flash, the announcement is correct:
Where a format didn’t exist, we invented one – such as with Flash and Shockwave. And over time, as the web evolved, these new formats were adopted by the community, in some cases formed the basis for open standards, and became an essential part of the web.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Flash drove the web forward. It was eagerly adopted by many developers, partly because of excellent development tools, and because once deployed, it looked the same in all browsers and platforms (that Adobe released their plugin for).
In 2001, the W3C ended development of HTML on Xmas Eve 1999, and then gazed endlessly into its XHTML2 navel. Meanwhile browser vendors like Mozilla and Opera saw that Rich Internet Applications (like those Flash enabled) were part of the future of the Web, so WHATWG was founded to develop a spec called Web Applications 1.0 (later “HTML5”).
Browser vendors were scared of Flash (and Silverlight) with good reason. For example, when I set up glasshaus, a publishing imprint for web developers, colleagues in friends of ED (an imprint for Flash and Photoshop professionals) joked that there was no point, because browsers would be replaced by the Flash Player.
HTML5 was set up by browser vendors explicitly “in direct competition with other technologies intended for applications deployed over the Web, in particular Flash and Silverlight” and stole features directly from Flash: video, scriptable images (<canvas>), Web Sockets, in-browser storage, access to camera and microphone … the list goes on. Indeed, many of the early polyfills and fallbacks for these features used Flash. Apple invented CSS transitions and keyframe animations because they needed them on iOS, where they wouldn’t allow Flash to be.
And now Flash is reaching the end of its life. I’m glad, because now we have a more robust and future-proof open standard and open standards are always superior to proprietary ones. But I’m also nervous; one of the central tenets of HTML is to be backwards-compatible and not to break the web. It would be a huge loss if millions of Flash movies become unplayable. How can we preserve this part of our digital heritage? (Update 27 July: there’s a petition to open-source Flash Player to preserve content.)
As we open standards advocates pat ourselves on the back, it’s good manners to acknowledge the debt we owe to the Macromedia and Adobe engineers, and hundreds of thousands of Flash developers for pushing the web forward. Thank you.
Update 1 August 2018: It seems that someone named Ben Latimore is archiving Flash games: Adobe Flash’s Gaming Legacy — Thousands upon Thousands of Titles — and My Efforts To Save It.
- The UX of Text – brilliant talk by Stuart Langridge. “The next wave of apps will be text; Amazon Alexa, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and WhatsApp bots and Twitter and Mastodon. The UX side was always intimately tied up with the visual designers, whether it should be or not… but now it’s all text. We don’t need artists; we need poets. Authors. Wordsmiths.”
- Participants in the WebVR Community Group now with added Apple participation!
- Nested links – how to make nested links work, cross-browser.
- Experimenting with the background fetch API by Phil Nash
- Woe-ARIA: The Surprisingly but Ridiculously Complicated World of aria-label/ledby – blog post by one of the NVDA screen-reader developers
- What’s next for CSS? – “a comprehensive list of CSS features and their positions in the process of becoming implemented web standards.”
- URLs are UI – totally in agreement with this, by Scott Hanselman
- Microsoft officially ends support for Windows Phone
- The coming battle over ‘net neutrality’ – BBC explainer for Wednesday’s Day of Action
This reading list is sponsored by Wix Engineering, who give me money to research stuff, and when I find interesting things, I put them here.
- Project Common Voice – Mozilla is building an open-source voice recognition system. Give 1 minute to help it learn, by speaking a line of text, or listening and confirming.
- Progressive Web Apps – “The name isn’t for you and worrying about it is distraction from just building things that work better for everyone. The name is for your boss, for your investor, for your marketeer. It’s a way for you to keep making things on the open web”, by Frances Berriman, co-creator of the name.
- Progressing the web – “I don’t want the web to equal native; I want the web to surpass it.” I agree with Mr Keith on this.
- A Pretty Good SVG Icon System – in which CSS guru and male model Chris Coyier recommends inlining SVGs.
- Bootstrap to CSS Grid – “I made an example on Codepen that embraces CSS grid without removing the Bootstrap code or functionality for old browsers.”
- Grid layout, grid layout everywhere! – More CSS Grid concepts, this time from Stefan Baumgartner
- The responsive order conflict for keyboard focus – Alastair Campbell asks what to do when tabbing follows DOM order but that can be changed visually with Flexbox/ CSS Grids?
- How to create content that works well with screen readers by Leonie Watson
- The World & CSS – 30 min talk by my old chum Hakon Wium Lie, co-creator of CSS
- Feather – “Simply beautiful open source icons”
- API list – “A Collective List Of APIs. Build Something.”
- staticman – “bring user-generated content to static sites”. Staticman handles user-generated content for you and transforms it into data files that sit in your GitHub repository
- Google will stop scanning content of personal emails – yay. And will they delete all the data harvested so far?
- Fining Google: a slow train coming – Charles Arthur on the EU fining Google 2.4 billion Euros for anti-competitive behaviour, and a wider look at the speed of anti-monopolist investigations in the internet era.