Thursday, January 10, 2008

Stop the Flash insanity

More and more it seems high-profile websites are using Flash as a mechanism to deliver essential content.  In extreme cases, such as mycokerewards, the entire site is built on Flash.  Ads in websites, which you used to be able to ignore, now use Flash to replace the entire screen contents, screaming at you to "GO SEE CLOVERFIELD!!!".

My dev machine is a fairly hefty beast, but it still has a hard time processing Flash-only sites:

I'm not even doing anything in the Flash-only site except that I'm looking at it.  It's doing some ridiculous, pointless animation of bubbles floating around, and that requires 40% of my dual-core machine's resources.  When I look at this site on a single-core machine, I pretty much can't use FireFox any more, as it's completely consumed with those floating bubbles.

Sites that used to be relatively easy to get around are now just annoying, like ESPN.com, which are starting to rely heavily on Flash to deliver actual content.  Please don't start playing some highlights video if I'm just going to your homepage, I really don't like Stuart Scott screaming "BOOYAH" to me through my speakers.

If anything, Flash should be use to complement content, but not be the actual content.  To deal with normal annoyances, I go back and forth between these two FireFox add-ons:

  • Adblock Plus (blocks ad content, but not other Flash content)
  • Flashblock (blocks ALL Flash content, letting you opt-in to anything you want to see)

Flash for delivering ad content is perfectly fine, as long as it's non-intrusive and non-resource intensive.  Flash for delivering site content is just plain heinous, and I hope Santa delivers coal in those perpetrators' stockings next year.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Flashblock is great. I think the problem with people using flash is that marketing people like it because it looks. . .well. . .flashy. On their demo machines, it load fast and looks great and has no errors. In the real world, this isn't the case, but the VP of marketing doesn't live in the real world so that's ok. I once had an argument with a marketing VP about this. He wanted this long flash intro on the site. I told him that no one would want to ever view it since it took a long time to load and it was a waste of time. He said we could add a button to let people skip the intro. Well, here's the problem with that: I don't want useless content on my website, and if I let you skip any of my content, then I'm saying that it is useless because you don't have to view it. That's a problem. I agree that flash can compliment a site quite well by adding additional content that isn't critical to the point but is still valuable. However, sites based entirely in flash (except for those flash game sites, those rule) are a really bad idea.

dominic said...

Go get a quad core or better yet get the 8 core Mac pro hehehe. Previous comment by anonymous is right that VP like all the Bling Bling because it sells and that is what the client wants. My next project at my current work place is building from scratch a HR web app using Flex and .NET . I will make sure to buy lots of tylenol extra strength from costco when I start.

David Keaveny said...

I use Flashblocker with Firefox as well, but I find some sites get very upset when I block the Flash content, because they have Javascript which interacts with the Flash, and when the Flash isn't there, the scripts consume even more resources then the original Flash. Some pages, I have to wait 30-odd seconds for Firefox to return control, while the CPU thrashes away.

Definitely not a good state of affairs; and my employer produces one of the worst offenders, too.