Feweb – Flash versus Javascript

I just got back from the annual Feweb event, this year I was scheduled in the Rich Internet Applications track to do a Flash versus Javascript battle with none other than Peter-Paul Koch, moderated by Gijs Van Essche.

Despite our sincere efforts it was difficult to find fault with the two technologies since they complement eachother so well. I had a few opening slides listing some of the top reasons to use Flash and features that are now or soon will be available in the Flash Player.


The slides above are in Dutch but I’m pretty sure they won’t be too difficult to understand 😉

Further discussion points raised by the moderator included:

  • Flex and AJAX are identical
  • Flex is sexier
  • Flex is cross browser
  • AJAX is a team rather than a single company
  • Flex = Ajax < Silverlight

In the end it came down to use cases for each of the technologies, with Javascript and AJAX you’ve got more fine-grained control over the browser DOM while Flash/Flex gives you the advantage of cross platform deployment and a whole stack of data and multimedia features.

Where both Peter-Paul and myself seemed to converge was the last question on Silverlight where we both had our concerns particularly about the way it is being marketed. I think we were pretty fair in our assessment though was pleased to have a little chat with Luc Van de Velde, Director Developer & Platform Group for Microsoft afterwards.

I would like to call for a RIA think tank to be set up to get a technology-agnostic look at the challenges we face and how to most effectively move forward. Nobody benefits from a “browser war” between rich client technologies. Anyone interested to help kick start this project feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly!


5 thoughts on “Feweb – Flash versus Javascript

  1. just blogged “Feweb – Flash versus Javascript” — http://tinyurl.com/57ca49

  2. Simon says:

    I wouldn’t say that Flex is cross browser as I’m reading this on my iPhone and can’t see the embedded presentation. No Flash support for iPhone. Besides that I also think accesseability is an important item to take into consideration. How is Flex evolving on this point?

  3. Peter says:

    Simon, we’re unfortunately not at the point of cross-device full Flash Player support *yet* 😉

    In the case of the iPhone, Adobe has publically stated it has a working version of the Flash Player for iPhone in the labs and the ball is in Apple’s court to give the go ahead (due to their restrictive third party application policies)

    Accessibility is a very good point, Flex 3 has significant support for it — its not simply clicking a checkbox though, as is the case with AJAX applications it requires some work to get right.

    More information about Flex and accessibility can be found here: http://www.adobe.com/go/flex_accessibility

  4. Bryan says:

    Shouldn’t the equations be:

    AJAX == DHTML + Marketing


    (Flex || AJAX) + AIR > A Ham Sandwich >= JavaFX > Silverlight


    (Either one + a good developer) > (both of them + a bad developer)?

    One common flaw I see in these type of debates is it always seems like people with a chosen solution bias in search of problems rather than choosing an appropriate solution for a given problem. Any of the technologies mentioned will have strengths and weaknesses went considered vs. the broad spectrum of design challenges faced by RIA developers today. The best developers will be able to look beyond shallow personal technology preferences and select the appropriate tool for the job.

    Just my .02

  5. Happy to hear that the “Flash vs Javascript battle” went well. Your RIA think tank idea sounds interesting but how do you see that ? IRL meetup, online forum, something else ?

    @Simon “Flash on the iPhone” starts to be a very boring subject and it has been widely covered already. If you have any complain, please write to Apple or buy another phone 🙂

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: