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Give Flash a Chance

Adobe Flash has never gotten the respect it deserves as a user interface environment. Bookmarking Flash-based sites is difficult, and content is hard to index by search engines. But we've also seen great Flash applications, dashboards, management interfaces and complex games.

If we passed on Flash as a content presentation and layout system, we could try it in a new medium: Web applications. Unfortunately, Web apps often suffer because they can't offer user experiences comparable to those of native apps. Ajax alleviates some of these problems, but Flash is a more attractive option. Its installed base is large (an April study by NPD says 97.7 percent of Web users can experience Flash content without downloading and installing a player), and it is both platform- and browser-agnostic.

Adobe says its new Flash Player 9 for Windows and Mac renders content up to 10 times faster than its predecessor, works better with multimedia peripherals, offers programmers more options and speeds applet development time. If Flash 9 is as fast as Adobe claims, it's possible cross-platform Flash applications will work, look and feel like conventional client apps. If you've dismissed Flash in the past, it's a good time to take a second look. --Mike DeMaria, [email protected]