Why I Don’t Like Flash

When I was working on my new design for this website, I spent a lot of time evaluating my options for image display, as it’s one of the most vital elements of the site. I had very specific requirements for what I wanted, both in terms of the look & feel of the galleries, and the ease of implementation. I spent forever looking through all sorts of WordPress plugins, hacks, and standalone solutions, and eventually settled (grudgingly) on a Flash-based option: WP-Simpleviewer, based on the SimpleViewer plugin.

Of course, after spending forever (I stopped counting somewhere along the line) spent making it work precisely (and pixel-perfectly) to my liking, it’s now broken. Every single image in my portfolio is now displaying with jagged images. Cue panic! It was fine last time I checked! What on earth happened? I still have no idea, and I hate to think how long it may have been broken before I noticed. (Note to self: keep an eye on these things, alright? Sheesh. My contact form plugin had also deactivated itself without my noticing somewhere along the line. Not good.)

So I’m ditching the SimpleViewer. (I am guessing that much of my weekend will be spent tweaking and implementing the change, so things are going to look terrible between now and then.) I found an alternative that I think will be better, and simpler in the long run, although of course it does mean that I need to go through every portfolio post and upload new galleries: Gallifrey, based on Galleriffic. (If you’re nerd-chic and/or British enough, you’ll recognize this as The Doctor‘s home planet, which rather delights me as I’ve just started falling in love with all things Tardis-related.) It works with WordPress’ built-in gallery functions, is super-customizable, and will even finally allow me to implement my triple-bordered image display that I wanted initially for this site. Simpleviewer, you were fantastic, but it’s time for us to part ways.

When I originally designed this gallery display, most people didn't notice the difference between the triple-border here and the single thick border unless I explicitly pointed it out. Turns out I'm a touch anal-retentive.

Can Flash go into the ground already? There was a time when it was useful for websites, but with jQuery and a myriad of other frameworks as well-developed as they are, there really is very little excuse for it anymore. There are all sorts of reasons why Flash is bad: it’s horrible for search engine optimization, it mucks with usability, it’s often slow to load, it refuses to display on an iPhone, and it won’t print or display itself in a feed reader (at least, best I can tell). While the number of websites relying on Flash has decreased dramatically in the past few years, it’s still a little too prevalent. No more Flash, okay? There’s always an alternative.

Sometimes you just need to screw up enough to find it.