I have read about and participated in innumerable discussions about the Flash Player. I have always been telling people how Flash Player is the best plug-in out there. Ever. Sounds bold, maybe even pretentious? See for yourself – you might get surprised!
Cross-platform Availability and Portability
Flash Player is available for all the major operating systems:
- Mac OS
Also, it comes preinstalled with Mac OSX and Windows XP. So the users of these platforms don’t even need to download it! There is also Flash Lite, which enables the viewing of Flash content on mobile devices like cellphones and PDAs. Just take a look at all the mobile phone manufacturers that are incorporating Flash Lite into their devices (currently more than 140 cellphones are Flash-enabled):
- Sony Ericsson
Still not convinced? Well, there is even more – the PDAs: Microsoft Pocket PC and Sony CLIE. Can there be more? Sure. Let’s not forget the consumer electronics: the iRiver U10 media player and the Kodak Easyshare-One Zoom Digital Camera are Flash-enabled, like some set-top boxes too. Oh, wait, I didn’t tell you yet which browsers support the Flash Player:
- Internet Explorer
So, if you happen to be a website owner or a content developer, consider using Flash to deliver rich media experiences to your users. As you can see from the lists above, you are certain to cover the widest possible audience.
Consider the following for a moment: if you have a Mac, you may have to download the Windows Media Player for Mac to view the video content associated with it. If you have Windows installed on your machine and you wish to see some QuickTime videos, you must download the QuickTime player.
“OK” you might say, “But I still have to download the Flash Player too, especially if the version installed on my machine is not up-to-date so that I can view the newest Flash websites properly”. That is true. But there are sites that will prompt you to download the latest version of RealOne Player or Windows Media Player too. So, where’s the difference here? More importantly, where lies the advantage in downloading the Flash Player and not some other one? It is the filesize of the player that you have to download. Bigger filesize means longer download time, which is bothersome for people who have slow connections and also for the ones who pay a certain fee for the content they view.
At the time of this writing, the size of the installer for the Flash Player is only 1.3 MB, while on the other hand, the size of the QuickTime player for Windows is 18.8 MB and the Windows Media Player for Mac OS X is 7 MB!
See what I’m getting at? No wonder that the biggest site for sharing, viewing and commenting videos on the planet chose Flash as the technology for content delivery.
Power and Capabilities
In addition to its spreadout, short download time and easy installation, the Flash Player has so much power that none of the other plugins and media players come even close to it! Basically, the other plugins are just players – they deliver audio and video content. The maximum interaction a user can have with these plugins boils down to playback and volume control.
Now let’s see what Flash can do (bear in mind that this is a non-exhaustive list):
- Complete web sites
- Online games – single and multiplayer
- If you happen to stumble upon an attractive ad banner, chances that it was made in Flash are 100%
- Online video conferencing
- Multimedia presentations
- Chat and messaging systems
- Load external images, such as JPEGs, GIFs and PNGs
- Displaying PDFs
- Load and parse XML
- Send and receive data in combination with any major server-side technology like PHP, ASP.NET, ColdFusion, Java, etc.
- Load MP3s at runtime, and also import audio files like WAV and AIFF
- Interactive CD-ROMs
- Load and play video
This is only a small portion of Flash powers. Basically, the capabilities of Flash are limited only by the designer’s/developer’s imagination. There is no end to what you can achieve with it. And with the rising number of persons who have broadband Internet access, it will become even more attractive and important, and its possibilities and capabilities will only become more powerful.
The Flash Player is the best plug-in ever. Period.