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No Flash In The Pan

by | May 24, 2010

Steve Jobs in his April 2010 blog on Adobe Flash technology versus Javascript, CSS and HTML5 (http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/) makes many good points about the pros and cons of Flash.  These points include open standards (Flash is proprietary to Adobe), Web accessibility, reliability and security, and touch UI compatibility.

In our market of document and image management, Apple products don’t have the market share of PCs, but the level of innovation and clever design present in some of their products should not be ignored as they push progress forward, and generate change throughout the industry.  While mobile applications related to document manipulation are currently a small market segment, many of us can see the trend toward greater utilization of these devices in the business world. The IPad I think can hasten this trend significantly. It opens up a new world of portability and easy access to a wide variety of mission critical documents. Healthcare providers for patient record information, insurance claims adjusters for in the field claims processing or municipal utility workers gaining access to critical mechanical drawings for safe dig projects.

I think the best takeaway from the Steve Jobs blog is that current open standards of Javascript, CSS and HTML5 do all and more than Flash can do, without dependence on a proprietary system that must be installed on the client device.  Solutions developed using open standards are not only preferable, but critical to most of our customers and industry.

So what does this mean to you?

Flash is a convenient technology because so many systems already have it installed so arguments are made that a Flash based viewer is installation free.  Other benefits are that image display can be very good, scrolling through a document is very fast, and Flash viewers are free.

But what’s the bottom line?

There is no denying that Flash must be installed on the client device. It is not installation free or support free – regular updates are required. Flash is a proprietary format to which you must convert your documents in order for the viewer to work. There is cost to the back end systems that are used to convert documents and images to the Flash format.  Plus, it works poorly on Mac computers according to Jobs, and it is not available at all on mobile devices like the iPhone and the iPad.

There are better mobile document viewing solutions – true installation free, cross-platform viewers that work with open standards and no proprietary format; viewers that work on any browser and even devices such as the iPad and iPhone with a little tweaking. You’re welcome to view our demo to see for yourself:  Mobile Document Viewer