Why I don’t prefer Flash-based Web Mapping

I posted over on The Map Room about that I didn’t care for the Flash viewer for Yahoo! Maps and a poster asked me to elaborate. Since I’ve upgraded to Flash 8.0, it seems to respond much faster than it did before (when I was still using Flash 7), but that brings up my biggest issue to way I don’t like flash as a viewer. I’ve always liked Autodesk Mapguide as a web mapping tool, but its biggest drawback was that you needed a plugin to get it to work and even then that plugin only ran on Internet Explorer. Back in the day this wasn’t such a big deal as almost no one used another browser than IE, but these days it just kills the product (there is a beta version of a Mozilla/Firefox extension available now).

Now Flash is cross browser and mostly cross platform so it really doesn’t have the same problems that Mapguide had, but the performance issues I had with an older version of Flash just proves my point that plugins aren’t the best way to view online maps, especially if there is no real reason to do so. Flickr used to have a flash interface which was nice, but since then they have moved to a AJAX interface that is so much better and works in any recent browser.

With AJAX you can use tools such as Greesemonkey to add features to websites that aren’t there (such as a delete button for Gmail) which is impossible with Flash. I guess as a programmer, I like to be able to work with just about everything on a webpage, rather than just have an embedded objection on the page. The Flash object becomes off-limits to me.

In the end since upgrading to Flash 8.0, I’ve begun to care less about getting rid of the Flash interface in Yahoo! Maps, but unless I see some real good reasons to use a plugin (eye candy isn’t one), I’d just assume not bother.

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