Shortcomings of Flash

We have seen that flash and other comparable technologies for Rich Internet Applications (RIA) have been the centre of attention for the vast community of web developers and web designers. Flash has an edge over traditional web-development technologies as it can offer an exciting interface that is not possible by simple HTML.

Flash, along with all the technologies in the RIA category, have broadened the scope of simple web browsers. What we see today, from exciting animations to drag and drop shopping carts, are the wonders of RIA based technology.

All the websites that are built using RIA technologies, may it be Flash, or Silverlight prominently, are more responsive and far more captivating. The RIA client engine can interact with the server asynchronously, making the website responsive to the visitor.  The Asynchronous environment is comparable to AJAX applications you experience over the internet. With flash websites you are not required to reload the pages each time.

Besides the benefits that Flash provides, there are a number of things that are problematic with Flash and RIA. Here are few of the shortcomings or downsides of Flash:

Download time: Flash sites when using bulky graphics, are heavy to download. This may take considerable time, thus annoying the visitor. Some developers can reduce the impact of this delay by compressing scripts and by staging delivery over multiple pages of an application.

Sandboxing: RIA applications run within a sandbox environment. Though this is secure, it prevents the app from accessing the system resources. As a result in some cases RIA apps can fail to run if the user restricts the RIA app.

Invisibility to Search Engine: The foremost disadvantage is that often content embedded in flash websites are invisible to the search engines. Search engines cannot decipher what a Flash application is about, unless there is sufficient text elsewhere on the page for them to make an informed guess.

Connection Dependent: The RIA applications are dependent on the internet connection. When experiencing a slow internet connection rate, you may need a lot of time to download a simple pre-loader of the website you are visiting. This is another great disadvantage of Flash websites.

Therefore, whenever designing a website using RIA technologies, sufficient measures must be taken, so as to reduce or minimize the effects of these shortcomings. Weigh the pros and cons in the planning stage, before you proceed with designing your website.