jQTouch and why the iPhone doesn't need flash

The coolest thing I know about right now is jQTouch, a jQuery framework for implementing mobile web apps. I first saw this at SXSW when its creator showed it off to a crowd that had just finished watching a demo of how to build iPhone apps in Objective-C. Which each step of his demo, the crowd in the room literally cheered as they saw how jaw-droppingly simple building slick iPhone apps just became.

Here is a recently released demo of some of the amazing things the relatively young jQTouch is capable of, which in this case is a fully HTML, CSS and Javascript powered version of the iPhone's iCal application.

So what makes this so smooth and seamless? Mainly that CSS3 is hardware accelerated on the iPhone making CSS and Javascript powered transitions and animations super smooth - just as smooth as any native application in fact.

So while you perhaps marvel at how amazing jQTouch is, let me bring this back to something that makes this framework so relevant in light of the recent hullabaloo associated with Apple's changes to its SDK Agreement which essentially forbids the use of flash enabled apps on the iPhone and iPad.

Flash is a Shim

I would prefer to say "Flash is a hack," but I think Flash is too elegant to risk maligning it with such a word. Make no mistake though, as ubiquitous and well implemented that Flash is, it is just a shim, which evolved to address a major short coming on the web, mainly that the underlying specifications and browser creators could not adopt or drive adoption fast enough the technology to make animation and richer application development possible.

Amazingly, Apple is poised to unwedge this shim that we have all become so unwittingly dependent upon. By refusing to put Flash on the iPhone and iPad they are going to force the market and technology developers who want to play in that market to learn and embrace the bleeding edge in web standards. They are going to do in just a few short years, what even the largest and most well intentioned companies like Google, in all of their open-sourcey-goodness, could never do: force market adoption of the technologies that will render Flash obsolete.

And thank god. The web has too many crutches like Flash, which solve a problem just well enough that they stifle developer communities from addressing problems at a lower level.

So while some express their ire at Apple for not supporting Flash, like my wife who just wants to play a damn Flash-powered movie on Hulu on her iPad, I applaud Apple for the courage it took to make what it must have known would be the unpopular decision it did. Because in just a few short years, when the gap Flash helped bridge is finally closed by well implemented and broadly adopted web standards, and the world of application development is expanded to include not just Objective-C and Flash programmers, but the entire world of HTML/CSS and Javascript programmers, hopefully a number of us will look back at this moment and say, "I can't believe I cared so much about this."

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1 Comment

Hi, a more effective way to bring about some change in standard technology understructure is to make great examples, and have them work for all people.


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