After putting it off for two versions, I downloaded Flash 7 from Macromedia’s site to see what I’ve been missing.
As a web application developer I’ve always been hesitant about getting too deep into flash, mainly from an open standards vs. proprietary (i.e. expensive) format. However, with browser development stalled at “most of CSS1 with a smattering of CSS2 and CSS3” (Dashboard not withstanding) Flash remains the only viable cross-platform way to develop a web application that looks and acts like a “real” application.
Active X locks you into Window IE (not to mention the myriad security issues) and Java leaves you at the mercy of which virtual machine (if any) has been deployed on your target network (not to mention Java gives me hives). Outside of these three technologies, no other plug-in comes close to the install base and user-acceptance (including Shockwave for Director, which my cold dead hands won’t let go of).
So far the new features Flash has picked up in recent years are impressive. The ability to load any image on the web into your movie with a little XML paste is what interests me the most right now. Handling images in micro-content management systems had always felt tacked up (upload an image and “tag” your text field somehow). Flash looks like it offers a solution to the problem.