Friday, March 24, 2017

Flash down, Javascript to go ...

I didn't notice when Google set Chrome to block Flash by default. It's been years since I've played a Flash game which, I suspect, is the only use I or anyone else has had for the technology in recent memory.

The ecosystem of Flash-based games was impressive in a kind of eighties and nineties way. Back then, it was more common for programs to be authored by a single person which made for some idiosyncratic experiences – different user interfaces, different methods to solving some problem, different methods for accessing and extending program functions. Windows and Flash homologated some of that but single-author programs and games still feel very different.

Apple famously blocked Flash on its iPhones citing security and performance concerns but the security issue was overblown. iOS, Windows, Linux, Android, Tor, LastPass, Antivirus – all compromised. But the performance issue was real and it was a miracle that Flash games ran at all.* Even Flash advertisements could bog down a browsing session which was a big incentive to use an adblocker.

Most website designers never really learned that pop-ups, pop-unders, autoplaying videos with sound, animated Flash ads, affiliate redirects, advertorial sections, and the like are never going to be accepted. Rather than redesign their sites to use unobtrusive locally hosted linked images the way Techpowerup does when encountering an adblock user, we're increasingly seeing this:

This behavior isn't new and I wrote a while ago about how to bypass some of these types of page elements.

My first response is to block Javascript using the little ⓘ symbol next to the URL before resorting to manually blocking page elements. Sometimes it's easiest to just hit escape or click if it's an obscure site you doubt you'll visit again but this particular method of interfering with site access is so pervasive that I've switched to globally blocking Javascript and whitelisting sites.

The main issue here is that Javascript is still required for many sites. Page formatting is usually more primitive as well for non-Javascript versions**

At some point, I can imagine website designers requiring Javascript at which point the next step will be to switch to FireFox and install AdNauseam or even switch to Opera.

* I remember that most Flash games would get bogged down quickly at later levels even on powerful hardware as more things were happening on the screen. Setting Flash to "low quality" didn't fix much either. And the games were very primitive. The equivalent DOS game would have run fluidly on a 50MHz machine but when given the Flash treatment would well over ten times the computing power.

** I did notice that Google's non-javascript search includes limited chronological and verbatim filtering directly on the results page which is maybe the only advantage over the regular search.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.