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Mocking^2 Bird

November 4, 2009

Mocking^2 Bird

Mockingbird, a new wireframe webapp, boasts:

Powered by Cappuccino: no Flash needed.

John Gruber writes:

It’s a true web app (no Flash), written in Cappuccino

Gentlemen, your excitement over skipping Flash is hugely misplaced.

If you load the app, you can see custom scrollbars and navigation, a complete lack of accessibility, non-native controls, and all those other things that cause geeks to hate Flash. What, to the end user, is the benefit of this being done with JavaScript instead of Flash? You can get the patronage of the 0.000001% of web users who don’t have Flash installed? (Sadly, I don’t think Richard Stallman needs many wireframes drawn)

Gruber’s definition of “true web app” and mine greatly differ. Clue: If it’s completely unusable on the iPhone Safari browser, it doesn’t matter if it’s built in JavaScript, Flash or Microsoft Visual Fortran 2012. It’s not a “true web app”


On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, Jon Rosebaugh commented:

The benefit is I can write these apps without having to wade into the proprietary mess that is Flash.

Any app that uses hover events for functionality is completely unusable on Mobile Safari. Does that mean it's not a true web app?

On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, Joe Stevens commented:

The difference is that it didn't choke Safari when I opened it.

On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, Jeff commented:

At least that thing doesn't rip through my processor like all the flash ads and programs used to. I'd often have 40% of my processor just working on running flash programs in web sites. (Lord help me if my wife left 'Farmville' running.)

I finally got a flash-blocker so that's not a problem any more, but why should I have had to do that?

"Skipping flash" is a very wonderful goal indeed.

On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, Ross Boucher commented:

Out of curiosity, why would you expect (or even want) an *app* built for the desktop web to behave the same way on a mobile device?

The interaction on mobile devices is completely different. Applications should have interfaces which are optimized for the device they are running on. If all you're doing is reading, than you can expect to get away with few or no changes on the mobile web. But applications aren't about reading, they are fundamentally about interaction.

Examined from that perspective, I don't understand your argument. Cappuccino is built with HTML and JavaScript, and it runs on every platform where those technologies are available (in a sufficiently modern way). This includes the iPhone, and the Pre, and the Android.

On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, Brent Simmons commented:

I write a Mac app that makes heavy use of WebKit, and I get crash logs from its users. Flash is the single biggest cause of crashes.

This situation has been true for years, and I'd bet it stays true.

Avoiding Flash means fewer crashes. I consider that a very good thing.

On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, Michael Tomlin commented:

Why is this better? Because I don't want proprietary run-time engines running off my browser. Especially those that are buggy, prone to crashing and gobble up system resources. Flash may run great on Windows, but Adobe's Mac support is complete shit.

Flash is so bad on the Mac that Apple had to add sandboxing support in Safari 4 to run Flash content in to keep the entire browser from crashing. People were blaming Safari for crashing all the time, when in fact it was the Flash run-time that was bringing down the browser. I even have a Safari plugin, "ClickToFlash," that blocks Flash content from displaying until I decide I want or need to see it.

"True web app" means that it runs without the need of any external extensions, plugins or runtimes... that it only uses open web technologies; HTML, CSS, and JavaScript built into every browser.

On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, Alexander Ljungberg commented:

I think on the web the fundamental expectations are different. Yahoo and Gmail are two web applications and their UI widgets look completely different, with or without Apple scrollbars and buttons.

The problem is not non native controls. The problem is half implemented controls like what usually plagues Flash - standard copy and paste usually doesn't work, the keyboard doesn't do what it is supposed to and so on. Neither Yahoo Mail nor Gmail have these problems and I'm fine with them despite the fact that they don't look at all like native apps. In the same way I will be fine with Cappuccino.

On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, Jon Bell commented:

It's worth pointing out that a dev wanting to make a web app that runs on smartphones should consider the iPhone's lack of support.

Between the millions of iPhones sold and the predictions that mobile web traffic will surpass desktop soon, this is a big consideration.

This app could make an iPhone version using the same html/js/css technologies. But if it had been done in Flash, it'd be locked out of one of the primary devices in a massively important market.

On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, steve commented:

I agree with all the comments. You're missing the point. It isn't the end result being the same on the screen, it's about how that was done.

Yes, you could take two screenshots, compare them, and say "hey, the same", but there is a whole world of pain that is involved with Flash development that simply isn't there when doing it in Javascript.

The real issue is why it took so long before Javascript was sufficiently useful, rather than praising the plugin that was bad enough that Microsoft didn't mind including it in IE.

On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, Mario commented:

complete lack of accessibility?
How did you measure that?
I can bet that it is way easier to make a Cappuccino app accesible than a flash one...

On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, Simon commented:

Why in hell do you define 'true web app' by the capabilities of your iPhone? I'm sorry, but the web is bigger than your phone.

On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, xoa commented:

>Clue: If it’s completely unusable on the iPhone Safari browser, it doesn’t matter if it’s built in JavaScript, Flash or Microsoft Visual Fortran 2012. It’s not a “true web app”

I think you are utterly full of crap. Because Maya Complete could not be made to run on an iPhone does that mean it's not a computer application? As Simon said above, the web is much, much bigger, more varied, and more important then any single access device. Just as there are programs which push the limits of modern machines as well as those that can run on anything made in the last decade, it is reasonable to expect that there will be web applications that require more hardware power then exists in current portable devices. So what?

The fact is, you sound like those old fuddies who, long after it was strictly necessary, insisted on using 2-byte storage for stuff like years because using 4 bytes would be so wasteful and wouldn't work on XYZ ANCIENT MACHINE. The trend of development still firmly places hardware concerns on a lower level, because there is constantly ever more power to work with. The iPhone 2011 with a Retinal Direct Projection display will likely have no trouble at all working with Mockingbird. Will you then consider it a webapp?

On Thursday, November 5, 2009, Max Howell commented:

When GitHub originally rolled out their network view diagram and it was Flash there was a lot of outcry from the geeks that live there. However I was more practical about it, Flash is a useful tool, I was happy they'd made the network view at all, it's very useful. So I was happy for them to build it with whatever suited them at the time.

Now that the network view has become an essential part of my daily existence, I wish they'd taken a little longer and done it with HTML and Javascript.

This is mainly because, I can't copy and paste and I can't use CMD-F to search for anything. These two things are small features that you don't think about at first, but with extended use these small things that Flash can't do have become extremely important to me.

Don't use Flash for stuff, it's not the true web.

On Thursday, November 5, 2009, erfiz commented:

yes thats right,simple make its perfect

On Sunday, November 8, 2009, James R Grinter commented:

> "Flash is so bad on the Mac that Apple had to add sandboxing support in Safari 4 to run Flash content in to keep the entire browser from crashing."

Well, the cynics amongst us would say that they actually did it because they wanted Safari to be a 64-bit binary, but they didn't/couldn't be sure of getting a 64-bit Flash (and other) plugin.

If they were serious, they'd have done the same for when Safari is running 32-bit, and they'd have made it available in Safari 4 running under OS X 10.4 and 10.5. At least we have ClickToFlash to save us from the CPU and crash pig.

About This Site

This is an archive of groovmother.com, the old blog run by Rod Begbie — A Scottish geek who lives in San Francisco, CA.

I'm the co-founder of Sōsh, your handy-dandy guide for things to do in San Francisco this weekend.