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Will GWT kill Flash?

Josh Brown
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Joined: Oct 09, 2007
Posts: 35
As I was reading an article on the GWT blog, I saw that Lombardi Software had originally intended to use Flash for their "Lombardi Blueprint" software. I'll let you read the article for yourself, but the main reasons they decided not to use Flash were:

"Flash is a plug-in. Even in this day and age, not everyone has the latest version of Flash installed on their machines. Lots of our users are at big corporations where their boxes are locked down tight enough that installing/upgrading browser plug-ins is a nonstarter."

"Browser plug-in behavior is unpredictable. Weird browser interaction bugs made cross platform Flash support harder than we thought."

Good points. So why use Flash, if a JavaScript/HTML (generated by GWT) application is usable without installing a plugin? One could argue that Flash looks prettier, but after watching the video in the aforementioned article, I'm not sure I'd agree. Seems like they made great use of GWT.


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Vikrant Sahdev
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Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 58
The Lambardi blueprint whitepaper seems to convice you against Flash.
But it all depends on the context. Flash has its own UI pleasantness.
However for Java developers,it makes sense to work with GWT rather than Flash.
So, I think GWT & Flash can co-exist without much bloodshed..ha ha !


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Ryan Dewsbury
author
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Joined: Nov 07, 2007
Posts: 22
Flash can do some fancy graphic things that are not possible with JavaScript. It is really the only option for things like media players, advertisements, and games.

However I've seen some use of it as a front end for non multimedia applications usually as the front end for a Flex app. Yahoo maps is a good example of this. In my opinion this is not the way to go, compared to Ajax, for several reasons. One, flash is backed by one company while Ajax is based on web standards. It's unknown how its marketshare will change, especially with Microsoft pushing Silverlight. Two, it uses custom controls for everything. These controls will look slightly different from your OS controls, this is bad for user experience. Ajax apps use the browser's basic controls as a foundation and these are typically the same controls users find throughout their OS. Three, as Lombardi says, flash is still a plugin and does not have the same distribution as web browsers.


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Hussein Baghdadi
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Joined: Nov 08, 2003
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I heard that Flash applications are complied to JavaScript too, true?
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 61451
    
  67

Originally posted by John Todd:
I heard that Flash applications are complied to JavaScript too, true?

False.


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John Lu
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 15, 2007
Posts: 3
I don't think GWT will kill Flash. For some application, JavaScript just can't do it. As I know some big companies began to adopt Flash/Flex as their front end. You'll see more and more Flash application. Here is an example JavaScript can't handle. docjar.org is an application has almost all Java APIs. It is a Flash app. That amount of data will crash a browser if it was written in JavaScript.


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Josh Brown
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Joined: Oct 09, 2007
Posts: 35
Originally posted by J Lu:
That amount of data will crash a browser if it was written in JavaScript.


I believe JavaScript is capable of providing the same functionality that this site currently has. I've no doubt that someone could write poor JavaScript that would cause the browser to crash, but I'm almost certain someone could write good JavaScript to reproduce this site. And with GWT, you don't even have to write the JavaScript - you write the Java code, and GWT compiles for you. And from what I've heard, GWT is very good at compiling into efficient JavaScript.

On to the amount of data issue. Correct me if I'm wrong, Mr. Dewsbury, but one of the advantages of using GWT (or AJAX in general) is that you don't have to load all the data into the browser at once. GWT/AJAX allows you to make calls to bring in the data when it's needed. In the case of the app on docjar.org, some of the data could be loaded initially, then asynchronous calls could be made to get the needed data when a folder is expanded.

I fully believe a good developer would be able to reproduce the aforementioned site with GWT, or even plain old JavaScript.
[ November 16, 2007: Message edited by: Josh Brown ]
John Lu
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 15, 2007
Posts: 3
When you say you don't have to load all the data into the browser, it is a workaround, not a solution. You have to consider the server response. Consider a tree, if a user clicks a node and have to wait the data to load and then expend. It is not a good user expierence.

Go http://flex.org/showcase/ and experience some of the applications. You probably will see a new generation of web application is coming. Many sites will be re-written!
salvin francis
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Joined: Jan 12, 2009
Posts: 928

John Lu wrote:Many sites will be re-written!


Well the same goes for GWT,
It is indeed powerful


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Scott Selikoff
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Joined: Oct 23, 2005
Posts: 3712
    
    5

No, it will not. If only because Flash can create beautiful artistic animations/layouts that I'm afraid no web-based tool can match. There's a number of other issues involved such as security, standards, partnerships that I could get into, but for the most part nothing (except maybe Silverlight) is a contender to Flash right now. Where I see GWT as being a strong competitor is with application server environments such as J2EE (EJB and Servlets) and all related web platforms (of which there are many).


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salvin francis
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Joined: Jan 12, 2009
Posts: 928

my opinion is that while flash can be use to make rich and amazing UI's,
GWT is a platform that blurs the wall between client and server...

If I want animations / great ui that does not interact much with the server / games, i would turn to flash
If I want an application that interacts with the server and comes close enough to a desktop app, i would turn to gwt

some arguments of Flash vs GWT:

1. Flash requires a plugin, gwt does not: It only requires javascript to be enabled
2. The plugin should be updated for the element to work (eg: actionscript 3.0 vs 2.0), gwt has no such issues
3. Flash can be used to draw vector/bitmap elements that can be tweened, gwt cannot do much animations other than increasing/decreasing width,height,left,top

Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

salvin francis wrote:
some arguments of Flash vs GWT:

1. Flash requires a plugin, gwt does not: It only requires javascript to be enabled
2. The plugin should be updated for the element to work (eg: actionscript 3.0 vs 2.0), gwt has no such issues
3. Flash can be used to draw vector/bitmap elements that can be tweened, gwt cannot do much animations other than increasing/decreasing width,height,left,top



You should go take a look at Flex. Flash is more than animations and vector graphics these days. With regards to the plugin, take a look at this and then see if you still believe this is a problem.


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Scott Selikoff
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Joined: Oct 23, 2005
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    5

salvin francis wrote:2. The plugin should be updated for the element to work (eg: actionscript 3.0 vs 2.0), gwt has no such issues


I don't know about that. GWT is based on browser support so there are potentially many issues there. Also, the GWT API changes pretty frequently right now while the ActionScript API does not.

Greg's right though, you should really take a look at Flex. It's essentially a Java-like platform (near identical syntax) that creates complex application-oriented Flash components.
Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 42371
    
  64
salvin francis wrote:If I want animations / great ui that does not interact much with the server / games, ...
If I want an application that interacts with the server and comes close enough to a desktop app, ...

Both Flash and GWT (or any other JavaScript framework) can interact with the server, so I don't see that as a differentiating factor.


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salvin francis
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Joined: Jan 12, 2009
Posts: 928

Scott Selikoff wrote:
I don't know about that. GWT is based on browser support so there are potentially many issues there. Also, the GWT API changes pretty frequently right now while the ActionScript API does not.

that may be true,
however, when it does, it is totally transparent to the user (for eg when an app changes from gwt 1.5 to 1.7), whereas, Flash browser plugin would tell you to update. this is what i meant when i said:
The plugin should be updated for the element to work


Ulf Dittmer wrote:Both Flash and GWT (or any other JavaScript framework) can interact with the server, so I don't see that as a differentiating facto

Yes, i agree to that, I just mentioned my opinion, it's not a differentiating factor.
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
 
subject: Will GWT kill Flash?