A Little Rant about Flash

I had intended for a different post to go live today, but it looks like the post that was scheduled didn’t save properly so I have quickly thought of something else to write about. Looks like I will get it posted just in time so it is probably going to be shorter than some…. 

I enjoyed reading yesterday’s #summerblogchallenge post from Christine (@MissNorledge) concerning her top 5 sites for starters. Unfortunately though I was reading it on my iPad and consequently some of the links reminded me of one of my great pet hates. 

The two things that drive me round the bend with my laptop is the seemingly constant need to update the Adobe Flash plugin and the Java plugin: neither of these update in a “clean” way, they take far longer than you would expect and break my workflow. I’ve hated Flash for a long time; when I first had a Mac, Flash  would regularly crash safari because of some unexpected error. Unfortunately I can’t write as eloquently about my dislike of Flash as Steve Jobs did in 2010 in his famous “Thoughts on Flash” but suffice to say that in general I am extremely happy that neither my iPad nor my iPhone support Flash and I think that the Internet would be a better place without it. 

The only niggle is that there are some great maths resources out there that have been written in Flash and Christine’s post highlighted some of them and reminded me of this. Ideally I look for resources that are robust and will work on whatever device I happen to be using. This is especially true of I am intending on letting students access some of them – I know that se of them don’t have a computer at home but do have an iPad so anything incorporating Flash or Java applets is a no-no. 

I appreciate that recoding resources to avoid Flash is a massive undertaking but with the completely open standards of JavaScript and HTML5 I genuinely think it is worth the effort. More and more people are using iPads as their primary computing device, some schools are adopting a one-to-one iPad policy and so using the more modern and open standards is surely a no brainer. 

I’ve made my pentominoes resource using CSS, HTML5, JavaScript and the fabric.js library for this reason. I have a few other small resources in various stages of development and am hoping that I will be able to get them completed over the summer. Any of the Geogebra worksheets that I embed in HTML pages (such as this on conic sections and this investigating graph transformations ) use HTML5 so that they work on all devices. I also recently became aware of the website amathsteacherwrites from Jeff (@jeff2869). On this site (as well as some interesting blog posts) there are some great draggable maths activities, such as this matching graphs activity that work on any device. The wonderful Times Table Rockstars developed by Bruno Reddy (@MrReddyMaths) also works on iOS devices (though I understand that there will be dedicated apps coming out which will no doubt improve the UI experience even further for these devices). 

I hope that, over time, more resources which avoid the use of Flash come out and I will try to do my bit and add to them myself. 

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