Flash or Java. Which is better?

Ed Burnette has written a blog post Is Flash better than Java? there is a lot of interesting discussion happening on the thread. The comparison needs to be sliced and seen from various angles.

Flash and Java is not apples-apples comparison

Flash is most popular for delivering media content. Most of Flash content is delivered thru browsers. Flash installations on desktops is predominantly because of browser plugins. Whereas Java can be used either as client-side applet for rich application UI or can be used on the server-side for writing the application code delivered to browsers thru HTML/AJAX.

Flash wins hands down if the comparison is with Java applets. But, the number of websites and applications that are powered by Java on the server-side out number Flash applications on the web.

Apollo and Java is not apples-apples comparison

Adobe Apollo is a cross-OS runtime for delivering Web-Desktop integrated applications. Java is a cross-OS platform not specifically for writing web-desktop applications. Java has a huge collection of platform neutral API for accessing OS, hardware, network, graphics, database etc. One part of Java is Swing (UI) which can be used for writing rich UI applications, again swing is not meant for specifically writing desktop-web applications. Swing is traditionally used for desktop only applications. So I would say Swing is more comparable to VB or X-windows rather than Apollo.

A more near comparison of Apollo on the Java side is Dekoh, which is a open source Java based platform for writing desktop-web integrated applications.

Which is better Java or Flash?

Depends on which aspect are you looking at.

  • Media delivery on the browser: Flash
  • Better execution (installation, upgrade, version changes) on client side: Flash
  • Number of web applications written using the technology: Java
  • Richness of API and services: Java

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