There has been much in the blogosphere, tech and even mainstream press written about the relative merits of Flash and it’s use compared to the up and coming shinny new standard of HTML 5. While nobody other than possibly Adobe denies that HTML will be core to much of the future web, today there are some very pragmatic reasons while flash is still widely used.
However from a rich user experience point of view there is much that flash still has to offer..
Last week I spent some time with the people behind findmaps.co.uk, a B2B operation in London who have developed a rich mapping/GIS SaaS (“software as a service”) application using flash. The service is a very slick interface to OS mapping in the UK, and offers basic GIS functionality without any of the GIS baggage found in other web based GIS tools.
So Findmaps sits somewhere between arcgisonline and Google/Bing maps, and clearly meets a real market requirement. In particular a key point of pain that is largely successfully hidden from professional users is the almost comically complex OS licensing that has been reduced to a running shopping basket total which is updated each time you view a map.
Yes you read that right for large scale OS data you do pay each time you view the map on screen !
In many ways findmaps may represent what GIS ultimately becomes, the complex GIS we know today will become even more focused on the needs of those relatively few organisations that create data, the professional users in real estate, Land and environmental management who currently use desktop GIS will migrate to SaaS applications like this and everyone else will use web mapping tools.