While I propose what may be a radical notion to some, with additional consideration the value of lightweight Internet applications starts to become apparent. I am not proposing that the browser is dying, but rather that it would be enhanced by an application-centric complement. Flash MX and its underlying SWF format are ready to provide such a solution today, though some have misgivings because SWF is a proprietary format held by one company--Macromedia. However, few viable alternatives currently exist to address this emerging need.
I’ve been getting the impression that Macromedia are repositioning Flash as a tool for creating web applications rather than one for creating standard web sites. This seems like a sensible move to me—I seriously doubt Flash will ever be as good a format for serving normal documents as HTML, but as a light-weight web application platform Flash has many obvious advantages. I remain concerned that it is based on what is still a proprietary format—the internet’s as it exists today is built on open standards and anything that moves away from that weakens the universal nature of the web. SVG looks promising but could take years to gain proper support, so for the moment it looks like Flash MX remains the most viable solution to this problem.