Flash's Transparent Background Performance issues

Almost all of the testing/development on my Flash/XML Slideshow was done either with the actual internal SWF viewer in Flash or in the Firefox browser. I had made the unfortunate mistake of assuming Flash will run extremely similarly, if not the same, on all browsers and therefore I continued on my merry way and actually had a v1.0 on my blog with much pride and adoration.

I soon noticed, after viewing my blog with Internet Explorer, that there were some major performance issues with the fading in/out of objects in the slideshow and it was a complete mystery as to why that could be. The good news is that I soon found out the performance issue had nothing to do with my code. The bad news is I found out it had to do with my choice of how I embedded the slideshow.

Much to my chagrin, the reason for my problem was right under my nose. This article was the very same article I read on publishing with a transparent background which clearly states:

Note: If windowless mode is used, performance can be affected to some degree. If fastest performance is a top priority, you may consider other design options.

What is strange about this whole issue is that the performance problem only showed up in Internet Explorer and ran without a hitch in Firefox. This makes me curious whether there are other performance discrepancies in other situations across various browsers. At least in this case, Firefox’s flash player is far superior with absolutely no performance issues whatsoever.

Unfortunately, this probably means that I’m either going to have to get rid of the transparent background or make sure to warn people about this issue before releasing it.

Firefox still climbing the charts

I have to say I’m starting to become surprised. The Firefox phenomenon just doesn’t seem to want to slow down as is apparent with them breaking the 18 million download mark. The upstart browser is now the #1 used browser for my blog and seems to be climbing every week. While it still has some issues with Flash on OS X, all-in-all I’m very satisfied with the 1.0 release and I’m assuming a large majority of the 18 million or so people that downloaded it are as well.

I know I’ve been covering Firefox quite a bit on this blog lately, but I really feel that this could be the beginning of a real interesting situation a year or two down the road. I feel a lot of people still using IE are doing so in the thought that IE7 will take care of all the current problems and they’d rather wait it out than take the time to migrate to a new browser. If this does not happen however, I think there is going to be a huge second movement to Firefox if the open-source browser continues to make improvements on its already solid foundation.

The exposure has been amazing and the hype has pretty much been fulfilled. The next step from Microsoft could really be the defining moment.