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Oracle Support ditching Flash interface for HTML

Mark Fontecchio

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Oracle will retire the Flash version of its support portal, pushing instead its newer HTML user interface. Oracle DBAs lauded the move.

Many Oracle Support users have complained about the Flash interface since it was unveiled in 2009, saying it was clunky and buggy. Oracle listened, moving away from Flash in the same way Apple has on the consumer side (Oracle has aspired to be the Apple of the enterprise). Two years ago it started offering both HTML and Flash versions. Now it will retire the Flash version altogether, although it hasn’t revealed a timeline beyond saying it will happen “in the coming months.”

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CEO Larry Ellison even slammed Flash during an announcement about cloud computing in June, despite Oracle Support and other Oracle products still offering Flash interfaces.

“Some people foolishly built their entire system -- I won’t mention Workday by name -- they built their entire system with a Flash UI,” he said. “And then they said, ‘Oh sh--’; well, I can’t say what they said. They said, ‘Golly, that’s a problem.’ ”

Apparently, Oracle realized that Flash-based support was also a problem.Raj, a longtime DBA who declined to use his last name, won’t miss the Flash interface at all. He said Flash was slow and the data display was inconsistent between screens.

“The Flash player would occasionally hang until you restarted the browser -- or simply crash,” he said, adding that the HTML version navigates nicely, is responsive and looks good. “Personally, I am happy with the HTML version. I would take it any day over the Flash version.”

Oracle updated its HTML user interface in January and is planning more upgrades this month. Nevertheless, Oracle vice president of customer portal experience Dennis Reno said that users of Oracle On Demand, Oracle CRM On Demand and Oracle Configuration Manager should continue using the Flash interface for support until further notice. HTML updates for those products are scheduled for July 13.

One important note is that the HTML interface will only support Internet Explorer 7 or newer versions -- Internet Explorer 6 will not be supported. Other supported browsers include Mozilla Firefox 3 and newer, Safari 3.1.2 and newer and Chrome 5 and newer. An Oracle Support note has more details.

When Oracle announced upgrades to its HTML interface in January, many Oracle pros rejoiced, saying they preferred the simplicity of HTML to the slow-loading Flash. Michael Janke, director of network services at Minnesota State Colleges & Universities, wrote he was happy about the upgrade.

“I no longer have to twiddle my thumbs waiting for Flash to load,” he wrote.

Janke listed his major complaints with the Flash interface: It’s slow-loading and unreliable; managing Flash plug-ins is difficult;  and you can’t have multiple service requests open on multiple browser tabs.

“The Flash UI couldn’t handle more than one tab,” he wrote. “It excelled at making every interaction with the interface strictly linear.”

Marc Fielding, senior consultant at database consultancy The Pythian Group Inc. in Ottawa, wrote that with the Flash interface he “experienced many hangs, stale data, excessive memory usage and Flash and full-browser crashes …” Still, he thought the switch to HTML was due to Apple, which doesn’t support Flash on its devices.

“I suspect that the death knell came from the growing population of non-Flash iPad users as well as the desire to use Oracle’s standardized Application Development Framework for both stability and marketing, rather than the one-off custom-built flash UI, ” Fielding wrote.


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