Yahoo is Using Flash in Maps Beta
I have to applaud Yahoo for using the best technology for a particular job, not being influenced by buzzwords, or fear of the unknown. Google has embraced Macromedia/Adobe Flash MX for their new beta of the existing Maps product. Google has used AJAX, and probably to a lot more man hours than Yahoo has had to spend on their Flash product, they have achieved almost total browser compatibility.
I can understand developers using AJAX to prevent lock-in, but Flash is pretty much ubiquitous, and with Macromedia's efforts to establish it as a platform will hopefully enable more open development of swf files. At any rate, it would be possible for other companies, and possibly open source development of swf generating IDEs. Whether or not this will happen, for asynchronous data transfer from the interface layer and the model layer, I have been hard pressed to find a better solution than Flash. It has a better than 90% penetration rate, it is available for just about every modern operating system, and on top of that it has a small and fast runtime, and allows for easy animation. It is clearly a better solution for web development and rich web applications than Java, and AJAX, no matter how great the developer does not allow for the type of animations and control that Flash does. Flash is definately the best solution for developing animated maps.
If developers don't feel comfortable with Flash, and I'm not quite sure why they would be, Yahoo has made an AJAX API avaliable. I haven't played with that, but I have something in mind for their Flash API. I'm interested in finding out how dynamic it can be. I'm looking forward to working with it. You can find it here.