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Cookies vs Flash For Client Side Storage

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I have mixed thoughts regarding the dispute between using cookies to store client side data [session vars, userid's, affiliate codes, etc...] versus using cookies to store the data.

I don’t like the fact that using flash requires a user have javascript enabled. If you compare the amount of traffic on a website using a log file based analytics package versus a javascript based analytics package, you’ll see an average of 25 percent less visitors with the js version. That’s because many people either don’t have js enabled or the third party sites serving the js code momentarily crapped out.

Granted, what we’re talking about here with using flash [requires js] isn’t the same as having that js called from a remote server, it still will not account for those that have js turned off. And is the number that have js turned off that much smaller than those that have cookies turned off or their cookies cleaned? I think that’s the real question Jupiter needs to answer here.

I asked Jeremy Allaire for his thoughts on the cookie v flash situation brought up by ClickZ and here’s what he said.

Local Shared Objects are a great vehicle for storing persistent information for websites and applications. When we built the
functionality into Flash Player 6, we thought of it as “Super Cookies”. Unlike cookies where you are limited to 4kb and key/value pairs, LSOs let you store full objects and xml data, and up to 100kb per application, per domain.

I can see how it would be abused, but don’t have any specific comment on that.

The only reason it requires JS is because they are presumably just using Flash Runtime to use the API, but not an actual Flash appliation, and to integrate into your HTML-based app you need to call the Flash api and pass it data via a JS script, but that is easy to do in a cross-platform, cross-browser way. Likewise, more people are building asynchronous DHTML applications butt relying on Flash’s XMLSocket as a server integration layer, rather than HTTP POST.

What do you guys think?

Jason Dowdell is a technology entrepreneur and operates the Marketing Shift blog.

Cookies vs Flash For Client Side Storage
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