The Gradual Disappearance Of Flash Websites


If you want to “go big” visually with a website, delivering complex interaction and a rich experience across a wide range of browsers, Flash is the only way to go. Right? Nope. Given the widespread adoption and advancements of modern browsers and JavaScript libraries, using Flash makes little sense. But it does have its place on the Web, considering the need for progressive enhancement.

In the current landscape of technology and accessing the Internet through devices such as picture frames, netbooks, cell phones and televisions, the benefits of Web standards outweigh those of Flash, especially when delivering content to a broad audience on various devices.

Flash is a proprietary product that sits on top of the browser to extend functionality. While Flash may have provided missing functionality for some time, it brings little value to modern browsers. As more and more designers and developers realize the benefits of Web standards and start using some of the features of HTML5 and CSS3, we’ll see fewer Flash-driven websites.

The Great Flash vs. Web Standards Debate

Advocates have evangelized Web standards for over 10 years. The debate among developers and designers often gets as heated as the discussion on same-sex marriage, causing uncomfortable divisions among some of the smartest people in the field.

Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford Debating

With the recent announcement of iPad’s lack of Flash support and the continued lack of it on the iPhone, the debate has reached beyond the development community to include Adobe and Apple themselves. With Apple’s anti-Flash stance, it has become too hard to argue for a completely Flash-based website when it would leave out a potentially large audience.

Eventually, Flash will make it to mobile devices (250 million devices are expected to have full support by the end of 20121), but that’s really only a small part of the debate and one of the better arguments that Web standards advocates have.

At the heart of the matter is how to deliver a great experience to users no matter the technology or platform.

“HTML5 vs. Flash” is the wrong discussion. “Accessible rich media” is the right one.

— Jeffrey Zeldman (via Twitter2)

In the end, we’re all just trying to create websites that can be accessed and used, regardless of the tools we use to deliver them.

Healthy Competition

In the early days of the Web, Flash was pretty much the only way to deliver a rich experience across different browsers and platforms. CSS and JavaScript were inconsistently supported across browsers, and relying on them was hardly worth the trouble.

Two Girls in a Pie Eating Contest
(Image: Erik Charlton3)

Flash saw great success early on and pushed forward quickly. The small app that once mainly made animations quickly became a worthy development environment in its own right. Developers and designers alike chose to concentrate their efforts in that area, often segregating themselves from the open Web and backing the proprietary technology. Flash websites took over the Web, and Web standards didn’t allow developers to create the experiences that users were starting to expect.

Web standards may have fallen behind once, but they continued to be pushed forward by practitioners and those willing to embrace the idea of an open Web.

Web Standards: Benefits And Reasons For Adoption

Users expect rich experiences, and in many cases these great experiences are now being delivered with HTML, CSS and JavaScript, which are the basics of Web standards.

Soldier Giving a Thumbs Up
(Image: The US Army4)

The line between websites developed with Flash and Web standards has become blurred. At first glance, even the savviest developer would have a hard time discerning which technology was used for a website without peeking at the source.

The list of websites that are ditching Flash in favor of Web standards is growing every day. Even if these decisions are driven by the iPad and iPhone’s lack of Flash, they’ll soon reap the other benefits that Web standards bring.

What once could be done almost exclusively in Flash is now easily accomplished with JavaScript and a bit of ingenuity. Lightboxing, scrolling news stories, rich navigation and image slideshows were once solely the domain of Flash. Widespread adoption of standards is easily attributable to the ease of using JavaScript libraries for enhanced interaction and current support of CSS among browsers.

Video has been an important step in moving Web standards forward. Video is one of the few things that could once only be delivered in Flash. The biggest leap so far has been YouTube5‘s adoption of the HTML5 video element (albeit in beta), allowing modern browsers to bypass the Flash plug-in and use video native to the browser’s player.

HTML5 video has encountered controversy (thanks to the current codec debacle6) and reports of unimpressive performance, but these issues will be worked out. Website developers will implement HTML5 video and choose an appropriate codec. When the biggest websites make this decision, we’ll end up with a de facto standard that gives browsers improved performance.

Modern Browser Adoption

HTML5 and CSS3 represent a great effort to advance native browser performance, and many browser providers are already implementing their specifications, even through they haven’t been set in stone. We have a lot to look forward to with CSS animation, canvas, local storage, geo-location and other specifications that will bring Web standards into a new era.

Although it will be many years before we see 100% of the emerging specifications implemented in browsers and see a large majority of users upgrade to those browsers, if we embrace the progressive enhancement of content, we’re well on our way to pushing adoption among developers.

Progressive Enhancement

Learning to produce progressively enhanced content, giving up pixel-perfect rendering in every browser, and embracing graceful degradation in older browsers can free up time to concentrate on other areas of development, such as accessibility and platform-delivery agnosticism.

A site in three states of enhancement
(Image: Unobtrusify.com7)

If users of your website don’t have JavaScript or CSS enabled, they can still access and enjoy your content in a more limited way, unlike Flash websites, which typically don’t deliver content in the absence of Flash or JavaScript.

Designing with progressive enhancement in mind and building from the ground up require designers and developers to think more about the infrastructure of a website, and this typically exposes the kinds of issues that arise when working from the top down (i.e. designing a website and then considering the fall-back).

Smart Phone Browsers and Context Delivery

The mobile Web is still in its infancy and usually an afterthought in the design process, but standard-based designs can degrade as nicely on phones as they do on older desktop browsers. In the absence of the Flash plug-in, a website can still deliver an exceptional experience without much extra effort (which would be cumbersome with a Flash website).

Mobile Web browsing is increasing exponentially, and ignoring these users is unwise. Web standards are the only option to deliver richer interactions in mobile browsers.

Content Management

Giving website owners and editors the ability to edit interactive content inside a content management system means not having to coordinate with Flash developers to create and maintain content outside of the system. Many agencies have ditched Flash for WordPress-powered websites that use JavaScript to enhance the experience, allowing for quick and easy updates to portfolios and content.


Web standards being what they are (i.e. standard agreement on the way code is constructed and served), user agents and scripts from outside a website can be written to access data directly from the HTML. Search engines, microformats, feeds, translation and bookmarklets all work because of the open nature and consistency between the data.

A Neon Open Sign
(Image: Monica’s Dad8)

If we want the Web to be truly scalable and interconnected, then microformats and microdata and APIs for content might be just the answer. Otherwise, we’ll remain in the same position we were years ago when websites erected walls around their content.


Many people believe that the technology behind the Internet should be open and not competitive as it has been in the past. People should be free to consume and create information, without being tied down to the kind licensing restrictions and legalities seen with the likes of Flash, Silverlight and other corporately owned technologies.

Creating and delivering content with Web standards not only is the best technological solution but supports the freedom of an open Web.

Flash Does, And Will Continue To Do, Many Things Well

Just because Flash-driven websites are gradually disappearing doesn’t mean that Flash will disappear altogether. Too much content and infrastructure have been set up to magically vanish. Without vast restructuring or realigning of organizations and processes, plenty of Flash developers will continue to be employed, and plenty of Flash advertising will be directed at those ready to ignore it.

We owe a lot to Flash for making the Web what it is today, and it deserves that credit. Even though it showed less potential compared to the other plug-in technologies, such as Java applets, that emerged early on, it had a nice balance between seamless delivery to users and ease of development and deployment. Many other Web technologies, such as VRML and SVG, have tried to overcome Flash’s hold on the Web but have continually fallen short.

Where would the Internet be without Flash and the innovations it brought?

Ease of Use

Out of the gate, Flash was intuitive and easy-to-use application for both designers and developers, delivering the simplest of animations, yet able to scale to serve complex applications.

Two kids at computers
(Image: *ejk*9)

Because of its ease of use, Flash posed a lower barrier to entry for budding designers and developers. And combined with the suite of applications from Adobe, Flash fits well in the designer’s workflow.


You can’t argue with the fact that for many years Flash has been the only way to deliver rich interaction in a consistent way across a wide range of platforms and browsers. It’s still the only way to deliver video and audio to older browsers, and it will retain its throne for several more years.

If you’re a stickler for fonts and demand special ones for your website, then you’ll be saddened by the current state of font support in the browser. This shortcoming will have to be compensated by Flash and swfObject10 until @font-face and various font formats become more widely supported.

Standards Not Quite There

As much as Web standards have advanced, we’re often stuck having to support older browsers in which Flash may be the only way to deliver audio, video and complex data-heavy interfaces. Thanks to early adopting Web browser providers, we can start using the HTML5 audio and video tag today. But we still have to plan for a Flash fall-back to deliver media in older browsers.

The same could be said for the canvas element for delivering complex visualization, 3-D animation and games. If a browser like IE6 needs to be supported, providing a decent fall-back for the canvas element can be complicated. Flash might just be the best choice for development in such cases. As always, your current and potential audience should determine your direction.

Progressively Enhanced Flash and Flash Injection

The best Flash developers take the same approach as the Web standards crowd, using Flash as a layer to enhance their websites and applications. If that continues, Flash will continue to have a place in delivering a great experience, serving mobile devices and reaching search engines and other user agent technologies. The Flash injection technique11 is the easiest way to meld the best of both worlds.

The Future of Flash

Adobe has never been the type of company to let a product stagnate. You can be sure it will keep pushing to get Flash on as many mobile devices as possible.

Laser Show Lights
(Image: Robert Weißenberg12)

With Creative Suite 5, developers will be able to output Flash projects as native iPhone applications using the iPhone Packager13. And Flash could soon evolve from its early roots as an animation application to a full-fledged desktop and mobile application development environment with the help of AIR14 and related advancements (AIR might reach the mobile space pretty quickly).

Flash developers will likely be in even greater demand, as the demand to deliver applications consistently between desktop and mobile devices increase—even if they aren’t asked to create run-of-the-mill websites.

Flash, HTML, CSS And JavaScript Are Just Tools

Web standards and Flash (and other plug-in technologies) are simply tools to create content for the Web. Even if Flash is on the decline for websites, Flash developers have no reason to worry about becoming obsolete.

Everything that is true for creating rich Internet applications holds true for whatever other tool you use, and transitioning to Web standards development may be easier than you think.

Tools in a Toolbox
(Image: kansas_city_royalty15)

Flash and Web standards developers have more in common than they don’t. Interface and interaction design, typography, layout, graphic design and object-oriented programming are all still valid and important for both technologies.

Developers on both sides of the spectrum struggle with many of the same issues. They both set out to create a great user experience, to design intuitive interactions and to make websites easy for users. All of this is done not by the technology itself but by the people behind it.

Standards-Based Websites That Shine

Here are some examples of websites that have embraced Web standards and offer rich interaction. If you want to keep up with current trends, many great standards-based websites are featured on showcase websites such as NotCoffee16 and jQuery Style17.

Pigeon and Pigeonette18
This website has a single page that transitions during navigation. Other than being informational, it offers a couple of Flash games.

Pigeon and Pigeonette Website19

Good Works Media20
An agency website with an accordion home page and lightbox for the portfolio.

Good Works Media Website21

Made by Elephant22
A minimalist portfolio website with a horizontal accordion.

Made by Elephant Website23

Euna24 (English translation25)
A single-page website with very “elastic” transitions.

Euna Website26

Artopod27 (English translation28)
A retro design with a fixed-height “window” onto the content.

Artopod Website29

Bold, colorful, full-screen imagery on a single page, with a lightbox portfolio.

DreamerLines Website31

Serial Cut32
Mainly full-screen imagery for a portfolio that includes 3-D, graphic design and photography.

Serial Cut Website33

Alfa-Bank: U234 (English translation35)
The main layout and background imagery changes during navigation.

Alfa-Bank: U2 Website36

A more traditional website but with subtle navigation effects and transitions for imagery and content.

Kobe Website38

Unowhy39 (English translation40)
Another accordion website, with smooth content transitions and a lot of “hover” effects.

Unowhy Website41

Creative People42
Very creative imagery, heavy on the AJAX, with many examples of the studio’s work.

Creative People Website43

World of Merix44
A full-screen draggable map of the agency’s clients, with a smooth lightbox for the content.

World of Merix Website45

The Sixty One46
Very much an application, this streaming music service lets you browse artists and related info. As you listen, information pops up on the band.

The Sixty One Website47

Banadies Architech48
A website highlighting the work of an architecture firm. With each click on the navigation, the page elegantly shifts around.

Banadies Architech Website49

Paul J. Noble50
A dark portfolio website, with an interesting approach to navigation.

Paul J. Noble Website51

Adult Swim Shows52
A recent relaunch, with full-screen images for navigation.

Adult Swim Shows Website53

A marketplace website with a simple interface, carousel navigation for products and lightboxes for detailed descriptions.

Glyde Website55

Alex Arts56
Personal portfolio of Alex Abramov, with full-screen imagery and pop-up content.

Alex Arts Website57

Personal portfolio of Adam Rix. Full-screen imagery and subtle navigation.

Rix Website59

Eric Johansson60
A personal portfolio, with a fun design and scrollable interface.

Eric Johansson Website61

Websites From The (Near) Future

Here are some “experimental” websites that demonstrate what’s becoming possible with Web standards. Be warned: these might work only in the most modern of browsers. To keep up with emerging standards-based websites, check out CanvasDemos62 and Chrome Experiments63.

An online code editor from Mozilla.

Bespin Website65

A simple painting program.

Sketchpad Drawing Application67

JavaScript Wolfenstein 3D68, from Nihilogic69
The classic game created with Web standards.

Wolfenstein 3d Game70

Leaf Transform71, from Disegno Cetell72
A simple falling leaf using the canvas element.

Leaf Animation73

Canvas Animation Demo74
A cartoon animation using the canvas element

Cartoon Animation using Canvas75

Canvas Experiment76, from 9elements77
An audio visualization that reacts to your mouse.

Bubbles Visualization78

Ball Pool79
A physics-based demo that lets you drag and push around multi-colored circles.

Ball Pool Website80

Dynamic Content Injection81, from Paul Rouget82 of Mozilla
An “almost” augmented reality demo that inject images into a video.

Example of Injecting images into other images83

Canopy Animation84
A visualization of a tree that mutates and blooms.

Tree Canopy Animation85

Images falling on the screen.

Random Falling Images87

3-D Cube Demo88
A draggable, zoomable 3-D cube of colors.

3d Cube89

JavaScript Bike90
A game in which you navigate your motorcycle across a terrain.

A Bike Game91

Comments Visualization92
A visualization of comments over time by Matt Ryall93 using Processing.js94.

Comment Visualization95

HTML vs. Flash Resources

Here are a few fairly recent articles. Make sure to check out their comments.



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Brad Cooper is an interface and interaction designer and an advocate of open source & web standards. He's been creating and designing websites for the last 14 years. You can usually find him at, or twitter.

  1. 1

    What this article — and most of the commenters, who I’m guessing are web designers? — fail to acknowledge is that Flash is a terrible resource hog. All those ‘neat’ but largely non-useful-to-the-end-user Flash effects consume too many CPU cycles and too much memory and bandwidth that I would rather have devoted to the primary content of the webpage, rather than fancy banner ads, video ads, or even clever webpage tricks.

    If Flash is needed to enable the primary purpose of the webpage — showing video, games, etc. — then fine, I can accept it as part of the ‘price’ for visiting that webpage (but I may choose to find an alternative website offering the same or similar content that uses techniques that are less taxing on system resources). But if it’s used simply to enable extraneous B.S. or to make life easier for the web designer, it’s an inefficiency that I can’t and won’t tolerate. (And gross inefficiency = non-green in my book, btw.)

    On the worst websites, the cycles and/or bandwidth consumed by ‘non-content’ Flash can be greater than the actual content I’m looking for by a factor of 4 or more! That’s just plain stupid imho….

    I admit that HTML5 may or may not be better than Flash in this respect… both are merely tools, and the responsibility of the effects of their use lie with the tool-user, not the tools themselves.

    I will say though that Flash has a nasty habit of remaining running in the background (and continuing to consume resources) even after I’ve closed the browser that invoked it. That too is intolerable, and I’m seriously considering making my PC a “No-Flash” zone!

    • 152

      Flash is a visual tool. It is used for creating innovative webapplications, athmospheres and some kind of experience. Flash is not made to deliver (text-)contents in the first place (although it can, of course). If you want your www to be boring, step back to some text browser. It´s your choice.
      btw, I rarely recognise an unacceptable increase of my CPU, caused by well coded(!) flashsites.

    • 303

      This argument flies in the face of what I have been taught as a computer science student.
      The following article explains it much better than I could:

      Tech Is Too Cheap to Meter: It’s Time to Manage for Abundance, Not Scarcity

      Read More

      also, if you actively manage your resources with well written code – you can eliminate memory leaks.

      it’s like ANY other technologies… javascript, php, asp, python etc… can also crash a browser very easily

    • 454

      @Fx: Flash indeed is quite CPU intensive. But remember, if you’re building something really interactive and visually rich stuff using HTML5/JavaScript, it’s probably using as much CPU power (or more) as Flash.

      I think it’s perfectly okay to use both technologies at the same time. If one can produce exactly what Flash can do, then, yes, I reckon using something standard is logically better. But if one cannot produce the same effect, and his compromised solution doesn’t really meet the business objective of a design, then, no.

      I’m glad that HTML5/JavaScript is developing because, I must say, it does fit nicely with content-driven sites. For really simple stuff, like accordion menu and image slide-show, they are the right tools. But when a developer is asked to do something a lot more complex, then he must be realistic about which tool he should use, instead of being stubborn about web-standard. I’m sure a really good front-end developer can eventually produce it with JavaScript, but I’d imagine the task would be really complicated to do.

      Just take a look at the examples the author put up. They are really impressive. But if the exact same things are done in flash, most people would say ‘what’s so special about them?’

      Anyway, I think the single most important thing to keep in mind is that if the cost of pursuing web standard is to restrict the creativity of designers, then there’s a strong reason to use plug-ins. If not, I don’t see a reason not to.

      PS: Yes, I think some people hate flash because there are many examples of bad flash stuff. But please don’t dismiss stuff that are made with flash for a reason.

  2. 605

    Uh… I just validated some websites Mr. Cooper created:
    They are not only ugly (are you really an educated designer??) , they don´t validate… (at least the only one, that is online)
    66 Errors, 7 warning(s)

  3. 756

    I hope I’m not repeating anyone else said. What ever happened to the practice of offering a non-Flash version of a Flash site? Didn’t we have to do that back when Flash was new? I love the richness of Flash when I’m on my desktop or laptop, but what if I didn’t have the Flash plugin installed. Those site are useless. Why does it have to be one technology vs another instead of making sure your audience gets your message no matter what the technology? Apple isn’t saying that no Flash is allowed anywhere, just on the iPhone, so Flash isn’t going away. Would I miss it on my phone? Nope, as long as I can see something.

  4. 907

    I’ve done a little with jquery. It’s pretty cool but it’s javascript and dhtml. html5 is kind of a misnomer because its a combination of the same web technologies that html developers have always used… just the next generation.

    the thing that gets me is the people who say html5 is the new flash are pidgeonholing flash into a video player hole.

    they also ignore the fact that as3 has evolved into a very powerful structured OOP language, and flashbuilder is arguably the best developer tool out there. I’ve played with silverlight, visual studio, xcode, and none of those platforms are as intuitive and well structured as flex/flashbuilder (IMHO)

    html5 isn’t even universally supported or even finished for that matter. I will be shocked if it is universally interpreted by browsers the same way (form elements in safari and IE are completely different)

    Flash plug in for the most part displays exactly the same in every browser.

    Apple hopefully will cave and support flash if hp slate, windows phones , android and other competitors support flash.

    The verdict is still out whether ipad is awesome or a big turkey. time will tell… (if they supported flash it would definitely be huge)

    one last point – people say flash is buggy and processor intensive….
    it’s as good as the developer writing the code. My tunecandy app is super complex, but i can run it on a shitty hp laptop and it performs almost as good as it does on a 10,000.00 mac pro.

    The bottom line for apple is if they kill flash, they get rid of a major competitor. That pisses me off because my career is built on flash. sure I can adapt to other technologies, but I don’t want to throw away a technology that is really awesome to work with something inferior.

    There is so much that flash can do that has not been explored by developers yet and it would really suck if it died because some greedy soulless corporate monster decided to kill it.

    if they kill flash they kill a lot of access to people who aren’t full fledged programmers. we will see less innovation and the accessibility of innovative development gets taken away fro creative people who do not want to be hard core programmers.

    thats my 10 cents on the subject :-)

    • 1058

      Excellently put. It’s time to get behind platforms like Android, who will leave the field open thus creating more jobs, foster more creativity, and not stagnate the growth and offerings of the web.

  5. 1209

    This article reminds me of those developers always saying that Linux is replacing Windows, talking about freedom while telling us what we should use and what we should not use, carrying torches pitch forks and strong words wnenever they can. Everyone misses the point in letting users decide what content and designs like the most.
    Flash can be missused and no one is claiming that is perfect but is definitely much more than photo galleries and dropdown menus.

  6. 1662

    “The Gradual Appearance of Programmers that Can’t Afford Web Premium CS4″

  7. 1964

    Another useless flash vs html5 debate… Flash is not going anywhere same as html5 they will co exists as many other technologies… flash is still superior in performance for heavy animated graphics… javascript is still pretty slow.. although in chrome it is kinda acceptable..

    Also the open debat is kinda useless… there is a opensource compiler.. get flashdevelop and code away… If you have programmed in both AS 3 and Javascript you will definitly see the stroing points of flash.. goodbye cross browser headaches… welcome strict typing.. ^^

    Anyway… yes for the application types of websites html wins… for heavy graphic intensive (smaller) websites flash is king.

    The listing of some javascript websites is kinda pointless too.. I can just list some of the sites in and say oh look no javascript used… that must mean it is better… doh.. X_x anyways enough time waisted on this bullocks back to coding :P

  8. 2266

    As I said many and many times. Smashing Magazine is all about bashing flash and go pro into HTML5. You can see by the volume of posts that they try to inject you the idea that HTML5 will win. That plus the completely Jobs, makes this website not a good place for those who want a clear and clean picture of all this debate.

    You still can’t do what many sites do with Flash right now, and eveything you see done right now in HTML5, Flash does it for years…

    As I said in Twitter more than once. Smashing Magazine should really try to not choose a side in all this technology thing.

    A good magazine is one that can say good and bad things about a technology and I can’t see that, for at least, the last 3 months from Smashing Magazine.

  9. 2417

    So who is this Brad Cooper? What an ignorant. Just look at his portfolio he hasn’t got a clue. I’d be ashamed to display such work on a website.

    • 2568

      This comes better when you read in his profile:

      “… and an advocate of open source & web standards.”

      C’mon Smashing Mag! You can do better than this!

  10. 2719

    Funny article… also very immature!

  11. 2870

    Well, Adobe seems to be worried about, especially not being on 80 million iphones and ipads out there. Major websites are moving to HTML5 and leaving Flash behind. No need for useless flashy animations. Move on Flash Developers…. Learn a REAL development environment and language.

  12. 3021

    Is that guy with the yellow speech balloon on the photo Steve Jobs? Seriously.

  13. 3172

    I get a kick out of all the people who like to bag on Flash and predict it’s demise. What is there purpose in life other than to be totally ignorant, irrelevant and annoying? I mean, no one can deny that without Adobe and Flash in particular, the internet would have no where near the functionality, capabilities, or creativity that it has today. So why would they want to see such a demise? I understand that people can and do build some crummy stuff with Flash. I have also been to equally crummy sites built with HTML and Java. In that case however, you do not hear people shouting “HTML must die!”, it is interesting how Flash on the other hand takes the flack for poor designer work. I have some theories on why some people are so anti-Flash. One reason may be that the group is spear-headed by disgruntled designers who do not have the capabilities and could not write “Hello World” with ActionScript to save their life. Well I have news for you, HTML5 and Javascript are not going to make it much easier. OK, it’s just a theory, but really what other reason is there to wish for the demise of such an awesome tool that produces such awesome results? It’s also obvious that Steve Jobs is having an impact with his anti-Flash stance on the iPhone/iPad. I am an Apple user myself, but I also have news for all of the little iSheep who follow Steve Jobs and Apple religiously: he is actually not a God, but only a marketing genius with a nice sense of style. So all of the people who have their iPad and are OK with not being able to view all the content from about 80% of the sites on the web, you are truly as brain-washed iSheep and you might want to open your eyes a bit. In fact, Steve’s choice to lock down his platforms to any non-Apple-approved languages is in fact a backwards maneuver and may only serve to stunt the growth of the internet and developers in general, it is so far from the ‘open web’ a lot of other people seem to be ironically championing. Hey, at least Steve finally admitted it was so he could retain control (and make more money), and that it really had nothing to do with Flash.

  14. 3323

    Can’t understand this obsession with predicting who will be the winner of an inexistent battle.

    When making this arguments, please try to keep in mind that websites must be build to accommodate visitors needs and requirements and not designers and developers preferences.

    • 3474


      April 28, 2010 7:19 pm

      But irony, most designers and developers know that HTML standard cannot replace Flash. Only user think it can due to Steve Jobs saying it can without thinking. HOW SILLY THEY ARE! If user think that web-site should be built by Pascel, do u think designers and developers have to used Pascel to do things. Users should only care the results, not what tools designers and developers use. FUNNY MAN!

  15. 3625

    Raphael Pudlowski

    April 16, 2010 2:25 am

    well, seeing how shitty is the portfolio of the autor, he mau be frustrated about all this good designers that do awesome flash stuff. Maybye people are dreaming that with the demise of flash, they will again be the only masters and people to know how to code an animation in canvas, because good designers won’t bother to learn code by hand to do what they do with flash. The linux comparison was wery nice :)

    • 3776

      You’re right, one of the worst portfolios ever. I mean, just look at his favorite picture. I’m not being rude or anything but this has to be the worst article on SmashingMag ever. :)

  16. 3927

    With almost 300 comments I’m not sure I’m adding anything new here, but until HTML5/CSS/JS can import 3D and After Effects onto a timeline and tween it better than Flash I’m pretty sure Flash will be around for awhile.

    The bottom line is that some companies, mostly worldwide brands like Coke, Phillips, etc. could care less about the tidy SEO delivered through browser-based technologies – what they want is an interactive experience that dominates, that no one has ever seen and Flash can do that better than anyone else and always has.

    Leading interactive agencies like North Kingdom, Big Spaceship and 2Advanced Studios create sets, like movies, with green-screens and shoot video, apply After Effects and post production processing, render 3D, add audio and other effects to produce online interactive experiences that tell a story and change the way consumers feel about a brand. To date, I’ve never heard of anyone doing this for HTML/CSS/JS.

    I’m willing to bet about 90% of “designers” in this industry who have something to say about this debate have no idea how Flash is really being used by true, authentic interactive agencies. The FWA exists. The day it doesn’t, that’s when you know it’s over.

  17. 4078

    I preffer CSS3 and xhtml !

  18. 4229

    all Flash haters WAKE UP!!!

    see and ask yourselves… Intel, Cisco, Disney and other 70 partners signed for flash… it will be on every mobile phone, in every car and PC… do you think you can beat this??? Not even apple can beat that :P

    • 4380

      Still waiting for Flash on any mobile platform, but it keeps not happening. I believe it when I see it (i.e. in my hand in a shipping smartphone product), and then we’ll see what it does to a smartphone’s battery for real.

  19. 4531

    Nerp, sorry :( . But wait…. Javascript has that amazing 3D library that… Oh yeah, it doesn’t.

  20. 5437

    Flash Websites ?????

    This is an oxymoron!
    The web is defined as the way to bring the information to everyone regardless of their platform. (just ask Sir Tim!) This can’t be done with Flash™ exactly because it’s proprietary and thus not available for every platform. When you understand this everything else unravels. The only way to make the Web real is by using open standards, namely the ones form W3C. Last I heard this wasn’t the case of Flash™.

    So please stop talking about “Flash Websites”, this hurts by ears and eyes!

    Flash sux anyway:

  21. 5588

    Dragisa Mirkovic - Gile

    April 17, 2010 2:16 pm

    “Flash, HTML, CSS And JavaScript Are Just Tools”…well… I like to think about it that way, but you don’t need years to learn how to use hammer or screwdriver.
    First you got to learn a complex structure of Flash interface + AS1. After that you begin to learn AS2, and just when you’ve get used to it, they come with AS3 (complex oop language, btw)…and again, just when you’ve get used to AS3, they tell you that Flash is dead and that your knowledge is for nothing.

  22. 6041

    Flash and advanced AJAX are often a nightmare to make Section 508 compliant. Granted these technologies have made great strides in that area in the last few years, but it’s still a big issue. For those of us who work in Federal Government consulting, 508 compliance often adds a huge amount of additional work when building interactive apps.

  23. 6192

    Good one! May I kindly request the “go ahead” to translate it in French?

  24. 6343

    “Standards-Based Websites That Shine”

    Really? If that list is the best you can put together, you’ve missed your own point.

  25. 6494

    Hold on. Just had a look at the author’s portfolio. Now it all makes sense. When you set the bar that low, even a turd looks like its glowing.

  26. 6645

    On the subject of CMS and Flash, I would say that CMS developers need to look at how they build their systems rather than looking at it from the point of view that Flash is a suitable front-end platform if you want a CMS system.

    Take Silverstripe CMS for example, it does not tie you down to using just one technology to render your site. So you can use xml instead of html for instance which you can easily combine with Flash. Therefore there is no reason you can’t have a robust CMS system behind your nice Flash interface.

  27. 6796

    I develop in as2/3, js, java, php,.net, and a list of other languages; so don’t think I’m just a Flash developer here. Although Flash has been responsible for the major portion of my success as a developer and creative. I’m open to all languages but I have to say that Flash is the one that encompasses the most functionality, development rate, and visual wiz-bang. The Flash community is very large and has shown no signs of letting Flash go anywhere.
    I find that people who opt for standards over creativity are the losers here. Flash currently offers an environment where you can dream it, create it, and everyone (well 99%) can see it the way you intended them to.

    Yes, HTML5/JS/CSS have made HUGE strides, but guess what, they’re not where Flash IS now and when they are, where will flash be? I’m guessing blazing the trail of where the next STANDARD is wanting to be.

    At the end of the day:
    End users could careless what delivers their youtube, facebook, and tweets.. they just want them reliably and fast. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather deliver on something tried, tested and true over something that’s new, cool, and buggy.

    :End my 2 cents

  28. 6947
  29. 7249

    Flash Does, And Will Continue To Do, Many Things… Great!!

    Where would the Internet be without Flash and the innovations it brought? It would be all XHTML and boring, we’d be wearing a hat and grow beards :) Zeldman will be the second most feared last name after Jobs. I like the section where it says BROWSER COMPATIBILITY on HTML5 tutorials.

    I think SmashingMag should stick to the lists, cause these “definitive” articles are not great at all. Do you work for Apple?

  30. 7400

    If you are using Flash for video, you might find this helpful: HTML 5 video with a Flash fallback. This lets you reach those 250million+ users with Firefox (Linux, Mac, Windows), Chrome (Linux, Mac, Windows), Safari (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad).

  31. 7551

    antonio brandao

    May 5, 2010 3:32 am

    It’s a myth thatFflash sites can’t be “web standard” and indexable. Many flash sites have an HTML content in the background, making them indexable, they use deep linking, etc, and they are amazing! HTML5 is years behind Flash.

    Tell me about motion blur, displacement maps, convulsion filters, etc….

  32. 7702

    Flash is dead, killed by the iPad and iPhone:

  33. 7853

    Well, the author of this article is yet another Flash-hater idiot with a license to blog and no real research.

    I’ll save you the 2,000 line post on why, and just say that for one, if you’ve got this much of a boner for Ajax and HTML5, do some freakin benchmark tests before you open up you’re ego on your blog and watch a nice Flex / Flash library like GreenSock’s TweenLite absolutely crush HTML or JavaScript performance, and trumps the look and feel of Javascript / DHTML / Ajax / HTML5 / CSS or whatever else you want to call it as soon as you get into animating more than 1 little box at a time. HTML5 and Ajax are ok, great for some things like backend system interfaces, data entry apps, forms, little slide out widgets, updating data on the page without refreshing, etc, but when it comes to the next level of user experience, web presentation, slick interface design, rich interactive applications (RIAs), and the evolution of web, HTML5 and Ajax (JavaScript) are unfortunately always going to be subject to issues between competing browsers.

    I love how you bash Flash and advocate web standards, and yet the Flash player is more standard across web browsers than web standards are! Hah! Web standards at the moment are almost an oxymoron in themselves. Simple point: Setup a website viewing with FireFox and make use of margins and padding as defined by W3C (web standards authority), then load it in different versions of IE and observe the cluster-f*ckery of web standards as the browser craps out it’s interpretation. Web standards would be great if all browsers adhered to them and handled the DOM exactly the same- but they don’t. Perhaps the real end-all for Flash vs Web standard HTML and JS will be a browser that you can actually say does it 100% right and the majority of the world deletes internet explorer (which you can’t in Windows) and switches to this new amazing browser… good luck getting that done.

    All in all, like most Flash developers that put out junk and give flash a bad name, you probably can’t even program a nice flash app, and thus pass judgment on the entire technology because your favorite corny flash game performance sucks and you can’t do any better. I’m not saying there’s not a lot of flash out there that shouldn’t be, there is. I’m saying there’s just as bad HTML sites- worse in many cases- and it’s not the technology that’s the problem, it’s narrow minded developers like yourself that hate it because you are too stuck in your ways and ill informed to read or make a post on how to use it correctly.

    Save your breath bashing some of the most advanced technology on the web that is largely responsible for the phrase Rich Interactive Application, and start helping to evolve web technology. Learn some Flex / Pure AS3, get a free compiler like FlashDevelop, the free open source Flex SDK, and start helping on a site like, instead of whining and making the problem worse.


    • 8004


      This comment make you an idiot.

      “but when it comes to the next level of user experience, web presentation, slick interface design, rich interactive applications (RIAs), and the evolution of web”

      I think Apple knows more about the next level of user experience and apps to leave Flash behind. Flash is old and you need to learn to move on.

    • 8155

      I think citing performance as a benefit of Flash is pretty specious. Even if you ignore the fact that Flash is mature technology and therefore has had more time to become a strong performer, you’re missing the fact that most devices on the web are mobile devices which Flash absolutely kills. HTML 5 will perform dramatically better on these platforms that processor/memory hungry Flash, not to mention suck battery life.

      As far as L&F go, “Look” comes from the designers, and there’s nothing that Flash can do in this space that HTML5/CSS/SVG/JS cannot. As far as “Feel” goes, Flash apps consistently have the most clunky, non-standard interfaces on the web, making them a PITA to use. The only UI area Flash seems to do well on is mouse hovers/clicks, which as you are aware are pretty much useless on a device like the iPad and most phones. Everything else like keyboard interaction, mouse scrolling, etc. is complete crap. Flash is primarily successful at making pretty, but useless applications. There are some particular verticals where there are some benefits, but the vast majority of web apps suffer poor UI under the yoke of Flash.

      Equating market penetration to standards is also disingenuous. W3C standards are supported in hundreds, if not thousands, of applications. Flash is supported in less than half a dozen, and only one of these (Adobe’s) is any good. An open standard for Flash would allow Apple (for example) to implement that standard on the iPhone/iPad in an efficient manner. No open standards means they’d be chasing the dragon’s tail, just like everyone does with MS Office.

      And just as there are bad Flash devs, there are bad HTML “devs” who can’t deal with browser incompatibilities. Good HTML “devs”, though, learn the idiosyncrasies and develop libraries that handle all that so they don’t have to. And because of the open standards, there are hundreds of great off the shelf libraries that already do this for you.

      • 8306

        haha… ok, Sam you’re obviously a mac fan boy who apparently thinks that Apple is a web company, no response needed there. lol @ “flash is old” – yeah, in the same way computers are old . FutureSplash Animator is old, jackass, FP10.1 beta is brand spankin new and supports more new tricks than your mom. (lord knows that aint easy ;)

        Rich… sorry for this.

        i love how you said:

        “Flash is primarily successful at making pretty, but useless applications.”
        >> and you work at a company where millions of dollars, the majority of the prodcut buzz, and the lion share of interesting products are created by thousands of people a day who pay more to create theirs in a FLASH application. That’s what the suits call MONEY, and that’s what pays us. (An AS2 app made for FP8 that is 3 years old to make things worse, and it still does better than any other product)

        Nobody ever claimed Flash was a solution for mobile or stuck up Apple products which i can only imagine at this point are conceived in secluded steve jobs circle jerks where they chant “down with adobe” or something. They’ve purposely pushed away common technology screwing over thousands of websites when Nokia phones like 8 years ago had light flash support. Apple’s not making the best product they could, they’re making the most money they can, they don’t give a sh*t about all the sites their F*ing over. So at this point if you have flash content, I think you’re obligated to duplicate it for web/apple in a compatible format. But considering the size of the mobile device, it’s better for your users to provide web UI and mobile UI separately and capture the best of both worlds.

        Market penetration? Flash has more penetration (99%) than any other media plugin, more than JAVA for god sake- google could have told you that.

        “and there’s nothing that Flash can do in this space that HTML5/CSS/SVG/JS cannot” –
        >> you really gotta know very little about Flash to say this. Have you ever seen a nice full screen media rich website with full video, animations, interactivity, 3d, image processing, sound, games, lighting effects, automatic filters like drop shadow, glow, knockout, bevel, or ANYTHING exciting or progressive that was NOT built in Flash? IF so I would love to see, but probably not. You know why? Because it’s a pain in the ass, not supported the same in all browsers, and doesn’t ever perform well! Do it in flash, its smooth (if you can program worth a dam), and it’s the same in every desktop computer’s browser that has the plugin.

        Maybe you guys missed what I was getting at, let me get all number list like:

        1) Show me real 3D in HTML5 … you can’t. Google papervision 3d examples for inspiration

        2) Show me bitmap manipulations in a practical or mainstream usage in HTML5 / JS… there aren’t any.

        3) Show me a fun online game to play that isn’t made in flash.

        4) Show me something web that you’ve made that’s animated- if you don’t use flash, then you probably have nothing!

        5) Program something fun in JavaScript like a fractal generator or particle generator, program it in flash, compare. Guess which one will be choppy and struggle cross browser? Guess which one looks like “if IE, do it this retarded way, if Firefox, do it like this…” …y1k3s0rz

        6) The most successful interactive apps and games on the web (for computers) are ALL FLASH – example: Farmville (i’m not saying i like the game, just that it’s bringing in millions for it’s owner Zynga that people are calling “the first billion dollar IPO”) – name an HTML5 or DHTML / JS game pulling in more users buzz and money – there aren’t any.

        Don’t get me wrong, i love what MooTools has done, but it’s not even close to where flash is right now, or where it’s going.

        Finally, Flex is open source. It’s free. So is this great compiler called FlashDevelop. All we need now as someone previously mentioned, is an open source player. Yes, then maybe apple would have some open standards to start supporting without feeling like they’re getting on their knees in front of Adobe’s giant flash dong.

        Inspiration: – check out a running list of sites you wouldn’t want to make in anything but Flash and….. oh man…. Silverlight (gag).

        Sonic Boom!

  34. 8457

    Most FWA sites are one hit wonder, they are not mainstream.

    Most designers are in love with flash and they are trying to sell technology, not funcionality.

    Apparently most flash lovers argue about “What I know and that guy who write this article don’t know”.

    As designers we must deliver easy to read content, not just fancy flash sites.

    In the end most flash driven sites are the result of an Ad Agency meeting with some art directors and flash stars.

    I like this article a lot, because it has important ideas to keep in mind, I like this one first:

    “People should be free to consume and create information, without being tied down to the kind licensing restrictions and legalities seen with the likes of Flash, Silverlight and other corporately owned technologies.”

    If Adobe wants to open flash, that’s good, but sound like designers are just in love with the tool, we need to focus on content delivery… and that mean Web Standards.

  35. 8608

    May 25, 2010 11:12 am

    you owe me another 5 seconds of my life for this.


  36. 8759

    When HTML 5 can do something like this… give me a ring, until then I think I will stop reading these articles and get on with making engaging creative content.

    • 8910

      @Tim………….I had to leave due to the loading time. SLOW and it’s not my internet connection. It would be in your best interest to use a mix of both. Use a few flash components to jazz up your site.

  37. 9061

    This is a really interesting article. I would have thought flash would have stayed around a bit longer, but I suppose their is such a wide array of tools and programs that can do the same thing.

  38. 9212

    Most people on here are clearly Flash fanboys. Well, when you can’t view a Flash site correctly on one fifth of browsers, and when some people leave a Flash site after waiting 30 seconds for the damn thing to load, and when you get a virus through your Flash plug-in..I guess you are all correct lmao

  39. 9363

    Make your websites information in XML or JSON and then target either desktop or mobiles.

    Use Flash or HTML5, or both….I use both.

  40. 9514

    Funny how Smash title for this article is the disappearance of flash..and yet they promote at the top , you can’t miss it..a banner of wix..all flash based click and drag site builder ..hmmm…..can we say affiliate commissions anyone !..

    I’m not a developer but my site is build in wix..I also use wordpress and Optimize press plugin..I love apple but it has turned into a strict draconian play ground where they want to control and rule ..instead of keeping the web open to be as creative as we can with the tools we have, no they try and build monopolies ..Like I said I am not a developer but, I am interested in the future of flash and html5>

  41. 9665

    I realize I’m giving you a little more rank in Google by writing this on your site (you’re welcome, by the way) but, sorry, you couldn’t be more wrong about Flash disappearing. Actually, it’s just beginning a new lease on life. Flash did use to be a little crippled in some areas such as SEO, for instance. However, according to Adobe, Flash will be treated like a “first-class citizen” on the major search engines. Why? Because major companies depend on Flash to draw in their online revenue. Hey, my site is entirely in Flash, and I’m always on page one in a common search. And just because Apple decided to give it the cold-shoulder (which I think is a huge mistake) doesn’t mean it’s doomed. You must remember, Apple’s not the only show in town… there’s Blackberry brand and many, many others that will be running Flash full stream (or already are) and blowing away the compitition as they do. You do bring up some valid points about current trends and web standards… but you barely scratch the surface when you attempt to explain Flash.s capabilities to JAVA or other platforms. Flash is far superior to almost all the Flash-wannabes out there. Besides, it’s acually quite easy to make Flash iPhone friendly. So, I think you know how to write entertaining and controversial articles … but you obviously don’t know Flash.

    • 9816

      I was replying to a flash developer the other day that, i bet, he didn’t even knew what “swfaddress” was and the use of it, or he was just a flash hater and had no idea what he was talking about, and kept trolling on posts.
      This anti-flash movement started by a brand (that i use too) and can’t develop good enough batteries like the competition, and blame that on the top rich media provider on the web, is somewhat funny, but sad, once you read these people that don’t even know the difference between the two, and they actually don’t, and still claim they are flash developers, or something in between a web designer and a programmer.
      Apparently they don’t know the software they use, and basically what they “develop” are plain ” super awesome hardcore websites” with a few stop()’s and gotoAndPlay’s, and that’s basically it.

  42. 9967

    The real problem with flash is SEO. Once this problem is taken care of then flash would be awesome to have as a full site for any webmaster.
    I know that Google is working on a solution. Right now as it stands, it’s not in the best interest of most businesses to have full site built with flash.

  43. 10118

    I think both flash and html/css are equally important tools in the web industry. They can co-exist, and a web designer should be able to use both these tools.

    Each of them should be use appopriately, for example I would use html/css for a web project that has lots of articles to read, needs SEO, etc..Use flash when videos, sound, animations and lots of pics involved.

    As for accesiblity, I think both needs to be accessed in all devices and browsers. If flash can’t be accessed in an iphone, then have a mobile site directed to the device. The same goes html/css sites, even if they are accesible in iphones, sometimes they are just too small.

  44. 10269

    I hope flash doesn’t leave us, I love flash games(some of them).


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