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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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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.

Openness Link

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.

Freedom Link

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 Link

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 Link

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.

Consistency Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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


Footnotes Link

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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

    Good article. First!

    • 2

      Not really, it omits some pretty obvious issues. But I guess since you decided to add ‘First’ you probably don’t have much to contribute anyway.

      It hasn’t made any mentions that Adobe are making some serious inroads into opening up the Flash platform. What about the fact that they are ditching the ‘.fla’ format for a more open ‘.xfl’ format which will be exchangeable throughout the whole CS. Even Mozilla is looking to run flash natively without a plug-in ( By the time HTML5 has a remotely similar penetration to Flash, Flash will probably be just as open as HTML5 by then. Which brings me to another point.

      Web standards take a good decade to mature and become widely adopted. Flash is proactively developed and improved by a corporation who pretty much have the entire creative market covered. Flash will move too quick for web standards to keep up.

      As antpaw has mentioned, up until now, it’s being used for very basic effects which would no doubt be accomplished in flash in half the time.

      SEO is being mentioned less and less as RIA all inhereit the same problem of content being generated dynamically and reliant on user input. HTML5 will encounter the same issues.

      Plus I’m sick of the ‘future’ of HTML5 being compared to the current state of Flash. Flash will no doubt evolve even further in the years to come. So stop comparing what it is capable/incapable of now to the ‘future of HTML5’ and compare it to the current state of HTML5 sites, or if you wish to discuss the future, try and include the possibility that Flash won’t be the exact same platform in 5 years time.

      Lets be honest, posts like this have flared up Apple tightened it’s vice grip on their own mobile platform (yes, believe it or not, Steve Jobs isn’t the only decision maker there, so stop saying you hate him in particular). That’s a whole other debate on its own.

      Flash won’t be the only option for Websites/RIAs in the future, and yes, it will lose market share to competing platforms such as Silverlight. But it will be a very long time before it ‘disappears’. Flash has plenty of room for improvement, but it isn’t going away anytime soon.

      PS ‘With Creative Suite 5, developers will be able to output Flash projects as native iPhone applications using the iPhone Packager.’ – Google “Adobe Apple” and do some research before you post such an article…

      • 3

        < You might also want to do a search for “Apple+Adobe+terms” to get up to speed on Apple’s ban last week of dev apps that translate code into the iPhone’s language. That provides the context for this author’s article.

      • 5

        “ Even Mozilla is looking to run flash natively without a plug-in ( ”

        Just a correction : Mozilla is absolutely not looking to run Flash natively on Firefox. Tamarin is an ActionScript / EcmaScript Virtual Machine (not a Flash Player), used by Flash (ActionScript) and Firefox (JavaScript).

    • 6

      For real? Are you guys on Apples payroll or something….why so much IPad/No Flash posts? Are you guys a bunch of sell outs?

      Also if you are going to write about Flash at least know what you are talking about. The last couple of articles i saw here (including this one) are just fanning the flames of idiocy.

      I can develop in both Javascript and ActionScript so it does not matter to me what technology wins in the end….but god….some of your writers are so clueless its embarrassing really. I am embarrassed for you guys.

      Flash will be around a lot longer than most will keep your jobs at SM because one basic thing you guys seem not to be able to grasp is that its not how fast new technology comes out…its how long it takes for it to get adopted. For christs sake most ad networks currently only run ActionScript 2…how long has ActionScript 3 been around?

      The real reason Flash runs poorly on Apple is because Apple wants to cut out a 3rd party for delivery of content. Flash runs fine on a lot less powerful devises…..hmmm that should tell you something…but I wouldn’t expect that much from you.

  2. 7

    Thumbs up

  3. 8

    i think the flash will have his important place in web and on future. just maybe will be no more such overused for things what have nothing to do with the flash basic purpose.

  4. 9

    I miss a list of “Flash Websites That Shine”. One look at some of the websites on the FWA and you will see a lot of things not yet feasable with HTML5, JS and CSS. A lot of people seem to forget what can be done with Flash. Just look at all the stuff 2Advanced has made. HTML5 isn’t going to replace that soon.

    I believe Flash will disappear eventually, but for now Flash has it’s place in the work we do. We just don’t use it in the places like menu’s and headers anymore.

    • 10

      I agree: I’d love to see a list of some great Flash sites here, the kind that can’t be built otherwise.

    • 13

      Yeah, take a look at the FWA and show me some HTML 5 that can match the brilliance of some of those sites. I think the majority of “full flash” sites are aimed at the more creative, entertainment seeking audiences who will have a modern browser with the latest flash player installed.

      I haven’t been impressed by any HTML video/canvas animation as of yet, the markup seems to be cumbersome compared to AS3 which I find much more readable and easier to work in with greater results. Until HTML 5 is widely adopted and as rich, I’ll stick with Flash.

      • 14

        Morten Najbjerg

        April 12, 2010 5:04 am

        True enough! But I don’t forget that this is really a decision of weather you’re going to make a media-driven or text-content-driven site.
        None of the FWA sites are text-content-driven sites that is for sure… Big images, large videos, animation – no one will argue that websites where these are the key elements isn’t better made in Flash. But on text-content-is-king sites it is just as obvious that Flash is really a bad decision (which IMO is 80-90% of all websites).

        • 15

          But on those types of websites, Flash always was a really bad decision. The emergence of HTML5 doesn’t change that.

        • 16

          Mmmh. I guess there are several good solutions to bring HTML Content into Flash… You can actually import HTML-Files as XML into Flash, that means that you have the same text base like a normal hmtl-webpage. Additionaly all crawlers can index your contents. But I agree, that often, when it comes to text driven websites, it’s not necessary to use flash. But one great advantage is, and still will be in the near future, is the preloading-issue which is quite good solved in flash.

          And the reason why Apple isn’t supporting Flash is just politics.

    • 17

      Doesn’t matter: “Standards-Based Websites That Shine” are a surprisingly broken heap of sites where anchors don’t work, other basic HTML don’t work, all because, just as bad as any Flash, these sites require Javascript or you get zilch.
      I’d rename it to “Trendy Websites Who Care More About Imitating Flash Than Actually Providing Content to Everyone”. Click the Swedish site’s “read more”. Where? Oh, yeah, I have to turn on some bloated script simply to READ PLAIN TEXT. Real winner there. Looking awesome with Javascript was more important than letting me read more?

      You’re either on the web to look pretty/show off/be artistic (fine) or you’re there to give information to as many people as possible… Standards-Based Websites That Shine is a list of sites who want to do both but don’t know how. So they should have just built themselves in Flash anyway for moar cowbell.

  5. 18

    Flash apps won’t be finding their way to the iPhone any time soon. Apple just updated its license agreement for developers with this new clause:

    “3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).”

    Basically this is a huge blow to many, many developer toolkits, small developers who relied on said tools, and for Flash CS5 as well. Programming in Flash for iPhone is henceforth forbidden.

    It was an incredibly petty move from Apple to announce this change just as Adobe was on the verge of releasing Flash CS5. Imagine how much time they wasted gearing Flash for the iPhone platform and promising it to everyone just to be told now that it was all for nothing. This speaks of the bad blood between Adobe and Apple. I just didn’t think they would turn so petty.

    • 19

      Yeah, pretty sad. Not only for Adobe, but others too.

      I like Mono, and I am following the MonoTouch project closely. In light of the changes, their future has become uncertain. Another great framework that will be impacted is Unity3D (not for web design though, it’s a game development toolkit). We all like games, don’t we? :D

      • 20

        I will second that. Apple blocking Flash/Mono/Trinity etc is like building a very closed guarded ecosystem where only Apple can survive. How can such cross compilers cause problem in Apple OS unless, the insiders know that their OS is much worse this time than all previous versions. On the other hand, companies like Microsoft have realised the power of open ecosystem and thus we saw Express editions coming up. It joined hands with Novell to provide support for Mono. Google open-sourced Chrome and many other projects to see community support grow.

        Looks like Apple is going back to the days of Microsoft, overseeing what happened to them. Guess what, the next in line of Apple would be modifying the licence terms of Webkit, thus blocking the development of Chrome/Adobe AIR.

        A very sad day for developers world wide :(

    • 21

      @Sandeep good call! Where I am confused is why this article was even published today? The Apple announcement was last Friday. Why is Smashing Magazine (specifically Brad Cooper) sloppily misinforming the web developer community? I’m sure he knew of this announcement before publishing this article…

      Great article BTW, just wish it was more accurate. It is possible to go back and modify it with notes and updates, along some of the dated information.

    • 22

      Interesting that Apple would bite the hand that virtually sustained the company through the 90s. Without graphics professionals, Apple’s marketshare would have been much less than their paltry 3-4% that it was during that time.

  6. 23

    The iPhone Packager of the Creative Suite 5 could be banned from the app store due to the upcoming exclude of cross-compiled applications.

  7. 24

    Flash was invented in a time where html5, css3 and jquery was non-existant. There once was a need for flash and I think adobe has a very good understanding for this. I read on an adobe employee blog that their focus is not to force people on flash, its to develop tools that makes it easy for developers to make rich web sites. I dont think they will go the microsoft/ie way, adobe is smarter than that. We can probably expect flash to change to fit with new technologies like html5 and css3 in the comming years but probably not in the upcoming cs5 release.

  8. 25

    Flash CS5 will be able to export to Html5/Canvas btw, so Flash Developers can continue using the IDE (at least in theory, haven’t used it of course).

    But Html5 has one major disadvantage compared to Flash: It’s NOT a standard yet. And it won’t be for many years. So everyone who tells that using html5 is the way to go because it’s standard and works everywhere is simply wrong. There is no html5-supoort in IE6, 7 and 8, and as far as I know even IE9 will only support some parts (and won’t run on Win XP), FF, Opera, Safari and Chrome all work different with html5, support different codecs etc – so how on earth shall we use it for commercial websites?

    The flash player on the other hand is installed on ~ 99% of all PCs, and will run on the majority of mobiles soon. The only ones who are out of the game are Apple products (and Apple users of course).

    • 26

      What are you talking about? I can get a flash plugin on any browser on my mac. I work with flash everyday and I do it all on a Mac. So please exercise some common sense and think about what your saying before you insert your foot in your mouth.

  9. 27

    You serious? You want real opinion? here you are.

    You are trying to convince ppl to use one true style for webdesigning, just look at ur posts from the pack of “50 super-ultra-mighty, outstanding webdesigns”, they all look the same, build with the same tools, look at the world, it exists outside united states too.

    You show some websites with simple transitions rollovers – what is it comparing to flash? You compare two different techniques, it’s like using spoon to dig a hole for a swimming pool.

    And to add, the trends sucks, instead of trying to show people new ways, and make them use creativity, u insist on them to use same rules over and over again, it’s boring.

    • 28

      This is an objective view of the current trending of web development, not a subjective argument attempting to convince all designers to use Web-Standards over Flash.

      • 29

        No it isn’t.

      • 30

        This article is _far_ from objective.

        I expect more from Smashing Mag.

        • 31

          I think the title of the article is misleading and uninformed. There is an increase in flash platform development, not a “Gradual Disappearance of Flash”. This comes off as a subjective jab at Flash. Change the title, and the flash developers probably won’t be so pissed off.

  10. 32
    • 33

      look mom at bloody source of js…. programmers nightmare :P

      • 34

        Exactly, it calls 27 JS files totaling 221359 bytes, 7844 lines of CSS and JavaScript code to do this… It seems the computer science is going backwards, instead of things becoming easier to code they are becoming much harder, much more complex. Compare this to Flash and I am sure it can be done in 1/7 of the size.

        • 35

          Dont be lazy and just learn how to code

          • 36

            Such an ignorant reply… I am speechless. That is the problem nowadays with IT, too many kids.

          • 37

            In my opinion,
            If the intention here was the look & feel,
            then, the combination of Flash-AS w/ JS would have been just ideal.
            You could have worked out the animations, avoiding this kind of mechanical feeling. To protect your images, etc, etc…
            And if browser-navigation doesn’t really matter then, this could have looked even better w/ Macromedia Flash 4 – 1998/9… we are in 2010 for god’s sake!

    • 38

      I am very impressed of really great website

  11. 39

    Well, like always Smashing, continues with flash bashing. Talking about Flash and dont mention the huge advatiges like:

    – Full control of the typography
    – Having cross-platform and cross-browser support (according to the creator IE9 beta scores 19 of 160 possible points
    – the performance of a reach animated html5 sites is _not_ better
    – html5 canvas has no seo advantage
    – AC3 is so much superior to JS, it’s ridiculous to compare them
    – Webcam, Fullscreen support

    Webstandards can only dream about to became as consistent as flash already is now.

    The author is just a fanboy, who has not much clue about both platforms.

    so please tell me why any site on should be converted to html5? there is absolutely no reason for that, and for 90% of those sites it’s completely impossible anyway

    • 40

      The author is a fanboy?

    • 41

      Well said antpaw. beside the things in the list, Flash has the more user interactivity than the html5 like microphone support and handling thousands of data is much better than the javascript.

    • 42

      Absolutely! not to mention comparing JS to C#, VB or the wonderful F# in Silverlight, JS, JQuery whatever won’t ever reach there until JS dies for good and something better emerges

    • 43

      +1 to antpaw. I really don’t understand why people hate flash. Just look at some really amazing sites. You can’t do that with HTML5.

  12. 44

    Show me anything from zynga that can be done with “standards”.

  13. 45

    I think its poignant that the ad at the top of the page screams how it has helped create 700k+ flash websites and counting, yet this articles title seems to state how flash sites are disappearing…

    I don’t believe that flash is just going to fade away due to HTML5, not in the near future anyway.

  14. 46

    Flash sucks!!! anyday!! It probably shouldn’t be used on websites. unless its absolutely required.

    • 47

      Any arguments, kid?

    • 48

      Yes! let’s remove flash from the web!!! and then…and then…Java!!! and …wait for it, wait for it, then…..asp!!! and then….

      I don’t get who made people like you the kings of internet whith power to decide who can and who cannot exist in the system.

      If you don’t like flash sites just don’t use them, or if you are annoyed by banners what are you thinking? that people will stop making them if flash dissapears? they will do them in whatever technology there is!


  15. 49

    Coming from a purely animation standpoint (and by animation I don’t mean moving blobs about the screen, I mean proper character animation) all this flash bashing has me very worried. If that goat/wizard piece of work is the best that html5 canvas can offer, then those of us that use flash to create traditional 2d animation will be scuppered, Flash has transformed the animation industry as well as the web, it’s a relatively cheap and easy way for students and pro animators to hone their craft and cartoons using flash technology have become progressively more impressive over the years, it would be a real shame if we lost that accessibility because of the snootiness of developers who care little for aesthetics and craft, plus i’d be out of a job!

    • 50

      Yeah, did you View>Source for the Canvas animation. How is that superior to the timeline animation tools in Flash. I’d like to see somebody write some code for some Inverse Kinematics or some lip syncing. Hah!

  16. 51

    my colleague wrote an article in Dutch about this:

  17. 52

    Oh dear. Another stupid, worthless article from Smashing Magazine. Repeating the same old points over and over again. Following these people like they’re saints, when all they do is explicitly point out the obvious.

    Again, you’re trying to convince people to use jQuery or any other JavaScript library. They’re not doing anything special. You can make one yourself if you’d actually give the effort. The truth is, these libraries are painfully modularised and use lots of processing power to parse. If I need a JavaScript effect, I write it. Half the time, it doesn’t give any impression on users. You all think “wow, this is the latest amazingness trend to follow!” but your users are stuck with “meh”.

    All these blogs seem to do is link to each other, claiming how great they are. The biggest sites don’t use these overused techniques, because they are unique. All these showcases annoy me – they’re pointlessly hard to navigate.

    In all, the whole web design industry is a narcisstic farce, and you’re only helping them do it their ridiculous way. Let all the fanboys flame me, but they just can’t take the truth.

  18. 53

    i think there will always be space for great flash projects, right now i’m working on various projects for the game industry and I don’t think that they will get rid of flash when presenting their games in the near future, the ability of using their original 3D models, etc is a great benefit of flash …

    but you’re def right when saying that working with jquery like js libraries on normal projects is much more comfortable and user friendly than using flash and we won’t see any ‘skip intro’ pages any more.

    at the moment i think that this whole discussion is basically driven by apple’s rants against adobe and jobs’s ambition to control the future content of large parts of the web.

    it will be interesting to see how both companies will end up on this as fanboys on both sides have their roots in the design community. being adobe today I wouldn’t release cs5 for mac until this fight is over :-)

  19. 54

    Must say, well grounded article.

    I wrote this about Flash at its future and such:

    Guess the article kind of reiterates your point “Flash and Web standards developers have more in common than they don’t”.

  20. 55

    Honestly!? Talk about jumping on the bandwagon. Why don’t you try writing something with intellectual merit instead of pandering to the fanbois!

  21. 56

    Bartosz Oczujda

    April 12, 2010 3:17 am

    Sorry but in my opinion js/casnvas/css3/html5 combo is not ready yet to fully compete with flash. Why?

    1. Anything with more advanced visual efects (even simple games) in js/canvas make my processor usage skyrocket…

    2. You can’t run flash on the iphone but the same is with the js/canvas examples you provided… They just don’t work…

  22. 57

    I don’t think it’s a matter of HTML5 vs Flash. Just like every other industry you use the right tools for the job. If you have to build a solid standards compliant website maybe flash isn’t the way to go. However, if you know your target audience is going to have flash installed then there should be no reason not to use it. To say flash is dying is short sighted, to say flash will evolve is more accurate.

  23. 58

    The future will lead to interesting changes using open standards, but take into account that you don’t need the Flash IDE to build and publish your own Flash sites. So while it is true that Adobe controls the future of Flash, you can start creating your own Flash sites right away (that is, for free).

    And it isn’t only about making full Flash websites: it’s about making richer user experiences. Well used Flash is not a useless intro: is a smart piece of animation, video, interactivity or data management.

    Comparing the current status of HTML5, Javascript and Flash, the more efficient, clean and object oriented ActionScript 3.0 takes the lead. You could mimic some Flash behaviours with the other technologies, but that would be much more time expensive.

  24. 59

    Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn, stubborn… flash developers people…
    whether you like it or not, flash will eventually be out of the web development.
    Being blind about this will not help flash anyway.

    • 60

      Well, while you sit and wait for HTML5, flying cars and Michael Jackson’s return, I’ll continue to focus on a proven and evolving platform. Pretty sure the 5 stands for ‘in 5 years time’…

      If HTML5/JS someday proves to be better for higly interactive UIs then and only then will I make the switch. Until then, enjoy making your cute little 3D cube demos.

      • 61

        First of all, too soon for MJ comment. Seriously. Secondly you say that same about the “5” in flash CS5…Out of date in 5 years time…

        Anyways, Good points, although I think the fact the “standards” simply allow more people to view the same content is very relevant. How about accessibility and screen readers.

        I think a happy medium is definitely the best solution so that flash “fanboys” can have their fund, but people who like stable websites can have theirs.

        • 62

          I didn’t mean out of date in 5 years time, I was referring to the fact that everyone keeps referring to how great all this HTML5/JS will be, but it looks like it will be a good amount of time before it is fully adopted and supported. In the mean time Flash will continue to evolve. Look how long it’s taken for CSS3 to be taken up!

          If anything, HTML5 will be a good thing for flash. Competition to its platform will spur Adobe to cover areas like accessibilty and screen readers, plus improve its stability. I can’t remember the last time Flash crashed my computer (my own experience, not saying it doesn’t happen) but I’m sure in the wrong hands HTML5 and JS could easily crash your browser as well. Not that will will be a huge problem in the near future as all the browsers seems to be seperating all their processes anyway.

          Sure, sites like this will continue to run in HTML, but for all these people to say that ‘flash will eventually be out of the web development’ is pretty short sighted. HTML5 is an upgrade to HTML4, not a full replacement for Flash.

          • 63

            The biggest reason why Flash sites are disappearing is b/c of communication, period. There are far more resources on the web that show the advantages of using web standards. No longer do you have to rely on using proprietary software and training to create and manage websites. Sure, Flash has its uses, but for making web pages there is just an overwhelming amount of information now at anyones’ disposal that solidifies the benefits of using modern web practices. Over time, Flash may have its small victories, but in the end, you won’t see many context sensitive, flash menus when you right click on an entire web page.

        • 64

          Haha, sure CS5 ist out of date in 5 years. We´ll have… CS7.. or even CS8 then?

          • 65

            Jason, Flash is not disappearing but appearing… see and think again. Intel, Cisco, Disney and other 70 partners signed for flash… it will be on every mobile, in every car or PC… how you gonna beat that????

            + how you gonna make site like in html5/css??? do you want replace pixel bender with javascript???? :DDD impossible….

  25. 66

    Armen Grigoryan

    April 12, 2010 3:38 am

    I think the question should not be about tools like Flash, JavaScript or others. We actually facing a radical change in the user experience, that will come with the touch devices. Those Flash and pure JavaScript sites – non of them will give a good impression since they cannot use their potential on the tablets.
    Developers should start thinking in a touch way, and completely redesign websites, regardless of the technology. And it doesn’t matter if Apple rejects Flash, they might have their reasons, and it doesn’t mean that changes should concern only Flash developers.
    Touch designed web sites will work perfectly on desktops and mobile devices, and people who will experience mobile apps will expect similar functionality from the desktops. Which means no mouse hovers, no double clicks, no right click, bigger fonts, easier selectable links and different layout.

    • 67

      Flash does support multitouch, one of the many reasons I’m sure Jobs doesn’t want to see it on the i****. I doubt we’ll ever see HTML5 support multitouch, at least not on the i**** devices. I hope people really aren’t naive enough to think Jobs will stop with Flash. He’s threatened by anything that could impact his control and bottom line. Flash will be the first web technology to consistently support open tablets with multitouch, and this just might end up giving Apple’s competition the leg up.

      I’ll be happy to be the first in line to tell the Apple “Flash bashing” Jobs cronies, I told you so, when Jobs starts gimping the open standards he touting today. HTML5 is simply a means to an end to try to crush Flash as a competitor. Don’t be surprised when he starts coming after your technology next…

  26. 68

    I’m impressed. I expected to scroll down and read even more flash-bashing in the comments, but to my surprise I had to agree with (at the time of posting anyhoo) the majority who see flash for what it is now (not what it was 7 years ago)
    to mis-quote de-concept…
    …You’ve got your good thing, and I’ve got mine

  27. 69

    This is a very mixed bag and I think the debate can easily become convoluted due to the current Apple situation, however…

    Flash is driven by commercial gain to fill a much needed gap in the industry and therefore delivers requirements based on a financial and business model; HTML5 on the otherhand is a standards project and doesn’t benefit financially (that I am aware of.)

    On this basis the delivery of HTML5 is drawn out while people sit around and munch over what it should do, so commercial sectors will always be better at rolling out products on time as revenue is the key concern and is why Flash is here and HTML5 is on the horizon with no real end in site.

    As to whether Flash is any good is semantics – as the man says HTML, Flash, JScript are just tools – my personal opinion is that it serves a pupose that no one else has delivered on, so while HTML5/CSS3 may be superior we need to deliver projects today not in the distant future.

    There may become a downtrend in Flash websites in some peoples eyes, but given the relatively unadopted features in the majority share browsers there is still too much inconsistency to turn away from Flash and embrace HTML5 – so while people may be leaning toward JQuery and similar frameworks for web applications I don’t believe the ever increasing entertainment sites for movies and video games are turning away from Flash at all.

    Flash produces attractive and interactive websites in a quick fashion and is consistent across all supporting browsers which means cheaper costs for clients and that is the major driving force – we can’t say this about HTML5 yet or any time soon so we certainly aren’t in a position to knock Flash and what it allows us to achieve today and tomorrow, regardless of it being branded a technology of yesterday.

    • 70

      I think the only flash really disappearing from sites is tacky little add-ons where someone had a full fledged site and just slapped in a flash-based menu so they do some crazy hover effects. Flash still provides a much richer and capable environment than any html5-enabled browser can accomplish today. In 5 years, hey maybe browsers and open standards will catch up, but where will flash be then? Mobile marketplace? Yea, Apple is taking the ball away and changing the rules for developers midstream, but for my money the most exciting “innovation” coming to the mobile market this year is flash + air on android. Sqllite + open environment means tons of actual business opportunities for mobile workforce apps that are currently only functional in a mobile pda market that has limited direction. Apps that can function both on and offline and either extend desktop app functionality or have a life of their own regardless of connectivity issues mean a lot more to me than an ipad.

  28. 71

    Henk Duivendrecht

    April 12, 2010 3:51 am

    Although this is a good article, I’m still very surprised by the fact that many HTML developers are SO enthusiastic about features that have existed for more than 5 years in flash. Of course it’s nice that HTML is now finally able to let a sprite move across the screen (as long as you don’t expect it to work cross browser and especially not on mobile safari).

    On the other hand: isn’t it a bit far fetched to say that flash doesn’t add anything to a modern browser? It adds more than ever. And I’m not saying that just because I’m a flash dev. I most certainly would not mind switching to HTML5 + javascript (especially since javascript and flash actionscript are basically the same), but that means going back in time at least 5 years.

    Most of the web consists of text-based sites and blogs (like smashing mag), and I guess it’s true that these sites really don’t need flash for anything. On the other hand, when you want to build a full fledged rich application, there still aren’t many good arguments to build it in HTML:
    – developing HTML takes a lot more time due to cross-platform issues.
    – animations and effects still look choppy, can’t use the GPU, and use more CPU than flash does.
    – the basic premise of HTML is still based on pages and links, isn’t it completely illogical to use that as a basis for building an application?

    • 72

      Thank you for this. I was searching for it. Dumbing down was as far as I could get. A web structured around words and links not images and true multimedia rather than grid like multimedia. You said:

      ‘the basic premise of HTML is still based on pages and links, isn’t it completely illogical to use that as a basis for building an application?’

      It is. This is fundamental I think.

      Thank you.

    • 73

      “still very surprised that many HTML developers are SO enthousiastic…”

      Surprised? I’m not: think of all of us who write (free) HTML in (free) text editors, because we didn’t fork out the thousand euros for Flash+. You don’t have to buy Javascript either.

      At least, that’s one of my guesses. That and I can’t run Flash on my Ubuntu anyway, but then, Adobe’s been fairly anti-*nix for some time (yet another platform to develop for).

      • 74

        You’re right, I do the same when I develop in JS.
        Then… when I develop for Flash, I use FlashDevelop and the Flex SDK. Both free and incredibly fine.

      • 75


        April 28, 2010 1:53 am

        Stomme poes

        Just because of free?
        Maybe you just built some silly simple games or webpage, right?
        If you build a complex one, nobody would use HTML5.

        Though HTML is a standard, it would have different outcome in different browser. THAT SUCKS!

  29. 76

    css3/html5/javascript CANNOT do what flash can (and it’s damn near impossible that it ever will for that matter). Stop spreading that farce.

    You should really include a full-flash websites that shine but I guess that would f… your arguments.

    “The Gradual Disappearance Of Flash Websites” happens only in your mind probably due to excessive reading of web design blogs of people that have degrade web design to wordpress widgets and downloading jqueries. pff…

  30. 77

    Well written article. Focuses on what’s really happening without ‘taking sides’. Flash has it’s advantages, and since they didn’t address the issues the open-web-advocates pointed out for years, it was inevitably that other technologies would catch up. The fact that people could make, and often did, completely unaccessible sites with Flash, didn’t help them either.

    I have a phone without Flash support, and some sites are simply not accessible for me.

    The mobile web, which now mainly comprises the ‘open-web’, will continue to grow, and sites that don’t work, will simply die out.

    Unless Adobe has something up it’s sleeves..


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