HTML5 And Flash: Why It’s Not A War, And Why Flash Won’t Die

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With all of the buzz going on in our Web community about HTML5 and Flash, I’ve decided to dive into the fray and offer my thoughts as a 10-year veteran of both Web design and Flash development. Let me preface by saying that this article is opinion-based, and that information is certainly out there that I am not aware of, and that none of us truly knows what the future holds.

New: For a German translation of this article – please follow this link1.

Use Of Flash Till Now

When Flash broke on the scene, it was a fairly revolutionary tool… and much simpler to use than it is today. I first started using it in 1999, when it was being produced by Macromedia. The current version then was 4. The simple benefit was that it allowed the average computer user to design graphics and create simple user interactions with almost no skill: quite a feat in the messy and over-complicated world of Netscape and IE4.

People didn’t take long to start using Flash as an engine to create full and complete websites, especially as the versions continued their march upward and ActionScript gained footing. Quite simply, it sped up development time and wow’ed all users with its animations—a far cry from the static-text Geocities websites around them.

But Flash started to be overused soon after. One can compare it to HTML tables, a framework that revolutionized the industry for a time, became overused and then receded to its proper role (which in this case was to structure data points rather than website columns).

Why They Don’t Have to Fight

I’ve read a lot of blog posts lately about HTML5 taking on Flash like a prize fighter and kicking it off the scene in some epic battle of Web standards and pragmatism. But this is a false scenario: HTML5 and Flash are not meant to be fighting in the same ring, or to be fighting at all. Each has its proper place on the Web and in the graphic community.

Flash’s Place

Interestingly enough, Flash’s place is not entirely on the Web at all, and certainly not to take over full website designs (or those dreaded Flash intros either). While bits of Flash will continue to be used in Web design for advertising and gaming, it will truly shine in two primary areas.

The first area is the corporate setting. I work part-time as a Web developer on the multimedia team of a major international telecommunications company. The majority of the team consists of Flash developers, and there is a huge demand for more of them. So, while Flash may be shrinking in the Web industry, it is booming at the corporate level through rich media, training and learning solutions, Intranet applications and the like.

While Flash may be simplistic and annoying for a website, its capabilities for database interaction, PHP integration, XML sourcing, external ActionScript 3, extensible plug-ins and import and export functionality make it an extremely robust tool that far outweighs the competition for certain uses. Flash has a profitable future in corporate settings.

The second area is still budding and turbulent: mobile platforms. Web content aside, if Flash could be used to produce applications and rich interaction on a variety of mobile platforms, it would empower designers and developers everywhere to contribute to a booming mobile industry (and give us the opportunity to make a sweet profit while we’re at it).

Why would Flash do so well in the mobile space compared to Web-based tools and frameworks? First of all, because Flash is a powerful development tool, beyond its graphic and animation capabilities. ActionScript 3 has brought serious improvements to the overall structure and functionality of applications, allowing developers to create powerful apps.

Secondly, Flash being used across multiple platforms brings a much higher probability of consistency and compatibility. Even if comprehensive Web standards were supported across all mobile devices, there is no guarantee that we wouldn’t run into the same cross-browser headaches on the variety of mobile browsers. If Flash were supported on all mobile devices, I could be reasonably certain that my Flash module would run smoothly on each one.

It’s like my parents fighting. I love Adobe. I love Apple. This really sucks.

— Terry Ranson

The Adobe and Apple cat fight disagreement may be discouraging, but consider that Android is releasing a Flash-enabled framework, and Adobe is releasing Flash Player 10.1 for smartphones, and Research in Motion has joined Adobe’s Open Screen Project, essentially committing the BlackBerry to Flash in the near future.

Flash should never have been used to the extent that it was purely for Web design. But it has capabilities beneath the hood that make it an extremely valuable resource for certain uses, particularly in the mobile space.

HTML5’s Place

HTML5’s place, on the other hand, is entirely on the Web. And this is an outstanding development. I remember switching from table-based designs to CSS, a liberating move that gave Web designers a freedom that only we could truly appreciate. Moving forward with standards-based browsers and rich functionality via CSS3 and HTML5 will take our industry to new heights and lead to a flourishing of gorgeous websites and functionality that we’ve never before witnessed.

Plenty of articles and resources outline the capabilities and benefits of HTML5 (I won’t cover them here), but rest assured that it is the future, and a sweet future at that.

The Web In Two Years

Where will the chips fall when the Web design industry reaches its next stage? I may be idealistic, but I would like to see (and I think we will see) the following:

  • HTML5 and CSS3 as the new Web standard;
  • All browsers being compatible and standards-based;
  • Flash being used more limitedly as a tool for multimedia and gaming and interaction, both online and offline;
  • Mobile platforms and mobile content development being the newest and fastest-growing subset of the industry:
    • Sporting Flash capabilities for robust application development across all platforms;
    • And offering HTML5, CSS3 and complex JavaScript capabilities for mobile browsing.

Conclusion

Flash has been misused and overused for the past eight years, spreading its tentacles too far into the fabric of Web design. But rather than getting beaten out of the picture by these practical new Web frameworks, Flash will retreat to its proper place: those niche areas where it belongs and can truly excel. The first niche is multimedia and learning solutions for the corporate space. Only time will tell if Flash finds its second niche on mobile platforms.

(al)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.drweb.de/magazin/html-5-und-flash-koexistenz-statt-krieg/#more

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Luke Reimer is a web project manager, designer, and developer currently operating Fluid Media web design group out of Waterloo, Canada.

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  1. 1

    Show me an HTML5 web site that is even “HALFWAY” equal to Flash… Oh yeah, you can’t because such a web site does not exist. HTML5 lovers shouldn’t even be allowed to open their mouths until they have something to show.

    0
    • 52

      You should keep your mouth shut. In my 14 years of web experience I have yet to see one Flash site that brings something enjoyable or meaningful to me, other than video. On the web, I want to get things done, or look up information as simple and as fast as possible.

      Yes, there is a place and there are niches fit for Flash usage. The keyword here is niche. Do you know why all the major sites hardly use Flash? Because it hurts their business, because users are not there for animations, eye candy and non-standard navigation. Do you know why no single shop that actually wants to sell something would offer a UI like a virtual store? Same reason. It hurts their business.

      The morale of my comment is that usability prevails, and for most sites that means simplicity, lightweight and a UI that looks and works like other UIs = design conventions.

      0
  2. 103

    Peter De Berdt

    May 18, 2010 5:39 am

    As a web application developer, I’ve been asked by both design studios and their customers what they should do about the whole Flash-lockout on iDevices. Although we are a company that tries to avoid Flash as much as possible, only using it for the occasional multi-file Flash-based uploader with a fallback option, I try to be diplomatic and give them a clear view of the situation.

    Some had invested a lot in full Flash sites with the promise of a very interactive and visually attractive site that would last for years to come. The iPhone was already a small setback, but since their Flash site was already optimized for a resolution far higher than the iPhone’s, they didn’t care so much. The iPad however is a different story: it is a viable platform and for some users, it will be their platform of choice instead of a portable extension to their computer. Others were afraid of seeing their ad revenue drop when their ad provider would serve Flash banners that wouldn’t even load on the iPad.

    When it comes to Flash banners, the iPad isn’t the only hurdle. As a small test on their HTML-based site with Flash-based movies and possibly Flash banners, we made a little script that compared ad impressions versus page views. As expected, a certain (small) percentage of ads were simply blocked out completely due to the use of AdBlock and the likes. However, from the visitors that didn’t use AdBlock, additional ad impressions were never shown on the page either and it had nothing to do with being an iDevice. These differences could only be attributed to extensions like ClickToFlash and Flashblock. This was confirmed when we looked at how many Flash movies were loaded on the same page, while the Flash ads never showed. Clearly quite a few of their regular visitors selectively loaded Flash content on the site. That company is now looking into ad providers that will only serve image or HTML based advertising to maximize their revenue.

    For all others, I advise them to look into their company and visitor profile. Is your visitor likely to use an iPad or iPhone to access your site? Are you as a company profiling yourself as a cutting-edge company that wants to be on every device out there, both mobile and stationary? For most companies, the answer is simply “no”, so why would they need to invest in a new site if there clearly is no need for it. Of course, they should re-evaluate these questions every couple of months, depending on what their site statistics tell them.

    If iDevice visitors are important to you and your site is completely Flash-based, you’ll have to invest. Waiting for Apple to backtrack is a bad decision. Whether to throw away the Flash-based site is a totally different matter. There is no need to. If your site is due for a revamp, then by all means, go and make it Flash-less. Otherwise, you could just as well keep your main site Flash-based with all the “goodies” that it might bring and make a version specifically tailored for the iPad/iPhone. If you have lots of dynamic data and your iPad/iPhone site can’t access the same data as the Flash application, then your Flash developer has made some really bad choices anyway. You’ll get the best of two worlds: your investment in the Flash site won’t be wasted and your site will look fantastic on the iPad too. And you can use the HTML5 and CSS3 goodies without having to worry about cross-browser support too much. What you do about Android and Blackberries is up to you, I would use the iPad version, since their rendering engines are very similar.

    I saved web design companies for last for a specific reason.

    I’m not going to generalize all too much, but as the article above points out, the same “why-should-we-adapt?” question popped up when CSS was becoming a viable solution. We turned down a lot of projects where a static site had to be turned into some kind of CMS and the whole site consisted of tables or absolute positioned divs with a clear “I was wysiwyg’d with Dreamweaver” or even worse “I was wysiwyg’d with Frontpage” label written all over them. I know of at least two of those design firms that jumped on the Flash wagon back then instead of even looking into semantic HTML. Flash was easy to learn and “it’s everywhere”. They were right… until the iPhone came out.

    Maybe it’s just because as a developer “being creative” has a whole different meaning to me than it has to designers. Creativity to me is bringing out the best given the tools you have at your disposal, even if those tools have their limits. If you can only make Flash applications, I don’t feel you should call yourself a web design firm. People for the most part visit websites for information, not for fancy sprites jumping around.

    Also, it seems that a lot of designers think Javascript is a lot more limited than it actually is. It’s in fact quite easy to use Javascript to insert the right component for the right browser. There are even libraries out there that will do most of it for you: a Flash-based component for IE6 etc, an HTML5/Webkit-specific solution for the iPad/iPhone. Projects like PhoneGap and jqTouch provide you with everything you need to support mobile platforms and access camera, local storage, “native” UI etc.

    If there is anything Flash can do for the mobile platform that you can’t do with Javascript, please tell me. Claiming that Javascript can’t be structured is also a lot of FUD imo. From all the projects I had to look at, nothing I’ve seen is impossible, even games. Hard maybe, but not impossible, you just need a good Javascript coder. I do agree that at the moment, we are lacking a good IDE for designers that speeds up the common stuff like tweening and transformations and we are lacking Javascript libraries that solve browser inconsistencies. I do believe it’s only a matter of time before we get there though. Adobe is in a great position there and could provide a way of exporting a “Flash” project to both an HTML5 and Flash version with some browser detection in the HTML page it generates. They won’t, since they made it clear they’re as stubborn about Flash as Apple is about not having Flash.

    That said, this article is about the best piece of journalism I’ve seen out there about the whole Flash vs HTML5 discussion. It points out the current problems with pushing HTML5 as a standard.

    But Apple has always been about looking towards the future and dropping old technology (e.g. floppy drives) and pushing new technology (USB, FiWi, …) before anyone else does with little regard to backwards compatibility. It’s not like they haven’t done it before and eventually the market catches up. It’s the Apple as we know it and Apple as it will always be. It sometimes bites back at them and sometimes they come out as the great visionary. Only time will tell…

    0
  3. 154

    Flash should never have been allowed to evolve into the web fiasco it is today. I was using it when it was FutureSplash and it was a great animation tool. But that’s what it was designed to do…animate. It was not meant to create stupid web banner ads that annoy the heck out of me. It was not meant to build entire websites that take forever and a day to load on a broadband connection. I used it for traditional frame-by-frame animation.
    Then Macromedia bought it, turned it into Flash, and the cr@p began to pour out all over the internet. Then there’s Actionscript. We needed yet another programming language like we needed a hole in the ozone.
    Now Adobe has done nothing but make this software worse. The interface is sluggish, the browser plugin is sluggish, they don’t fix bugs present in previous software versions until the next version is released. Then they make you pay to “upgrade” for bug fixes, which also introduces more bugs.

    I don’t know why anyone loves Adobe. They buy out their major competitors, which leaves us designers with less of a choice. They don’t listen to their customers when we request features and their customer support just plain sucks.

    0
  4. 205

    IMHO movie websites give Flash a really bad name.
    A REALLY bad name.

    1
  5. 256

    Adobe and Apple will never come to terms with each other. Its just a battle of greed and control. Apple wants control and so does Adobe, last time i checked that never works out well for the consumer because One will push the other out of the picture. And if both technologies are useful for their specific purposes like this article states we will be losing an important piece of technology and forced to adapt some other crap in its place. Large technology companies arent interested in creating a true better experience for the web they’re only invested in themselves and in green. Were starting to get so many different technologies all of which are going in opposite directions that all it does is cause confusion and hatred towards other technologies that most of us probably don’t even fully understand. Thats my two cents

    0
    • 307

      Yeah, Apple wants control over its own product; Adobe wants to shove its platform on other people’s products. The consumer is free to choose which mobile device to buy. In fact, Apple’s decisions are mostly in favor of the consumer in this case (and against the Flash “app developer”).

      Contrary to your statement about large technology companies, just about everything Apple has ever said or done is about creating something “insanely great” with the best user experience in mind. Ever wonder why Apple users are consistently the most satisfied customers in every study you can find? Apple customers passionate?

      By contrast, Adobe has bought out the competition (Macromedia), killed off GoLive and FreeHand, which many say were better and easier to use; and have sat on Flash with as little improvement as they could get away with. They fired their mobile development team a few years ago and seem to concentrate on PR and marketing. So, I would have to agree with you there about Adobe exhibiting the tendencies of the average large technology company.

      0
      • 358

        I agree… as useful as flash has been, it has largely stagnated over the past 5 years due to lack of competition. The fact that Apple/Microsoft/Google are encouraging competition in the interactive web space by pushing html5 and similar technologies will in the end be a win for the consumer. If they succeed, it means we’ll get an open standards based interactive web platform going forward. If they fail, Adobe will have had to fix and improve flash to remain competitive.

        0
  6. 409

    People love to dramatize every thing. People use sensational (stupid) headlines to make people click/read. I am not saying this one does but so many tech blogs do. Adobe Flash is going no-where because iPhone/iPad does not support it nor will Apple die because it does not support Flash. There are still people using COBOL and C developed 30+ years ago and there is a healthy market for people good at it.

    0
  7. 460

    What about pure, client-side, socket manipulation? When is that going to get replaced? JS 1.9 isn’t even going to be able to do it. What about listening for new data from the server without refreshing? There are a ton of other things AS3 can do that JS isn’t going to be able to do until JS 2.0 is released.

    0
    • 511

      As far as new data from the server without refreshing, this can easily be reproduced with an asynchronous request to the server on a timer, repeating every xxx ms.

      0
      • 562

        @Joe, Flash can listen to the server for events continuously. JavaScript cannot do this. JavaScript has to have something connected to the client-side and THEN request from the server. Whereas in flash the server can send something to the client and flash can actually grab what the server is trying to do, the server can’t “send” something to javascript on a timer. If you are doing something live, like a livestream you can’t do it without flash yet. Advanced web applications require flash in order to do this (they usually use a flash shim and have actionscript execute a java script function on the client).

        0
  8. 613

    You say that Flash will “do so well in the mobile space.”

    What about the fact that it sucks the life out of batteries? Or is that just something Apple wants us to be overly worried about so we’ll buy the iPad anyway?

    0
    • 664

      Did you checked the videos where people using Google Nexus and Flash Player?

      What about the testing done running flash on it for several hours? Search the internet!

      And yes, Steve want you to think that Flash sucks because if the iPhone or iPad had Flash Player people would go to miniclip.com or similar instead of spending money in the itunes store…

      0
      • 715

        Several hours, meaning 3, not 10 that the iPad gets. People could just as easily go to Amazon and buy from there.

        0
  9. 766

    I love HTML5, but I don’t think that Flash will die soon. There are just some type of multimedia websites that need to be done in Flash. And Apple’s choice not to support Flash is just stupid. What’s the alternative? The RAM memory breaking javascript? The should at least let users decide if they want to install flash or not.

    0
    • 817

      Snootie Apple, soon Google will come up with some sort ipad like that will support flash like the Android.
      for my self I use flash only for pretty galleries and that is sad that the ipad will not support it as many people will now own it. hopfully Google or microsoft will come up with some kind of pad to annoy mr. Jobs and having cry like a baby over the Adnroid.

      0
  10. 868

    Great article, finally something worth reading that isn’t a flame war post. Its funny to read some of the comments on this article though.

    I find it funny that people thing crappy content being developed in Flash is going to change by switching to HTML5. Crappy content like annoying banner ads / intros are made by sloppy developers, that’s not going to change regardless of the technology being used. Those same people that create those annoying banner ads are going to do the same with HTML5, and then we will be installing HTML ADblock on our browsers to block those as well. Look at the countless useless sites utilizing jQuery just for about everything, fading and vibrating text etc.

    What we as developers/ designers / content creators should be doing is admonishing our fellow counterparts who produce such sloppy content instead of laying blame on technologies. At the end of the day our consumers dont’ really care whether its HTML / Flash / Java etc that’s running under the hood, all they care about is a good end user experience.

    0
  11. 919

    check this . http://vimeo.com/10553088

    Flash player 10.1 is performing very well on android . With optimal battery consumption.

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  12. 970

    Totally agree with the overuse of Flash.

    But did anyone ever note, that Flash is ‘performance hungry’ because Flash is most used for ads and most of these suck plenty because of weak coding and not being optimized regarding performance and memory management? If you doubt, install the debug flash plugin and surf through some sites (without having an ad blocker activated). You won’t believe how many of these banners throw exceptions, because their developer didn’t write good code or even read the Flash documentation and try to do write good code.

    I have over 10 years of experience, developing Flash applications. In my last project (a full-browser Flash-based Video portal), i was able to bring CPU load down from 90% to 50-60% on a modern laptop (comparing the old website – which wasn’t developed by myself – to the new one), because of not writing spaghetti-code and reading the docs where necessary. Sure, this might take some more time for development and produces higher costs for the customer than just ‘taking what’s there’ and putting new features in it. But in the end, the customer would reach more users and the site hopefully becomes more successful than its predecessor simply by ‘technically’ allowing even users with older machines to surf it.

    What Adobe should provide imho, is some development tools for ads, that make it a snap to get to the desired result, by providing standardized code-snippets used in almost all ads and doesn’t allow unskilled ‘developers’ (most ad producers are graphic designers) to run havok on your CPU and memory consumption.

    Just my 2 cents…

    Edit: Sure, Flash has its weaknesses. But one can write crappy code with almost all programming languages. So why not blame the ‘developer’ in first place?

    0
    • 1021

      The code in a Flash banner ad is minimal. Typically, there’s some animation, a few frames and a click to shop button. Not much you can screw up there. It’s things like slideshow/photo galleries, movies players and full websites that suck the power, no matter how they are coded.

      0
    • 1072

      So if this is true, it begs the question – why even use flash for banner ads? Are they really doing anything more than what a basic animated GIF with a link can’t do 90% of the time?

      0
  13. 1123

    Dakota Chichester

    May 18, 2010 6:40 am

    Always fun to read an article about flash and html5 and have to kill the flash plugin because 2 banner ads on the said article are eating up 70 to 80% of your CPU. And this is in Chrome on a Windows machine.

    nice.

    Good Riddance Flash

    0
  14. 1174

    Flash stands for Multimedia, HTML5 for Web. Simple as that.

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  15. 1276

    HTML5 is not the Flash.
    But it is the last piece of the puzzle.

    Flash won’t survive because everything that can be done with it can already be done without it, in a more efficient way, and it’s getting easier.

    The next stage of the web is the semantic web, and we need standards for that. Flash is an old technology, it will die with Internet Explorer 6.

    1
    • 1327

      “Flash won’t survive because everything that can be done with it can already be done without it, in a more efficient way, and it’s getting easier.”

      your an idiot. Show me how to do this in html5…
      http://agencynet.com/

      0
      • 1378

        The question is, _why_ would you want to do that in the first place?

        2
      • 1429

        Amen to @Ziptie. The whole point is that people should NOT do that. It’s terrible. Needless. Slow. Ugly. Not SEO friendly. Adds nothing. Etc. Etc.

        2
      • 1480

        I see, the key feature is that for everything I click i have to wait for some long XX% loading…

        2
      • 1531

        @ziptiespec
        First impression matters. Remember, they are a digital media company, and this type of site is suited for the type of work they are doing and the type of client they are trying to attract.

        @ferdy
        I wholly disagree with you, why is it terrible? And ugly? They are trying to advertise their capabilities. They are excessive, yes, but as a potential client I’d be damn impressed. I also think that SEO would be low on their priority list, not likely that they are dependent from referalls by Google to attract new clients. Again, with the type of work they are doing, it’s about presentation.

        -1
        • 1582

          At least why they don’t provide alternative content when flash is not installed?
          Why they block out clients that do not have flash installed or not interested in flash?

          1
    • 1633

      Adam,
      Like Butter said, you are an Idiot..
      HTML5 may surely contain limitations when compared with flash.
      HTML5 cant be more interactive than flash.. thats sure…
      Flash will RoCk…..sure…

      0
  16. 1684

    I think the most important message HTML5 should be telling people everywhere is that media is an asset whether it was created in Photoshop, The Gimp, Adobe Flash, Flex or Silverlight. They all provide media assets and if you aren’t using them as assets, you are doing it wrong.

    With that in mind, Flash and Silverlight both can coexist with HTML5 quite nicely.

    By the way, you will notice I mentioned Silverlight here because while everyone is focusing on Adobe Flash, Microsoft’s Silverlight technology is in the very same boat and should be thought of in the same way.

    0
  17. 1735

    Flash is dead!

    So who the f**k needs flash? No one!

    0
  18. 1939

    Who cares about the history, company relationships, the FUD or hype? It has nothing to do with Adobe or Apple or iPhones or HTML5, or ANY of that stuff.

    Flash Players is an insecure, buggy, slow piece of software.

    I’d be all for Flash if Adobe fixed the technical issues. But as it currently stands, an all-Flash site makes my brand new i7 iMac come to a crawl.

    If you care about providing a positive user-experience (which involves not crashing their browser), use Flash as little as possible.

    0
    • 1990

      kindly again check your iMac. It may have 486 system under the hood.Shift to PC and enjoy best experience on windows with flash

      0
      • 2041

        I certainly would not give up my iMac for Windows just so I can view Flash content.

        The real problem is that Adobe is incapable of shipping quality software, particularly for Mac.

        0
        • 2092

          “Flash Players is an insecure, buggy, slow piece of software.”

          Kyle, as I recall when i was getting my BFA in college our macs were slow, buggy, and crashed all the time just as you say flash does. Show me a piece of software that doesnt. Its created by humans and not everything can be found, unless it goes through trial and error. Flash is progressing just as every other piece of software. Mac fanatics are off their rocker sometimes and completely irrational.

          0
          • 2143

            When did you get your BFA, in the 90s?

            You definitely haven’t used Macs lately if you think they crash and are slow. I admin a company that has several hundred computers (roughly 50/50 Windows PCs and Macs) and by far, without any doubt, the PCs are riddled with more problems, more viruses, more crashes, more hardware failures, more inexplicable software issues, more random slowdowns and gliches than anything seen on a Mac running OS X. I’m not a Mac fanboy either. That’s just the reality. Our IT staff supports both platforms and our ticket tracking system reveals a startling 80/20 percent split in support time devoted to Windows and Mac respectively. We are linked to a large network of several dozen similarly equipped sites whose IT staff tell us they observe the same lopsided support demands for their users. The PCs need nonstop support. The Macs just keep ticking along with occasional minor tweaks. (And no, in case you’re wondering, the PCs do primarily word processing and light office-related tasks while the Macs are doing high-end print and production work and are tied into a complex asset management systems–so it’s not a matter of workload.)

            I don’t care if you have legitimate criticisms of Macs, but make sure you’re talking about modern Macs running OS X. They lay waste to anything coming out of Redmond.

            0
          • 2194

            Yet another Example Andre, Yet another Example.

            0
          • 2245

            For the record, we have macs at the design agency I work for that run OSX that hang up and crash just like anything else. Not a fanboy.. thats a laugh.

            0
          • 2296

            My argument was not how often things crash anyway, its that all software crashes, period. Read the post fanboy. If you can say that Mac never crashes you have a legitimate argument against flash. If you dont (which you dont) keep quiet.

            0
          • 2347

            Andre Richards

            May 21, 2010 2:26 pm

            “If you can say that Mac never crashes you have a legitimate argument against flash. If you dont (which you dont) keep quiet.”

            Macs do crash. It’s very rare, but they do and I didn’t say otherwise. But I’ve done development on OS X and I know how to read the trace logs and crash dump when it happens and I *know* when Flash is responsible, and it’s responsible for a lot of lock ups and crashes on the Mac (not the entire machine itself but specific applications.) Flash is demonstrably crap. Your argument is shallow and illogical, exactly the kind of argument I’ve come to expect from the pro-Flash crowd.

            0
      • 2398

        I just went to this website:

        http://agencynet.com/

        Referenced by an above poster. It took well over 30 seconds to load on my cable connection, my processor temp jumped 20C my fans kicked up to 6000rpm, and the utilization went from less than 10% to over 70%. My battery meter re-estimated from 1:50 remaining to less than an hour. This is a 2.4Ghz C2D with 4GB of RAM, not a 486. I rebooted into Windows and the same thing happened.

        The site was pretty, I’ll give you that… but honestly, had I stumbled across that site via google I wouldn’t have waited for it to load/nor would I have stayed very long if I did – all due to the above issues. The goal should be to enable tasteful interactivity without having to melt down your laptop.

        1
  19. 2449

    Smashing, make great tuts about standard SVG and getting it alive mit JS!

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  20. 2500

    I would love to see someone code an FWA style site in HTML5.. it just isn’t going to happen!

    0
    • 2551

      Peter De Berdt

      May 18, 2010 8:07 am

      I probably could manage a few if someone paid me to do so and I would have plenty of time (even in Flash, developping those sites will have taken quite a bit of time)

      Except for the Dutch Horticulture one that just crashed the Flash plugin after a few minutes of use, and before you ask, yes, both on Windows and MacOS X using the most recent Flash plugin.

      The big question that keeps lingering when playing most these “Favorite Websites” however is why most of them sacrifice usability in favor of impressive visuals. Also, I’m maybe alone here, but I really hate sites (Flash or others) that start playing terribly downsampled music the moment I load them. Maybe it’s about the experience, but to me it’s a horrid experience.

      But the point right now is about the iPhone and the iPad not playing Flash. None of these FWA sites would play well on those devices anyway, Flash or no Flash. Almost everything, most of all basic navigation is obscured until you hover over them. You clearly can’t do that on a touchbased device.

      Anyway, this is getting back to a pointless can or can’t discussion again, which is not what this article is about to start off with.

      0
      • 2602

        You aren’t alone. We aren’t alone. :-)

        More and more people are getting angry with Flash sites because of its unnecessary uses, browser crashes/leaks, etc. We’ve the choice to not use the plugin, which is becoming usual as never before.

        0
      • 2653

        Paulo, I think the real problem with flash crashing is from inexperienced actionscript programmers who venture into it without knowing what their doing, I dont know that it is flashes fault. All they did is make an easy way to be creative, they are being penalized because they made a product too popular. If they are pushed back, that will be fine. But they should never die out. That would be a tragedy.

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  21. 2704

    Unfortunately, I mostly disagree with the article. For the web, Flash will be all but dead in a few short years, due to HTML5. For mobile devices, Flash will be a non-starter. Apple is wise to not degrade the user experience on its mobile devices by allowing Flash technology to drain CPU cycles and battery power.

    Flash will go the way of the Dodo bird very soon.

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  22. 2755

    Really an article with not much in the way of content. There’s no reason that HTML5 & CSS3 can’t be just as effective at allowing cross device promotion of multimedia content if all devices comply, and the author just skips over this issue.

    There’s no need to use Flash.

    Flash was a scourge on the Inter-Tubes. It was widely adopted because of corporate demand for snazzier designs with more animation. While there were some good implementations, there were are more bad ones with designers building the snazzy without regard for good principles of interaction design or information structure.

    I welcome the diminished influence of Flash, and pray for its eventual demise. It played a role in the evolution of the Web as a communication platform. As Douglas Adams once point out, at one point, of course, stone masons played a role in mass communications…we’ve moved on.

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  23. 2806

    Sure, right now Flash still has its (very limited) uses.

    However, it seems most people *still* haven’t understood *why* Apple won’t allow it on their iDevices. It’s really quite simple. Apple is a completely user-centric company. They also introduce new features and enhancements to their products at a fast pace. They have a clear vision for how their iDevices can offer their users the best possible experience down the road. In contrast, Adobe is a completely developer-centric company. Currently they are also slower than Apple in regards to driving their products forward with new features/enhancements. Since Adobe is aiming for Flash to be a platform-independent solution, Flash won’t be able to make use of each platforms individual strengths. Adobe makes the rules for what Flash can do, so if you’re making a mobile Flash app, you’ll have to make due with that. If the iPhoneOS and Android keep pushing the envelope then Flash will be the lowest common denominator, and business being business, developers will develop for that lowest common denominator because it enables them to reach the largest possible audience with the least amount of work. So almost everyone ends up using Flash for mobile applications. That means Adobe calls the shots in regards to what every smart phone out there, in practice, is capable of. Adobe will have to cater to a growing array of devices and will thus not be able to keep delivering new features/enhancements at a high pace. This all ends up severely limiting what your mobile device can do.

    So it boils down to this: Do you want Adobe or Apple to decide what you can do with your iPhone? I sure as hell go with Apple.

    Full disclosure: I HATE Flash, as a user – for these reasons: 1) Every single browser crash I’ve experienced the last several years has been because of Flash. 2) It consumes an extremely excessive amount of CPU-resources. 3) It leaks memory like there’s no tomorrow. I would love to see developer tools as good as Flash Builder CS5 for HTML5/CSS/Javascript. Adobe are very good at making developer tools, and I LOVE Photoshop.

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  24. 2857

    I don’t think Flash will die soon, but it is a war that’s been going for years.

    If you think about Flash as a product from a company who cares it’s market share, then it is a war. Clearly lots of companies stop using flash for their official websites, it’s a trend that has been going on for years. That being said, Flash is loosing it’s market share, and from marketing point of view, flash is losing the war against other web technologies such as AJAX.

    I think the question is, who are the enemies? How are they gonna win? As mentioned above, Flash started losing it’s market share since many years before, even before iPhone was launched. The reason is because Flash is facing a war that all the enemies want this interactive multimedia market, and Flash happen to be the largest competitor in this market. There are many web technologies that can replace part of Flash’s function, but not many of them are open source or became web standard.

    But now it’s different, since major web standard HTML has it’s HTML5 framework support video playing, which used to be one of the bread & butter for Flash, this is already a significant battle that Flash might lose. Even worse, Apple’s mobile products are not supporting Flash, might get more web workers and clients thinking about shifting from Flash to HTML+Javascript.

    From my point of view, this kind of competition actually benefits users with better products, lower price, and possibly better user experiences. Rumor says Apple is going create something, a pro version of iWeb to go against Flash, and personally I’m looking forward to it.

    0
  25. 2908

    Thanks for sharing your opinion, Luke. Well, it’s not really Flash vs. HTML5, it will never be btw. It’s Apple vs. Adobe, on supporting iPhone OS particularly.

    Personally I always ‘feel’ Flash is somewhat another Real, and I do love to see my Web without Flash (both phone OS and computer OS). Last decade, Flash-based website is a wow. Nowadays, …, please …

    One can argue that Flash is strong enough to do everything, it’s open, it’s free etc, but look at the downside of those. Because it’s free easy open so it’s used everywhere in positive ways and, sadly, over-used in negative ways everywhere too.

    Adobe plays a role on this, and Flash has its time. Rising and failing of Flash is almost certain, we shall see soon enough.

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  26. 2959

    Hello,

    I apologize for my english…
    I’m a french computing teacher (since 1985 !) and I’m always looking for the advantages of new technologies so that my students have a benefit of them. (No, all teachers aren’t closed in their past knowing !). I’m not only a webmaster of professional sites but also a developper of gov. applications country-wide used.

    I’m a little surprised by the critics against HTML5 in some of the comments up there : this standard isn’t yet out and totally stabilized. Even if some browsers developpers already integrate some pieces of HTML5 (canvas, sections and so on) in their products (like Firefox,Chrome, Opera …) this integration is not completely achieved, so how can you judge it so definitely ?. It’s the same thing that we have to bother with as XHTML : none of the actual browser are strictly XHTML (AMAYA is perhaps The exception). But scrupulous authors do their best to write valid pages, use valid CSS classes and so on!

    For the two next years, as said in the article, let’s see how the good products will implement the new standards like HTML5, CSS3 and so on (and by the way, let’s hope for the death of antediluvian diplodocus as IE6. Let’s hope, again, that MS I.E. whatever number it’ll be, accept to be pure standard-compliant and left behind proprietary ways and tags). Yes I believe in HTML/CSS/Javascript, AJAX etc…

    I totally agree with opinions saying that the work must be done correctly by the developpers, the only important thing to keep in memory is the aim of the site/application and ‘to have mercy’ for your visitors or users. Too much is awful, too much advertisements are really boring (from that comes the success of AdBlock) especially if the amount of ads (an the technology choosed to advertise) slows down your computer! Why have an optical fiber network with 100Mb speed if the site you’re visiting needs several minutes to load completely…
    If I’m interested by a domain, a product, please let me choose the way to keep informed !

    Coming back to the main subject “HTML vs Flash”, we’re going to know again a sad period as web developpers, just as the heroic times when we had to make each page several times, one for IE, one for Netscape, one for another…
    History is an eternal return but few seem to take lessons for it…
    Due to the great number of former pages using HTML4, PHP3… one can reasonably think that reformatting or rewriting them is not possible; so we’ll must accomodate for many years with the co-existence of old ways and new manners… Flash has several years to survive even some major company don’t rely on its future…

    Good luck, fellows, hope make live !

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  27. 3010

    Still good idea to have Flash skills… can you say Mobile…

    0
  28. 3061

    I think that two years sounds a bit close

    CSS 1
    published in December 1996.

    CSS 2
    published as a Recommendation in May 1998.

    CSS 3
    CSS level 3 is currently under development.

    I think that 4 years after CSS3 is published it will become the new Web standard and we will finally be able to use it :)

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  29. 3112

    Personally – when visiting a site, I don’t care what’s been used to create it. The less obvious – the better. I’ve been impressed by what some people are doing without the use of Flash – but also been VERY impressed with the full multimedia experience that a Flash site can bring. I don’t mind intros if they “work” – I’m thinking about a nice cinematic intro for say a video game/movie/cool idea in general. And lots of times I do skip those. This doesn’t seem to anger me as much as it does the rest of you, for lack of a better term, total idiots. I’ve been to MANY HTML sites that are absolutely frustrating to interact with.

    When I go to an all Flash website (on my iMac/macbook) – I am never ever ever concerned with the site “crashing”. I use Safari exclusively and I just don’t have the issues that a lot of you are describing. More times than not, honestly, it’s an HTML site that crashes. And yes, it may be because of the advertisements that are done in Flash, but shit – that’s a whole different conversation. I think advertisements coded in whatever language need to be done with.

    Anyway – I’m bored now and I feel this argument is for morons.

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  30. 3214

    I think Flash will not die because Steve Jobs does not like it. Steve Jobs wants iAds under his full control, that’s the only business reason I can think of.

    The discussion should also not be about the capabilities of Flash vs HTML5. Clearly, Flash can produce richer outputs currently.

    No, Flash will die (or at least be reduced in usage) because web designers will start to realize that usability comes first. For most sites and applications this means simplicity, speed, and design conventions (not having to learn navigation and such for each site). I have seen no Flash sites at all that let me do things quicker, let me find things better, that load faster or that are more intuitive that sites based on web standards.

    What will be left is a few niche industries and audiences that do appreciate “rich” interaction.

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  31. 3265

    I think it’s definitely ambitious to say that HTML5/CSS3 will be standard and that all web browsers will be standards-based in two years. IE6 (sadly) still has a large chunk of the market share (27% last time I checked). It’s crappy, but let’s be realistic. Savvy and forward-thinking users like us (web/interactive professionals) only make up a tiny drop in the bucket of people that use the web.

    0
  32. 3316

    You are conveniently ignoring the part where html5 is being developed to work as a offline widget/application engine…

    There are already experiments of e-learning platforms built with nothing but html5, , css3 and ecma.

    0
  33. 3367

    Sometimes I think that developers don’t have users and clients in mind. I work as a flash developer, and many clients really like Flash websites, and users too (take a look to movie websites, they are commonly developed in Flash). What we have to do is to make flash based websites that are user friendly, simply as that (No more 1 minute intros).
    Of course, flash websites are not good for all clients or all kinds of bussiness, but if you need animation, what are you going to use?

    0
  34. 3418

    Flash was always there for what HTML can’t do. And Flash will always be there for what HTML won’t do.

    Also, you forgot to mention those that develop Actionscript can run AIR apps.

    0
  35. 3469

    Flash has been the cornerstone for a lot of what has created and become dynamic media for the web. There is no doubt that it has it’s issues…but it has been a evolutionary platform for some incredible dev. Look at http://www.audiotool.com to see how far it has evolved.

    0
  36. 3520

    viva html5 and css

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  37. 3571

    Apple always gets it wrong, always, I have been using flash since it was Future Splash and knew this tool would be over used for basic things like gif animations which was a big thing back then. Apple is making a big mistake by ignoring this platform. How could these Well educated PHP holding people make a decision to ignore 90% of the web standard? Well Apple is known for just that, they have been doing so from the beginning. Remember the PDF Adobe fight? Stick around long enough and you would see who the real enemy is to the web “APPLE”.

    0
    • 3622

      David Desjardins

      May 18, 2010 2:11 pm

      Apple got it wrong?

      Decided to get into the music business at a time when illegal downloads were king. Everyone scoffed at the idea. Winner: Apple.

      Decided to get into the phone business when the market was dominated by others. Set a new standard for smartphones, and created a new market segment. Winner: Apple

      Decided to get into… something new with the iPad. A closed marketing channel backed by music, television, digital media AND publishing. Winner:……

      Apple has been a pain when it comes to Flash. But when you’re building a media distribution empire, sometimes its necessary to break a few eggs.

      0
      • 3673

        With the arrogans, strict rules, closed platform, lack of features in this Ipad it feels that Apple can do things quite much wrong. But its just healthy, it’s bad when something become too big.

        0
      • 3724

        I think you’re right that it’s hard to argue with the success of Apple. But, and just to be the devil’s advocate, that might not mean that they got it ‘right’. I sometimes wonder how innovative they’ve really been. I personally think that other companies were putting out better products at the time that iPods and the iPhone were introduced. Perhaps their innovation lies in their abililty to manipulate people into thinking that they can’t live without their products. I’m not sure that means getting it ‘right’ though…… It’s hard to deny that Apple is lacking in the ethics department :p

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  38. 3775

    Show me one site listed on http://www.thefwa.com/ that could be recreated using HTML5. You can’t. Why? Because, love it or hate it, Flash is here to stay, with or without Apple’s consent.

    /2cents

    http://www.adobe.com/choice/flash.html
    http://www.mikechambers.com/blog/2010/05/17/top-flash-misperceptions-h-264-video-is-going-to-kill-flash/
    http://www.craftymind.com/guimark2/
    http://html5vsflash.tumblr.com/

    0
    • 3826

      Would be curious to see how many sites on thefwa.com meet and adhere to proper web & accessibility standards… that is unfortunately the real let down with Flash. I know Adobe have made inroads to rectifying this too but they are still a long way off meeting current guidelines.

      0
      • 3877

        I think there is a general problem when a homepage change from static pages to animated/dynamic realtime content. Javascript and AJAX have these problems too. It’s up to the creator where to put the focus. As a professional it’s good to have wide knowledge and use the best tools available and do least compromisses. But Flash will never be as “accessible” as HTML because its a plugin, compiled code etc.

        0
    • 3928

      Oooohh… thanks for the links. I think this brings up something interesting. Flash sites seem to have the ability to be really damn pretty. I’m a graphic artist, not a web designer, and I’ve noticed that there’s a real push towards functionality in the industry. That said, I’m supposed to love Apple (yes… that’s what I work on, haha!). But for a company that’s built itself upon the image of being artsy and free, it’s just not. It’s not as customizable or visually exciting as what Windows is doing, and now it’s trying to stifle Flash, which (in my opinion) is geared more towards making sites that are purely aesthetic. It’s an interesting about-face, and a key reason why I’m strongly considering moving back to a PC (not to mention the question of the company’s lack of ethics). Just my two cents, hope it provided a different perspective :)

      0
  39. 3979

    David Desjardins

    May 18, 2010 2:05 pm

    Reading the comments has been just as informative as the article itself.

    I lean more to the realistic. I work for a global company, and manage the maintenance of 14 localized web sites and portals. We are moving away from Flash, and reverting to simpler text-based elements. Why? Lead generation.

    Flash doesn’t necessarily help lead generation. It does make for engaging experiences, and when done right it can be remarkably helpful with educating our customers. But when it comes to the dollars and cents of getting a lead, static banners simply work better. 2-3x better.

    We tried many types of banners – you name the style, form, position and use of color – at the end of the day they just did not deliver as consistently as a static banner. (we outsourced the Flash)

    The benefits to us? Our marketing budget goes farther and reaches a wider audience with less. We can build and deploy static elements in hours instead of days. Best of all – we are no longer device dependent.

    This doesn’t mean I won’t use it in the future, but it’s no longer my medium of expression.

    As for the ‘war’ with Apple – most people simply don’t ‘Get it’. For all of the hype, the iPad is a channel for distributing content. Apple wants to control that, and Flash weakens that grip. Anyone can build a tablet, but without a ready stream of content to be delivered, the tablet is a waste of time.

    As for Flash rebounding on Android etc., I say lets wait and see.

    0
    • 4030

      Well said. Likewise been in this game for nearly 2 decades now and have always found Flash cumbersome and more resource draining when involved with the massive corporate clients we serve. It’s not that Flash is bad but rather being incorrectly used.

      0
  40. 4081

    Why are you posting something that is all over the net?
    Another opinion.. like we need more
    #fail

    0
  41. 4132

    Amazing article, but we all know that IE is still not gonna be standards compliant in 2 years.

    0
  42. 4183

    Rex S. Sacayan

    May 18, 2010 7:27 pm

    I don’t agree with this article! HTML5 won’t kill flash! Although I don’t use flash in the websites I manage, but flash is a nice tool if used properly. We are currently enjoying watching movie online like Youtube and flash is technology being used. We used be thankful with flash.

    0
  43. 4234

    Great article, pity the mindless masses can’t see logical discussion.
    Too busy crapping on with “Flash sux0rz cause its liek not SEO friendly and resource hogging” without having used the platform correctly.
    I’ve spent the past 8 years developing on the Flash platform, and nothing has changed in terms of outputted work. Shit developers still produce shit code, which just fuels the flash hate.

    I blame the marketing companies for plastering flash banners everywhere.

    0
  44. 4285

    Andri Yudatama

    May 18, 2010 7:56 pm

    I think you guys should read this one
    http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/

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  45. 4336

    Boring post,

    You are way too level-headed and reasonable. Why should I trust anyone with a sane, logical and pragmatic view of the role of Adobe’s Flash in the context of web development and purpose? As a blogger, I demand you adhere to the flame-bait mentality and egregious falsity spewing guidelines as they were prescribed. You have no business telling me what’s true or accurate. If I wanted that, I’d read the tabloids or ask an idiot.

    Seriously, well written post. I’m glad to have read something in which someone made the appropriate distinction between purposeful and deliberate use of the appropriate tool for the job and useless rhetoric and utterly false conjecture on what’s good or bad (on either side of the fence) for the public at large. Balance is what excellent programmers understand. When the center of balance shifts due to project requirements, part of regaining balance may mean incorporating technology that, under other circumstances, would be ridiculous. Always be mindful of your options.

    HTML5 > Canvas element ftw. ( :

    0
  46. 4387

    html5 a standard in 2 years? try 10.

    0
  47. 4438

    “Flash should never have been used to the extent that it was purely for Web design.”

    I couldn’t agree more on that. Neverending and boring Flash intros are like stupid cartoons created by uncreative people. On the other hand, Flash is a great tool to spice up your design or to deliver video content, and sure it has a place in the advertising market. Its usage is all about know how; when, where, how, and how much.

    0
    • 4489

      You’ve said it in an EXCELLENT and So good sentence :)

      “it (flash) has a place in the advertising market. Its usage is all about know how; when, where, how, and how much.”

      And the same applies in other resources for development.

      0
  48. 4540

    2 years? not less than 10! I’m still developing for ie6 2001->2010!

    0
  49. 4591

    http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/youtube_begins_to_support_html5.php

    This article says it all to be honest …… Flash will die there is no doubt about it

    0
  50. 4642

    I’d be very suprised if Adobe can deliver a flash plugin for mobile devices that can deliver enough performance, without using too much cpu/battery or reducing functionality.

    Evidence suggests that the flash platform performs well on Windows and nowhere else – meaning that the codebase is probably a convoluted mess, and difficult to port to other platforms.

    To be fair, I think Adobe have painted themselves in to a corner, and the sooner they deliver a fantastic creative / development tool that can output to HTML5 the better. They can even leave behind the shackles of their terrible user interfaces and produce something super efficient and a joy to use (Lightroom is a great example of what Adobe can do when they have a blank slate).

    Come on Adobe – you can do it, and if you do you will play a big part in the future of the web over the next 15 years. If not, you’ll be a fading force on the web.

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