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


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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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.


Footnotes Link

  1. 1

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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.

  1. 1

    I totally agree with your statement about Flash being over used. The number of times I have left a website simply because they have thought it would be a great idea to have an intro page (with a skip intro button!), if the intro can be skipped then why bother having it!
    Lets hope all browsers will become compatible and standards-based, Microsoft may be the ones dragging their heels on this one though.

    If more developers thought the same way as you about where HTML5 and Flash belong the internet would be a much faster and pleasant experience!

    • 2

      I totally agree with you Owain about Flash been over used. I hate those intro pages to with the skip button, but what are you to do when the client demands thats what he/she wants.
      Many a times I have tried to talk clients out of this, but in the end it is their money and website.

      • 3

        Mark Glynne-Jones

        May 18, 2010 9:49 am

        If it says ‘skip intro’ then do as you’re told I always say. Can’t be that important eh?

        • 4

          I can’t even remember the last time I saw a website with a flash intro… that was years ago.

          • 5

            I can’t even believe that “designers” are talking about that flash intros and skip buttons…:) Its like listening to my friends who work in not – web related industry and visit less website per year than I do in one week.

            The same arguments,… always. Guys, forget about this – it was long time ago.

            And if you have to because client asked..well … you can educate and waived , reduce to minimum, be creative and make it as a part of interface..

            Anyway , all this fight FLASHvsHTML – it brings us money – so lets hope there will be draw :)

  2. 6

    Kristofor Lawson

    May 18, 2010 2:49 am

    For the most part I agree with all the arguments. However I think Adobe will really need to get it together for their mobile flash versions to be deployable to all devices. Apple is not a company known to backtrack so I think it will take real innovation from Adobe to resolve this dispute.

    Personally I love the interactivity which flash brings to the web and often recreating flash based sites in HTML5 would simply not be possible. There is a lot of stuff that HTML5 and CSS3 can do, but there is a lot of stuff it can’t do. Flash is an important part of the web’s future, but I think it will be a while for websites to fully transition across to HTML5 – which by the way hasn’t even been finalised yet.

  3. 7

    While I don’t believe that HTML5 will be the end of Flash, I can’t say that I agree with your article either.

    HTML5’s place is not necessarily on the web and is just as interesting to use in Mobile Applications and Intranet as Flash. Even know there are frameworks that allow the use of HTML in iPhone applications, not just websites.

    The annoyance for Flash has mostly been caused by amateurs playing with it. Full Flash sites that are well programmed and offer an exciting way of navigating are no problem. It’s the amateur that makes a Flash intro that you can’t skip, that uses countless tweens and has bascially no knowledge of Actionscript who makes people hate Flash. That and the bad performance of the Flash plug-in.

    • 8

      Hugh Isaacs II

      May 18, 2010 7:14 am

      I was thinking the same thing, one thing the article doesn’t point out is that another Adobe technology, Adobe Air, will be a component in bringing HTML5 to the desktop.

      And aside from that, what about the HTML5 offline capabilities? or apps like Google Chrome?

      Yes, there’s a browser in there at some point but the same could be said for the Flash runtime.

      These guys seem to have a thing for defending Flash whenever possible.
      Yes, I think Flash will still be around for a while, but not for the reasons stated.

      • 9

        HTML5 is not going to take over the web. It still uses plugins and proprietary things; look at Apple and their idiotic adoption of H.264. Obviously Apple are too lazy to use gstreamer or something?

        • 10

          Well, H264 is not part of HTML5… Only open technology is and will be part of HTML5.

          I think Flash will die eventually. Database technologies are being developed for the HTML5 spec, there’s all sorts of 3D and 2D stuff, hardware acceleration and whatnot. In ten years time or so, when HTML5 is finished, Flash will loose all reason to exist. And the reason why it’s going to loose to HTML5 is, not only that you won’t need to install a plugin, but because HTML5 will be lighter and better integrated, and won’t be constantly crashing your browser like Flash does.

          • 11

            you are comparing what you think html5 will be against what flash is today? You don’t think flash will evolve at all? Its been constantly improving for the last 10 years…

          • 12

            I don’t know what kind of computer you are running, but most people don’t have issues with their browser crashing from Flash.

        • 13

          Their idiotic adoption of a standard?? Wow, hate Apple much, hater??

    • 14

      Actually, Flash is on par with other multimedia content delivery platforms when it comes to performance. The “bad performance” you’re referring to is caused by bad ActionScript, just like bad JavaScript can cripple a website. Mike Chambers put it best in his analysis:

      • 15

        But the only real argument in favour of Flash is that it is easy for designers who are not good programmers to make entire websites (if you can call them that) _without_ understanding what they are doing, so blaming them for producing bad ActionScript is ridiculous in this context.
        As far as the main article is concerned, it was very one-sided. Flash has always been anti-standards, has always been a major problem for those with _any_ disability (not just those who are totally blind), and is ultimately an unnecessary layer on top of the web. Having praised all of the things that it can (occasionally) do well, you completely ignored the fact that pure HTML can do all of the same things, and do most of them better. A certain browser prevents this being easy, but Flash is largely responsible for this, by giving them an excuse.

  4. 16

    Relly Good! But I can’t understand why Apple disable “Flash” on their mobile devices like the iPhone or iPad.
    Let see what Apple will do in the next years.

    Greetings from Germany, Tommy

    • 17

      Excure me? It is not a question of Apple “disabling” Flash on their mobile devices. There is NO Flash on mobile devices — anywhere. Maybe you are thinking of Flash Lite? That can’t play all Flash content that people are used to anyway, so what’s the point?

      All the Flash content now out there on the web will have to be re-tooled for mobile devices anyway. And Flash isn’t suited to Touch devices at the moment — too many rollovers requiring a mouse or stylus.

      Adobe are making empty promises, again; and breaking them, again. Adobe talked about putting Flash plugins on mobile devices three years ago. Adobe could not adequately support two desktop platforms; now they are talking about half-a-dozen mobile platforms; and they keep moving launch dates back. Android is due to get it soon… we’ll see. Flash 10.1 is now going to require something like at least an A8 processor at 1000MGhz to run decently. That cuts out just about anyone without a top-end mobile device from the last six months. Good thing Apple didn’t’ wait. Adobe has yet to produce the goods, as usual.

      Yes, let’s see what Adobe do in future years: might be interesting if they rehire their mobile development team and fire a few PR and marketers instead.

      • 18

        I’ve seen (full)Flash running on the Android platform…

        • 19

          I’ve seen (full)Flash running on android as well,.. also blackberry is suppose to pick it up in it’s next version and Windows Mobile 7(when it’s finally released) is suppose to support it as well. The iPhone is going to be the only major player in the coming years that doesn’t support flash, java or silverlight. Not to mention the fact that last quarter it only captured 21% of the US market while android captured 28% and blackberry captured 38%.

          I agree with Luke that they each definetly have their place and that this really shouldn’t be viewed as a “fight”, but this will certainly hurt apple for not allowing their customers to view the entire internet. If all the other smartphones don’t end up boycotting flash and the other plugins like apple is doing, the iPhone’s/iPad’s are more than likely going to be viewed in the same light that ie6 has for so long. All providing apple still holds as strong of a portion of the market as they did lastyear.

          • 20

            C’mon guys, Apple is right. Show me a consumer electronic device that costs about USD 500 and doesn’t bring a web camera (at least) with it (only Apple can do that).

            (HTML 5 Canvas + Javascript) animations are lots more heavier and harder to deploy than Flash ones.

          • 21

            it hurts Apple do you mean? because it does not support Flash at all? I don’t know if you mean aboout it xD my english too bad. but :
            check the Apple website and the link “thoughts in Flash by Steve Jobs”. I think Apple is different, apple devices are different way to browse, to call, to listen, to view… then why develope devices as the other companies do? why to do the same when Apple is Different.. ? why develope devices multi task and Flash just because the others support it? Apple is not “the others”. Think Different. they say :P

      • 22

        Flash Works On Touch-Based Devices (Video) by Lee Brimelow.
        he says: “Several people have been making assertions that most Flash sites will not work properly on touch-based devices because these sites use rollovers or hovers for things like effects and navigation. Well I put together this little video together showing that Flash sites do indeed work the way you would expect since the Flash Player dispatches rollover events even on a touch screen.”

        peace :)

      • 23

        Wow guess you really missed the mark on this rant. Flash is now available on the majority of mobile devices in the market.

  5. 24

    I like your article. On HTML5 tho, I really hope it won’t become the next Flash with up and running…

  6. 25

    It’s all right, nothing to blame about it.
    Adobe and Apple must understand each other.

    and Yeah, it’s all back to the developers [not the users]

  7. 26

    Chrsitopher Farrugia

    May 18, 2010 2:54 am

    so so true, flash has already retreated to only being useful for major brands and rich companies, that’s if they can afford to use and have flash sites created(and that’s diminishing daily). So bring on HTML5 and lets see how the future of the web really turns out :)

  8. 27

    You make a valid point that at the time while Flash was still a Macromedia product it was filling in for all of the browsers’ shortcomings … It was providing same looking content under IE4 and NS4 which at the time was rather hard to achieve for something that’s not completely sliced in images.
    Anyhow exactly as IE4 and NS4 it served its purpose and either needs to adapt to the new realities or leave the scene and Adobe does not really seem to be certain on where things are going, they are defocused and heavy and throw things in the air like AIR which serve no monetizing purpose … but alas … let’s wait and see

  9. 28

    HTML5 place is not entirely on the web. Steve Jobs emphasised the fact that it will be used to create the iAds.

    • 29

      iAds are just little websites in reality…

      • 30

        Yes, that is rather the point – most small application development these days uses HTML – MS has it HTA / HTC format, desktop widgets on all platforms are generally HTML, because actually it works a lot better than crap like Flash, or more particularly the crap flash-reading players.
        Just last night I had to spend fifteen minutes waiting for FireFox to shut down so that my PC was useable again because my wife was on some stupid flash game that had totally hung everything.

  10. 31

    Nice to read a well balanced, fair and intelligent article on this debacle.

  11. 32

    Christopher Dosin

    May 18, 2010 2:57 am

    Great article, i totally agree with u ;)

  12. 33

    All hell broke loose! Smashing Magazine letting someone actually have a fair opinion and not bashing Flash and loving Apple + HTML5 is just beyond what I was expecting. Kudos for doing this.

    I agree with everything except one thing. Flash is still (and will be) the best way to deliver high multimedia, interactive, and cool websites. Just look at and you will see that, in a near future, HMTL5 will still not be able to reproduce this type of content and will not have the strong foundations that a project in Flash is capable of. the new cool website from Wrangler is a fine example of that “”.

    Another thing. Two years? I don´t know… With all the wars between Mozilla, Apple, Opera and so on, I don’t except for big companies to use all alone HTML5 for their websites.

    • 34

      Actually, I’m pretty sure it would be possible to create that site with HTML5. I mean, when this is possible:

      • 35

        Didn’t work at all in IE running on parallels – I’ve found that quite a few html5 and jquery things don’t work in this environment, but Flash does – has anyone else found this to be the case?

    • 36

      Funny – since html5 + javascript will be able to do a website like this, but even better, and work across all platforms (even the iPhone).

      Not that this really is even a “great” example – unless of course 45 second loading times is your thing.

    • 37

      Only partly I agree. Very rich media and game-like websites, yes, Flash will rule there for the near future. However, stating that “interactive and cool” websites can only be created in Flash is nonsense. Please define what interactive is and what cool is. I find a website or application that is simple, fast and looks good to be very cool and interactive. I find a bloated, slowloading eye candy production where you don’t know where to click not so cool.

      Cool or not, what matters is usability. Most users do not want cool, they want to get things done. Exceptions are some niche industries, like for example a ringtone site for teenagers.

    • 38

      Why is that site cool, 10 minutes to download, to move a few frames of a guy wearing clothes and oh look I can rip his shirt off… Its like every bad advert on TV but takes longer, style over substance.

      What is its point. Is this going to make me buy more wranglers eh no! This is really boring and not very imaginative. This is NOT for me a good example of flash.

      • 39

        Loading took only 5 to 10 seconds here, so the 10 minutes it took you are probably exaggerated..

        Why is it not a good example of of flash? If it were created using html5, would it have been a bad example of html5 also? In that case, perhaps the style of the site doesn’t suit your taste. But the technology behind it seems solid to me.

        What you need to understand about sites like this is that they indeed serve the same purpose the tv adverts you mention. Sites like this are there for branding and promotional purposes. If your visit there makes a lasting impression and you retain the name “Wrangler” then the next time you visit a store you will be more likely to buy their products.

        • 40

          Took me 3 or 4 minutes to download too. I shudder to imagine how many people leave the site before ever seeing it load. I wonder how much they paid for it? The ROI would be terrible. Bad example.

      • 41

        Over 3 minutes of waiting, I finally closed the window.

        As internet speeds have gotten faster, flash has become more bloated. If I have to sit and wait for sites to load and can’t do a thing until it does, I’m gone. I’d hate to be loading this site on a phone that supports flash.

        For branding and promo, this is a horrible example to use. You only have a few seconds to capture someone with a commercial before they tune out. Same applies to web ads. How about a nice quick loading promo to get the user interested, be it flash or html5 and then take them to the bloated version. Having to wait for a bloated version of who knows what you are waiting for is bad for business.

  13. 42

    Great Article! Also a note people forget about the huge industry of online advertising and rich media advertising via flash banners. Systems like double click which Google has its hands in aren’t going to shift over night. Being realistic IE6 is still around, HTML 5 isn’t going to supported in IE till IE9, which isn’t even out yet!

    • 43

      To add to that, IE9 will only work on Windows 7+. IE 6, 7, 8 currently own over 50% of the browser market and it will be a while before that changes. I think “2 years” figure in the article is rather optimistic. Flash is not going away any time soon. Let’s hope that in “2 years” HTML5 is no longer a draft standard and is at least implemented consistently across leading browsers.

  14. 44

    Always refreshing with an HTML5 vs Flash article that isnt more of an I love/hate Apple article.

    Coulden´t agree with you more, as a developer I will always look at what technique suits the end-product the best and I see benifits with them both.

  15. 45

    And what about iPhone OS ?

  16. 46

    Finally, a sensible article. I was getting tired of the “HTML5 is the new Flash” argument.

  17. 47

    Me as flash/flex/AIR developer I disagree with the opinion that flash is not for the web and its only for multimedia,advertisements and games. Its also being used for Enterprise applications and for ecomerce websites.Flash has lot more potential and it will grow.

    • 48

      You can disagree, it’s your right/choice. Though Flash blows on the desktop just as much as it does on the web! Be it straight Flash or Flex/Air or whatever else Adobe can pull out of their incompetent rear end.

      Bottom line what kills Flash is Adobe’s inability to create a decent, stable virtual machine that would run without crashing or using 100% of the computer’s processing power and do so without leaking memory like a sieve!

      So you can disagree but I hope Flash dies sooner rather than later!

    • 50

      Rajveer Singh Rathore

      May 19, 2010 10:55 pm

      When HTML 5 is going to do what it takes to have Flash for web interaction then it’s better to call end of days for Flash. Sooner the better!

      I personally never liked Flash on a web page, rather I have been seeking ways to reconsider the information architecture and get the results using JavaScript.

  18. 51

    Fre says:

    “Full Flash sites that are well programmed and offer an exciting way of navigating are no problem.”

    No, this is also a problem. I don’t want or need to install the Flash plugin, it’s useless to me (as it only serves to crash all my browsers). In this case I wouldn’t be surfing these sites, then the problem wouldn’t be mine. There’s no need to exciting way of navigating. Better saying: there’s no exciting way of navigating with Flash.

    • 52

      My two years MacBookPro and other computers I have at home never crashed due to Flash…

      No exciting way of navigating in Flash websites? lol?

      You can use anything! From your mouse, to your keyboard, to a combination of this two, you can navigate through gestures, eck! Even with your own movement!

      And yes, you are missing a great opportunity of having great user experiences…

      • 53

        “My two years MacBookPro and other computers I have at home never crashed due to Flash…”

        It’s only your experience. The reality is far behind. :-) (read Google/Microsoft/Mozilla/Opera ASA thoughts about this)

        “No exciting way of navigating in Flash websites? lol?”

        No at all. D-e-f-i-n-i-t-e-l-y. :-)

        “You can use anything! From your mouse, to your keyboard, to a combination of this two, you can navigate through gestures, eck! Even with your own movement!”

        I’ve all this with just (X)HTML, so I don’t need Flash (it’s a browser feature). Thank you. :-)

        “And yes, you are missing a great opportunity of having great user experiences…”

        Nope, I’m sure I have the best experience without Flash. I’m a user-centric developer, I really know that I don’t need neither Flash, Java or XYZ plugin to surf the web with really good experience. I know that I only need good developers behind the sites that I surf. :D

        • 54

          “I’ve all this with just (X)HTML, so I don’t need Flash (it’s a browser feature). Thank you. :-)”

          Hum… no.

          “Nope, I’m sure I have the best experience without Flash. I’m a user-centric developer, I really know that I don’t need neither Flash, Java or XYZ plugin to surf the web with really good experience. I know that I only need good developers behind the sites that I surf. :D”

          As far as User Experience goes I give you that. But every site in exery technologie can have good and bad experiences. It depends on who builds it. But you can’t argue that Flash sites really have impact on costumers and, if made it right, it will always be a plus and not a bad thing.

          • 55

            The most important thing of course is purpose. Remember a site is designed for a purpose, to serve information to the end-user. It’s whichever technology is best suited to serving the user that counts not the designers ego.

            Both technologies have their place, just don’t choose one over the other because you think it’s cool or you want to try something new or that you want something for the portfolio or even how can I wow the client.

            The question that should always be answered is “what technology will best serve the needs of the user”.

          • 56

            “Hum… no.”

            I’ve all this browser features with (X)HTML sites. If you no, it isn’t my problem… :-P

            I’m a user too (power user I would say). And I’m out of websites builded in Flash or Java (nor have these plugins installed). I can be your target audience, and then you may be losing a potential customer. Sorry. :-|

          • 57


            You mention Java. Do you mean JavaScript? Java is more of a server-side and application development language. There is no JavaScript plug-in, so I don’t understand how you say you don’t have it installed.

            I have worked in the creative development and advertising for a long time and users with Flash or JavaScript turned off is not in any of our clients customers demographics.

            We have consistently found that the largest demographics – the general public – have Flash and JavaScript turned on, and so we choose to develop rich interactive experiences for them rather than a watered-down, bland experience that hits the lowest common denominator.

          • 58

            @MattL, he means Java as in Java applets. They used to be everywhere but have largely been replaced by Flash. If you’re using Windows, you still might see the Java coffee cup icon pop up in the toolbar from time to time. Quite a few ticketing, airline and cinema websites use it for the little app that allows you to select a seat.

            @Paolo, there’s some great websites out there using Flash. If you have either the Click2Flash or FlashBlock extensions in Firefox or Chrome, you can choose when to view Flash and when not to. Aviary and Prezi are good examples of useful Flash websites.

        • 59

          Flash Became popular on the web because of its new and exciting ways to navigate content. it didn’t take a user-eccentric-developer to make them exciting, just a fancy imagination. I’ve had plenty of GREAT experiences on Flash websites and look forward to the improvement of both Apple and Adobe products :) respectfully your opinion matters as well as everyone else but i must say i care more about the opinion of joe-schmo than power-user-bob

        • 60

          do you see the FWA daily? those sites are made for those who want to experience it.
          can HTML 5 bring that level of experience? seriously those sites are not just sliding and fading. don’t blame the technology use it the way you want.

    • 61

      Jon, 8 years ago I had the same though, “Flash is dead”, seriously. It was moving from a simple time-line with some lines of codes to a more complex thing. At that point designers started to hate flash cause it was becoming to difficult for most of them.

      Now I am a fulltime flash designer/developer, I had no more cross-browsers nightmares, I can easily move to java or c#, I do much more interesting stuff then simple sites or e-commerce, and I quintupled my income.

      I’m already trying some “HTML5” stuff (javascript is a joke) and I’m better than HTML5 supporters I know, but it feels old, and it’s not even out yet. It also didn’t start well, it’s already cross-browser inconsistent , and apple push it in an unnatural way.

      The point is that I’m happy to learn new things as long as they are better than what I already know. And “HTML5” it’s not. Unfortunately most of the people don’t know what they are talking about.

      The people who don’t wants Flash alive, is because they don’t know it.

  19. 64

    A well balanced article. I think the HTML5 vs Flash idea is strange too. A designer should use whatever tools at their disposal to fit the task. Whether that is HTML, XML with an XSLT, Flash, Shockwave, javascript, Gears or new technology X we don’t know about yet.

    What must be remembered is that a large portion of the users of the web is still stock Windows XP machines running IE. The current version of IE (8) is not HTML5 compatible, so your Canvas enhancements can’t be seen without additional install. If you’re reading this comment, it’s not likely that you’re a stock user of the web.

    HTML5 won’t kill flash, as it’s not got the breadth of features. Just because one mobile company doesn’t want to support it doesn’t mean that it’s going away. There might be an arms race but browsers have become complex and so do not upgrade as quickly as in 1996. IE – love it or hate it – is still the stock choice and will always be behind the curve. In reality, you’re more likely to get sites that have a high-bandwidth, rich-functionality parts and then low-bandwidth, simple-functionality parts. Which is good because I don’t want to view a site fixed at 1024×768 on my Nexus One.

    I would like to see a tighter integration and interoperability to between Flash and the markup and javascript. At the moment, calls outside of Flash are limited and Flash object embeds rarely interact with the rest of the content.

    Your view of large corporations using Flash a lot might be skewed to personal experience. My experience is that they don’t care what happens as long as it runs on IE6 (stock XP install) and they don’t have to change group policy, they are happy.

    HTML version X might finally make Flash redundant but I imagine that is a very, very, long way off.

    [Web designer since 1996]

    • 65

      You CAN use most of canvas already even from IE7, there are javascript libraries for that do NOT require a plugin install, unlike Flash, which always needs this.

  20. 66

    Hugo Fernandes

    May 18, 2010 3:24 am

    Actually I do believe that the most promising future for Flash will happen on mobile devices.
    With Android 2.2 and Flash Player 10.1 you will be able to have rich internet experiences on mobile websites (not apps) that html5 or javascript can’t deliver yet. One example is the drag behavior. On html/js websites, you simply can’t drag your finger to draw on stage. It will drag the browser scroller and/or window. One new feature in FP10.1 is the ability to “activate” the embed Flash object (with holding your click) and it will activate the behaviors inside flash so you can drag, draw or wathever you want to do with your objects inside the website.

    One good point is the usage of Flash outside the webdesign world. I work in a company that produces Digital Signage content and Flash is definitely the number 1 tool for that. All the capabilities of AS3 with the integrations you talked about is simply unbeatable outside the web.

    • 67

      You’re missing the point. The mobile platform isn’t best used for “rich” experiences. You’re going the wrong way… it needs to be about usability, with a lightweight power requirement.

      Mobile users will not be searching for the same experience as desktop users, and as I’m sure you know, mobile will be a larger audience, very soon.

      • 68

        Watch out for slider slider framework for flex specially designed to be used in mobile apps for performance and robustness with less resource heavy and it is lightweight framework for building user interfaces for mobile and deploying as a flash or Air Applications.More info on it is available here

      • 69

        The base functionality of a site should in general be HTML. But because HTML5 haven’t full rich experiences in a near future, why should we be limited to that and not use Flash? If a lot of mobiles have Flash a lot will develop for it (with simple or no fallback for Apple). It’s utopia that everything on internet is lightweight, perfect and work good everywhere. In reality HTML5 doesn’t work so good on Iphone/Ipad, you have often to do a custom solution.

      • 70

        Hugo Fernandes

        May 18, 2010 5:41 am

        Sorry to disagree, but I think your missing my point…
        When I talk about “rich” experiences on mobile web I’m not talking about “rich” experiences for desktop pcs with 10MB of video and multiple animations viewed on mobile devices.
        What area apps anyway? Rich experiences that a browser mobile device can’t deliver. That, with Flash Player 10.1, will change.

    • 71

      You can do draggable in HTML with jQuery.

      This identifies a recurrent problem, few people know both technologies well so they argue within the context they know – claiming it is the best.

      • 72

        He was talking about dragging in a touch device, not just simply have draggable elements. -.- Your judgment seems better suited for yourself, no?

  21. 73

    Good article but I don’t think so much will happen in two years. Ok for developers it can be better but because complex HTML5 will have exactly the same problem as Flash (if not even worse) and as a visitor Flash has pushed the limits, and HTML5 just trying to keep up. It’s good with open-source and standards but it will not go fast.

    I’m just waiting for the animation or other stuff to arrive in HTML5 and you will see sites go crazy about it. It’s the new “cool HTML5” everyone want to show.

    Learn both technologies and advantages and don’t let anything stop you, there is no exact right or wrong.

    • 74

      spot on

      • 75

        no it’s not, HTML5 is simply a markup language, nothing more. CSS3 transistions is the animation we will be getting in the near future, NOTHING to do with HTML5.

        • 76

          Yes but you also have to think of HTML5 video feature, which would usually involve flash until HTML5 came along …….. Flash is the equivalent to Windows while HTML5 is equivalent to Apple ……. No matter what anyone says Flash is never better then HTML5 just like Windows is never better then Apple

        • 77

          HTML5/CSS3 to be more correct but it was not the point. It is really a mess.

  22. 78

    Gonzo the Great

    May 18, 2010 3:41 am

    Hi Luke,

    the first, well-written and realistic article in the blogs that I’ve read so far, covering this topic: ‘HTML5 vs. Flash’.

    I fully agree with you that each has it’s place on the internet and in graphic design, you can’t compare them! Both have their unique and specific qualities and advantages, so use them where they’re best fitted to do the job.

    Once again, thanks for sharing your opinion on this topic, it was a delight reading it! Cheers& Ciao ..

  23. 79

    There would not be any disagreements if Flash was completely open source. But Adobe will not let that happen, so I understand Apple’s point of view.

    • 80

      A lot of flash is open source, you don’t need to use Flash to create an SWF because adobe has allowed developers access to create their own authoring envrionments. Adobe does not make you use Flash to create flash.

    • 81

      You know you can actually build from a website to a full desktop application in Flash without paying 1cent to Adobe right? err….

  24. 82

    Hi Check out open source initiative for the flash player to meet the standards

  25. 83

    Raphael Pudlowski

    May 18, 2010 3:47 am

    very good article.
    One of the strenght of flash was that it could by used by a non programmer to do interactive stuff, but with the latests versions it become more and more complicated…
    People hate flash because of all the annoing advertising online, i’m curious how they will react when all that “annoingness” will be made in HTML5 and you can’t block it…

  26. 84

    Topic-out-of -Box … Nice bundled information with unique discussion topic :)

  27. 85
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    John Pallister

    May 18, 2010 3:56 am


  29. 87

    Tom Giannattasio

    May 18, 2010 4:00 am

    I’m glad to see a realistic perspective on this debate. While HTML 5 seems very promising and will no doubt change the way we build websites, it will still fall short when it comes to the over-the-top, rich-media, uber-engaging sites that Flash is so well-known for. Semantic, open-source code is beautiful in our eyes, but the average consumer could care less. They care about the content and the experience. A majority of sites – blogs, news sites, Facebook, etc. – will benefit from HTML5, because their content becomes more accessible. However, pushing content does not always mean serving up text and images. Many large companies would agree that content can also refer to an experience. Words and images are easily forgotten, but a unique experience will linger and spread organically. HTML5 has a long way to go if it wants to bury Flash when it comes to weaving rich experiences.

  30. 88

    Ecommerce Mechanics

    May 18, 2010 4:00 am

    No matter how into HTML 5 people get, Flash is going to be around for a long time. Every time I hear someone say that “People will just convert their Flash content to HTML 5”, I immediately wonder if that person will think that when they get to the real world. No one is going to go back and rewrite thousands of Flash sites and apps into HTML 5 for free and maybe 1 in 10,000 will be a paying gig. This entire conversation is a mental exercise in the developer community. Corporations are completely oblivious to any aspect of that conversation. If you thought getting rid of IE6 is tough, try selling “use HTML 5 instead of Flash” to a corporate marketing head. You’re not going to be the one walking out the door with the check.


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