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The Demise of Flash: 8 Main Reasons

Posted by Tadeusz Szewczyk on December 11th, 2006.

Web developer since 1999, website optimizer (SEO) since 2004. Based in Berlin Germany and loving everything that's better than everything else.

http://onreact.com

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As a former Flash developer turned CSS zealot in the last 3 years I want to present the 8 main reasons for the demise of flash.

Now don’t get me wrong I still love Flash sites, at least to watch them and I acknowledge that there are certain cases where Flash is the better choice. Moreover you don’t have to choose one of those techniques, often you can combine both.

That said let me rant about my ex darling Flash. I may err in some cases because I started with Flash 3 and was an expert with Flash 6 (MX) so some of my points may not be entirely valid anymore, then correct me.

Nevertheless I get the larger picture: The demise of flash is obvious.

Although Adobe tells you that still 96% of the web browsers support Flash this simply is not true. Recent statistics from Germany (where I develop) show that roughly a little more than 50% of Internet users have Flash installed. Not necessarily the newest Flash plug in, in most cases probably Flash 5 or higher but rarely the current one.

Even me, proud to be the so called power user I often realize that after installing the latest browser version I can’t view flash content. My personal impression is that I reinstall the Flash plug once every three months. So the bottom line is: You can not feel assured that most users let alone all users can view a flash site or flash elements on your site.

Now this is rather an effect than reason for the downfall, but it nevertheless accelerates the demise of Flash.

Now let me come up with the reasons:

Reason 1: Flash ads.

Ask yourself from your own user experience: What’s the most annoying form of on line ads?

Right: Layer ads, Flash ads and pop unders. Layer ads combined with Flash are not only annoying they can shut down your PC. Indeed that’s what I experienced: My mother who is over sixty uses my old laptop. Old only means Pentium 4 and 512kb RAM so it’s not that old. She uses a 56k modem connection though. So one nice day she visited the German National Geographic site. The site had an animated Flash ad on top which on entering the site would slide down and overlay the whole page. Well, despisable on its own. Moreover either the ad was so huge or took so much resources that while loading on it killed not only the browser (of course Firefox) but it overheated the whole Notebook to switch it off completely. As Firefox reinstates the sites you viewed before a crash that damn ad crashed the PC over and over.

Anyways, most of you have experienced the annoyance of flash ads or sites forcing sound upon you when you listen to your own music. Hence he emergence of Flash-blockers for Firefox and other browsers are no wonder.

Reason 2: Search engine friendliness

If you have a string brand you might deem search engine users less important. But the overall majority of web sites truly depend on search engine traffic, foremost market champion Google. As I specialized on website optimization for search engines (also called SEO) I realized that making a Flash site means being virtually invisible for search engines. Even if you get spidered or even your SWF ends up in the index basically everyone will outrank you.

Reason 3: Usability

John Doe wants “don’t make me think” interfaces. Even I as a power user prefer to navigate sites quickly without trial and error clicking anywhere and everywhere. Some flash sites really make me angry. You simply can not see where you have to click. With HTML sites you just view the “page information”, right click or use one of the plethora of tools to list the links. In Flash? In most cases Flash does not display the links whatsoever. The latest version allows you to right click to see some links but I haven’t grasped yet which ones, probably those the developer decides to show you.

Besides that, Flash has still most of the issues it had from the start: Back button support? Downloading of images? Bookmarking and deep links? Right click functions…

Many of those issues can be resolved if you embed Flash into a framework of PHP and JavaScript but why not to skip Flash altogether?

Reason 4: Accessibility

That’s the most obvious drawback of Flash. It’s just not designed for the blind and otherwise impaired. I don’t think I have to elaborate on that. XHTML/CSS offers you plenty of tactics to make sites accessible for those who need it. Alt, title, summary attributes are just the most obvious ones. Flash sites really are a closed door or a black box for those who are handicapped. Ask yourself: Would you ban those people from entering your shop, institution or building? So why would you want to do it with your web site where it’s even easier to make your service available for everyone. Don’t forget: Many local laws force you by now to make sites accessible.

Reason 5: Downward compatibility

When Flash 7 came out one of my clients called me on the weekend: My site does not work anymore! It turned out that using the latest Flash plug in, the plug in check would let you in and then show nothing, a completely white page. It was an easy fix but I have seen similar problems with Flash sites from then on. You would either be let in “for having Flash” and then the site would only partially work or sites would not let you in although you had the latest plug in installed. As I often use Opera, sometimes with JavaScript turned off I was surprised that many Flash sites did not work at all with JavaScript turned off. It happened to me in Firefox and IE too btw. It’s like using CSS3 all over the place and letting people down who aren’t early adopters like you.

Reason 6: Overburdening developers

Flash not only failed due to a bad user experience. The demise is self made in as far as a new Flash version every year made your expertise obsolete faster that you could cope with the evolving software. Either you stopped doing everything else and concentrated on being a full time flasher or you ended up being not up to date. I just finished a one year long flash course making me a proud Flash and Action Script expert when Action Script became obsolete with AS 2.0. appearing.

It’s not just a problem of learning to master the new versions. It’s a matter of money. Macromedia and now Adobe makes you buy Updates every single time a new version comes out. Indeed, that will be one of the main reasons for the frequent updates. Who can afford that? Full time flashers again.

Aside of that the Flash environment is just to complex to build average web sites. A web site is neither a movie nor an application, but that’s basically the two option Flash gives you. Either you make a site as a movie or as a script. But who would build w web site in JavaScript in it’s entirety? Flash failed to make Flash development democratic by making it closed source and too difficult. I know all the Flash decompilers, they are just not enough.

I didn’t even mentioned site maintenance yet. Although there are sophisticated Flash CMS solutions out there in most cases a company stuck with a Flash site is dependent on the developer that built it in the first place. No one else knows what to alter even for a little customization. Indeed in many cases the guy won’t give any competitor the source file (.fla) for your site. He assumes to be the copyright holder.

Reason 7: Failed internationalization

Living and working in Germany but being of Polish descent made me quickly realize the limitations and US centric approach of Flash. Indeed the situations was ridiculous.

In Flash 6 Polish letters (we have like the Germans or the French some characters that are not in the English alphabet) could not be displayed at all! I remember even a petition a Polish Flash Developers demanding Polish character set support for Flash!

In German the situation was just slightly better. You had to use really weird XML workarounds to make Flash understand German “umlauts” like ä, ö, ü. I guess that Russian, Arabic or Chinese developers faced bigger obstacles in creating flash sites.

It might be better by now, indeed I didn’t care after I switched back to HTML driven sites. I didn’t have to anymore.

Reason 8: No compliance with open standards

As Flash is proprietary and closed source the business model of Macromedia and Adobe is to prevent competitors from grabbing the market share in this segment. When Adobe still competed with Macromedia (what was the name of the Adobe made alternative to Flash? …) you still had the hope that XML based SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) would replace Flash one day.

Indeed I hoped for Adobe making Flash support SVG. I would have loved that. Instead Adobe abandoned SVG by ceasing to bundle Acrobat Reader with the SVG plug in. In fact newer browsers have built in support for SVG but it will take a while until you can use it for the average web site.
What’s the conclusion of this? I could appeal to Adobe once again to solve all this problems. I won’t do that. It’s not my job to help huge international conglomerates out of self inflicted trouble. Why should I help them to optimize their product? In contrast what I can do is to reach out to the web standards and CSS community as a Flash convert and to make the user experience of CSS sites more “flashy”, because, as I said in the beginning: Flash is not all bad. Look out for follow ups. In the meantime think twice before getting or developing a flash site.

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Some excellent points there, Tadeusz.

However, as PJ wrote, Flash still is the best option for some rich media like video.

Overall, the points above address some of the continuous issues with Flash. And some new ones (like internationalisation) that I’d never encountered. A thorough case there. Nice debut!

Andrew Faulkner
December 11th, 2006
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My mother who is over sixty uses my old laptop. Old only means Pentium 4 and 512kb RAM so it’s not that old. … the ad was so huge or took so much resources that while loading on it killed not only the browser (of course Firefox) but it overheated the whole Notebook to switch it off completely.

Whilst I fully agree that this use of Flash is despicable, the inability of the notebook to handle 100% processor load is hardly Flash’s fault. Perhaps you need a memory upgrade, as 512kb is probably not enough… ;-)

Mark
December 11th, 2006
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No doubt Andrew. For developing web sites it’s almost dead though. Like Java and Shockwave it will thrive in it’s niches.

Damn Mark, you’re right. I will upgrade it to Megabytes quickly.

Tadeusz Szewczyk
December 11th, 2006
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Reasons 2 and 4 are simply not true.

Adobe have recently released the Search Engine SDK (Software Development Kit) which a number of Search companies, including Google, have implemented to search Flash content. There are downloads on the Adobe site which you can use to see how your projects will be parsed by search engines using this method.

It is also possible to make Flash websites accessible. It just takes a little thought and the use of the built in accessibility controls. Take a look at the Adobe Accessibility Resource Center.

Continually repeating these out of date opinions is damaging for the advancement of the latest methods which address these shortfalls. It is only by promoting the latest techniques that developers whose clients demand flash content will be encouraged to do thing in the correct way.

David
December 11th, 2006
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I’m not so sure the source for installation of Flash being at about 50% is really accurate. I can’t read German, so it is hard for me to really know how the study was conducted. There are a few questions that I would like to know the answers to in order to better judge the results:

What site(s) was this study conducted using?
Is this counting hits from all over the world, or a centralized region?
Where bots and crawlers excluded from the results?

The translation via Google isn’t all that good, but it looks like this is only counting “Web hit subscribers”. Sounds like only visitors to the Webhits site. I wouldn’t trust those results.

Paul Armstrong
December 11th, 2006
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I completely agree, though I think my distaste with flash has smoldered a bit longer than yours.

There are some quite amazing things done with flash. Beautiful sites, excellent animations. The problem is I can’t bear to use them. Even with well designed flash sites, there’s a small learning curve “ok where’s the menu… ok how do I turn the damn sound off… ” etc.

While adobe has released some tools for searching, it’s a simply a band aid applied to a gaping wound. A couple big names will utilize it, but there are hundreds of search engines out there that never will. It doesn’t help.

Alex
December 11th, 2006
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“Search Engine SDK” is old news and Flash is still not nearly as search engine friendly as even not optimized HTML sites. Show me one competitive market in which s Flash site ranks well and I will reconsider this section of my article.

Thank you for the Adobe link.
Meanwhile I checked the “Accessibility case studies” on that page just to notice that e.g. the 1st one: http://www.glenbow.org/
does not use Flash except for the header, which is invisible with a text only browser. That means: Not even the text contained is visible.

The 2nd one, http://www.lighthouse.org uses no Flash whatsover or at least I can’t find it.

The 3rd one http://www.lighthouse.org/ is also a CSS only site (by now?) with a big W3C CSS button…

So all in all, I am not convinced.

Tadeusz Szewczyk
December 11th, 2006
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Paul. The statistics is based on sites that use the Webhits counter. They are usually based on German sites including Austria and Switzerland which amount to 8600 web sites in the case of the plug ins. So you could argue that is is not representative. But then again show me an independent statistic that has more accurate numbers. I simply do not believe the 96% of Adobe.

Tadeusz Szewczyk
December 11th, 2006
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Google has experimented with SDK, but has since pulled it from their algo. That said, I believe Flash will solve all of it’s usability problems in the very near future. Why? Because Adobe has opened the Flash code base to the makers of Firefox. It’s already possible to deep link using search engine friendly URLs. It’s possible to copy and paste Flash text. And as the accessibility argument looses ground, rich media sites will take the web by storm the way CSS sites did a few years ago.

Wise developers will begin positioning themselves now to be accessible rich media developers. That means developing web applications that spit out XML data that can be fed into Flash or stylized with CSS. I don’t think it’s an issue of Flash vs. HTML anymore, I think they are simply layers on top of one another providing progressive enhancement.

Justin Kistner
December 11th, 2006
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i wouldn’t be in such a hurry to deem flash as dead… it is obvious that there are really bad examples of flash websites, on which this article clearly seems to be based on, but that’s not to say that flash has no merit or future. i could object to every single “reason” that you stated, but i won’t. i feel that when flash is used for what it truly is, and not because “the client wants his site’s menu to have sound–hence we’re doing it in flash”, it shines. just check these out:

Vodafone Design File
Dont’t Click It
…..

hoosdat
December 11th, 2006
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I see you’re still stuck on the Flash 99% bad and Flash 99% good argument…

Personally I think there is two points you’re missing so far.

1) The scope of the website: you are considering all websites on the same level, I think there are (at least) 2 kinds of websites, the information websites (portals, communities, blogs, etc.) and the entertainment websites (ad campaigns, games, 3D, virtual environments, etc.).
Quite obviously Flash is a big limitation to information websites, lowering the usability and accessibility levels, it doesn’t add information and is quite bad for SEO.
For entertainment websites, I believe Flash is often necessary to create hi-impact user experiences, to handle video and deliver rich media websites. In this case, users need to be amazed and involved in a more interactive (and maybe less usable) experience.
And I think that in this particular kind of websites, usability and moreover accessibility are not that important to users.

2) The use of Flash: there are lots of methods to embed, deploy and code Flash to be more usable, accessible and SEO friendly.
The main problem is how developers use Flash in their websites. Full Flash websites versus small and unobtrusive Flash elements in a CSS design, for example. Flash elements can add visual appeal to plain standards-based websites, making them more attractive to customers. Websites using Flash components should degrade gracefully in non-compatible browsers (both older versions of Flash and JavaScript disabled) and developers should take care of providing alternative and significat content (images, text, not just a “Go and get Flash” link).
I cannot believe that such a use of Flash would be considered bad or a limitation to SEO and usability.

I think that those points should be taken in consideration when judging Flash, as we’re not talking about “Flash is good” or “Flash is bad”, but evaluating when Flash is right for the type of message we want to convey to our users.
And as always I believe technology is just a mere tool in our hands. I wouldn’t consider Flash guilty of what developers make of it.

By the way, it’s just my opinion…

Nicolò Volpato
December 11th, 2006
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Nicolò: I claerly stated in the 1st paragraph that there are lots of purposes Flash is good for. Nevertheless it’s not good for most of the sites out there. Those sites that you call the “information” ones. Indeed those are the majority of sites on the net.
Microsites for new products of multinational corporations work well in Flash, as do sites for photographers for instance. I can name you a few “excepitions to the rule”. The rule remains unfazed though.

Of course embedding Flashin CSS sites works well bu then you have to deal with the shortcomings of both Flash AND CSS not to mention the “interface” between CSS and Flash elements. Mort advantages of Flash vanish if you have to struggle with CSS workarounds for different browsers anyways.

Even if Flash allows SEO and Usability, I simply do not see it around the net. Why? Flash is obviously too complex for even senior developers to implement it whereas everybody can put up a Wordpress blog that is already optimized for search engines.

Tadeusz Szewczyk
December 11th, 2006
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Overall, I agree with your points about Flash, just not your attitude. I ride the fence between Flash and CSS/HTML with my development and have gone the route of hybrid sites. I’ll use HTML/CSS for the beef of the content (for SEO sake) and then pepper in some Flash to allow for great affects such as 360 product rotations and zooming in on products. (check out the Moose Racing website as an example)

It’s hard to search the web without running into crappy Flash ads, and that adds to the negativity surrounding Flash, but to respond to your #4, I have to say that I’ve had great success with making Flash accessible. In my case, I had to make an e-learning course which was very rich in audio and video 508 compliant. Using Flash, I was able to manipulate how the screen reader “read” the course and give the user the exact experience that we wanted. You can’t do that with HTML/CSS and the screen reader is forced to “read” each page as a whole for each new page the viewer visits. By using Flash, I was able to bring up new content without “paging” and still have the screen reader follow along with the page.

I’m still a fan of Flash because it has its place. A tool is a tool and there is no such thing as a silver bullet — it’s your job to use the right tools in the right places.

Josh Gormley
December 11th, 2006
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A tool is a tool and there is no such thing as a silver bullet — it’s your job to use the right tools in the right places.

Nail on the head.

Andrew Faulkner
December 11th, 2006
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Nice article. While I do believe that Flash will always have a place on the Web, it is increasingly becoming a specialty skill.

I haven’t been too current on the web design job market in the past year, but “back in the day”, knowing a bit of Flash and AS was a required or “nice to have” skillset for many web development positions. I now see many more job openings for designers who strictly build sites in Flash and have expert Actionscripting knowledge. Surprisingly, employers demanding both Flash and XHTML/CSS designers still exist and it is increasingly unrealistic to expect someone to know both really well.

I haven’t built anything in Flash for about 2 years and it’s amazing how outdated I am now, to the point where people may ask if I do Flash and I will just say “sorry, I don’t do Flash anymore”

There will come a day when we can have our rich media experience AND have accessible content but for now (and for a long time to come), we are stuck with two divergent camps.

Clinton
December 11th, 2006
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I think it’s a bit premature to pronounce the ‘demise of flash’. Ever been to youTube?

felix
December 11th, 2006
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Making flash websites is nice when you do stuff like this: http://www.reelrocktour.com/

A visual experience enhancer!

Johan
December 11th, 2006
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[…] Web design blog Fadtastic has an interesting editorial from a former Flash web developer on his reasons for moving from Flash-based website design to standards-compliant CSS design. Some of the points covered are fairly common points of argument in the Flash v. CSS debate (e.g., search engine optimization, accessibility issues for visually-impaired users, etc.), but the author goes on to make a number of interesting points. […]

stelt, thank you for the link. It seems to me though that Mars is intended for PDF replacemnt not websites as such.
At SVG.org the latest news about Adobe is: “Adobe SVG Viewer Discontinued”.

Josh, show me the application and I will write a follow up called “Flash accessibility myths debunked”. You might one of the few that managed to use it in such a way though.

Clinton, that’s exactly what I say to people: “I don’t do Flash anymore”. Not out of CSS dogmatism.

@ all: Check out this flashy site: It uses a little Flash on the front page but this animated subpage is not Flash:
http://rc.am/content/view/17/10011/
Click the images, it’s just JavaScript.

Tadeusz Szewczyk
December 11th, 2006
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[…] Web design blog Fadtastic has an interesting editorial from a former Flash web developer on his reasons for moving from Flash-based website design to standards-compliant CSS design. Some of the points covered are fairly common points of argument in the Flash v. CSS debate (e.g., search engine optimization, accessibility issues for visually-impaired users, etc.), but the author goes on to make a number of interesting points. […]

Josh, show me the application and I will write a follow up called “Flash accessibility myths debunked”. You might one of the few that managed to use it in such a way though.

I wish I could, but it’s a proprietary course and I don’t have the rights to do so. I should note that Flash accessibility (as far as what I did with it) is restricted to IE for now. IE has the corner on the market for screen readers and if you’re going to do any screen reader integration with Flash, you pretty much have to choose IE as a browser.

Working with accessibility in Flash was actually not too difficult once I got up to speed on it, but it was a daunting task to start on because 1) I am not blind, so using a screen reader was a new world to me, and 2) I had a helluva time trying to find any solid resources on how to do what I was trying to do even though Macromedia made great claims as to how easy it was. The main document that I used as reference was Best Practices for Flash Accessibility, which was put out by Macromedia. The cool stuff starts on page 10 (check out .silent and .forceSimple — they rock!), but the whole doc is worth reading.

Like Clinton said, Flash experience is becoming a specialty skill and you’ll need to find specialists for those big Flash sites/apps. It’s already hard to find a hybrid Flash/HTML guy and it’s only going to get harder because of how specialized the skill sets are becoming.

Josh Gormley
December 11th, 2006
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You’ve got to look at the point of view of the technology itself. You can do things with flash that go beyond the browser and no one else can do.

It’s a bit like pointing at the technology and saying it’s bad when really, its the people who use flash who are the people who you should be pointing your fingers at. Flash in itself is a phenomenal technology that can create experiences that are unparalleled. It is a high end, video, audio animation technology that allows someone to leverage existing database structures, etc.

Because it allows a lot of freedom, you can also have someone who does not know how to use it effectively.

You’ve got to take the position of when you were first on the web and everything was new and different. I feel that flash is for those guys. For the people who have been on the Internet for 10 years and all they want is content and data and facts, then that’s a bit different and maybe flash is not right for them and is just annoying.

In terms of your arguments:

1. Flash ads can be annoying, sure. But its done the exact same way on television. Ads can be annoying. That’s not technology’s falt though.

2. Use flash for what it’s good for and you wont have a problem with search engines. Content can be externally located so search engines can pick it up. I NEVER put text in flash — always external assets so it can be picked up.

3. Back button, deep linking support exists. Again, interfaces — ok that’s from your opinion. That’s not taking the viewpoint of someone who is new to the web and wants to be engaged by different experiences. Do you remember when you first went onto the net?

4. Dont do much work with this, but I heard it can be done.

5. This has never happened to me.

6. Flash is extremely simple to learn the basics of. If you want to get in the programming like ajax or java, flash allows you to develop in a rich java like programming environment. However, everyone starts with gotoandplay and builds from there.

You can build incredibly complex architectures with design patterns - sure. But that’s for people who know the actionscript business and java developer frameworks and can leverage their existing developer skills with flash.

www.osflash.org has hundreds of projects with flash that show the openness of the technology. Ever heard of MTASC? Open source actionscript compiler? SWFMill? FlashDevelop? as2lib?

7. Internationalization — ok. I personally develop with flash for 15 languages and have never had a problem except for 1 language. Hebrew. And even then I’ve been able to solve it by writing a custom parser that uses the system level Sp 2 rtl install which handles the text parsing in flash. Then you only have to install the Unicode RTL characters and voila! Hebrew shows up right.

Other languages I’ve never had an issue with including german, french, italian. Just make sure you have the right fonts installed.

8. No compliance with open standards?

Adobe is a chair in the ECMA Script 4 proposal and just contributed a boat load of the Tamaran JIT compiler to Firefox and modeled their new flex framework similar to the XUL specs.

Sometimes open standards get CREATED because of technologies like flash that spearhead the tech into an open standard. Flash has subsets of things, sure like CSS, but have you ever looked at DENG? a Css 3 flash viewer and svg importer.

You’ve got to look that the reason why flash is everywhere is because its simple to install — 1.2 megs, so loading it up in the player is a very hard decision. Go to osflash.org and see what I’m talking about and a load of your problems are handled with external libraries.

Flash is about the future and the web was built on HTML which is now getting stagnant. Flash, with apollo will revolutionize the desktop experience and web experience which will create incredible experiences for designers and developers. It already did with myspace.com and youtube, google video etc. Now it’s going to take on even more this next year.

Again, you’ve got to look at who is using the technology for ads and sites - not the technology itself. Have you ever looked at a movie site? Look at how engaging these are compared to a boring web site. But, again its a matter of who is your audience. Computer programmer? Give me content. Designer — give me an experience. Regular Joe — Give me an experience Ill remember.

That’s why flash rules. It can handle all three.

Bob
December 12th, 2006
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Tedious-z Szewczyk with an ill informed rant.

Almost every point made is based on false and outdated assumptions, and is just another piece of blustering design-fascism typical of web standards ‘zealots’.
(do zealots ever do anything but try to spread hate..?)

I’m sure Tadious would be happier if we all went back to communicating via papyrus scrolls written with quill, and the Earth once again was flat.

But hey, now your bearded friends in the web standards community will hail you as one of them .. together you can chant..chant , burn the Flash witch and its black magic, its sorcery..sorcery i tell thee!!!!…

Mark Anderson
December 12th, 2006
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I could probably go on for pages on each point, but I’ll just take a couple. One, those statistics make no sense. First they say that roughly 83% of users have either IE 6/7 or Firefox. Both come with some version of Flash preinstalled. Yet somehow only 53% still have it installed??? More than one third of those users UNINSTALLED Flash? Come on. Those are just bad stats.

Secondly, you admit you are basing your statements on Flash MX. That’s 3 versions and 4 1/2 years ago. That’s like basing a review of a Mac based on an iMac running OS9 or a review on Windows based on a Pentium II running Windows 98. Maybe not a year-to-year analogy, but technically pretty equivalent.

Keith Peters
December 12th, 2006
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@Bob: Deep linking support exists: SWFAddress

Leandono
December 12th, 2006
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Where do you see video, that has been historically using flash, moving to? What will be the preferred video format inthe next 18-24 months?

steve
December 12th, 2006
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Yeah, reading closely between the lines of your post it appears that more than a “demisse of Flash” what you are tempted to do here is a demisse of proprietary technologies as a base for web development.

I won’t comment on some technical inacuracies of your post since Keith, Patrick and others already did a good job on it. So let me comment on this bit:

Ask yourself from your own user experience: What’s the most annoying form of on line ads?

Now this is an argument that doesn’t hold itself. More details on why it’s bad logic here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_consequences

So, should we assume that if only Flash wasn’t out there, then intrusive ads and and intrusive sound would simply not exist on the web?

Now that’s a bit too naive, don’t you think? We should know better: abusers and advertisers are part of the economic model we live in and, as so, they **will** get their messages thru in the most intrusive manner they can, be it with Flash or something else. And let’s not be so quick to forget: before the Flash runtime there was the Java runtime to be abused, so looking in perspective, we should thank Flash evryday for preventing abusers from java-crashing our browsers evry day. ;-)

I really think it’s great that you decided to share your **personal** experience with Flash, which is undeniably based on true evryday challenges faced by most of us Flash developers. But doing it in the form of a technology bash post is not the most honest way to make a case for web standards and free software.

Not all sites should be in Flash? Of course not. Not all teams will successfully use Flash? Of course not. Not all clients will know when Flash is right for them? For sure. Usability and accessibility in Flash websites doesn’t come with buying the box? Agreed. But moving from there to a “let’s-demiss-Flash-for-most-websites” agenda is huge conceptual leap that only a libel against proprietary techonogies on the web would be willing to make.

Jay Araujo
December 12th, 2006
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You should read my blog entry “Why Flash websites are a really, really bad idea”. :)

http://hp.fuzzy76.net/archives/136-Why-Flash-websites-are-a-really,-really-bad-idea.html

Håvard Pedersen
December 12th, 2006
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What.a.load.of.********. Wasn’t this all first discussed and dismissed around 2003?

Paul B
December 12th, 2006
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How do i increase traffic to my site? Well it’s been a while since anyone slagged off Flash - that always generates plenty of traffic…

Mike
December 12th, 2006
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Bob, thank you for the thorough approach. I agree that you have to “to look at who is using the technology for ads and sites”.
All I can see is that many people say it’s possible but nobody does it. So there must be an inherent problem with it. Probably the complexity a I mentioned before.
Show me who did it and I will reconsider my critisism. Assumptions are not enough.

Thank you Josh, but, I’ve seen “Best Practices for Flash Accessibility” and I wonder why they are not accessible themselves. My text only viewer even shows en 404 error.

Keith, the statitistics are widely used in Germany. 3 years ago they showed 96% support for Flash. I know it’s easier to buy a forged statistic from the company that offers the product.
My assumpions are based on my experience as a former Flash Developer and as a current web user and website optimizer. So once again: I haven’t seen Flash sites that actually rank on Google along HTML/CSS sites. I haven’t seen usable and accesible Flash sites yet. I can not download images from most Flash sites, I can not bookmark them correctly as there are no deep links. So if the issues are resolved show me sites that do it right and I will embrace them. I wrote in the preface that I may err, so SHOW me that I do instead of insisting I do. Show me sites that proove me wrong and I will be glad that Flash resolved all those issues.

Leandono, thank you.

steve, of course Video, as mentioned above is one of the cases where Flash is most useful.

Tadeusz Szewczyk
December 12th, 2006
#

[…] Reading a very interesting blog posting about the demise of flash, I was left with the question: Is flash really in demise? And I wanted to add my thoughts as to why it should be. […]

[…] Tadeusz Szewczyk, an author on fadtastic, a web design trends journal wrote an ariticle yesterday chronicling the demise of Flash. […]

I think I should create a blog titled, “The ignorance and arrogance of standards purists…” What makes you think everyone wants to program in using your standards or for that matter, what makes you think everyone should? It’s my choice what I feel compelled to write software in, and it’s your choice whether or not to use it. That’s the beauty of choice. If you think Flash is dying, you should tell that to Microsoft (www.wallop.com), Harley Davidson (www.harleyDavidson.com), Nike (www.nike.com), GM (www.gm.com), Ford (www.ford.com), Yahoo (maps.yahoo.com), Flash Earth (www.flashearth.com), Disney (www.disney.com), SAPs integration with Apollo, EBay’s integration with Apollo, and the list goes on. Man, maybe you should go petition these stupid (yet extremely successful…???) companies on their ignorance for choosing Flash as a platform. It’s funny, their are more fortune 100 companies using Flash (in some sort) than not. Man their customers must be pissed, no accessibility, no deep linking, no back button support o my! Flash is not on it’s way out, but on it’s way up. Sit back and enjoy the ride :)

SuperD
December 12th, 2006
#

P.S. Here is an intelligent post regarding this discussion…

http://fadtastic.net/2006/12/03/anti-flash/

These “Everyone vs Flash” posts are getting repetitive and more and more ignorant. Here is someone with enough intelligence to write on the subject without Bias. Tadeusz, do yourself a favor and stop posting unintelligent posts only highlighting your ignorance on the Flash Platform. Maybe instead of posting repetitive information against flash, try to think of some places where it’s actually useful, and focus some energy on how to promote good usage. Anyone with half a brain knows that technology doesn’t make bad usage, developers do. I have seen pure HTML sites that are designed wrong and not accessible, what do you have to say about that?

SuperD
December 12th, 2006
#

developing a visual and interactive concept in flash is good from a commercial or moreover marketing point of view! The marketeers often link their direct mail campaigns to a flash commercial put on the web, the marketeers IMHO still believe in flash. In the end the real maverick flash developers with great graphic skills are more of a minority. But the flashy element or visual element still seems to go first and then all the technicalities to build flash. Also most flash commercials are just animated banners and not games all the time. I believe games in flash are used a lot as marketing tools as well, to keep the visitor on the website as long as possible, the visitor gets addicted to the game.

Johan
December 12th, 2006
#

Added … take a look at movie websites that promote their movies: you know with the trailer, the plot and the cast. I saw most of them and all have flash? But real movies and flash seem to go well together, the cinema effect can be well re-produced here by flash!

examples:

http://ladyinthewater.warnerbros.com/
http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/spiderman3/site/

Johan
December 12th, 2006
#

Thank you SuperD. You haven’t read my comments I guess, as I said that “multinational corporations work well in Flash”. Indeed they can afford Flahs sites. Nonetheless most of your examples arent’t really good ones if you really want to convince me. GM.com for instance, where is the Flash? I have difficulties in finding the Flash elements. Wallop has a flickering Flash header element that I perceive as rather annoying. It seems to be mainly one page if you’re not a member. Everything else seems to be http://www.wallopcorp.com/ which is non-Flash.

At Nike.com the Flash elements indeed have their URLs but when I go to http://www.nike.com/nikewomen/siteshell/index.jsp#,pl,24,,url;contents;dance2LA;rules
for instance, the menu says “zasady”, I won’t find this “zasady” through the Google “site:” search. Moreover I am even unable to select the text on that particular page. The site is also quite confusing. I wasn’t really sure where I am while there was stuff flying all over the place. Was it still Nike.com ? Or already Nike Women?
Harley Davidson seems to be largely HTML with Flash elements embedded, which is OK but does not really support the cliam that all Flash sites are really there to stay.
http://www.harley-davidson.com/wcm/Content/Pages/home.jsp?locale=de_DE

Ford.com has a Flash front page, but after clicking any link in the manu I end up on a HTML version:
http://www.ford.com/en/innovation/default.htm?referrer=home

Then of course there are Yahoo Maps and Flashearth. Both complex applications. Yes, Flash works well with complex applications at least if they’re main purpose is to impress visually. I mentioned that before. I like the latter and indeed I love Neave TV, it even lets you bookmark the subpages (the standard of HTML 1 is reached).

Flashearth doesn’t find my exact address though although Google Maps can by itsself.

I haven’t used Yahoo Maps until now. I’ll try it.
Next time take Neave.tv, it’ a good use of Flash, an exception to the rule.

I would prefer “smaller” sites though, I want to believe that Flash is also a solution for the non-corporate webmaster on his own.

Then I could argue that Flash is still something for the majority.

Tadeusz Szewczyk
December 12th, 2006
#

I think this is Flash at its best:

http://www.viddler.com/

It simply wouldn’t work as well or reach as many people if another technology was used.

My views are still that Flash shouldn’t be used to build a site, but by all means use it to produce areas of rich media and interaction, like the videos in my example.

Andrew Faulkner
December 12th, 2006
#

I didn’t mean to imply that the sites were total Flash sites, but that they incorporated it heavily. I should have been clearer on that part. What I meant to convey in my original post is that if Flash was in it’s demise, I don’t think we would be seeing so many companies still embracing it (whether if it’s to make a complete site from it or a just add some “eye candy”). Wallop is a Microsoft competitor to MySpace and was just released into public beta about 2 months ago. You won’t be able to see all of Wallop unless you get invited (that may change when it’s out of beta). What I can conclude with this conversation is that Flash usage is going up not down. Watching the industry the last few years I have seen many large corporations incorporating Flash into their sites in one form or another. Not seeing any decline in that trend, I can only assume Flash usage is on an incline, not a decline. To the standards argument, technology is unfortunately not always about what makes sense. I have seen good technology come and go. It’s more about acceptance and marketing. One thing I know about technology is that business owners don’t always care about accessibility, deep linking, etc. I have designed software for many years, for many large companies and I can honestly say I have only come across a couple of managers who actually were concerned with those points (Mostly working with the Government in one form or another). Most of them just wanted was a Flashy (pun intended) site, that would wow the executives. I don’t mean to say its right, but then again, we all know it’s not always about what’s right and wrong, its about what sells… I have a habit of this as well, I would much rather buy from a site that looks better, than from one that doesn’t. I feel if they put time and energy into making a site look great, they put themselves into a higher standard of companies. This could be achieved without Flash / Ajax / CSS - HTML, so it’s not necessarily a technological discussion point, it’s perception. For the most part, perception is reality.

I will apologize though, as my posts were posted in a bit of a heat. Your post isn’t that offending, although some of the people who commented with Links were, specifically the ones saying “Death to Flash”. I imagine I would spark a heated conversation with “Death to Standards”. That kind of topic is mearly fanatical, and only upsets people. I would bet they don’t have any real experience with the Flash Platform and are still stuck in the immature Flash days where eye candy was about the only thing it was good for. To them I say, swallow your arrogance, try Flex 2.0, give it an honest chance, then post your feeling on the Flash Platform. Its matured 100 fold since it’s version 5, 6, 7 days. With the introduction of Flex, I think the Flash Platform has been rejuvenated and look forward to what will happen with Apollo.

SuperD
December 13th, 2006
#

Very true, I continue to use flash but only as website components no full flash sites. Like you I believe flash is a cash cow for Adobe and will be milked to death. Which could be sooner than later if they don’t take note of every issue you state here

Cilin
December 20th, 2006
#

Very good article, thank you. Pozdrowienia z Polski (english: greetings from Poland)

Michał Stempień
December 25th, 2006
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I think u r a mad person. Flash is breaking records and it will going on…..

surjeet
January 3rd, 2007
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[…] The Demise of Flash: 8 Main Reasons There are 8 reasons, why Flash isn’t used that often in Web 2.0. […]

I think that all technologies should be used judicially on sites.
The ultimate goal of the site should be foremost in the architect’s mind - what is it for? Is it for entertainment? Is it to be used as an application? Are you using the technology for its own sake rather than with your site aims in your mind.

I think of flash as a gimmick that’s useful for some things but I’d never use it for an entire site. It’s too limiting.

Martin Byrne
January 15th, 2007
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[…] Here’s a nice article on the demise of Flash. Like the author, I too love flash sites. But there are also a lot of reasons why not to use it: […]

Preach on brother. I cannot even fathom building a site in Flash. Flash is good for “flashy” graphics and maybe some Multimedia apps but the lines are so blured with AJAX and CSS getting better and better that I see no need for flash.

But I have to know it just to be marketable.

Preach on.

Eric
May 23rd, 2007
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[…] 9 months ago I wrote the article “8 Main Reasons for the Demise of Flash” over at Fadtastic my goal was not to  get rich and famous but to stir discussion. Still in […]

SEO 2.0 | Flash Rocks!
August 2nd, 2007
#

I  think u r a mad person. Flash is breaking records and it will going on

Grafik
October 7th, 2007
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[…] design blog Fadtastic has an interesting editorial from a former Flash web developer on his reasons for moving from […]

Excellent article. I agree with most of your arguments.

Bob
July 19th, 2008
#

[…] design blog Fadtastic has an interesting editorial from a former Flash web developer on his reasons for moving from […]

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“Flash-Less Flash”
smarter web design
–>nickysworld.net

Nicky Mares
August 29th, 2008
#

[…] The Demise of Flash: 8 Main Reasons: es gibt 8 Gründe, weshalb Flash in Web 2.0 nicht benutzt und deshalb meistens gemieden wird. […]

The irony of this article is the fact that you are still getting comments agreeing with you almost 3 years later

Mike
June 9th, 2009
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Almost all of your points are moot, wrong, or aren’t true as of 2010. Flash isn’t going anywhere.

WallMountedHDD
April 13th, 2010
#

being a computer programmer myself makes me very proud of my job:”~

Erin Turner
August 12th, 2010
#

my sister is a computer programmer and she earns lots of buxx from it:.’

Eleanor Simpson
October 1st, 2010
#

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