Is Flash dead?

Adobe Flash

Adobe FlashAs all web developers know, they do not develop for themselves. These days there are more and more things to consider when developing a website: Google rankings, target audience, mobile device compatibility etc. And now you have had to add to the list, should I use flash or HTML5? Or both? Maybe a developer should keep two or more versions of their site and serve up the right version depending on the browser used to access the site.

To a student who wants a chance to become and stay relevant in a fast paced industry, what should be his/her strategy? His/ Her semester curriculum is already topped with things like Clouding computing, C or is C++ better? Why not C# instead? Windows vs Linux vs Mac OS and which to use. Php, Perl,Python and Javascript have to be mastered. What is Ruby? Do people still really use the Tomcat server?

For an ordinary user the questions do not become any easier. Should flash support still be a factor when I buy my new smart TV? Does the new tablet need to have a “supports adobe flash” sticker or logo somewhere on its box? Does it really matter anyway? Why is it Apple continues to refuse Adobe’s attentions.


Adobe’s answer a few years ago: Adobe appeared at  the IBC, and introduced Adobe Flash Media Server 4.5 and Adobe Flash Access 3.0. This, Adobe’s solution repackaged content in real-time, changing the protocol to suit the target device, HTTP Dynamic Streaming or HLS, for example. If you are little confused about what this means (or meant) then you are not alone. I am too.

Years before Ajax became a buzzword, Flash developers were building rich internet applications with state-maintaining clients. However all this was happening on the desktop. The major difference in creating a cross-platform runtime in our smartphone present as opposed to our desktop past is that instead of having at most three major platforms (Windows, OS X, and Linux) and a handful of browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and maybe Opera) to support, there are a plethora of platforms (Android, Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 7.5, Windows Phone 8, iOS, Symbian, MeeGo, Blackberry OS) and hundreds, if not thousands, of different devices.

Last year Adobe  announced in a blog post that from 15 August 2012 it would stop any new installations of its Flash Player onto Android devices, and that only devices which already had a mobile version of its Flash player already installed will be updated. Flash for mobile is dead therefore.

As said before, flash was more of a desktop thing however with the rise of HTML5, it is becoming less and less relevant. In fact it is now possible, as IOS users can testify, to live a Flash free life. In fact you should consider ridding your desktop of flash. Piece of advice: get rid of Adobe’s Reader and Oracle Java Runtime Environment unless you really need them.

Kaspersky the leading security firm agrees with me here. The company reports that all of the top ten most frequently detected vulnerabilities are to be found in Adobe or Oracle products. Almost 41 per cent of the computers tested were affected by a critical vulnerability in Adobe Reader for which an update has been available from Adobe since last autumn. However, the worst performer was Flash Player, which was responsible for six of the ten most frequently detected security problems. “The auto-update features in Adobe Reader, Flash and Java are clearly not yet managing to ensure a sufficiently comprehensive roll-out of the latest and most secure versions.”

The diagnosis: Adobe Flash is not well, has not been for a while. Prognosis: The developer is better served by stopping its use or developing and serving user agent based content. For example mobile users should be redirected to a site that is optimized for their devices. It is probably much more expensive but you will get points from mobile users who are the majority in this country. Econet alone has 1.8 million broadband users.

If you are a student you have to learn everything, I am afraid. There are two reasons for this: the student has to have an appreciation of the merits and demerits of flash as a way of channeling rich content to the user. Secondly the student, either on attachment or as an employee, might be tasked with maintaining a flash based system

As for the user: who cares? Just listen to the sales lady, enjoy her mesmerizing smile, suave voice and everything else. When the time comes just go with whatever she recommends. Try watching the Gangnam video on your favorite site. If that does not work have a fit and blame the site’s administrator, start a campaign on and leave a comment here so others can avoid the site and your worthless device of course.

So what do you think? Flash or no Flash? Flash or HTML5?

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34 thoughts on “Is Flash dead?

    1. Flash did not “die” many years ago, you’re a misinformed person. Flash simply found its niche. For example, for gaming, Flash is SUPERIOR in every way compared to the HTML5 stack with canvas. ActionScript as a language is so much better than the protoype inheritance mess of JavaScript. Sorry, but it’s true. Any experienced OO programmer would agree. Also, using the Flash authoring tools to package native iOS and Android apps using AIR is amazing. I direct the engineering group for a large gaming company and we are in the process of porting titles to HTML5. What a headache is all I can say, especially with sound. While HTML5 has a future, it is clearly in its infancy in terms of browser support. Isn’t that where html/javascript/css ALWAYS falls apart? Browser inconsistencies.

  1. Do people still really use the Tomcat server?

    Wrong question, you should ask yourself “which tool is the right solution to my current problem?” instead of following after the latest hipster tech, which might not be right for you.

    Flash is alive and well, and is still a valid solution to certain niches. Visit the website of an auto-maker, chances are, you’re going to need flash. The advantages of flash:

    1. 98% installation on desktops/laptops
    2. Top notch authoring tools. Try doing complex animations in ‘HTML5’… by hand. Yes, I know all about CSS transformations, but there is virtually no tooling whatsoever. No hope for tweening/keyframing*.
    3. Uniform runtime. No weird browser incompatibilities and subtle quirks to worry about, which is bound to spring up if you are doing non-trivial stuff (like when a client says they want a website that “pops”, but they don’t know how, exactly)

    There were people who abused flash, like all-flash websites (like the old – yuck!), but it has it’s place on the web. Maybe not for you.

    *Adobe is working on HTML5 authoring tools, but it’s going to be years until they leave beta

    1. HTML5 Tool will take years to leave beta?
      Did you just hear how that sounds? HTML5 is authored by any IDE there is on earth. You are uninformed.

      “1. 98% installation on desktops/laptops”

      100% html, js and css support without dependencies on Dekstops Mobile phones and Laptops, Invalid point! Franeworks like Cordiva enable aplication development using HTML and a hell lot of frameworks out there like app.js . Research and follow the industry is my advice to you

      “2. Top notch authoring tools.”
      Misinformed, Adobe discontinued any Flash development and fired all the Flash team falks ages ago. Adobe Shadow! Adobe Shadow! came out ages ago and is a great tool. A million online web aplication for css animations. You are misinformed on that too.

      “3. Uniform runtime.”

      Not a relevant argument, there are a million polyfills out already. Frameworks have completely ironed out the browser quirks you mention. jQuery is a brilliant example.

      “*Adobe is working on HTML5 authoring tools, but it’s going to be years until they leave beta”
      You are wrong, Adobe CS6 and any Old ancient IDE enables HTML 5 authoring. Myabe you need to read up what HTML5 is. I use a 2003 IDE for my HTML5 and CSS3 prototypes. You are very very misinformed on that sir.

      Its deadly to list points without having done enough research. Everything you just said is wrong, completely. Yes Flash is dead and that comes from me an Adobe Certied expert who after being certified the next year Flash was useless, havent used any of it since.

      1. I am very well informed, thank you. I didn’t need to research to post my last comment, but I will for this one in order to get citations

        When I say ‘authoring tool’, I don’t mean a glorified text editor. I mean an easy to use & understand interface like having a timeline and keyframes. Hand-coded CSS animation? LOL, that’s cute. For a moderately complex transformation, you’ll need to get a calculator and loads of scratch paper:not exactly 21st century tech.

        1. We are talking about HTML5 – name a single non-webkit mobile browser that supports HTML5 (i.e., mobile, but not smartphone). So no, HTML5 doesn’t have 100% support. Not a lot of browsers support the canvas element (don’t forget the article is about Flash)

        2. Adobe fired who now? You might have been confused by Adobe stopping development of Flash on mobile, it’s an understandable mistake. Flash CS6 was launched May 7 2012[1]. Adobe Edge (Animator, the HTML5 tool) had a 1.0 release in September 2012.[2]

        3. Jumping through hoops (frameworks) doesn’t disprove the fact that Flash is still a uniform runtime.

        I conflated 2 points: the HTML5 spec is not complete – how can Adobe produce a complete tool for an incomplete spec? (as an excercise: Could you please show me the HTML5 Audio API spec?)

        If you say I’m wrong on all counts, show me the supporting evidence for all your refutations (links will do).

        Flash is useless for you, it’s not useless for everyone. There is a world of a difference.

        1. The HTML 4 spec was constantly upgraded till the period were a new spec was suggested.
          Canvas is just but one HTML element, there are a vast other elements in the spec.

          ADOBE FIRED 750 PEOPLE ON THE 15 September sir! . There is no confusion there at all, you could have confused your self after reading that Wiki. Which should also have informed you of the JOB Cuts.

          A mobile non webkit browser that supports html5 sure I present to you IE 10 on the impressive Windows Phone 8.

          You should be aware that HTML 5 includes semantics which are understood by any browser engine. I have since started using HTML5 on all my client side HTML builds using HTML5 shims and I support browsers as low as IE7 in my test packs.

          If you arent good with your design yes you will produce horendous non native feeling apps. Any good weapon in a bad soldier will do the same. Metro Apps are build on that toolset and so will alll the office 2013 + apps.

          I didnt say flash is not a uniform runtime. I said as you claim there are pollyfils which is right.

          Development tools are not help back because Language specs sir! An IDE is an IDE the code you write is completely independant of what the compiler makes of your instructions not unless you are a WYZYWIG developer.

          I keep the the bleeding edge of anything there is in my industry. If flash is disproved on most plartforms I intend to build I have no reason to keep it in my toolset.

          1. You said:

            Adobe discontinued any Flash development and fired all the Flash team falks ages ago

            the article says:

            Adobe announced in an email yesterday that it is halting development on future mobile versions of Flash

            Tell me again; who is confused?

  2. I moved on with life after adobe reader when i was at college and i had a PC with 128MB Ram and running a 800Mhz processors (and 2Gb Harddrive…strange huh??)…i didnt have the resources and Adobe needed them, so we divorced and i lived happily ever after!!

    And flash… i care? I dont. Let it go, i have no hard feelings!!

  3. For presentation, its excellent! It has been abused but its alive and convenient when used appropriately. Do you know GMail uses it? Google Analytics even more extensively. Its power is size + quality(vector) + programmability. And you posted a YouTube… thats answer enough. It an appropriate medium for media streaming. Even on sites that sell mp3s, nothing beats the flash “sample” player….I could go on.

    With a risk of sounding condescending, I think an article should include a bit of research on a subject matter.

    1. I had to adjust the depth of the article to suit all type of readers. It was not easy but after the process I ended up with the current version. Something between a white paper and a tabloid publication.

    2. “HTML5 dznt quite do it. It cant touch flash even in super pursuit mode (super-per-super, for us who had no clue growing up)”

      Sir you are wrong, Flash used by Youtube is only used if you are on a browser dumb enough to not support HTML5 by default.
      You can enable your browser to not use Flash, I dectivated all the flash stuffs on my browser and life has never been any better.

      1. Google says most YouTube videos are streamed through flash

        Dont get me wrong, in terms of the future, I do not argue that it lies with HTML5. Mainly due to it being standards driven, requiring no plugin. I still insist that,when it comes to CURRENT adoption and usage, Flash 5 still has the majority market share, HTML5 dznt come close.

        Besides all that, the best question is what do I want to do, for whom on which device I am targetting?

        1. Yes Google will support Flash since many older browsers arent HTML 5 compatible. If you disable flash life still goes on and youtube will still work given you have a edge release of a browser.
          I personally hate Flash right now. I’m real good with Flash Motion animation and Action Script. When CSS3 came along I went crazy on it, even thought of a browser based carton. Will post some frames of it on my blog sometime.

          Adobe itself officially closed the flash department why are there people still in support of the plartform {Thats beyond me}. Was Flash made Open Source for continued development? No {Why a developer would bet on such a plartform} thats also beyond me.

          HTML 5 is nothing gold and glitter like its talked about. Its the same old stuff a frontend developer is expected to know. HTML5 is possible to an extent today. There are many pollyfills out already that make it possible.

          Best advice is “Dont target anything in specificity”, work hard to support a wide range of plartforms. That obviously comes at the expense of your client. If I want to animate something I dont even think of Flash, If I want to build a webapp, I dont even come close to thinking of Flash. If I think of history I do think Flash. Will there be a funeral for flash nope, times are hard to bury such technologies. When money calls for a flash product go yea therefore and put that horendous ding dong hover sound on all links.

    3. I think Flash is useless for presentations, it’s too time consuming and sucks up useful time that should be put into other jobs. There are much better ways to present these days that are quick and easy and still look better then PP. Flash is a fantastic program it really is, it’s such a shame that the interface and the FS interface weren’t taken further along time ago. Macromedia stuffed around with animation effects for too long and not focusing on UI and the interface of the program itself. It was too animation based. ( Clearly ) the coders didn’t get it.

  4. Yes HTML5 is the future but just as much as the transition from IE6 will take time, so will the transition to HTML5 mind you HTML5 is still in beta at W3C its not a standard yet. Many people went all HTML5 when the technology was over-hyped but many have rolled back to using Ajax. HTML5 is a beautiful piece of technology that will really revolutionize web application development, the 3 horseman (html, css & javascript) of the web will have more power coupled with svg and smil the distinction between web developers and web designers wil become more apparent and web engineering/web science will grow as a standalone academic field of study.

  5. This Flash vs HTML 5 debate is a farce

    HTML 5 does not do what flash does – JavaScript does.
    HTML 5 is nothing more than some new HTML tags which have been invented.
    HTML 5 cannot animate and it is not a programing language.

    Javascript however can animate and it has always been a programming language.

    Over the years javascript libraries have been created to make certain things
    which are theoretically possible with javascript easy such a jquery moolools and spry.

    People praise the HTML 5 canvas tag
    however the animations done by this tag can only be done using javascript and people have been using divs in place of canvas for years.

    People praise the HTML 5 video tag
    none flash video/audio was used in browsers many years ago (i mean back in the days when it was rare because we all had 56k connections so video was out of the question and all you could realistically have was the occasional background audio), but each browser supported different video/audio file formats so a different file of the same video/audio had to be provided for each browser. Flash allowed videos to be delivered to all devices (well browsers back then since mobile devices did not exist back then) with just a single format. HTML 5 video takes us back to the days when we has to provide a separate video format for each browser.

    If anything the debate should be Flash vs jquery, mootools, spry ect

    1. You are completely wrong.

      HTML has what are called HTML api. Those run through javascript. Please go back and learn. HTML5 is a toolset that includes frontend technologies.

      Learn more about what are called HTML5 Apis

      1. He’s not wrong regarding Canvas tag. You use JavaScript to create animations and interactivity for canvas.

  6. i am not touching any tech that is prone to execute code differently.

    – you know the difference when the client calls and yelling it doesn’t work on his bitch’s PC because the bitch is at M$ and loves IE.

    – you know the difference when you write 2000 lines of JS just to realize that some browsers don’t know what an Array is.

    – you know the difference when you have to write 100 lines of code to blur an image not to mention the learning phase and the issue with performance and concurrency

    and this is why we need Java, Flash and others like it.
    the web plugin is a necessity because some browser developers are more stupid then others

    1. @facebook-100000988906612:disqus just here to help…. will go ahead with my daily tasks after this.
      I dont know unfortunately the ddiffrences outlined. Your client at Microsoft who happens to be a bitch shouldnt be called a Bitch coz Flash’s runtime works amaaazing with IE.

      A browser that doesnt understand what an Array is? It can only have been made in Zimbabwe, yet to here of such a browser.

      Why you would write 100 ines to blur an image, I think you should just stop and join the army.

      Java and Flash and which others ? —- the two are diffrent enough already

      I think Im more stupid than every other developer now that I think of it

  7. Flash is dead to to me because it no longer supports Linux, thus I’m unable to migrate one of my Flash-based-game addicted users to Linux.

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