Should we still be using Adobe Flash?
In the late nineties, I cut my teeth on what was then Macromedia Flash 3. In conjunction with its use of vector graphics, it’s extremely user-friendly interface made it a powerhouse in web development and animation, an accolade it would maintain for many years to come.
Though the web is a rapidly changing beast, the beginning of the end for Flash came from what was essentially a childish feud. The late Apple CEO and well known eccentric Steve Jobs was vexed at Adobe for not developing their creative suite for the iMac. When the ground-breaking iPhone was released, the Adobe Flash plugin was not supported, a direction they maintain to this day on all iPhones, iPods and iPads, a demographic that certainly can’t be ignored. But what may have begun as a petty tiff may have well been the push Adobe needed to consider alternatives in the face of a rapidly changing web universe?
Whilst at University, I frequently engaged in heated debates about the future of Adobe Flash. CSS3, HTML5 and JQuery’s new technologies were due to explode onto the scene and offer a powerful alternative to Flash. Still, my argument was (and remains) that the aforementioned technologies will never see the same sort of mass adoption as Flash until there is a user-friendly application that allows content to be created easily as it can be in Adobe Flash Professional.
Sure enough, in recent times, Adobe has created several applications that can create rich web content without the need for Flash. Muse is a program that allows users to create entire websites without the need for coding knowledge, and Edge Animate is a fledgeling animation program that shows good potential.
Despite these revelations, there is no like for like alternative to Adobe Flash, which leads us to the question, should we still be using it?
Well, firstly, let’s have a look at the following facts about Flash usage on the web. (Accurate at the time of writing – December 2012)
- Flash is still used by over 21% of all websites.
- It’s used on major sites such as Google and Facebook
- Over 70% of browser-based games are Flash-based
- 75% of internet videos are Flash-based
- Flash SEO is more difficult but not impossible
So should you still be using Flash? As with most things, there isn’t a clear cut answer to that. There are several situations where Flash is still superior, but as a rule of thumb, if you can do it without Flash, then don’t use Flash.
Flash is a fantastic tool, and if you’re talking about those rich interactive web experiences, then it is, for the time being, still a weapon of choice. Several leading agencies are using it religiously and rightly so. Still, even the most devout Flash-boy would be a fool not to be (at least) looking into alternatives about now. Sadly for me, Flash looks destined to be a fond memory, and not much more.