Over the past few weeks headlines have been screaming that Flash is dead and it must be phased out completely. Facebook has also called for it to be pulled and Firefox has banned it from their browser.

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The main reason for this is the security risks that it poses and you only have to ask yourself which software on your computer is updated the most? Most people will say that it’s Adobe Flash which should make you wonder why we should still use Flash.

Another annoying trait that Flash hash is the ability to crash multiple tabs that maybe open in your browser. If you have two or more browser tabs running websites that are using Flash plugins, all those tabs running Flash will crash if one of the Flash plugins crashes. This can be very annoying especially if one of the tabs is buffering some video.

Adobe Flash is a multimedia platform for adding animation and interactivity to web pages and has been around since 1996. As Flash became more popular it was used to create banner advertising, online games, camera streaming and for watching TV series and movies online. Companies and websites that still use Flash include the following:

  • Accenture
  • Amazon Prrime
  • BBC
  • Cisco
  • Dell
  • Deloitte
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Google
  • HP
  • Irish Times
  • Irish Independent
  • J.P. Morgan
  • Oracle
  • PayPal
  • RTE
  • Speedtest
  • Starbucks

Most of the companies and websites mentioned above are using flash to stream video files and to display advertising.

If Flash is to go, what will replace it? There were two products that were competing with it, HTML5 and Silverlight. HTML5 was widely touted to replace Flash 2 years ago but this has not happened yet and Silverlight which was created by Microsoft, who no longer issue updates, will stop supporting it in 2021 and they have also said it won’t be compatible with their new Edge browser.

HTML5 got a big boost in 2010 when Steve Jobs published a letter titled “Thoughts on Flash”, and he stated that concluded that “Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content” and that “new open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win”. After the letter was published open debates on Flash v HTML5 started with different browsers been the main reason why there was no clear winner.

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Since November 2011 Adobe has stopped development of Flash for mobile devices and has started to focus on developing tools using HTML5.

All we need now is for more companies to openly take the plunge and move from Flash to HTML5. YouTube has already moved to HTML5 as has Netflix but Amazon Prime is still using Silverlight and there is no indication of when they will move to HTML5. If your website was developed by a third party, they may have developed it using a Flash template. If your website is running banner ads such as Google ads, they will be using Flash. Since HTML5 is open source and there is no licensing required adopting HTML5 will be easier. In the meantime, next week I will publish a little guide on Irish Tech News which you can use to see if your website has any flash components.

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