A few years ago, Adobe Flash was all over the Internet. If you watched a video, you were using Flash. Animations used it. Whole pages used it, especially gateway pages to websites. Today it’s clearly on the way out. The iPhone and iPad don’t support it. The latest versions of several browsers discourage its use. In a few years, sites that depend on Flash will be unreadable by most browsers.

What happened to Flash?

Two things happened that changed this. First, Flash is suffering increasing problems from age. Second, HTML5 provides better ways to do the same things.

Adobe Flash is a proprietary plugin for browsers that adds video and scripting capabilities. It began life in 1995 as FutureSplash Animator. Later it became Macromedia Flash, Shockwave Flash, and Adobe Flash. When a complex body of computer code stays around for a long time, it gets steadily harder to maintain. Internet security issues were almost nonexistent in 1995, so the original design of Flash didn’t have security as a primary concern.

Today, Adobe is struggling to fix bugs in Flash as they appear. Their software engineers work hard on it, but serious security problems keep turning up. In addition, it’s inefficient for many uses and slows down page display.

Migrating to HTML5

HTML5 doesn’t mandate any particular file format for video, but it provides a standard way to include video files so that a browser can play video in whatever formats it supports. Third-party software is no longer necessary. For a while, the HTML5 community split over which video formats to support, but today support for MP4 H.264 is nearly universal, and the WebM and Ogg Theora formats are widely supported. Many sites provide video in alternative formats to maximize compatibility.

In a short time, we can expect most actively maintained websites to drop Flash or make it a secondary option for compatibility with older browsers. This is bound to lower Flash’s reputation even more, since the only sites requiring it will be poorly maintained ones.

Websites that use Flash will have to migrate to HTML5 in the next few years. If they have a lot of video content, this can be a daunting job. Careful planning, conversion work, and testing will be necessary. For the short term, it could be worth keeping Flash as a fallback option, since not everyone has the latest browsers. It’s better to proceed carefully than to rush into a bad conversion. It could be a good idea to consider a full redesign of the site, to get the best return on the effort.

Unidad22 can handle your web design and development needs, giving you a site that will meet the Web’s latest standards. Please contact us to learn how we can help you.