23rd August 2017

Au revoir Flash

Digital Trends

You might have seen a lot about Flash in the news recently – it’s all stemmed from the news that Adobe, the creator of the Flash software and its development tool, has made the decision to stop updating and distributing the software.

Flash has been around since the mid 90s and pre 2000 grew from strength to strength. At the start of the millennium Flash was the ‘go to’ software to create animated elements – from interactive web sites and games, to playing video and sound files.

When I started my digital design career, my first job was to create TV adverts for local companies. These were designed in Flash. It was a great tool at the time to create quick motion graphics at the fraction of the cost of producing a full scale advertisement. We also used Flash to create websites for our clients. In those days there was no alternative if we wanted to produce creative websites and adverts without the limitations of web browsers.

Then along came the iPhone and with it a very public grudge between Adobe and Steve Jobs. The decision was made to not support Flash on any Apple device and when the tech giant stopped supporting it, the industry needed something to take its place.

This is when HTML5 came along and started to replace the tools we’d used Flash for in the past. Video players used specifically created video tags. HTML5 paired with CSS3 made website animations so much more sophisticated and widely available in the browser, after all, using Flash was dependent on someone having Flash Player installed on their device.

Since the launch of the iPhone and none-support of Flash, the industry has been adopting alternatives to make sure their websites can be viewed correctly across all media devices. This has been possible since the introduction of HTML5 and as digital designers we have been driving it to replace the interactivity we would have used Flash for in the past. Flash was a resource heavy solution, and we are always looking at a faster solution to implement our designs. Subsequently, the numbers of Flash usage has been slowly declining since HTML5 was widely adapted and supported - usage over the last 3 years has dropped from 80% to just 17%.

So, what does this mean now? There are still a few places where we still see Flash elements on a website and you’ll start to see these sites ask your permission to run Flash player.

We wouldn’t have been able to create interactive sections on our client’s websites, such as Love2Move, without the use of HTML5 and CSS3, and without relying on Flash. With Love2Move we wanted to create a high street scene that had a removal van driving down the street, selling the properties. This was created using lightweight and cross platform compatibility. The implementation of video on our own A&P website and projects that incorporate high quality video, such as Whitecroft Lighting wouldn’t be as tidy, neat and lightweight if we hadn’t utilised the newer video players.

Digital design has evolved from Flash to modern standards, so the abandonment of the programme was inevitable and things have progressed. Maybe the next step will be the evolution of HTML5, watch this space, but not with a Flash player!


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