Everyone is saying that flash design is dead for websites. Besides the issue of compatibility with "iDevices", why else should flash be kicked out the designer's door?

  • To answer the question you asked before it got edited: Flash has historically been a bad security hole, and a processing power-hog. Try running a Flash game on, e.g., a slightly older Mac and performace sucks while the fans kick on max to try to cool the overloaded processor. Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 15:17

2 Answers 2


I've edited your question so that it's not as vague/subjective.

HTML5 doesn't really replace any particular aspect of Flash in that HTML5 is simply and updated spec for HTML.

That said, many people refer to HTML5 as being an all-encompassing concept that includes CSS3, AJAX, custom browser CSS (like Safari's transitions), new video codecs native to the browsers, and typically a nice helping of JavaScript.

Those in combination can do a lot of the things that we had to rely on Flash in the past for.

Where you really don't need to use Flash anymore include:

  • UI transitions (animations, fades, etc.)
  • Video
  • audio

Where you may still need flash would be for complex interactions such as gaming, though, in time, much of that will go the way of native support in the HTML5 package as well.

  • Thank you, DA01. This was concise, brief, and at my understanding level. Best Answer. Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 18:00

Rumors of Flash's death are greatly exaggerated, but whether you personally should toss it depends on your market, the kind of work you're looking to do, how well you know Flash as an authoring tool, and your clients. The answer that's right for you depends on all these. This answer will be a bit long, because there's perspective involved (as a fogey, I get to have more perspective -- one of the advantages of fogeyhood) and at least one controversial prediction.

When HTML5/CSS3 finally settle down, and browser support catches up, many things that currently require Flash will be done with HTML, CSS and various javascript libraries, but we aren't there yet. The amazing Expressive Web site Adobe commissioned (entirely HTML5 and CSS3) gives a detailed look at what HTML5/CSS3 can do at the current state of the standards. It also shows the very uneven CSS3 support across the major browsers. (You pretty much have to view it in Chrome >12 to see everything working.)

Consider, too, that the CSS3 spec is a l-o-n-g way from being complete at this point. I have one (XHTML) client site I'm dying to switch to HTML5, but looking at the visitor browser specs, I don't dare. Most people aren't going to switch to Chrome just so a site will look good; they'll just go somewhere else.

Flash (including Flex, etc.) is also evolving rapidly, beyond where HTML5 is going. If the creative community has anything to do with it, and they will, Flash will continue to boldly go where no browser has gone before, no matter what's happening at W3C. There are just too many talented creatives working in Flash and Flex for them to wither away in the foreseeable future. Now Flash 11 has real 3D and efficient GPU utilization in mobile and desktop systems. Unreal Engine, of all things, has now been ported to Flash. That was pretty stunning news. Epic's CEO demoed a full-on 3D First Person Shooter running live at full speed in a browser, complete with stuff blowing up, physics-driven particle systems and flame throwers. You probably wouldn't want to try that in javascript.

At the same time, Adobe has built tooling to allow Flash Pro to export to HTML5+javascript so that a dev will be able to author once and publish everywhere. They've also been making big contributions to jquery and CSS3. Give it a few years, and smaller web projects that might have used Flash will all be done with HTML5 and js.

So why would Flash survive? Because a lot of big commercial sites will need it. Hollywood, to take one example, has to be able to build rich interactive sites quickly and know that the user experience will be the same across browsers. iThings aside (they are still a tiny percentage of web visitors overall), there's just too much that you can't rely on with HTML5 as yet. It's not a matter of a quick shim to cope with IE6 any more. It's four major browsers in various versions plus a couple minor ones all supporting different parts of the draft standards, all changing with each new release, and you still need a shim to cope with IE6. Flash has the huge commercial advantage of being a constant, and a rapid development environment -- both important if your livelihood depends on time-to-market.

In the same time frame as HTM5/CSS3 standardization, web-based applications and cross-platform/cross-device apps that use the web will become way more important; users love them and our clients will have to provide. Where we used to build websites, we'll be building the web and mobile apps that will replace them. Think of apps as the small furry animals scurrying under the feet of huge website dinosaurs, destined to take over the world. Flash and Air definitely have a place in that landscape, so regardless of the final output format, Flash looks to me like it will remain a viable authoring tool.

I highly recommend watching the full video of the Day 2 keynote from last week at MAX. It gives a pretty good overview of where HTML, js, Flash, etc., stand and where Adobe is going with all of these technologies.

  • 1
    Some good points, but I have to contest a few 1) Flash isn't necessarily any more of a RAD than any other. 2) iOS support is an issue and likely should be more of a consideration than IE6 issues and some HTML5 (ironically/surprisingly, HTML5, in and of itself, works OK in IE6 with some very simple fixes).
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 23:26
  • That said, I sure hope Adobe can salvage Flash as an IDE, even if the file format is EOLed sooner than later. Ironically, Adobe was big on open standards like SVG back when they competed with Macromedia. I think they took a lazy step backwards when the bought Macromedia and ignored the standards stuff they had been working on for so long.
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 23:27
  • From conversations I've had with various Adobe people, I think it was more that they spent the first few post-acquisition years concentrating on integration -- the Creative Suite evolution was already in full swing, and now they had a whole new set of products to integrate. Then came Apple's switch from Carbon to Cocoa. There are only so many engineers. But they've always been active in W3C, in publishing standards bodies, and contributive to webkit and now jquery. It's not a matter of willingness, but of resources. Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 0:50
  • True, though when we're talking corporations the size of Adobe, resources is a matter of willingness. ;)
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 2:39
  • You'd think, but that's really not how it goes. Each product has its own team. Each team has a huge laundry list of stuff they want to do, but only so many folks to work on it. They have to make hard decisions every release cycle about what has to be done, and the internal discussions can be quite... um, lively, from what I hear. Finding more of the right kind of talent to hire is a lot easier said than done, these last few years. It's scarce throughout the industry. Commented Oct 14, 2011 at 21:39

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