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One of my clients today asked me to study some banners for a slider they have on their site's homepage, I went there to take a look, and suddenly "I saw FLASH".

My first reaction was to write them back and try to let them change the slider in order to use some other technology (JavaScript, or static images), but, trying to get some screenshot of the broken page viewed via an iOS device, but... I can see the page normally, via a MAC book pro, an iPad2, and some random mobile devices (Android, win phone etc.), so the question is... Did flash get back in town? Do we have to start thinking about inserting adobe flash into design workflows as 10 years ago?

Do someone has some information about it? I could only find the famous "about flash" letter by Steve on the Internet, but nothing about the resurrection of Adobe Flash actually.

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  • If it worked in the Safari browser on an iPad, it’s not Flash. Did you verify that when you “saw FLASH”, what you were seeing was actually Flash content? Nov 13, 2015 at 12:01
  • on the mac book pro, with chrome, i see the flash player, with safari, I see something that resemble flash, but it could be a fallback, it is a bit different, especially into the translation which are a little odd. I'm not a good user of the mac book, and honestly, I don't know how to inspect O:) Nov 13, 2015 at 12:44
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    Just right-click on the area itself—if it’s a Flash Player, it will have a Flash context menu that looks something like this. If you get a normal context menu (View source, Inspect element, etc.), then it’s not a Flash Player. Nov 13, 2015 at 12:48
  • oh, thanks, ok, on safari is a fallback of some kind (seems a js animated slider), thanks a lot! Nov 13, 2015 at 12:49

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Many sites use Flash fallbacks. They detect if the browser supports flash, and if it doesn't, they swap in some alternative content instead. Usually it'll be a static image, sometimes it might be a GIF animation or a simple JS widget. Sometimes, if it's a well made fallback, it's almost impossible to tell them apart without using an "inspect element" type DOM inspection tool (which is very difficult to do on mobile devices), especially if the Flash did little beyond offering mouseover interactivity you wouldn't expect on a mobile device anyway.

This isn't a new thing - people did it before Apple stopped supporting Flash, often for users who weren't allowed to install Flash (e.g. government or hospital workers with very locked-down computers). Flash fallbacks are almost as old as Flash itself.

So, on your computers with Flash, you see the Flash version. On mobile devices and computers that don't have Flash, you see whatever they used as a "fallback". It's not flashed, but someone will have worked hard to make it look as much like the Flash widget as possible.


It's not just old or obsolete sites and widgets that use Flash fallbacks.

Occasionally, some modern or semi-modern web widgets prefer flash if it's available, and switch to a modern HTML5 recreation of the Flash features if it isn't. This is often the case when a company has commercially sold some kind of web widget for many years, it was originally in Flash, it's most stable in Flash, so they prefer to use the older, tried-and-tested Flash version if possible because the new HTML5 version is more like a prototype, or because they're worried about varying browser implementations of HTML5.

Very occassionally they have some legitimate non-historical reason for preferring Flash. There are a couple of things Flash does / did that HTML5 doesn't do, which means the Flash version might have features the HTML5 version can't do in a browser. Often these are not pro-user however (e.g. DRM), or niche features involving things like webcams.

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    I believe YouTube now uses HTML5 as the default, offering Flash only as a fallback for older browsers that don’t support the necessary HTML5 techniques. Their HTML5 page now allows you to choose the HTML5 player “if your browser doesn't use it by default”, which—if memory serves—is different to how it was worded when they first introduced the HTML5 player as an opt-in feature. Nov 13, 2015 at 12:50
  • Okay, I'll edit that part out Nov 13, 2015 at 13:08

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