As a student of the world wide web and all of it’s amazing capabilities and technologies for much of my life, I can’t help but hold a grudge against Flash. Being forced to learn this soon-to-be dated software seems slightly mundane, if not for the simple fact that most modern, forward-thinking designers and developers are beginning to move away from it. But instead of me just sitting here, griping and whining about how much I hate Flash, let me give you a couple of reasons why.
First off, for those who aren’t familiar, Flash is a program developed by Macromedia, now owned by Adobe. Flash allows web developers and designers the ability to add rich graphics, video, animations, and interactivity to websites and web applications in order to enhance the user’s experience. Sounds great, right? Let me tell you why I don’t like this program:
Search Engine Optimization
The first issue with Flash is that search engines cannot index Flash websites as efficiently as websites coded using HTML and CSS (open, standards-compliant technologies). Since Flash websites lack the use of heading, list, and paragraph tags; all of which are critical in increasing page rank in search engines (Google, for instance, seeks out heading tags as important information, often times using them as part of the website’s description). Websites built using flash also lack unique page URL’s, as most seem to be created using one file (again, search engines index different pages within the heirarchy; flash websites don’t allow this type of “crawling”). Also, Flash websites generally take a longer time to load than traditional HTML and CSS based websites. And God forbid you don’t have the latest version of Flash on your computer, you’d have to wait for that to update in order to view the page.
In its heyday, Flash was an excellent technology that could be used to create rich user experiences with computers and mice. It was a great desktop application at the time, but with the recent shift into touch screens, Flash is becoming less relevant (to the point where Adobe itself even phased out future mobile support of Flash). Besides the fact that Adobe discontinued supporting Flash for mobile, much of Flash on the web (besides video and audio) works in conjunction with fancy transition and animations based on hover effects. There is no concept of a hover or mouse-over with a touch screen (yet) — you’re either touching the button or you’re not.
The third and most important reason that I don’t care for Flash is that there are newer, open, and more standardized technologies available that can do much of the same things that Flash is able to do. HTML 5, which is the newest version of HTML, is capable of many of the features Flash has to offer. Adding video and audio, as well as drawing graphics on the fly are now within reach without the use of Flash.
So to sum things up, these are the reasons why I dislike Flash:
- search engines have problems crawling the website
- there is a lack of mobile support for it
- there are newer technologies that are becoming available that will offer much of the same functionality that Flash does
With regard to the last reason, let me just say that both HTML5, in conjunction with CSS3, aren’t quite mainstream just yet. Most modern browsers (IE9+, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera) support HTML5 and CSS3, but that still leaves my grandma who is still using Internet Explorer 6 and won’t upgrade — and who also won’t get to see the new HTML5 features. So until everyone begins using a browser that supports these new technologies, Flash will still remain relevant for some time.