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Summary:

Over on Ghacks, Martin Brinkmann describes how he has been living without Flash installed on his work computer, due to an increase in the number of hacks targeting Flash. Brinkmann’s now four weeks into his experiment, and says he mostly hasn’t missed Flash.

Over on Ghacks, Martin Brinkmann describes how he’s been living without Flash installed on his work computer, due to an increase in the number of hacks targeting it. Brinkmann’s now four weeks into his experiment, and says he mostly hasn’t missed Flash, although there have been times when not having it has been awkward. In particular, he’s found not being able to view Flash videos difficult, although he lists a number of workarounds, including using YouTube’s experimental HTML5 video player, downloading videos to view them, and using the developer version of Chrome (this one could be described as cheating, as it has native Flash support built in).

It seems that getting by without Flash is becoming easier (there’s no Flash on the iPhone or the iPad, for example), and I’m looking forward to a future where open technologies like HTML5 will render Flash obsolete (for more about why open standards matter, see my interview with Bruce Lawson of Opera). However,  even though HTML5 video is becoming more commonplace, and I don’t come across Flash-based websites quite as often as I once did, I don’t think I could do without having Flash installed on my machine just yet. Personally, I don’t believe Flash is enough of a security risk or a resource hog to force myself into having to use workarounds to access web content on a daily basis. What do you think, though? Could you live without Flash?

Photo courtesy Flickr user e³°°°, licensed under CC

  1. Many websites use flash for most of their design, for things you wouldn’t even expect and sometimes it overcomplicates the navigation. Living without flash videos (like the endless links to youtube) I can manage just fine.

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    1. ●●●●●●●● ↓↓↓↓↓↓ ●●●●●●●● Friday, April 30, 2010

      ★ Flash has always been there, for what HTML couldn’t do ★ |✿ And Flash, will always be there, for what HTML can’t do ✿

      § Read it one more time § Now you know. ☺

      ☞ tags: °RIA, °Animation (in less than 100K lines), °RTMP, °Online Collaboration, °Conferencing, °AIR, °AMF, °3D, °Cross-Browser, °Cross-Platform – Works-Today, HTML5 specs – Future (in 10 years).

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  2. Yes. I can live without Flash. I agree with many of the points raised by Apple today.

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  3. I don’t think it’s a question of whether it’s possible. The only question is how quickly will the migration happen and will site owners be prepared for it or will they be blind-sided when a growing tide of non-Flash mobile device users begin hitting their site – only to find it out doesn’t quite work as well. Like it or not, Jobs is single-handedly killing off Flash.

    Unless Apple happens to buy Adobe (highly unlikely), the choice is to somehow deal with it or suffer the consequences.
    http://thewellrunsite.com/2010/04/29/steve-jobs-give-flash-the-finger/

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  4. The question is: Can you live without movie trailer Web sites, and videos? HTML5 video will slowly kill off Flash starting in the middle of May…

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  5. HTML 5… if all the politics can be set aside is a “next best hope” as the saying goes… unless adobe converts to GPL .

    I like the standards approach but I’d hate to think we’d end up in a beta-max versus vhs type of schizo.

    I’d think even some of the developers at Adobe would like to figure out some common ground.

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  6. The great thing about Windows and using Chrome is, I have a choice. I can turn off all plugins and only activate them per site. That is exactly what I do. Flash rarely ever gives me a problem. There was a time when it was very buggy in browsers. As for CPU usage, it seems higher than some video players but not 2x or anything close to that.

    As far as living without it. NO, I’ve tried and there are too many major sites that I use for productivity (actually producing something and not just consuming it) that need flash even if it’s for minor things. Notice, I didn’t say video as I don’t watch much video via the browser.

    I don’t think flash is going anywhere, personally. I think they will adapt with the new technology just as they originally did. There is a reason why it’s been used so widely.

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  7. David McCormack Thursday, April 29, 2010

    I could live without Flash no problem. My kids on the other hand most definitely could not. They are 9 and 5 and all of the sites that they use regularly require it. In many respects, the iPad would make an ideal device for ‘family’ Internet access. The lack of Flash is a show-stopper however in my case.

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    1. But, if you had an iPad the kids would have a ton of native games/apps and probably wouldn’t be hitting those Flash sites

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    2. If you had an iPad with all the native apps/games the kids would probably not even visit Flash sites – Problem solved :-)

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  8. Vlad Kravtsov Thursday, April 29, 2010

    I’m going to have to side with Apple on this one. Flash is almost unusable on my Macs, and it’s nothing to write home about on Windows either. So yes, I can live without Flash, as a matter of fact, none of my home computers (4 Macs, 5 PCs) have Flash installed.

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  9. HTML5 will probably eventually take over Flash video, but that’s a long way off. HTML5 is basically Flash Player 6 in terms of video (basic features). Also, people don’t update their browsers. Real Web developers will basically have to wait until IE9 is the lowest common denominator before going with HTML5 for their video needs.

    The other major areas where Flash is used is for 1) Banner ads and 2) Casual gaming.

    Most banner ads could conceivably be created with HTML5, but that would be a huge pain even if the creative tools were there as they are for Flash. The whole ecosystem (DoubleClick, etc) is based on uploading a SWF/GIF. I also just can’t see telling a client that you have to go backwards in terms of the features you can create in a display banner (because HTML5 is not as powerful as Flash in terms of animation, etc).

    As far as casual gaming, there’s no alternative really. I’ve seen some interesting experiments, but the idea of coding a game in cross-browser JavaScript makes my eyes bleed just thinking about it. Coding a simple game in HTML5 might be plausible, but where’s the business case (would take much longer. Flash games need to developed rapidly to make $$$). Where’s the creative tools for the designers? Where’s the ecosystem to support it? Even if all these were available right now for HTML5 and all browsers supported it today, why go backwards in terms of features you can include when Flash is available to 98% of your audience and offers much richer game interaction?

    So, yeah going without Flash is a nice thought but not a real alternative for real businesses, developers and users for the use cases noted above.

    p.s. Full disclosure – I make my living 50/50 Flash/Regular Web UI development.

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  10. 3 simple points:

    1. HTML5 video is a long way off in terms of consistent browser support. Basically, we need IE9 to be the lowest common denominator that users have (where IE6 is now). Even if it were 100% available, HTML5 video is not as feature-rich as Flash video solutions and doesn’t have the same creative tools & ecosystem built up over the last 10 years. Still, I think it’s the future. Eventually.

    2. Most banner ads are possible with HTML5, but the tools & (huge, multi-million dollar) ecosystem are all based on uploading a compiled SWF/GIF. Nobody likes banners, but they support many sites, including this one. Futhermore, how can we tell clients that we must go backwards in terms of features we can offer in creating banners? I don’t see a business case for dumping the current system.

    3. Casual, browser-based gaming. HTML5 is not an alternative. I’ve seen some interesting experiments, but Flash is light years ahead. The idea of coding even a simple game in JavaScript makes my head hurt just thinking about it. Perhaps we’ll all buy into Jobs’ vision that we all pay for casual games developed in myriad languages for myriad platforms, but that’s not the general trend on the desktop, laptop or netbook (Zynga, anyone?).

    Mobile is a totally different story, of course. Computing trends may change. But on the desktop browser, the death of Flash argument is always from those who know nothing about the business or technology of Web development in 2010.

    p.s. full disclosure: I make a living 50/50 from Flash vs Web UI development.

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