Open Thread: Could You Live Without Flash?


Over on Ghacks, Martin Brinkmann describes how he’s been living without Flash (s adbe) 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 (s aapl) 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


Ellis Benus


JavaScript has replaced most of the functionality.

Flash still has it’s place, but only in a limited area.

Scott Robertson

Browsers and HTML5 are simply growing in their capabilities and these capabilities naturally follow Adobe’s (and others) innovations.

Adobe will continue to innovate to our benefit and browsers will continue to follow. What’s new here is that browsers and other companies within the growing market are innovating at a faster pace; to all our benefit.

As consumers, everyone here should think longer term (about the past and the future) and realize this scenario has played out many times before and will again.

Yes, I could live with or without the FLASH PLAYER for video. However, I could not live without the FLASH DEVELOPMENT PLATFORM to create and manage content and to build some of the more sophisticated web-based applications we are building.

I’m a fan of innovation and Adobe supports me to support my customers to achieve that.

Patrick Harrison

We are currently developing a free mindmap website that uses flash to provide a richer experience, such as embedding youtube videos etc.

We looked for alternatives, but our developers could not come up with anything serious.

Understand Apple’s point, but have to work with what works at the moment.

WG Moore

I have to admit that I am a great fan of Flash. It gives us the ability to design sites that meet any of our creative needs. There is no longer a need to be bound by the few cruddy tools supplied in Visual Studio. On the other hand, I hate most all-Flash sites. But that is mostly because the designers let creativity interfere with usefulness.

I am also a great fan of Apple computers and not much of a fan of Adobe.

Could I live without Flash? Yes, I could. But then I think my world on the internet would be greatly reduced. I don’t think Flash will be going away any time in the forseeable future. I will keep using it where it is appropriate. But then, I also make allowances for those who choose not to have it turned on. Simple good business practice.


I am just starting to design interactive documents for clients. I recently purchased InDesign CS5 upgrade and Flash Catalyst CS5. I hate to think I just screwed myself.


There are still quite a few places where Flash has not been replaced e.g. Google Analytics, so for now, I believe it to be essential till enough sites use something else.


It’s simple. Sony can make a $3000 TV. Vizio can make a $1000 TV. Both are proprietary. But the TV signals should not be.

Apple can make an iPad. Dell can make a Netbook. Both are proprietary. But the video signals on the web should not be.

The Flash format – FLV and SWF – is propietary. Hence not a good thing.


What is with all the Flash bashing?

Is this paid for by Apple or something?


Like a lot of folks, I go to the trouble to install flash blockers on my browsers. Of course, I can live without flash.


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, Tomorrow.


Flash if fixes some performance issues it would be a great platform for games and video…it has programming language, tools and developer base…

Apple with closed policies sees flash as threat to it’s controlled AppStore…as each flash application doesn’t need it’s approval process…as mobile processors becoming faster flash sluggishness should not effect its support to iPhone platform…

Html5 is open …but it takes for a while to become main stream RIA solution…

Flash support in future android platform would put pressure on apple to accept it…sooner the android wins apps count in their AppStore …. Flash would again be invited to iPhone/iPad

I do agree that flash needs improvement in performance … Hopefully flash is ready by the time CPU clock speeds are improved


I could very easily live without Flash. Clicktoflash is installed and I very, very rarely activate the flash.

Hopefully, Flash gets relegated to games.

I despise websites (and the companies that choose to represent themselves in that way) that use Flash for navigation – it is one of the most annoying things on the web.


I use a smartphone every day to browse the web and not a day goes by where I don’t come across a linked or blog posted video that I can’t view because my browser does not have Flash. It is extremely frustrating browsing the web without Flash. I would not choose to live without Flash if I had the choice and I’d certainly use my smartphone a lot more if it had Flash. I check the webOS app catalog every single day hoping to see the Flash beta app that was promised at CES. Hurry up Adobe!


I don’t think I’ll go so far as to uninstall flash, but I think I’ll try installing a flash blocker in Firefox to see how much of it I actually use. I know video will be a little more difficult to deal with, and I do wish more sites would make it easier to use an alternative.


I use the Flash blocker Chrome extension, and just signed up for the YouTube HTML5 beta (which uses 20% CPU instead of 90+). I don’t play Flash games, so it’s just a few lingering sites serving video without h264 that require its presence at all for me. For now.


How is Flash working for you on those Android devices right now? Probably about the same as on the iPhone – nonexistent ;-)


They will all start working on May 19th. There are plenty of examples on the web of the Nexus One playing Flash superbly.


I already live without Flash for the most part. My iPhone doesn’t run it, my iPad doesn’t run it, and my PC browsers are configured to block it. I only run it when the site requires it and I really want to use the site.


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.

A Real

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.

Vlad Kravtsov

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.

David McCormack

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.


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


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


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.


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.


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…

Michael Johnston

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.


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.

●●●●●●●● ↓↓↓↓↓↓ ●●●●●●●●

★ 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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