10 Reasons Why I will not use Flash for a Web application

Recently came across a project, which had used Adobe Flash technology. Me being new to it had to do a lot of reading about Flash. Flash in this project is used to create a really good looking user interface with cool looking menu options. We had to buy license for the Flash developer tools and the licenses are not cheap.

As a developer I am really not excited to see use of such a technology in a web based application. When I look around the World Wide Web and browse several Flash sites it doesn't convince me to continue using it in future.

I think Flash breaks the principle of HTTP because It is often mis-used to replace HTML and/or pictures in an open format. Here are few reasons why I would never want to use Flash in my Web site, instead prefer HTML/CSS & JavaScript.

1. Nothings cool!

I don't find anything so cool in Flash which can't be done in a simple HTML/CSS and Client side scripting.
Well this is true and and many of you won't disagree that there is not anything significant which can't be done using HTML,CSS & Client side Script combination.

Recently Google has come up with some real cool showcase sites for Chrome browser (http://www.chromeexperiments.com) promotion, and everything on these sites is done using JavaScript. I am sure you would be amazed at stuff you can do with JavaScript, processing and other technologies. Before seeing this I always thought, that I will have to get my hands dirty on flash to do things like video and cool menu options and other processing.

2. I love Open Source & free stuff

Why pay for something when there is a free alternative? Nothing in Flash technology comes to you for free. The developer tools are costly and require special training. Where as the open technology has it all freely available for you. There are many free editors available to improve productivity of developers.
The open source community is gaining more and more encouragement and its growing day by day. So I would always stick to my own people, the great open source community with world wide contributions.

3. Finding resources is difficult

Finding a Flash developer is difficult as its a proprietary technology and requires developers who have really worked on it before. Where as the HTML CSS is a something even a college graduate can start programming in without much of a training, so recruiting them is not difficult at all.

In case you are a manager my advise to you would be to stay away from flash technology just because its going to be a nightmare to deal with resources.

4. Abstraction is good & bad

I know abstraction is a good thing for making life easier but also having freedom of knowing whats behind the scene is also necessary in my opinion, as it opens more options for us to think in terms of designing a system. I don't feel like using something which never gives me freedom to know what its doing behind the scene. There is so many things Flash does internally and as a developer I will not have any clue about how its doing it.

5. Flash installation varies for different operating systems

Though Flash supports many operating systems but its product seems to be stable on Windows based browsers only. Many flash sites fail to open properly or crash on Mac Safari (Read this http://chris.pirillo.com/i-hate-adobe-flash) or Linux browsers. Whereas If you are using HTML/CSS with JavaScript then you get in build support from browsers, as thats what they are suppose to handle.

World Wide Web is suppose to be platform/OS independent, and I would not want to block my user base just because they do not use Windows. Here is a snapshot of recent Internet Explorer Crash due to Flash 10 on my windows system.

6. Maximum Utilization of Resolution

Most of the flash sites only handle a standard resolution (usually 800X600). I have a screen that is four times that size, but most Flash sites don’t take advantage of it. HTML/CSS has a lot of easy to use capabilities to take advantage of more screen real state.

7. Forward & Back Button are Useless

Browser provides you a forward and backward button as it can help you navigate back and forth without being defendant on sites navigation.
If you use Flash you loose the forward/back browser buttons and history. Bookmarks don’t work either. Which can be a benefit only in few cases but most of the times if you are over the World Wide Web you would want to give the freedom to navigate back and forth between pages.

8. Loading time is high

Flash sites are slow to load for the first time and are almost impossible to use under dial-up connections. You won't observe much of performance hit in case you have a broadband connection but if its dial up, I am sure you will prefer to stay away from any site which has flash. If your site has static contents then using Flash would probably give you the worst performance.

I will not want to limit my website audience to only broadband users. Technology is growing but most of the developing countries still don't have a good broadband network.

9. Saving Flash Pages is Difficult

Well, there could be good and bad part to it. At the side of copyright violation I would say it would make sense to keep something not copy-able. But for most of the places where you would not want to limit someone from just saving the information for his own future reference.

10. Lose control over browser functionality

Flash disables you to use the regular browser functionality which otherwise could be enabled like the right click menu with various options.
Though not everyone would be interested to do this except for a web developer, the view source doesn't get you any information about the page.
There are many sites which start playing audio visual advertisements running from nowhere using Flash.

Have you ever come across the advertisement in loud voice "Congratulations!! you have been selected to win a Free iPod"
I just can't stand this type of advertisement anymore. Any flash support on browser makes the end user helpless. These advertisements are played in background and the only way I found to get rid of these advertisements is to close all browser windows and open again. Which can be very annoying experience for anyone.

If you still find some reasons for using Flash let me know, I would be interested to know them. I am sure there must be lot many people who would have some more reasons to share. Please feel free to share your thoughts & leave a comment.


  1. AnonymousJune 14, 2009

    Wow, this was either written in 2000, or you seriously have no clue what you are talking about. Can't really tell since your site doesn't list the year.

    1.) uh, yeah, the video on that site is in flash player.

    2.) Flex SDK is open source, and free. There are tons of flash/AS 2,3 open source projects out there. http://osflash.org/

    3.) I am available, freelance, find a freelancer, get a freelancer... its not hard to find a quality flash dev.

    4.) Do you need to know how a car works to drive it? All of the internal workings are explained in various resources over the web.

    5.) I haven't had any problems with flash on Mac Safari or FF...

    6.) That is by choice, flash has better ability to stretch to the screen. Flash uses vectore images, so I can make a site fit full screen without degridation from 640x480 to 30000000x30000000 px if I want too. Some don't for a reason.

    7.) Again, this can be done, a lot of designers using flash don't do this... this is the designer not the equipment. This is native functionality in Flex 3.

    8.) I have seen flash sites load in a second or two, and seen HTML/CSS sites load in over 57 seconds. Its how its built, not the technology.

    9.) usually you dont want people stealing multimedia content... it is a copyright violation. If you give everything away for free, you simpley can't afford to live.

    10.) View -> Page Source in FF... still see the html, css, and javascript in the page.

    Why is this text-box so hard to use? you can't move forward and backword through the text with the arrows, you have to click the section you want to go through. And you are lecturing us about usability of flash?

    Flash has the wow factor, people spend more time on my flash sites that on my html sites (analytics). Clients see my flash sites, and I dont have to sell them, my work speaks for itself. I don't have to convince them they need something they don't want, and I can charge a crap load of money for what I do, and they are glad to give it to me. Web Development is a business, not a utopian society where everything is free.

    You give your tools away for free, and I will keep my tools.

  2. I guess this could be due my less of information on Flesh and similar technology. Looking at your comment it seems that I need to do more research. thanks for commenting. I will update this article.

    Feel free to provide any other usability feedback on this blog

  3. 1.) The site has a great example of utilizing Flash as a Multimedia player. At the same time it does not overuse the flash technology for creating beautiful menus and other images. There I totally agree with you on the point that its the designer who utilizes the Flash technology in a wrong manner.

    2. Thanks for this information, I will explore more on Flex.

    3. Resource availability is not based on what an individuate thinks. Even if you are available doesnt mean that there are many good resources available for this technology.

    4. I don't disagree with the abstraction fundamental and thats the reason I have mentioned in my point that its good and bad. I dont want to know about how car works, but atleast I have freedom to open my car each part and have a look at it. And there are many people who like to learn like that.

    5. This is a classic example of a developer telling the end user "It works on my system".

    6. Thanks for this detail, I wasnt aware. May be you can throw more light on it.

    7. I agree.

    8. You are right, there are good and bad examples. But you wont disagree that overall the amount of data transferred is more in case of Flash as compared to plain HTML.

    9. I think here we don't seem to be of same thought process. I am a open source supporter and thats the whole reason why I think like this. I like to contribute to community as it gives me back something more then money.

    10. View page source shows you that the page is using a Shockwave file and then you are lost.

  4. @Anonymous - To answer your question
    "Why is this text-box so hard to use? you can't move forward and backword through the text with the arrows"

    It seems there is a firefox bug which is causing this Read more
    Comment Form issue on Firefox

  5. for more example...


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