Flash vs. HTML in Website Design

Flash vs. HTML in Website Design: The Age-old Debate is Over

Flash, since the dawn of the internet era, has been a key tool. It’s fundamental in building web pages and similar apps via Adobe Flash Player. In essence, it was initially used for making animations and graphics.

Fun fact – even whole websites were made with Adobe Flash! Web developers found immense use from this tech beast as its features extend to creating audio and video content on various web platforms.

People familiar with flash will remember seeing animation-based websites that look like this:

Gabacorp Flash Website

Or, like this:

Clear Flash Website

Developers loved to use flash, mainly because it was easy to integrate various assets to help people interact with websites. A majority of videos and web-based games used Flash early on, and even YouTube relied on Flash exclusively until the advent of hyper text markup language (HTML5).

Flash used to control 28.5% of the market until its browser support ended in 2020. Although many developers have already switched from flash, some still are using it instead of HTML.

So, is Flash better in creating websites or is it true in HTML being its superior successor?

Keep reading below to find out.

What is Flash?

Adobe launched Flash, a multimedia software, in 1996. It’s an old favorite used for all sorts of things – from mobile and desktop apps to games and animations.

Do you know those awesome graphics you see on some websites? Those were often made with flash. Even YouTube once depended on it to ensure videos played the same across different platforms.

Website builders loved using Flash content as part of their digital toolkit. Google Chrome was one among many major web browsers that supported this platform allowing them easy rendering of flashy web pages.

But let me tell you about video game sites: they adored the versatility Flash brought them – vibrant visuals matched only by seamless playability.

However, times have changed; HTML5 is now ruling where Flash ruled before because sadly not every browser continues to support our good ol’ friend ‘Flash’. Notably, we started seeing fewer ‘flashy’ rich web applications or even plain-Jane static ones relying heavily on Adobe’s star player.

Flash was predominately used in website development projects to make websites appear more like an animation rather than a theme most people are now used to. Below is a prehistoric website created using flash:

Prehistoric Website Using Flash

And, here is what a modern website looks like with HTML5:

Discord Website using HTML5

As you can see, there is a clear difference in websites created by flash and HTML5.

The Downfall of Flash

In 2010, Steve Jobs published a report expressing his belief that HTML5 would win the battle over flash. He wrote this report as more and more developers migrated from flash to HTML5.

As the then-CEO of Apple and a technology pioneer, Jobs’ comments carried a lot of weight and led the impetus of HTML5 becoming the go-to resource for website developers across the world.

In particular, here are the disadvantages that Jobs pointed out in his report:

  • Flash wasn’t secure or reliable for developers and users. The software was one of the largest reasons why Mac computers were crashing and put users at risk.
  • Due to the strenuous effort of loading flash, laptop and mobile device batteries were abnormally draining at high paces.
  • Jobs noted that flash wasn’t synonymous with touch interaction. To put it simply, the software wasn’t ideal for smartphones with new touch screens.
  • Adobe published flash and held a monopoly over it. HTML was open standard and its growth wasn’t controlled by any one company.

Jobs posited that Adobe flash wasn’t adapted to meet the future standards of technology. To put it simply, flash wasn’t mobile-friendly, which put a damper on the search engine optimization (SEO) efforts of website owners.

It also drained batteries quickly and made it nearly impossible for developers to continue using it. As such, Flash continued on a downward trend until HTML5 became the standard moving forward.

What are the Benefits of Using HTML5?

The World Wide Web Consortium introduced HTML5 to the world in 2008. Six years later, a significant update transformed how we use it today.

What is HTML5? It’s code that brings pictures alive on websites! But its powers extend beyond just images – think fonts and text styling too.

HTML5 also changed web development significantly. Developers now have even more tools at their disposal for making cool sites thanks to this upgrade.

One big plus of using HTML5 over Flash files? Video support across major browsers without any extra plugins needed! The days of struggling with flash movie playback are finally behind us.

Security concerns around media streaming should not be taken lightly either. Here again, when comparing html vs flash movies or videos, our trusty friend shows up shining through dealing with video content securely.

Speaking about actual contents like audio and visual elements; improved handling has been made possible by none other than — you guessed it right –our latest version: HTML5.

HTML5 has addressed many of the issues of flash, which include:

  • HTML5 can be used on virtually any website because it’s entirely mobile-friendly. This is a mandate for SEO, which is important for ranking websites on search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Software developers can easily create complicated graphics, animations, effects, as well as detailed web pages.
  • Users can take advantage of HTML5 without worrying about their batteries draining rapidly.
  • HTML5 can be used on iOS and Android devices, unlike flash.

HTML5 has so many improvements that there are hardly any reasons to continue using flash. Because of this, browsers have leaned toward supporting HTML5 over the years. Below are additional reasons why you should consider a switch to HTML5:

HTML Provides Much Cleaner Code:

Experienced programmers require clean and organized code to ultimately save time and money in developing websites. Clean code, in particular, makes it very convenient for multiple collaborators to work on the same project, make simple changes, and eliminate glitches and bugs.

HTML Provides Better Forms

HTML5 makes developers’ coding work a breeze. It lets them whip up complex forms with dynamic features. Users can dive into deeper searches on their web browsers thanks to these forms. Plus, it’s not limited to text – HTML5 boasts remarkable multimedia support too.

This means audio files and streaming videos can be enjoyed effortlessly even on Android devices. Just input your choice of media or data, and play around with the various HTML elements at hand – voila – you have an engaging interactive experience right there.

HTML Loads Much Faster than Flash

Developers and users can both appreciate fast-loading websites. Since HTML uses an offline application cache, which allows the pages to load even without an internet connection. This reduces the load time burdens placed on servers and improves page load time.

In 2011, Adobe ended the development of flash, which signified the end of an era for old-school developers and a referendum to switch to HTML5 instead. At the start of 2021, flash will reach its end-of-support date.

Because of this, it’s no longer beneficial to use flash anymore for website development projects. The lack of support and superiority of flash will just make a website slower, take more time to develop, and result in security issues that can affect users.

Which is Better: Flash vs HTML?

Overall, HTML is a much superior resource than flash. During its heyday, flash was ubiquitous throughout the internet. Now that mobile devices are widely used to surf the internet, HTML is the better option.

If you want to develop a website using HTML, you’ve come to the right place. Contact us today to learn more about how we can develop a new website for you.

Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations--delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.
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Ryan Nead