In April 2010, the late Steve Jobs (former CEO of Apple) wrote an open letter called Thoughts on Flash. In it he basically said that Flash has lots of problems and explained why Apple decided to invest their energy into HTML5. When the very first iPad launched in 2010, a lot of people called Apple out for not integrating support for Adobe’s flash player on the iPad.
First of all, you might be asking “what is Flash Player”? Well, Flash Player is an add-on for web browsers that allows people to consume content such as on-demand TV (e.g. BBC iPlayer, Demand5, ITV Player). Even YouTube, and Twitch (a service for people to broadcast their computer games), still rely on Flash Player. This is primarily due to the fact that some of these websites and services need it to serve up the ads that help to pay for them.
I know that a lot of you still rely on Adobe Flash Player but here’s why I hate it. First of all, it slows down a desktop or laptop PC. I was watching a live stream on Twitch a few days ago on my laptop using Mozilla Firefox (because that’s my web browser of choice). The stream was working well, but the framerate was really slow for some reason. I tried to disable some of the extensions that I had installed but to no avail. This was also the case with YouTube when I used Flash Player.
The second reason that I would like to talk about is security. Like all other software, Flash Player has so many security holes in it that it’s not funny. Hackers have figured out ways to make a malicious website with some Flash content on it, get someone to click on the Flash content and then you are infected with their virus. Sadly there are still people falling prey to this problem. Adobe are doing a fairly decent job of patching those holes but still, the bad guys just keep poking new holes.
It can also be a bit of a dangerous path to get Flash Player installed. If you google “Download Adobe Flash Player” you will not only find Adobe’s official website to download Flash Player, but you will find these other malicious websites that make you think you are installing Flash Player. However, you are instead installing code that will infect your machine with a virus.
I know that this third reason might be strange but it’s true. Call me lazy, but sometimes I think of as a bit of a chore to get it installed. Whereas, with HTML5 all you need is a web browser. As most modern computers come with a modern web browser this is not an issue.
So is there a solution to this problem? Well the answer is yes and it comes in the form of something called HTML 5. When loading up most web sites the code that serves up the text, the menus and all the other elements of your site is known as HTML and HTML 5 is the latest and greatest version. HTML5 also has native support for video and audio content on the web. What this means is you will not need flash player to watch your favourite cat videos on YouTube. This is because YouTube now uses HTML5.
This also resolves the whole issue of Flash Player not being an open standard. In the past you would have to download Adobe Flash Player and install it. Google fixed this by bundling it into chrome.
Recently Mozilla also blocked Flash Player by default. If you get most of your video from YouTube or Vimeo, then this is not a problem for you. That being said if there are websites (like the BBC iPlayer or Demand 5) where you really need to use Flash Player then you will get a pop up asking something like “do you want to enable Flash Player?” Then you can say “allow it this time”.
A couple of years ago I would have said that it was a bad idea to say that Adobe Flash needs to be put out to pasture it was being used primarily for YouTube videos and for playing Flash games on websites. However, as of this article being published I believe that Flash Player is a technology that is slowly dying. More and more websites are being made in HTML5 (including this one!), and thanks to Steve Jobs (who started the debate on choosing HTML5) Flash Player is looking like it’s going to fade into irrelevance.
Do you agree with my thinking? Do you think that I am wrong? Let me know in the comments.