Adobe Flash - Good or Bad for my site?

The flash debate has been ongoing for a very long time now and, in to its credit, it's still around and is still the world's most installed piece of software. We use this article to debate all the latest information regarding flash and its uses and look at some alternatives.

For those of you that know of Flash, but don't know what it does, here's a little explanation.  The chances are very high that you've used flash in some respsect. Until recently, those of you that have visited You Tube on a PC or Mac would have used flash as it used to be their primariy method for streaming their videos to you.  It doesn't just stop at You Tube though. 75% of web-based videos are viewed using Flash. It appears in around 70% of all web-based games. 98% of enterprises rely on the flash player in their organisation and a whopping 85% of the most visited websites in the world use Flash somewhere on the site.

So what is it? Well, it was released back in 1996 by Macromedia and later acquired by Adobe.  It's primarily a multimedia platform that has since become hte standard method for video playback, animated banners, interactive multimedia websites and web-based games. Unless a device doesnt support Flash, or the flash progmra is too intensive for the device its running on, flash programs will display the same on every device its run on.  This allowed it to quickly become a standard tool across non-standard multi-platform browsers.  

Flash was made even more famous in 2007, when the late Steve Jobs annouced in a public open letter that "Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content" and that "new open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win." Apple then went on to drop flash support on their mobile devices like ipad, iphone and ipod. The world was divided as suddenly thousands of websites started appearing on theses devices with large holes where flash content would normally be seen. Was Steve Jobs right in his statement? Let's look at things a little closer.

Pro Flash

Fans of flash argue that a whopping 99% of browsers supports Flash and as there is only one company in charge of its development it has a much larger audience reach. As all the code is compiled into an .swf file, it's incredibly hard to hack too, as two levels of encryption would have to be broken to get access to any of the good stuff. Something that lots of developers praise al the time.

Anti-Flash

Developers that prefer HTML argue that the fact that Flash is owened by a single company it is the victim of its own downfall.  As HTML is developed through an open-standards consortium, they rely on feddback, allowing devleopers to shape the future growth of HTML. There's also the age old argument that Flash cannot be read by search engine spiders, making it useless for SEO purposes. HTML however is read as plain text by spiders, and if formatted correctly can provide a huge boost to your site ranking.

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