UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

  • Email Subscription (Feedburner)

  • Twitter

    Posts on this blog cover ideas often discussed on Twitter. Feel free to follow @briankelly.

    Brian Kelly on Twitter Counter

  • Syndicate This Page

    RSS Feed for this page


    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. As described in a blog post this licence applies to textual content published by the author and (unless stated otherwise) guest bloggers. Also note that on 24 October 2011 the licence was changed from CC-BY-SA to CC-BY. Comments posted on this blog will also be deemed to have been published with this licence. Please note though, that images and other resources embedded in the blog may not be covered by this licence.

    Contact Details

    Brian's email address is You can also follow him on Twitter using the ID briankelly. Also note that the @ukwebfocus Twitter ID provides automated alerts of new blog posts.

  • Contact Details

    My LinkedIn profile provides details of my professional activities.

    View Brian Kelly's profile on LinkedIn

    Also see my profile.

  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Privacy


    This blog is hosted by which uses Google Analytics (which makes use of 'cookie' technologies) to provide the blog owner with information on usage of this blog.

    Other Privacy Issues

    If you wish to make a comment on this blog you must provide an email address. This is required in order to minimise comment spamming. The email address will not be made public.

It’s Now Probably Time To Ditch Flash

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 Jun 2010

From 2001-2005 UKOLN and the AHDS provided the Technical Advisory Service for the NOF-digitise programme.  Our initial task was to summarise the open standards which funded projects should be using in order to ensure interoperability and  to support the long-term preservation of the digitised resources.

The technical standards (which are no longer available on the People’s Network Web site) provided information on various open standards including standards which had been developed by the W3C, including SMIL and SVG.  However, as I’ve described previously, these standards failed to achieve significant acceptance in the market place and so, in order to ensure that the projects could deliver engaging services, the requirement to make use of open standards was relaxed, with such proprietary formats being acceptable provided documentation was provided on the reasons for the use  of proprietary solutions.

That was the position around 2001-2002. But now, as we’ve heard in a TechCrunch post on Scribd’s Decision To Dump Flash Pays Off, User Engagement Triples, there is a growing believe that Flash is on its way out with HTML5 providing a more effective standards-based solution.

You may think that the lesson is that open standards are better than proprietary ones – but I would suggest that this example shows the danger of mandating use of open standards at too early a stage and that alternative open standards may eventually emerge as winners.

The difficulty will be in learning from such lessons and avoiding requiring use of open standards if this will eventually be seen to be a mistaken decision.  Perhaps the lesson from the open alternatives to Flash is that it can take over 5 years before such alternatives are mature enough for wide-scale deployment?

3 Responses to “It’s Now Probably Time To Ditch Flash”

  1. I agree Flash is on its way out, and it’s time to think beyond it. However, it will go kicking and screaming.

    Flash will be the default for video provision for a long time to come, for use on older browsers (non-HTML5) and older kit (FLV needs less CPU than H.264). Flash also does full-screen video, which HTML5 and javascript does not for security reasons. How many times have you full-screened the World cup coverage?

    Also Flash has a 20 year history of providing the animations that we hate, but advertisers love. The canvas tag does not offer the same richness to Flash ad authors, and it’s advertisers who pay for the web.

    Google has a conflicted point of view here. They love advertisers and vaunt Flash on their Android platform, but they are pushing HTML5 like noone else at the same time. I think they will court Flash as an inextricably linked part of the web for many years to come, whilst developing better alternatives over time.

  2. Chris Rusbridge said

    Well I really hope it IS time for Flash to go, so we don’t have more horrible unwebby things like Edinburgh’s Annual Review (see PDF may have its issues, but I found this just dreadful, especially the way it responded to the mouse when I tried moving around the screen; entirely upside down. Horrible.

  3. Adobe still have their ace card to play. An open Flash framework could still stop the HTML5 bandwagon in its tracks. Another problem HTML5 has is its replacement. There will be new cool media people want in their websites (3d video, speech control, 3d models, AR views etc) that it will take years for W3C to ratify into HTML6.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: