Is Flash Dead? Or is the Venerable Web Technology “just resting”?

Like the infamous Dead Parrot, the Adobe Flash plugin is at the end of its viable life cycle as a Web technology. Recent disclosures of exploitable bugs in Flash—plus this week’s decision by browser developers at Mozilla to disable the plugin—have accelerated the trend away from Flash in favor of HTML5 for Web video and animation. Even Adobe’s beautiful plumage (in the form of HTML5-based output from Flash Professional) cannot disguise the fact that Flash is increasingly viewed as an unnecessary security risk.

Flash Dance

The demise of Flash should not come as a surprise. In 2011, Steve Jobs’ open letter, “Thoughts on Flash,” famously criticized the Adobe technology as too cumbersome for mobile devices Under Jobs’ mandate, Apple iOS devices were officially Flash-free, and subsequent Android implementations of Flash were less than optimal for mobile users. It has remained on desktop browsers until very recently, but has been increasingly replaced with HTML5 for tasks like video playback.

The “it’s not dead” reluctance of some companies to abandon Flash in favor of HTML5 has a lot to do with their aging digital infrastructure. Some enterprises have been slow to move away from Microsoft Windows XP and Internet Explorer 7, for example—mainly for change related pain and cost reasons. In the XP/IE7 world, HTML5 is not supported, but Flash is. 1 The tipping point may have arrived, however, as the security risk factors outweigh the burdens of upgrading.

Panic Avoidance

Removing Flash dependence is not always a simple matter, but it is possible. Proactive developers have been creating HTML5 alternatives—often with greater and more useful functionality than Flash products—for several years now. Even when Flash elements are deeply embedded in websites and courseware, a phased transition is easily attainable.

Rising dependence on mobile technology —combined with the ongoing threats to cyber security—are serious topics to consider. The current Flash debate is only the latest instance. Moving forward requires an innovative solution, which can enables your video-based operation to work well and securely on newer, HTML5-based platforms, while still supporting (where possible) the needs of late adopters. Above all, it requires a technology partner who understands the landscape and supports your business goals.

1 Ironically, in many companies in highly-regulated industries—where security is an avowed priority—the risky combination of Windows XP, Internet Explorer 7, and Flash is all too common.

Viddler’s Position on Flash and HTML5

Viddler began with—and continues to support—a robust, highly-interactive Flash video player. Understanding the trends in browser and mobile evolution, however, we developed a responsive HTML5 player: Viddler Arpeggio. In fact, Arpeggio has far surpassed our Flash player in terms of interactive features for eLearning and mLearning applications.

If older systems do not support HTML5, Arpeggio falls back to a flash player. Conversely, if our Flash player was embedded in a website, then newer systems without the Flash plugin will use the browser’s native HTML5 player or “fall forward” to Arpeggio. We are also working on an HTML5 video recorder.

Since its founding, Viddler has been dedicated to the success of its clients. In that tradition, we will help them make the Flash-HTML5 transition as smooth and efficient as possible.


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