Becoming Flash-free

I removed Flash from my Mac. I couldn’t be happier.

As a user, Flash sucks up my resources, drains batteries, enables indelible cookies, and bypasses popup blocking.

With a lot of tabs open — which is how I work — Safari would become sluggish and intermittently unresponsive. Since I removed Flash, these problems have gone away because I no longer have a dozen Flash animations running in the background. The improved privacy and reduced interruptions are side benefits. If I absolutely need Flash, I can open Chrome, which has Flash built in. But I have FlashBlock installed there by default as well.

I’ve gone back and forth on Flash. For years, I said it was junking up the web. It never really stopped junking up the Web, but in the last five years Flash made it Web video a practical, so I cut it some slack. Before Flash, Web video was a nightmare of proprietary players, constant updates, tiresome visits to the RealPlayer’s home page for yet another attempt to trick you into buying their worthless merch.

As a publisher, Flash is a ticket to misery. I wasted countless hours producing Flash videos for Coastsider, trying to get Flash players to work on my site, and attempting to embed videos from other sites.

I’m done with all that. I recommend you be done with it to.

Get ready for the post-Flash world. Millions of iPhone, iPad, Android and other mobile users are already surfing Flash-free. The thought leaders in Web and software development are beginning to see the light as well. Expect uninstalling Flash to be a trend in 2011.

Resistance is likely to come from three sources:

  • Editorial personnel who confuse Flash development with Web development: Do them a favor and get them trained in something more future-proof.
  • Advertisers (agencies, actually) love Flash: It makes them feel like artisans. The best you can do with them it to make sure they provide ads in alternative formats for serving to non-Flash users of your site.
  • Web producers who see Flash as an easy way to create fancy user experiences: This is already less common in media than it is in the production of commercial sites for restaurants and hotels.

Those who are complaining the loudest about this trend have big investments in Flash development and technology. If that describes your situation, now might be a good time to think about what you’re willing to sacrifice to keep Adobe’s Flash relevant.

You’ll need to continue to use Flash for video as long as a reasonable number of users need it, but you should be preparing now to produce video that works with HTML 5. This will mean multiple formats in the short term. You can ease this by finding a video host that can deliver modern Web video to your users, and Flash when they demand it. I’ve moved all my videos to Vimeo and I’m not looking back.

2 thoughts on “Becoming Flash-free

  1. Vimeo also delivers videos via H.264. I can still view them in Safari without Flash installed,
    This isn't a crusade against Flash in general, but I'm avoiding both as a user (installed on my computer) and as a publisher (all my videos are now available in H.264). But if you prefer to load from Vimeo via Flash, you're welcome to do so.

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