The Death of Flash: Managing the 5 Stages of Grief

By: Hileman Group  | 06/29/2021

Death or loss of any kind can be life-altering, whether it’s losing a loved one or losing your favorite web application. Wait…what?

Back in 2017, we wrote about how Adobe announced that it would “stop updating and distributing Flash Player” and what that meant for you. Well, the inevitable (finally!) happened and, as of December 31, 2020, Adobe no longer supports Flash player. RIP.

It’s been 6 months without our beloved Flash: how are we getting on?

Just like with any type of loss, we’re processing the death of Flash in a bizarro-world 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and, finally, Acceptance. In the following blog post, we’ll talk about what to do now that Flash is obsolete.


“Flash was revolutionary. It’ll be back.”

There’s no doubt that, in its heyday, Flash was wildly popular. Released in 1996, you would’ve been hard pressed to find a website built not using Flash. At the time, there were very few applications (if any) like it that could display videos, animation and games – not even HTML, CSS or JavaScript. As new technologies emerged (or improved), and users’ online consumption changed, Flash didn’t – or couldn’t – adapt to the times. Among other issues, it was notoriously known for causing security issues, it wasn’t designed for mobile use, and it wasn’t SEO friendly, so other applications were created to combat those drawbacks.

“Flash isn’t dead.”

It’s true there are options out there for you to access Flash content, but buyer beware, they won’t be supported by Adobe. To add to that, most web users won’t be willing to play back Flash content and it won’t be viewable on mobile devices. You’d be better off moving your content to the 3 main technologies that have essentially replaced Flash: HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.


HTML5, the most recent version of HTML, was more than likely Flash’s indirect killer. In 2008, in fact, Apple’s late CEO, Steve Jobs, penned an essay, explaining why Flash would never be shown on iPhones and iPads and that HTML5 would be the future of the web. It was a slow but steady demise after that. HTML5 supports rich media content like audio and video, uses cleaner, consistent code and helps rank with search engines.


CSS, or cascading style sheets, are responsible for the look and feel of a website. Where HTML determines the structure of the site, CSS decides the visuals, layout and aesthetics. CSS creates a great user experience and makes a website easy to navigate. It allows for faster page speed, quicker development time and compatibility across devices.


JavaScript is a scripting language that lets you display dynamic content – interactive maps, animations, games, etc. JavaScript can also help with building web and mobile apps. In addition to it being fun (as fun as a programming language can be anyway), it is the most popular language and relatively easy to learn.


“Why won’t this site load?!”

Because of Flash Player’s limited capabilities and security risk, not a lot of browsers automatically supported Flash. Instead, you had to install a plug-in for it to work. Over time, people began to search for other platforms to display multimedia content. Browser technologies and dedicated mobile apps began to do the work that Flash pioneered.

HTML5 doesn’t need third-party plug-ins or APIs, which improves its load time. According to Semrush, 25% of websites load in more than 5 seconds, 50% load in over 3 seconds, and 94% of websites take longer than 1 second. Load time helps improve your search engine rankings, so using technology that allows your webpages to load within 2 seconds (the “threshold”) will only help SEO.

“But my images are too big to load any other way!”

Speaking of load time, back in the day of desktop computers and slow dialups, images could take minutes to load. So, instead, Flash used vector graphics, which was a mathematical way of scaling images to be used on small items like business cards or larger items like billboards. Vector graphics significantly reduced file size and increased load times.

Nowadays, we have scalable vector graphics (SVG), which is an XML-based markup that lets you create vector graphics for the web. HTML5 even includes an <svg> tag that allows you to create graphics that can look pixel-perfect on any device, large or small.


“What if we just use Flash for our videos?”

It’s true, playing videos was the most common use for Flash Player. But, in 2009, HTML5 introduced the <video> tag. Video sites like YouTube and Netflix could now use HTML5 exclusively on any modern browser, allowing for higher quality video. If your website is still using Flash to play your video files, you can easily replace them with HTML5, using <video>.    

“What about audio?”

There’s an <audio> tag in HTML5, too.


“I don’t want to learn another program.”

Obviously, change can be hard. Flash was revolutionary in the beginning, creating a more memorable and vibrant place on the web. For developers who were experts in Flash, this leaves a gaping hole in their resume. But, if you can learn Flash, you can learn anything. Basic HTML and CSS are easy to get started with. Once you have a good understanding of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, you can add more and more applications to your repertoire (ahem, HTML5), making you more and more marketable.  


“Actually, this is probably pretty cool.”

In the end, the death of Flash can only lead to a new generation of freely available technologies that run faster, are responsive and more secure. We can appreciate what Flash gave us and remember the good times, knowing that it led to where we are now. So, thank you, Flash, for everything you’ve done for the web. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you.


Need help migrating your Flash website to HTML5? Contact us – we can help!




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