Flash is a tool that was seen as revolutionary, it gave life to websites and was very relevant at one point of time. The keyword here is 'was' and that is because most of the things that Flash did are now replaced by more stable and simply better alternatives. The biggest market for Flash right now is ads and no one really likes internet pop-up ads. Even worse, Flash based programs can be a security threat, as was recently found by the Italian Hacking Team, a company that specializes in surveillance and was posted in the early weeks of July this year. Two previously unknown security threats were exposed and Adobe promised to rectify the threats in coming versions, but as of now, only one issue has been addressed.
Web browsers were quick to respond and this was done by disabling Flash. Note that it wasn't a reminder, not a pop-up to remind you that Flash will be selectively disabled, it was an outright removal of the program. As of now, Flash has been disabled by default in both Firefox and Chrome, if you want it, you will have to go to settings and reactivate it. They together account for about 60% of the world's internet traffic. All of this is news, but what does this mean for websites that use Flash as the base on which they have built? More importantly, what if your video content depends entirely on a Flash player? Should you panic?
Video players and Flash
Flash was the go-to video player for many website developers till about two years back, when its popularity began to wane. It was free, easy to configure and looked very good. It was also light and less complex to work with than other programs. A Flash player can embed videos directly to the page and will have controllable buttons that make it easy for both the developers as well as end users. Extra optional features included interactive elements to the video and it was easily customizable. It was a used to playback files that were stored in a different location, with the program just displaying them. Flash also runs with a smoother finish, making everything look visually stunning.
How does this affect you?
While it may seem like just another upcoming death in the vast, and everyday changing tech world, it can pose a serious risk to your website. More so if you have Flash coded into the site for pop-up windows, videos and other elements. A lot of online video based sites use Flash in their architecture, and with the automatic disabling by browsers, a lot of your content, if Flash based, can go black. Visitors to the web page will see a security warning, where they should see a small window with one of your explainer videos, this can even be on the home page of your website where you have a welcoming video of some sort. There are a couple of things that are bound to happen.
- Visitors see your website as a spam because of the security threat warning.
- Lose trust in your brand, which is an extreme reaction, but a real possibility.
- Makes your website look old and archaic, which is never good.
Most of the effects will be the result of people who do not really understand the inner workings of Flash and how videos are presented, but will only see the words security threat and immediately react. Most visitors to your website also cannot be expected to be well versed in these things.
What can you do?
If your videos are hosted by YouTube or Vimeo, their default is Flash, but can be easily changed to HTML5 or other players, so you are safe, nothing to worry about. YouTube, for example, will shift between Flash and other players depending on the browser and how you want it to play. That is out of the way, but if you have a native, custom Flash based player, you may have to panic, but just a little bit. You wouldn't have to panic if you were to hire a professional video production company like Melty Cone in NYC, that is always up to date with the latest video technological shifts.
Begin migrating towards HTML5 that is the first thing that you can do. It is not necessarily better in the sense that it may not look or even be as smooth as Flash, but it has the advantage of being compatible with almost any browser, will play on even mobile phones and tablets and will work on Apple and Microsoft based devices. HTML5 is built into the code, so there is no need for a separate plugin to make it work and updates need not be downloaded and installed every now and then. HTML5 is also developed by many companies, making it more open and not restrictive like Flash, which is owned and operated by Adobe.
HTML5 is faster than Flash in many ways. In most systems HTML5 can perform at least 50% faster. Flash does not engage the GPU of the computer and runs entirely on the CPU, causing this difference in performance. Using the CPU too much will cause the system to heat up as well. While all of this may not be evident in computers that have good processors, older systems will see a noticeable difference.
If you are only now building a website, you will have to add video content to it, so opt for HTML5 instead of Flash. It may not look as good, but in the long run, it will have its payoff.
Industry experts, big brands and almost all of their major websites are still Flash based and the main reason Flash has become unpopular is that tech companies (including Apple and Microsoft) do not favor it any more. If you are a small business though, you may not want to take a chance with it. It is still believed that Flash will not truly die unless something that can outperform it and has none of the security drawbacks comes up soon.
What is Melty Cone? Melty Cone is a full-service video production company in NYC. We make videos from start to finish; from creative idea conception to final video delivery.