When should you use Flash?

October 3rd, 2010

Some people would say that the answer is never but I’m going to have to disagree with them. For the past maybe 8 years or so, Flash has been the only way to do a lot of the more dynamic effects and sites on the web. Even now, with JavaScript engines performing far beyond what anyone expected a few years ago, Flash still might be the best way to go.

I will say there are times when I see Flash being used and it frustrates me. I don’t see any need now to use Flash for only the navigation on an otherwise HTML site. I’ve yet to see an effect special enough to justify it. Most, if not all, of the Flash effects I’ve seen on website navigations I’ve seen could either be created with JavaScript or wasn’t worth the extra memory. It goes without saying that Flash intros are long dead and so are Flash banners used to in the header of a website. I’ve built sites with these and usually they just feature something movie or a sheen moving across quickly and they end up being more annoying then adding anything to the design. Also, if you’re Flash site looks like an HTML site, then you really wasted you time building it in Flash.

Flash still has it’s strengths though. I really think that if you want to create and experience, you still need to use Flash. Firefox 4 shows some of the potential of what we’ll be able to do eventually with just CSS but for now, Flash is still the way to go. Great examples of sites like this are usually made by companies who want a site to showcase a product. Car companies do this a lot with Flash sites that mix in a lot of different media, like video and other interactive elements.

Personally, I think video is going to be the domain of Flash for the next couple of years, for two reasons. 1) Until IE9 becomes the main version of IE on the market a majority of the browsers out there don’t recognize the video tag and 2) Until one of the codecs become dominant, Flash will be the easiest way to get your video online. Plus, until the end of IE6, you’ll always need to have Flash as at least a back up if IE6 users are part of your target audience.

Flash is a long way from dead but I think it’s feeling the backlash of developers overusing it for the past few years. I’m still a big fan of Flash and I really believe that sometimes Flash is still your best option to build interactive features on a website. If you’re someone like me, who is still learning JavaScript, in order to get things built fast and to know it will function how you want, Flash is right there. And a big point I think that a lot of people miss is the average Internet surfer doesn’t care what you built it in as long as it works.

One Response to When should you use Flash?

  1. Ben says:

    Hear hear. I totally agree. Have to admit, I’ve even developed and/or inherited some of those sites that really should be HTML, CSS and JS. Then they get redeveloped, sometimes by me, later on. Big waste. But some people just refuse to listen. Knowing when ‘not’ to use Flash is important, especially for Flash devs themselves.

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