RIP Flash

Adobe will be retiring Flash in 2020. At that time, Flash elements will quit working… and some would say that they’ve already done so.

Flash has been controversial, at least, since 2010. Apple decided not to support it then because, as Wired reminds us Steve Jobs said, “it was too insecure, too proprietary, too resource-intensive, too unaccommodating for a platform run by fingertips instead of mouse clicks.”

It was also often being used in ways that did not improve user experience. Splash pages built with Flash, Flash animations that might have entertained the first time visitors saw them but soon became tiresome, random Flash stuff that entertained designers but added no information to a page — not to mention how often Flash elements would just not show. There are security vulnerabilities, too.

Again quoting Wired, “Imagine a heavily trafficked bridge that spontaneously gives way every few months. You should not drive on that bridge.”

If you currently have Flash on your website, you can be sure that some people can’t even see those elements, that your website is not as secure as it could be, and that some of your visitors find it irritating.

Do you have Flash at your website?

If your website was built recently, you probably don’t have any Flash elements. But there was a time when entire websites were built with Flash. If your site has been around for a while — or was built recently by someone who hasn’t kept up — you may have Flash at your website.

Check with the SeoSiteCheckup flash test.  You can also do a quick site check, using this search string:

“.swf site:”

Use your own URL, of course. We have no Flash elements on this website, but we have some embedded flash elements at our lab site — four, to be exact.


What to do about Flash

If your website has just a few Flash elements, it’s an easy fix. We clicked through to each of the pages we found in our Google search. We right-clicked on the elements we thought might be Flash. When you right-click on a Flash element, you’ll see “Zoom In” as an option, and an “About Adobe Flash Player” at the bottom of the box.

This confirms that you have a Flash element.

Now what?

You can remove the element yourself or get help in removing it. Its days are numbered. Some browsers have already quit supporting Flash, and more plan to do so before the 2020 deadline. Remove and replace those Flash elements as quickly as possible.

If you leave Flash elements in your website, perhaps because you can’t see them when you look at the page, you will be courting trouble. For one thing, you don’t know what that page looks like on all browsers and devices (finding out will be more trouble than just getting rid of it). For another, you may have security vulnerabilities to deal with.

At this point, you have time to figure out what to do about any Flash elements that seem important. You can replace them with HTML5 elements. You can make a new video with newer technology. You can have new images created. If you wait a few more years, you won’t have that luxury.






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