Insist On Flash-Free Websites

In the past few years, Adobe Flash has become more than an annoyance that some of us keep in check by using "block Flash" plugins for our web browsers. More and more, entire web sites are being built with Flash, and they have no HTML alternative at all!

Those of us are disturbed by the trend need to be a bit more vocal about our opinion. Hence, this web page and tools for adding a "Just Say No To Flash!" banner on your web pages.

Why Should I Say No To Flash?

It's A Proprietary Technology

Or, One Company Controls The Standard

I don't think Flash is what Tim Berners-Lee had in mind when he created the first web browser and the markup language called HTML to run the web. Then, as now, the web is meant to be open to all. It is meant to be built using open standards that belong to no individual or company. The main standards that should be used to build websites are simply:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Images (open formats)

Open standards for video, audio, vector graphics, virtual 3D graphics, animated graphics, and others can also be thrown into the mix.

Adobe PDF is also a common format for distributing final-form documents, and PDF is based on open specifications for both PDF and PostScript that Adobe published back in the 1990s.

It Isn't Backwards-Compatible

Or, How Many Times Do I Have To Upgrade My *!/?\#%@! Plugin?

If you install a Flash plugin today, there's no guarantee you'll be able to view Flash content created 2 months from now.

If you have a Flash plugin from 5 years ago, it's probably useless today.

Flash is designed with built-in obsolescence, forcing users to repeatedly visit the Adobe website to get an upgrade. This is not only a bother, it forces one company's advertising into the world's face every time it releases a software update.

It Can't Be Customized

Or, How Do I Increase The Font Size?

From time immemorial (well, at least since the beginning of web time), a web page's text could be customized to suit the user's taste and needs. All web browsers provide the tools to increase/decrease the font size, as well as to specify custom fonts for different page elements (headers, paragraphs, etc).

Flash throws all of that out the window with a terse shrug, "Let 'Em Eat Helvetica 10pt."

Its Content Is Inaccessible

Or, How Do I Drag And Drop Images and Text?

No, you can't drag and drop images or text. This most basic method of interacting with a web page—dragging images off of the page, or selecting sections of the page to drag onto an email or text processor—is a non-starter if it's part of a Flash movie.

Copy and paste? If the Flash programmer has been thoughtful, you should be able to copy and paste text. But don't even try to copy any other page element.

And that includes copying a link's URL. Right-click (Ctrl-click) anywhere in a Flash movie, and you get the standard Flash popup menu. Not very helpful.

You Can't Save The Page

Or, You Mean, I Can't Save A Copy?

Another common task many web browsers like to do is to save a web page as text, as HTML, or as a format like rich-text format. With Flash, this is impossible.

You may be able to save the file as a web archive, but there's no open standard for a "web archive," and getting at the content inside one is almost as hard as getting inside a Flash movie.

Flash Consumes More Of Your Computer

Or, Running Flash Diverts Your Processing Power and Memory

When I'm running Flash — as I am now while shopping at Adobe — my Activity Monitor shows its consuming a continuous 5-percent of my processing power, and about 130 MB of my RAM.

For What? There's nothing a Flash movie can deliver that can't be delivered using open standards technology. This is one reason I keep it turned off when browsing the web.

I Can't Use It On My iPhone or iPad!

Or, I thought Apple was the bad guy here?

Apple has very good reasons for not supporting Flash on its tiny devices. As the previous point makes clear, Flash isn't a delicate, lightweight technology that your processor and RAM won't notice.

When trying to build hardware and software for small devices that work well and don't lead to memory problems or application crashes, why wouldn't you ditch unnecessary technologies like Flash?

Obviously, Steve Jobs stepped into a hornets nest here, but I think the hornets were wrong.

If you feel the same way about Flash, please show your support! You can add the "Say No To Flash" banner by viewing the Instructions page.

Just Say No To Flash!