Is Flash dead?

I've been developing software on the web for 15 years now, using a lot of technologies to satisfy the needs of an N-tiered application. I have a lot of experience in Flash, JavaScript, HTML, & CSS for the front-end, PHP, Java, C#, and ColdFusion for the back-end, and MySQL and PostgreSQL for database persistence. I'm saying this not to be the hero in my own story, but because I want it to be clear that I do not have a religion, I do not love any technology because "that's what I grew up believing". Each language and platform has their own pros and cons.
The purpose of this blog is to give my opinion of where I think Flash is now, where I think it's going, and to attempt to dispel rumours based on bias.

Adobe's intent with Flash is to create heavily designed, interactive content that behaves the same across many browsers and operating systems. Its purpose has always been to push the limits of what a browser can give you. It is good at things like online games, video, and certain types of enterprise applications. It is not, and never has been, good at 100% Flash websites that are intended for passing information. The beginning of the perceived descendancy of Flash started a few years ago when Steve Jobs publicly opposed the Flash platform. Now please don't get into a religious argument with me already, I'm not criticizing his reasons, I'm just listing the reasons why Flash has the perceptions it currently has. So first was Apple's war against Flash, the lawsuits around Apple forbidding AIR on iPhones, and the drama that has persisted the last few years. Then a major blow to its perception was the revocation of mobile browser support for Flash. This created an enormous disconnect between reality and perception. People took this to mean, "Flash is dead". When it really only meant, "Flash on mobile browsers" is dead, when it was never really alive to begin with. "How can you kill that which has no life?" So here's where the demise of Flash starts to become a self-fulfilling prophecy; Development shops start dropping Flash like a hot box of rocks, HTML 5 all the way, make way for the future!

What is the state of Flash right now? Adobe has shifted its attention in Flash to be more towards the online games niche. They've changed their business model for online flash games, they've dropped support for Flex (which was primarily good for enterprise and form-based applications), and they've been focusing on features centered around GPU accelerated games for the web. What does this mean? It means that if you're in the business of making online games, awesome, have a good look at Flash. Even Unity, which has been on the rise has the ability to publish to a Flash SWF. Is Flash still ubiquitous? Sorry if you've endured this whole post for just this question. The answer is: it entirely depends on your audience. Adobe hasn't released penetration statistics in 4 years, and the information they gave was never very accurate anyway, as it all depends on your audience. For example, I've developed software for teachers in the middle east where the penetration was less than 80%, and thankfully did the research before hand and planned accordingly. However, at Riot Games where our audience is entirely gamers, the Flash player penetration is at 99.96%. This blog, whose audience is web developers, has an average penetration of 94%. So you have to do the research on your customer-base, do not make assumptions. Silverlight died almost as soon as it launched, and has a global penetration of about 20%, but has been perfectly fine for Netflix because Netflix has a captive audience and their users will install what is required.

Will Flash be around in 10 years? Does it matter? How long do you expect the software you write today to last?

Yeah it's so dead that Microsoft decided to include it in their new tablet, LOL.

I had a good laugh at my boss. He is a Silverlight love. Silver-what you say>

Here is a blog post I made a few weeks about this subject:
http://salsadepixeles.blogspot.com.es/2013/01/why-flash-developers-will-...

as a flash developer I'd like to contribute this flash application to the subject of "is flash deal":
:)
have fun :)
http://balanceshit.com/swf/flash_is_alive.html

Firstly, let me concede Flash is alive even well in enterprise environments. The ascendency of mobile browsing has effectively disenfranchised flash as a web technology. Popular thinking--almost concensus--is that flash will be supplanted by HTML5 technologies like canvas and svg programmed in javascript or some descendent.

Wrong.

The future of browser technogy will be plug in based--only the plug ins will be ios and android variants. Certainly HTML is dead for web apps--see facebook. The tools and programming structures are not deep enough to support complex apps and games. So most app dev will stay in the proprietary ios and google/android technologies.

But windows 8--a technology just sufficiently ahead of its time to insure its demise---points the way to apps that open on the desktop. The question is how will google and apple respond to this challenge. They may release emulators, or they may create browser plug-ins. What? The return of browser plugins? Maybe.

And flash and win 8 may find themselves consigned to the shadows of web technologies they boldly presaged.

Hi ,
Sorry for my English....
I am working in Action script 3.0 last 3 years. Similarly i afraid on this.
But recently adobe lunched Flash CS6. once instal this software, in below link through download "Download for Flash Professional Toolkit for CreateJS". and double click on this.
Link: http://www.adobe.com/in/products/flash/flash-to-html5.html

using this total flash content we can publish as js code instead of swf file. So here single code we can use multiple devices(smart phones and PC)

Thanks,
Chandu

Flash may be less pertinent in todays' developer world, but as long as their are sites out there with good (flash) content, it cannot die. So I am an android hobbyist... And the platform has moved away from flash (pulled it from the market, adobe no longer supporting), but you would probably be surprised at the number of people sideloading the aging 4.0 apk.. as it still works with current jellybean builds. Why? well it could be to play some flash web app game or another, but for me, its to view site videos that still rely on the format. Small businesses don't immediately go out and hire an expensive, top-notch html dev versed in canvas to update their sites. Some of their ideas and how to videos (written in flash) I still like to see & review; they're quite informative many times. But that is just it. Good content will prove to me flash's future.. for now it may be stunted for development purposes, but even html5 could learn some things from old man flash in my opinion.

Rob

Hey !

I don't want to write a full editorial on this, so I'll just throw some thought I have at this very moment.

Does it really depend only merely on your target or penetration ?

What if you have 20% more penetration using html5, but your game cost 50% more to create ?
Or you have 20% less penetration in unity but you save 50% in production cost ? What cost are you willing to pay per percent ?

When creating games with a million in budget those 500k make a huge difference.

Even in market with less than 80% of flash penetration you still have [X fold] more user reach than xbox, ps3 and wii combine.

My point is, Flash is a means to an end not the end itself, in our case we've develop an engine that increases our productivity to a level approaching Unity for prototyping, but surpasses it for our special needs (mmo, working with team, connected...).

Don't chose a technology based on trends graph (like customers that want to be in the band wagon). But chose the one that will give the best [product vs cost vs reach] value.

Flash is still free, and the same code run on browser, IOS and Android..

My 0.02

Beat regards.

I came from doing Flash-only websites in the late '90s to doing enterprise apps and games, so in a way I evolved with the ecosystem. I totally agree that there's a major disconnect between the consumer understanding of Flash as a tool for making annoying web banners, something only good for playing video, and the reality of it as a front-end language for graphics-driven applications. There is little point in having mobile flash in the browser; we can publish apps so why constrain it inside a browser window? Content-driven websites should not be written in Flash, period, with the exception possibly of sites for videographers, photographers or musicians who care less about searchability of text than about showcasing a "brand". In any event there are SEO workarounds that aren't contrary to Google's spirit of crawled content reflecting viewed content. My own site is an exception to the rule because those are the people I do work for, and I don't care if it's searchable, the point is to show off application and brand development, and it wouldn't make sense to write a portfolio of Flash work in Javascript.

Too many Flash developers didn't know their tool well and wrote bad code. And too many used the wrong tool for the job. The incorrect meme that says HTML5 somehow replaces Flash is largely the fault of self-styled Flash "coders" who couldn't code. No one says this about Java, which will probably still be driving trading platforms and business apps for the next 30 years... because no one was stupid enough to start writing annoying banners in Java; because you actually have to be able to code and have half a brain to write a Java app.

At this point, even if there were zero flash-in-browser penetration it would still be great for writing desktop and mobile apps; and especially casual games, there's no other platform that can compete with it in terms of rapid game deployment and penetration.

Hi,
Just a clarification for your article. You say:
"they've been focusing on features centered around GPU accelerated games for the web"

Its not just games for the web. This is in computer's browsers. They are also focusing very heavily on mobile app (games) development for Android, iOS, etc. through AIR runtime and framework.

So Flash is not available only in device's browsers.

The problem with Adobe is that now, they are shifting most resources for the "Web Platforms and runtime" (browsers) for anything related to "multimedia". But that's another topic ...