Flash vs HTML5: What’s the Difference?


Flash (formerly known as Shockwave Flash and Macromedia Flash) has long been the preferred software for creating web-based graphics, animation, and other online multimedia content. Developed by Adobe Systems, it was widely used back in the 2000s for the purpose of displaying interactive webpages. Even YouTube relied on Flash technology for video playback during its early years. But the times have changed, with the latest version of the Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) now taking its place.

Required Software

One of the great things about HTML5 is that it’s supported by all of the major web browsers, and unlike its Flash counterpart, it does NOT require any third-party software to run. If you want to access Flash content on the web, you’ll need to download and install the appropriate browser plugin. But there’s no downloading required for the execution of HTML5 elements, as support is integrated into all of the major web browsers.

iOS Support

You won’t be able to view Flash animations on an Apple iPad, iPhone or iPhone due to its lack of support. Apple has said that it will not support Flash, meaning users will have to seek an alternative solution (e.g. third-party app) to run Flash. HTML5, however, can be accessed on all iOS and Android devices.

Mobile Friendly

HTML5 is touted as being a mobile-friendly way to design rich webpages and multimedia content. Given the fact that more people now use the Internet on their smartphones than PC, this is a huge win for the programming language. Designing content in HTML5 will ensure that users can access the content, regardless of their viewing device. While some Flash elements can also be optimized for mobile compatibility, it’s not ideal for this application.

Search Engine Visibility

Flash and HTML5 content are both visible to search engines. This means you’ll find content designed in HTML5 and Flash in the search results of Google, Bing and Yahoo. However, Bing just recently added support for Flash back in 2010, with Yahoo supporting the code several years prior in 2008.

Google Adwords Ditches Flash

Here’s one more nail in the coffin for Flash: Google recently announced that it was switching its Adwords displays ads to “go 100% HTML5.” Effective June 30, 2016, Adwords advertisers will no longer be able to upload Flash ads. And effective January 2, 2017, Flash ads will no longer run on the Google Display Network or DoubleClick.

But Google isn’t the only company ditching Flash. Last year, Amazon announced that it would no longer be serving Flash ads on its website.

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