Why authors should pay attention to the demise of Flash.


No, not the superhero. This is even nerdier of a conversation. Adobe Flash has supported multiple facets of the internet for years. However, its demise has been a long time coming. Now, Flash’s final tolls have been rung, and its last bow is all but here.

For those completely unfamiliar with Flash, you’ve seen it. You just may not have been aware that you have seen it. As stated on its website, Adobe describes Flash as “…the standard for delivering high-impact, rich Web content. Designs, animation, and application user interfaces are deployed immediately across all browsers and platforms, attracting and engaging users with a rich Web experience.” Meaning that as you see advertisements on the web, played games within a web browser, or saw elaborate animations, it was likely that Adobe Flash played a factor in what you saw.

There are multiple reasons for Flash’s decrease in popularity. As stated by The Trefis Team, in an article on Forbes.com, “Support for Flash has waned with the emergence of HTML5, due to the former’s high latency and power consumption. It frequently crashes as well. Apple dropped support some years ago, as has Mozilla with its Firefox. Morevoer, Adobe has been slow to address these and other flaws, including some of the critical security issues.”

Apple stopped supporting Flash on its devices years ago, and a few months ago Google announced Chrome, its browser, would not support Flash display. With the majority of the most popular browsers no longer showing support, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) no longer lists Flash as the recommended method of display advertising.

Neat, what does it have to do with authors? More than you may think. Your publisher may still rely on Flash animation for display advertisements. Any correlating animations on your websites will start to hold back on the animations. If there’s an animation your site, visitors won’t see it immediately as a default. They’ll have to first start the animation, it will then play. However, that’s currently. Soon Chrome and Safari won’t support as Flash at all. Meaning any Flash animations will be hindered, and shortly unsupported entirely.

As a result, it is vital to check all of your advertisements and websites for Flash integration. Utilizing HTML5 is still capable of being done in Adobe. Only with HTML5 you get less security complications, crashes occur less due to less computer usage, and better functionality.

If you are self-published, and outsource digital resources, check with those vendors to ensure that any advertising banners are being converted, or were developed in HTML5. There can be static JPEG images in the interim. There are pros and cons to static versus animated banners, but statics can help fill the gap to ensure you don’t miss any placement dates. If you are traditionally published, it’s hopeful that your publishers are ahead of the curve and engaged either their team or external vendors that produce their work. However, a quick conversation wouldn’t be hurtful.

You can also check your website for flash animations to see if those need to be updated. You can often do that by right-clicking on an animated piece, click “Inspect Element.” If you see a file name in the code labeled as “filename.swf” that is a flash animation. MP4 and GIF files can be good substitutes. However, with MP4 files you often also want an OGG Theora version of the file to accommodate Firefox. You can convert MP4 files easily to OGG with Miro Video Converter, it’s a free download.

Have further questions or concerns? The conversation is always live on Twitter @thomasafowler and on my website of ThomasAFowler.com. Enjoy the rest of your week.

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