My dislike of Flash has been well documented, so last month I thought I would try to see what the internet was like without Flash installed, whatsoever. I removed Flash completely from my system, including any Chrome plugin (Chrome has Flash built in).
I’ve never tried to simply go without Flash. I’ve used FlashBlock and AdBlock to block bad Flash, but for the most part, I couldn’t really tell what sites used Flash or not. I wanted to see how far I could go without Flash.
The final answer: not very far at all.
Three sets of websites were difficult or impossible to use:
- Restaurant websites (who for some reason are determined to make horrible, horrible sites)
- Video streaming sites (YouTube, Vimeo, and other media outlets)
- Some food product-related websites
I’d put “musical group website” in the list, but I don’t really visit those much. Sites like Tazo.com, while not a restaurant, rely wholly on Flash for the entire “experience”, offering no options whatsoever for non-Flash browsers (like my iPad and iPhone). The answer of course is not “OMG let’s put Flash on mobile devices!!!1”, but to stop making bad websites.
Other sites surprised me with their use of Flash. For example, GitHub uses Flash to perform its “Copy/Paste” code operations (which I guess is only possible/feasible with Flash). Gmail uses Flash for some more advanced file attachment controls, but at least has a fallback option.
Final verdict? It is not possible (yet) to use the internet without Flash. Which is unfortunate, because the bulk of my “browsing” these days is on the iPad. It’s so, so annoying to have to switch to a desktop to look up a restaurant’s hours. Unfortunate, and totally unnecessary.
Thankfully, Adobe is forcing the hands of web developers somewhat by discontinuing development of their mobile Flash platform. But we can all do our parts to help rid the world of Flash (for bad uses). If I ever run into a totally Flash-dependent website, I write an email to the webmaster, saying I’m a 56-year-old grandmother who can’t use their website on my iPad and that it’s totally ruined my evening.