• Wes Simpson

Lots of Flash Websites are Still Out There - 3 Years On

Exactly three years ago today, on July 25, 2017, Adobe announced it "will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats." December 31st is less than six months away, so how are we doing? Well, pretty good, but not perfect as it turns out.

I have been doing some research on RTMP lately, to gather some material for my forthcoming online class about Internet media protocols, including RIST and SRT. RTMP, of course, was developed by Adobe/Macromedia primarily as a way to deliver real-time video across IP networks. In the beginning, RTMP was coupled tightly with Adobe/Macromedia Flash, although it now supports many other video formats. RTMP is still used extensively on the web, including live stream sharing websites like twitch, and it supports multiple content formats. But RTMP also is tied closely to Flash, so it made sense to take look into how Flash is doing.

Flash has been deprecated on many browsers - you need to jump through a few hoops to run it on Chrome today, and it has never been supported in iOS. Google has announced that Chrome won't support Flash after this year. Adobe has even released and standalone player (called a projector) for SWF files you have on your PC or that you find on the web.

If you are wondering how websites are doing in migrating away from Flash, the following data is interesting. It comes from a website called w3techs.com and they keep tabs on the technologies that are being used on the World Wide Web (w3). Here is a chart that i grabbed off their website today that shows the percentage of sites that are still using Flash:

As you can see, 3.2 percent of the top 1000 websites are still using Flash, which was a bit of a surprise. Even more surprising was their list of popular websites that are still using Flash:

  • Google.com

  • Sohu.com

  • Mail.ru

  • Babytree.com

  • Ok.ru

  • Cnn.com

  • Jrj.com.cn

  • Globo.com

  • 6.cn

  • Rednet.cn

Now, I don't recognize a lot of these sitenames, but Google.com? CNN.com? Really? This needs a little further investigation. Using that same website, which uses a web crawler to look through many individual sites, I found the following info for Google:

Looking at this, it appears that Google.com uses both JavaScript and Flash, and Flash is "used on inner pages". I didn't see anything that indicated how many pages are in Flash, so it's hard to tell if there is an issue there. Turning to CNN, it shows the same result as the picture above, but without the phrase "used on inner pages." Does this mean that CNN uses Flash on their homepage? Hard to tell, but it would be really surprising - Google search started ignoring Flash content at the end of 2019.

Overall, the WWW seems to be doing pretty well in moving away from Flash. Here is yet another chart from w3techs that shows almost a one percent drop in websites that use Flash over the past 12 months:

Bottom line: Flash is going away slowly, and I would guess that there are going to be some websites that have issues come January 2021. But who doesn't like a little technology migration to keep all those web developers on their toes?


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