searching through source code for a website

If you haven’t already, it is time to rework your website if you are still using Adobe Flash. It is scheduled to reach end-of-life for Adobe support at the end of 2020.

In reality, Adobe Flash as a website technology has been dead for a long time. When we first wrote this article back in 2012, the writing was already on the wall that you should remove Flash from your website. Apple refused to allow Flash on iPhones and iPads because of speed and security considerations.

The main problems with Flash include:

  1. Slow loading speed
  2. Poor indexing on search engines
  3. Inability to create bookmarks for interior pages
  4. Accidentally leaving the website by hitting the back button
  5. There are alternatives which work better and don’t require as specialized of a programmer saving you money

Flash is a Security Risk

The biggest issue is probably security. Flash has seen a series of security issues. The latest are not really with Flash at all, but with scams involving updates. The security issues are bad enough that browsers can block (and may be set to automatically do so) Flash player. And mainstream blogs have even published articles about how to protect yourself.

Can Anyone Even Use Your Flash Content Anymore?

In 2011, the use of Flash peaked (according to statistics on Built With). In December 2012, 21% of all websites were still using some Flash, According to W3Techs. But now, use has fallen to about 2.5% of all websites. That is still about 2.5 million websites using Flash in mid 2020. If your website is one of those, you probably need a new web design anyway.

Flash has been blocked from automatically playing content in Chrome (the most common web browser) for several years. The actual ability to have Flash Player installed in Chrome is being removed by the end of 2020. Flash was disabled by default in Firefox in 2019. Safari has all but eliminated it for a decade, but is officially preventing install of Flash player in the coming new version.

How to Spot Flash on Your Older Website

It’s not difficult to spot Flash on websites that use it extensively because when you enter the website it may give you a loading screen. Finding Flash being used in smaller doses, such as for a slide show, might take more than a basic visit to your website…but it won’t be that difficult.

In any web browser, there is an option to view the source code for the web page your on. This might be under a view menu, tools menu or the like. In Google Chrome, it is under developer tools in the View menu. For Safari, you have to open preferences and go to the “advanced” tab, then enable the develop menu. From the develop menu, you can view source. In Firefox you can find this under Tools, then Web Developer. In Internet Explorer, you can find this under the view menu, or in developer tools.

Once you’ve got the source code open (not exactly a pretty site) you can run a search on the page for .swf, which is the extension for Flash files. If you find some results, you’ve got Flash content.

Alternatively, you could load your site on an iPad or computer without Flash Player enabled and look for gray boxes where your photos or other content should be.

The most common uses are for interactive sections of a website, slide shows and interactive banner ads. So those are the places to check out carefully.

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