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Flash - To Use Or No To Use?

By Oleg Lazarenko
Posted Friday, May 21, 2004

Out there in the WWW there are thousands sites using flash for their needs. But the majority sites are not in this list. Let's summaries some facts about flash usage on YOUR web site. After that it's you will have to decide: to use or not to use. There are some facts about Macromedia Flash Technology:

The First Fact:
Sites are look much prettier and professional with the flash animation on their pages if animation done by professionals. Users sometimes visit sites only to see flash intro if it's done in some original manner.

The Second Fact:
Flash Source Scripts cannot be stolen unlike Java Scripts or HTML code. Flash files come in "two" pieces: files with .fla extension are the actual source and .swf files are compiled version of these files. In browsers you can see only .swf files. However I’ve already seen some “swf scanners” . Those programs let you see the action script coding used in flash movie.

The Third Fact:
Flash animation files are slow to download and require flash player plug-in . Regular static graphic requires less time to download. In a couple of years when the problem of dial-up connection may be solved and fast DSL lines will be cheap and available for anyone this problem may seem not so serious, but so far we must consider this aspect, as not all users are eager to wait for a minute or two to see your flash intro. That's one of the main reason flash is not popular on the big corporate sites (but Yahoo for example displays fast loading flash advertisements on their pages)

The Fourth Fact:
Not all browser compatible with flash players. The old versions of MS Explorer and Netscape Navigator cannot display flash movies. There is a solution however: to use Java Script to check the compatibility of browser and display the static image if the player is not available for that browser. Well there is some issue still left with browsers who cannot understand Java Scripts but there are few people who use those browsers these days…but you must keep that in mind.

The Fifth Fact:
As you may notice we used on our web page (http://www.metamorphozis.com) flash header. Why? The reason was simple and that is the fact number five: flash movies are cashed in special browser folder and second time you access it you don't need to wait. Flash movie will be displayed from the cache folder. Image files are also stored in browser cache and may be reused if you keep the file names and path to images the same. But we selected flash due to several technical reasons related to our needs. So we did it to reduce our page loading time. See how confusing it sounds with the third fact I mentioned?:-) The problem is that it requires a lot of time to download but only for the first time! If you could make visitors wait that time then you will benefit from having flash header as it always there and does not need to be loaded each time you go to the other page.

The Sixth Fact:
Search engines do not like flash pages, as it makes almost impossible to crawl them. They can not crawl links on your web page and can not index your website content if it is in flash. In html you can insert flash only as object.

As you may see flash has number of advantages and disadvantages. No matter what you think about flash but it belongs to the future of the Internet. If you cannot admit this and stay away then tomorrow you will regret you did it. Just consider the flash usage on your web site. Remember! Be reasonable in design and flash usage and you will get good looking website.


About the author
Oleg Lazarenko - Metamorphosis Web Design Studio (http://www.metamorphozis.com)
Production Manager