On Flash and flip books

Flash used to be the industry standard for all interactive content, in 1990s and early 2000s. It was the most advanced technology at the time and it was perfect for creating that page flip effect you’ve seen in digital catalogs or magazines. Flash was also used for websites, videos, games, ads and apps.

However, things have changed.

In 2010, Steve Jobs has declared war to Adobe Flash, in an open letter, in which he explained why Apple didn’t allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. In his own words:

“the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards — all areas where Flash falls short” 
— Steve Jobs, Thoughts on flash

Jobs’ declaration marked a turning point in the evolution of Flash. It started to lose momentum, and from there on it experienced a slow but steady downfall.

Other than the great influence of Apple, the increasing popularity of mobile devices is another reason why Flash is dying out. 1 in 5 page views on the web happen from a mobile device, and the number keeps growing. Less and less websites are using it, and it’s the same for videos, apps and flipbooks. There are newer technologies that have the same capabilities and fewer vulnerabilities. It just makes sense to adapt. HTML5 is the standard for mobile-ready browser content, so flipbook makers had to find a solution.

Many flipbook apps, like Issuu and Flipsnack, have used both technologies at the same time, as soon as these issues appeared. The developers came up with the idea of using HTML5 as an alternative for devices that don’t support Flash or don’t have it installed. This way flipbooks were viewable from for all types of devices and browsers. It worked for a while. But it couldn’t last long that way.

New vulnerabilities of Adobe Flash were uncovered last year, in 2015. Mozilla Firefox blocked all Flash content by default, which is a huge hit for an app developer that relies massively on Flash.

It was a turning point for us. We realized that we had to put Flash to rest once and for all. There are other flipbook makers that are 100% HTML5 and we knew we could do it. We knew we had to do it.

We also know that slowly, but surely, all flipbook makers will have to move over to HTML5 completely, because there’s no other way. Flash is dying — everybody keeps saying it, and there are numbers that show it.

Right now, designers and developers (most of them) are hating on Flash, but I have a feeling that in just a few years, when the general frustration subsides, we’ll remember the good old days of Flash with nostalgia.

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