HTML5 Vs Flash – Know The Main Differences

This tutorial explains the main differences between HTML5 Vs Flash, benefits of HTML5 over Flash with a comparison table and examples:

This tutorial aims at explaining HTML5 and Flash in detail. We will go through the benefits of HTML5 to understand how it became a threat to the existence of Flash.

You will also get to know the reasons for the growing popularity of HTML5 over Flash. However, we shall begin the tutorial by understanding how HTML5 and Flash are useful for software developers.

HTML5 Vs Flash

What Is HTML5

HTML5 is the latest (fifth) version of HTML. It is a markup language that is used for presenting content on the World Wide Web. It was released in the year 2008 and a major update to it was released in 2014.


The goal to introduce HTML5 was to introduce features for multimedia support and yet keep the language easy to learn and use for the programmers. It includes features that allow its use in cross-platform mobile applications as well.

When compared to HTML, HTML5 includes features to natively handle multimedia using tags like <audio>, <video> and <canvas>. It includes support for SVG content and mathematical formulas.

A lot of tags were added to structure the content of the document as well. Tags like <header>, <footer>, <article>, <main>, <section> etc. were introduced in HTML5.

What Is Flash


Flash software is used for multimedia programming. It is used for creating animations, rich web applications (for both, mobile and desktop), gaming apps, etc.

The history of Flash can be dated back to the year 1993 when FutureWave Software Inc. – a Software development company based in San Diego, California created SmartSketch, which was a drawing program for a PenPaint Operating system.

However, due to the failure of this OS, SmartSketch was re-named as FutureSplash Animator. FutureSplash Animator was designed to work on multiple platforms. Later, in 1996 Macromedia purchased FutureSplash and named it “Flash”.

Finally, in the year 2005, Flash was purchased by Adobe and thus got the name Adobe Flash. Thereafter, the popularity of Flash grew by leaps and bounds until HTML5 was released.

HTML5 Vs Flash – A Comparison

HTML5 vs Flash

AdventYear 2008

HTML5 was looked upon as the replacement for Flash.

HTML5 is the latest in technology.
Year 1993

Until the arrival of HTML5, Flash was quite popular.

Flash is an old technology dating back to 1993.
SecurityNo major security concern as it does not require the use of plugins.Major security lapses were identified due to the use of external plugins for Flash.
PerformanceIt can work on a processor with normal processing speed.It requires the use of a CPU with high clock speed.
Browser SupportIt is supported by all major browsers.It requires the use of plugins.
External ResourcesIt is not dependent on any external resources due to native browser.External resources/Plugins are needed to use Flash.
Cost EffectivenessIt is open source.It is a Proprietary software.
SEO optimizationHTML5 tags provide the support for enhanced SEO optimization.Flash elements lack the support for SEO optimization.
Device accessibilityHTML5 is supported by mobile browsers.Flash is incompatible with iOS and also halves the battery life.

HTML5 Code Examples

HTML5 has methods, properties, and events for its audio and video elements. Let’s take a look at some of the methods, properties, and events of audio and video elements.

We will use the below code snippet to show the syntax for the methods, properties, and events being discussed below.

var id = document.getElementById(“sample.mp4”)
(“sample.mp4” file is a video file)

Methods: Given below are some of the methods of audio and video elements.

play()To start playing an audio/ sample.mp4
pause()To pause an audio/video being sample.mp4
load()To reload an existing audio/ sample.mp4
canPlayType()To check if an audio/video can be - Probably, Maybe or blank for no support.
addTextTrack()To add a new text track to the audio/, label, language)Returns a new Text track object.

Property: Listed below are some of the properties of audio and video elements.

autoplayTo set(or returns) is an audio/video should start to play as soon as it is
id.autoplay=true | false
Returns true or false.

Sets to autoplay mode | Autoplay is set to off.
currentSrcTo get the URL of the current audio/ URL of sample.mp4
duration To get the length(in seconds) of the current audio/ video length in seconds.
mutedTo set(or returns) if an audio/video is
id.muted=true | false
Returns true(if sample.mp4 is muted) else false.

Mutes sound of sample.mp4 file | Unmutes sound of sample.mp4 file.
srcTo set(or returns) the source of the current audio/
Returns URL of sample.mp4 file.

Sets the source for sample.mp4 file to URL.

Event: Some of the Events of audio and video elements are given below.

Event: pause
Purpose: Is executed when audio/video is paused.


id.addEventListener("pause", function() 
  			                alert("The video has been paused");

Result: Returns “The video has been paused” when sample.mp4 is paused.

Event: ended
Purpose: Is executed when the current playlist ends.


id.addEventListener("ended", function() 
  			   alert("The video has ended");

Result: Returns “The video has ended” when sample.mp4 ends.

Event: progress
Purpose: Is executed when an audio/video is downloading.


id.addEventListener("waiting", function() 
  			    alert("Please wait, while the video is downloading");

Result: Returns “Please wait, while the video is downloading” when the sample.mp4 file is downloading.

Event: waiting
Purpose: This is executed when a video stops due to buffering.


id.addEventListener("waiting", function()
  			    alert("The video is waiting due to buffering");

Result: Returns “The video is waiting due to buffering” when sample.mp4 temporarily stops due to buffering.

Flash Code Examples

Using Flash doesn’t require one to have programming knowledge. To view a Flash video, only the browser must have Flash pre-installed and enabled. However, to create videos in Flash, one must purchase Adobe Flash software or use its 30-day trial version. We have already created a video file “mymovie” using Flash.

Once a video is created in Flash, it can be embedded in any HTML page using the basic steps given below.

  • In Flash, select File -> Open, to open the video file.
  • Now select File -> Export Movie.
  • Name the video – say “mymovie.sfw”.
  • Choose the location where it is to be saved and click Ok.

Insert the below basic code in the HTML page where the video is to be inserted.

<object width=”500” height=”350”>
<param name=”movie” value=”mymovie.sfw”>
<embed src=”mymovie.sfw” width=”500 height=”350”>

Benefits Of HTML5

As read above, Flash was originally not so popular but it gained great popularity from the year 2005 until HTML5 came into existence. This means that HTML5 definitely had those features that made it a powerful competitor of Adobe Flash.

Here, we will take a brief look at the key features of HTML5 that brought down the popularity of Adobe Flash.

  • It can be used across various platforms.
  • It is open source.
  • HTML5 code runs natively within the web browsers and no separate plugin is needed.
  • It is lightweight, and thus requires less CPU time to render web pages.
  • Using HTML5, media streaming is possible natively within the browser. No external support is needed.

Flash To HTML5: Reasons For The Drift

flash to html5

With HTML5 vs Flash, HTML5 emerged with a much higher score. There have been multiple reasons as to why HTML5 easily replaced the use of Flash.

Some of the reasons are explained below:

  • At the time when Adobe Flash was immensely being used, it was realized that Adobe Flash had a serious security threat arising out of the use of external plugins.
  • The pace at which the updates were released for Adobe Flash was not sufficient and could not meet the quick developments being experienced in the technology.
  • Over a period of time, updated versions in Flash made it highly unstable, thereby resulting in unexpected crashes.
  • At a time when Adobe flash was being criticized for being unstable, the release of HTML5 was seen as its replacement.
  • HTML5 being an open-source technology was readily available for use for all those who are using Flash until now.
  • As HTML5 is supported by all the popular browsers, it quickly gained popularity.
  • Adobe Flash lacks support for mobile whereas HTML5 provided mobile compatibility. With the advent of mobile devices steadily increasing and overtaking the use of laptops and desktops for information access, this shortcoming became another reason for lesser popularity of Flash.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q #1) What replaces Flash Player in 2020?

Answer: Adobe’s official support for Flash would end on 31 Dec 2020 for all major web browsers – Firefox, Opera, Safari, Edge. Flash would be replaced by HTML5.

Q #2) Is Chrome getting rid of Flash?

Answer: Although Adobe’s official support for Flash would end on 31 Dec 2020, however Chrome version 76 and above already have Flash disabled by default.

Q #3) Why is Flash Player not working in Chrome?

Answer: If you are using Chrome version 76 or above, then you need to know that Flash is disabled by default for Chrome version 76 and above.

Q #4) Is enabling flash safe?

Answer: Due to security concerns, the use of Flash should be avoided until absolutely necessary. This is the reason for which Google disabled it from its Chrome browser by default from version 76 onwards.

Q #5) Can I still use Flash after 2020?

Answer: As the support for Flash would come to an end by 31 Dec 2020, all the major browsers would stop supporting it. Thus as long as the new browser versions are not installed by the users, they can continue using it.

Q #6) How do I enable Adobe Flash Player in Chrome 76?

Answer: Flash can be enabled on chrome by clicking the lock icon at the left side of the address bar and then selecting Site Settings. Now select “Allow” against the Flash dropdown under the Privacy and Security tab.

Q #7) What is HTML5 used for?

Answer: HTML5 is a markup language that is used to create web pages for the world wide web. HTML5 is the latest version of HTML that was released in the year 2008 and a major update to it was released in 2014.

Q #8) Can HTML5 be used for mobile apps?

Answer: Yes, coding in HTML5 is supported for all mobile devices. Besides mobile devices, tablets, desktops, laptops, and all other devices of varying sizes are supported.

Q #9) Can you convert Flash to HTML5?

Answer: Yes, Flash files can be converted to HTML5. There are various tools available for this purpose. Either the available source file .fla and .as3 can be converted, or if the source files are not available, then the SWF files can be converted to HTML5.

Q #10) Why is Flash Player being discontinued?

Answer: The reason to discontinue Flash Player lies in the fact that Flash has serious security concerns due to the use of plugins.

Moreover, it did not provide support for mobile devices and at the same time, HTML5 emerged as its serious competitor thereby causing Flash to lose its hold in the industry. Finally, Adobe has decided to take off Flash from the market.

Q #11) What happens when Flash is no longer supported?

Answer: When Flash is no longer supported, it would mean that any video created in Flash cannot be viewed in the web browsers as the browsers will also stop the support for Flash.

However, until the user does not install the new browser versions, the content may continue to show, but once the browser is updated, you would not be able to view the videos created in Flash.

Q #12) Is HTML5 more secure than Flash?

Answer: HTML5 is more secure as compared to Flash when considering the fact that HTML5 does not require the use of external plugins, unlike Flash. However, as HTML5 uses Javascript, the malicious code can be inserted in HTML5 without much difficulty.

Q #13) How do I know if my video is flash or HTML5?

Answer: On the page with the video, press Ctrl+U to View the source. Now, look for a tag like <object> that is used by the flash video player or <video> tag used by HTML5, and accordingly, it can be known if the video is using Flash or HTML5.

Q #14) Does YouTube use Flash Player or HTML5?

Answer: YouTube, which originally used Flash as a standard way to play the videos has moved away from it and now uses HTML5.

Q #15) How do I enable/disable Flash?


Follow the below steps, to enable/disable Flash in Chrome:

  • Click Settings -> Advanced -> Privacy and Security -> Site Settings.
  • Click Flash.
  • Use the toggle button to allow/block sites from running Flash.


In this tutorial, we learned about HTML5 and Flash. We aimed at explaining the benefits of HTML5 over flash. We also saw the main reasons that lead to the downfall of Flash and its takeover by HTML5. We briefly covered the video and audio elements of HTML5.

A comparison between the two was also shown via a tabular chart so as to bring out the differences between HTML5 and flash. Finally, we covered some of the FAQs related to this topic.

Suggested reading =>> PHP Vs HTML

We hope this tutorial would have helped you in understanding the benefits of HTML5 over Flash!!