It’s time to dump Flash

I’m in the process of getting rid of all the the Flash from my website. It’s not that I hate Flash, but I think it’s time that indie musicians got serious about the mobile web, and Flash — well, Flash ain’t a part of it. I want people to be able to sample music from any device at any time, and you should too.

In the realm of tablet computers, Apple’s iPad dominates. There’s an estimated 29 million iPads out there and not a single one of them supports Flash. On Android-based devices, Flash may or may not be pre-installed. (Whether or not your Flash widgets are even usable on a tiny phone screen is another matter.)

On iPhones, no Flash. Consider that iPhone users are also likely to be iTunes users. While the majority of my digital sales tend to be streams these days, iTunes still leads the pack in digital downloads. I’m not gonna stand in the way.

Here’s what I’m doing to dump Flash, in case you want to give it a try:

1. Replace Flash player widgets with HTML5.

There are two options I’ve used:

SoundManager 2. This is a JavaScript library that serves up streaming audio based on your visitors’ browser capabilities. It has an HTML5 audio option, which works well for iPhone, iPads and Safari browsers that don’t have Flash installed. I used SM2 extensively when redesigning my music page. There are some easily-modified widgets available at the SM2 site, if you’re not into developing your own.

Bandcamp. I could write a whole separate post about how I’ve fallen for Bandcamp’s awesome features, but for now, just know that their embeddable players are wicked cool. They’re simple, they’re legible, they’re not co-branded to death, and they work where Flash doesn’t.

Another option is to just link directly to your music in iTunes. This won’t work for Android phones, but at least iPhone users will be able to sample your music via the iTunes Store app. If anyone knows how to do something similar for Android (perhaps linking to an app?) I’d love to know about it.

2. Use the new YouTube embed code for videos.

If your website contains embedded YouTube videos, swap them out using YouTube’s newer embed code. The new code detects the browser capabilities and tries to serve up a compatible video format, including HTML5 video where supported. In most mobile devices, YouTube will hand off control to the phone or tablet’s native video player, which is a lot better than the play-in-place experience you get with desktop browsers.

Note that this doesn’t work with every video format you might have uploaded in the past. Check out YouTube’s HTML5 support docs here.

I’ve also noticed that Vimeo embedded video widgets seem to work well on iOS devices, but I haven’t used them myself.

3. OMG just get rid of Flash everywhere else.

If your site is one of those all-Flash monstrosities, a lot of mobile users probably hate you. Hire a web designer that knows how to design for both mobile and the desktop. Personally, I love just about everything posted at

Anyway, I hope that helps someone. Look for that red audio player up in the top-right corner of my website to be replaced Real Soon Now.

August 23, 2011