Believe it or not, I didn’t know about Flash-blocking until recently. If you’re Firefoxy, you need FlashBlock. Safariers want clicktoflash. I’m one of the few, the proud, the Camino users; for us it’s just a tick-box in the standard preferences. (And what is this “IE” of which you speak?) It’s amazing, first of all, how many little gobs of Phlash Phlegm there are all over commercial pages, and second, how much lighter-weight the whole browsing experience is when you just Turn ’Em All Off.

I already thought Apple had it right about omitting Flash from the iPhone. Hey there Palm and Android and so on, if you do allow Flash to run on your handsets, at the same time you have to introduce a way to block it.


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From: Patrick Gibson (Feb 23 2009, at 22:19)

I installed ClickToFlash a couple weeks ago, and love how it's improved my browsing experience. Everything is so much faster!


From: Seth Ladd (Feb 23 2009, at 22:21)

I agree users should have a choice, but I think saying "browse without enabling flash" is a bit like saying "browse without enabling images." It's just part of the web.


From: dave (Feb 23 2009, at 22:47)

The web would be a better place without Flash. It would be better for everybody if both Palm WebOS and Android both skipped having Flash on their handsets. It would encourage more companies to skip having Flash on their web pages, and use Internet standard content instead.


From: Paul Downey (Feb 23 2009, at 23:41)

Thanks Tim for promoting this notion so nicely! It's good for the Web if sites learn the value of degrading, not just for purists, but for people with disabilities, old and restricted computers (as in your phone examples) and machines. illustrates this point, nicely.


From: Eric Meyer (Feb 24 2009, at 05:40)

Proud to be another Camino user! The one thing I've long wanted is a whitelist for the Flash blocking. Without it, every time I visit a site like YouTube (for classic Sesame Street segments, of course!) I do a lot of extra clicking.

I just found out this feature is promised for Camino 2, so I guess what I wish now is that they'd hurry up and finish Camino 2.

And before someone drags out the usual "start contributing code and help speed up the release, d00d!": I do not know C (nor the doubleplusgood variety) nor do I understand object-oriented programming, so anything I tried to contribute would be more likely to corrupt the project as a whole than do anything useful.


From: John Cowan (Feb 24 2009, at 06:14)

I took the simple approach, and just uninstalled the Flash player from my workstation. (I still have it at home.)


From: Alistair H (Feb 24 2009, at 06:20)

I have been using flashblock for a few years now, and I have become so used to it as a way of browsing that it is strange to use terminals without it.

One thing is that it effectively removes a lot of adverts from sites. I will decline from discussing the 'ethics' of add-blocking, but the result is a cleaner browsing experience.

Essentially it makes flash 'optional' which works well in most places, and you can always 'white list' (in flashblock options) useful sites that are flash heavy such as google analytics.


From: len (Feb 24 2009, at 06:35)

Which brings up an interesting question: should the web be interactive?

From Raph Koster who's Metaplace virtual world startup has Marc Andreesen as an investor:

"The apparently inexorable march of Flash on its way to becoming the default interactive platform continues...unless a competitor steps up their game faster, Flash is going to be the default renderer for the most commonly required forms of interactive graphics. And it’s going to continue getting better."


From: Scott Johnson (Feb 24 2009, at 09:03)

I've been a huge proponent of AdBlock+ for Firefox for a couple of years. But lately, I feel bad for blocking all advertisements from sites that I truly enjoy. So I've finally taken the FlashBlock link above as a chance to install and test out software that blocks what really needs to be blocked. Hopefully I can have a more content-owner-friendly surfing experience now.


From: John Dowdell (Feb 24 2009, at 09:04)

Hi Tim, I've used Flashblock for a bunch of years myself, and have long wished the Player had global "pause at start" options. I like Flash (obviously ;-) but we surfers can't trust the judgment of content producers for rich content, or for third-party content (aka "web beacons"). Having control at the local level is a good thing.



From: Ray Davis (Feb 24 2009, at 11:09)

Ads are fine, but a border of jumping, bouncing, yelling, blaring TV ads is not conducive to careful reading. Sites who rely on text content for hits have no business forcing Flash ads on their readers, and I feel no ethical conflicts in reducing that side of their business.


From: PJ Cabrera (Feb 24 2009, at 12:34)

The NoScript extension for Firefox allows you to create a whitelist of sites where JavaScript, Java applets, and Flash are allowed. You can add sites to the whitelist as you browse, with just a right-click on the NoScript icon in the status bar.


From: Len Lynch (Feb 24 2009, at 16:16)

Since you brought it up Tim...

IE7 flash blocks are done handily using the add-on:

If you're required to use it.


From: Andrew (Feb 24 2009, at 17:24)

The primary impact of flash on your desktop is that your web browsing experience is a little slower. The impact on an iPhone is that web browsing will be slower and the battery will last less, potentially a lot less.

Of all the smartphone OS vendors out there Apple is about the only one that seems to really truly grok that the primary constraint of a smartphone is power (as in watts). Everything else is secondary to minimizing power consumption. It's why Apple doesn't allow flash, it's why they don't allow background tasks, it's why they expose an Objective-C API as opposed to putting an interpreter/jitter in the way.


From: Ross (Feb 24 2009, at 22:17)

On the other end of the design space (matching the quote above about Flashing becoming the de facto interactive content standard), I've got a new smart phone that uses a subset of flash as an app deployment method: BREW on the VX9100. (It's also the most locked down, individual developer unfriendly system out there - but that's a rant for another day) The 'tip calculator' is in fact flash.


From: len (Feb 25 2009, at 07:55)

Then a separate question to ponder: given the current idea that the mobile platform is the only one that matters in the market (aka, Die Desktops!), what is the lifecycle of mobile phone content?

I don't buy the Die Desktops meme, but I am informed that I am a waning demographic. On the other hand, I look at a lot of content where entering and interacting with via my thumbs is to painful to contemplate.

Is the Go Mobile or Perish meme yet another hype cycle with a small grain of value and a large silo of BS?


From: Jamie Orchard-Hays (Feb 25 2009, at 11:38)

One of the biggest problems with Flash is that is just sucks up CPU. I wonder how much our carbon footprints would go down if we just got rid of it. :-) Flash is great technology, but needs optimization.

Another is that so many advertisers just abuse us with it by disabling controls and so on. I find static sites with animated ads all over impossible to read, so I just don't anymore unless I've got an ad blocker.

Finally, it seems like advertisers would be smart to degrade to non-flash ads, but hey...


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