Flash vs Javascript (jQuery) Pros and Cons

Flash vs JavascriptUntil the availability of Javascript libraries such as jQuery and MooTools adding animation and interactive features that don’t require reloading a web page were out of reach for many web designers/developers unless they used Flash.

This was largely due to Javascript implementations not being consistent in major browsers. Without using a Javascript library you need extensive knowledge about the inconsistencies between the browsers and extensive knowledge about Javascript in order to work around them.

jQuery and MooTools offer a library of routines that are cross browser compatible which greatly reduces the learning curve. These libraries also offer functions to handle many routine tasks making Javascript programming faster and easier to learn.

The Pros & Cons of using Flash vs Javascript:

Flash Pros Flash Cons
  • Extensive features
  • 3D Capabilities
  • Consistent appearance in supported browsers
  • Supports vector artwork
  • Built-in UI & other features
  • Many free and Commercial tools available
  • More font options
  • Not compatible with all browsers including iPhone, iPad and cell phones
  • Moderate learning curve to use
  • Cost of purchasing Flash software
  • Possible problems with users that have older versions of the Flash Player
  • Potentially large file size
  • Possible security issues with Flash Player
  • Tracking stats for Flash elements is limited
Javascript Pros Javascript Cons
  • Small size
  • Using jQuery or other libraries reduces the learning curve
  • Hundreds of free professional quality programs
  • Can add interactivity to web page elements and tags
  • Skinnable Form Components UI
  • Compatible with more browsers than Flash including iPhone, cell phones, PS3, PSP
  • Features not as extensive as Flash
  • Complex features may not perform as quickly as flash
  • 3D features are limited
  • Users can disable Javascript support
  • Source Code Not Protected

When to use Flash vs Javascript:

Application Flash Javascript
Slide Show X
Form Validation X
Dropdown Menus X
Tabbed Panels X
Popups & Tooltips X
Expandable/Collapsible Elements X
Video/Audio Player X
Complex Animation X
3D X
Complex Multimedia X

Flash & Javascript Resources:

Flash Javascript
Kirupa – nice tutorials
Flashloaded – components
Digicrafts – components
Flash Components
Swish – Flash Generator
Swift 3D – 3D designer/animator
jQuery – Javascript Library
MooTools -  Javascript library
jQuery Slideshow
jQuery Validation
jQuery UI
jQuery Lightbox

While Flash still has a few areas that make it the better choice there are many features that are easily handled by Javascript. If you’re just getting started take a look at jQuery, it simplifies the process of using Javascript and can greatly enhance a web site.

Additional Reading:

DLL Written by: Don Lyckman
Don Lyckman is a Web Developer/Designer
Flash, Javascript, jQuery

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