Is Canvas the End of Flash?

March 2nd, 2009   Posted by Ted in Featured, Inspiration, Reviews

There’s no mistaking it, we love flash around here. However, it’s of my opinion that flash is going out. When you look back at why Flash was created and why it exists today its because designers and developers pushed the boundaries of HTML/CSS/Javascript too far and needed something more. Those standard web tools can’t do enough and thus we throw it all out the window and use flash instead. Well with Safari 4, and the upcoming Firefox 3.1, we’re going to see the beginning of the end for Flash. Why is this? One word, “Canvas”.

The canvas tag is most simply an element of HTML5 (HTML4 is the current standard) that allows for dynamic scriptable rendering of bitmap images over time. Sound familiar? cough:flash:cough Currently with HTML we’re stuck with images, boxes, and text. Canvas unleashes all that.

In Canvas you can run video, with no initialization of any player, no plugin needed. You can have perfectly consistent rendering of any font across all OS’s and browsers. You can draw complex vector shapes with gradients and pixel by pixel manipulations.

Just to get across a quick sample of the sheer power of the canvas element download Firefox 3.1 and give these links a shot.

Mario Cart game with Canvas

Real Time Green Screen Chroma Keying with Canvas

Bespin: An online text editor by Mozilla with Canvas to render the text – Apple’s online sharing tool for iWork Documents uses Canvas to render the document itself in the browser to ensure perfect representations of the actual document.

280 Slides: Online Presentation Application. Dare I say better than Apple’s Keynote, and built with javascript none-the-less. It uses canvas to draw the slides.

You can even create 3d objects with a little javascript engine

Cross Browser Support
I know what you’re thinking, “What about IE, its useless if there is no IE support.”
No version of IE supports canvas. Currently IE8 beta doesn’t even support canvas. However, there are workarounds.

One using SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics):

One ironically using Flash as a bridge:

The folks at Cappuccino use combinations of various Technologies to accomplish what canvas can do on all browsers. ( is an example of this.)

The last remaining puzzle is, “How do we lower the barrier of entry for canvas?”

Currently you need to work in some javascript and code out all your canvas work. This sucks. Canvas is powerful enough to require a good GUI to create with. Much like Flash. This is why Mozilla is working on a program called Thunderhead. Thunderhead is not out yet, but its described to be a canvas/js GUI toolkit. Perhaps this will give designers the ultimate HTML design tool? Allow them to create with tools they’re used to in Photoshop and Flash, but the document be the element.

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140 Responses to “Is Canvas the End of Flash?”

  1. John Dowdell  March 10th, 2009

    Hi, so at the core, it seems you’re saying that “CANVAS is the end of Flash” because the CANVAS tag can be used for realworld minority audiences if you’ve already developed a Flash version that works for everyone.

    I realize I didn’t phrase it quite the same way you did, but…?


  2. steve  March 11th, 2009

    I suppose you could say that, but what I was trying to get at was that if CANVAS gets adopted, which it already is, in all browsers but IE, you can develop web sites and web applications that can do nearly everything flash can do, without flash. As for IE, you can use one of the methods I listed in the article to get your CANVAS website running.

  3. Alex Clemesha  March 11th, 2009

    @jd/adobe All due respect, but I honestly detect a slight bit of FUD in your comment, am I wrong?

    I for one love using, and am familiar with javascript – whereas I have never wrote anything significant in Flash because the learning curve is a bit to large to compensate for adopting a closed platform. Take for example the amazing Flot jQuery Canvas based plotting lib ( This lib does everything I’ve wanted (and more) for browser plotting, and I get to code with jQuery instead of Flash – a huge win IMHO.

  4. Collin Cusce  March 11th, 2009

    1) A correction: Flash isn’t bitmap. While it can render bitmaps, for the most part, it’s vector.

    2) Consistency. Javascript isnt standardized across browsers enough to make any scripting realistic.

    3) Speed. AS3 is a hell of a lot faster than AS2. AS2 is a hell of a lot faster than Javascript. Therefore, AS3 is significantly faster than Javascript. There’s something to be said for graphic libraries built into an executable program. No, Javascript will not catch up. Sorry. AS3 follows the strongly typed ECMA standard. It runs on a VM. Javascript is runtime interpreted. It will never be as fast as AS3.

    4) Streaming. AJAX is not streaming. FLV is.

    5) Event Dispatchers. Load time events built into AS3/Flash make for much more versatility and rapid event execution. They are not built in ActionScript… they are part of the AS3 VM itself.

    6) Classes. Javascript fakes it. AS2/3 does not.

    7) Packages. No, storing Javascript in a separate file is not the same as importing pacakages.

    8) Consistent error processing. I’d rather not use 3 browsers to figure out what an error is.

    9) Support. New adoption rates of browsers dwarfs new adoption rates of the Adobe plug in.

    10) Graphics Card. Flash10 is seeing support for graphics cards. As a result, some 3D operations are built into AS3. Current libraries such as Sandy3, Papervision, and Away3D are already taking advantage of this. It’s a matter of time before Flash can be used for full 3D graphics, including z-buffering. Javascript, my friend, will never get there.

    Sorry, but it is my opinion you are extremely incorrect.

  5. Michael Ramirez  March 11th, 2009

    I think “CANVAS” tag will mark the end of Flash Player 2 :) The “CANVAS” tag will be stuck playing catchup to the Flash Player and enhancements will takes years to reach implementation. Aren’t we still waiting on HTML5 to replace HTML4. The Flash player has nothing to worry about.

  6. Anthony Alexander  March 11th, 2009

    Flash has to die sooner or later, but I doubt it’s going to be some canvas hack. Whatever the replacement, its going to be a standards compliant implementation like javascript, html, or CSS. Furthermore, the only real defining factor that sets flash apart from plain Javascript(see AJAX losers) is the ability to manipulate vector graphics. Add that functionality natively to javascript, ease on the restrictions for device access, and voila, Adobe needs to get another suite of applications to invent.

  7. Jan Willem de Birk  March 11th, 2009

    You are a serious joke if this is a serious statement.. There is no way Canvas is a replacement for Flash. Certainly not for Flex. I’m not even going to argue why, I just rest my case.

  8. Thomas Hansen  March 11th, 2009

    Great writeup, don’t worry too much about the previous commenters, they’re probably too invested in Flash to be able to see the writing on the wall…
    Ohh yeah, I *insanely* agree btw…!

  9. Michael Ramirez  March 11th, 2009

    Ok, I’ll bit. The “CANVAS” tag will mark the end of Flash. My question to the pro “CANVAS” community is when? HTML5 began in late 2003 so its been 6 yrs. I would like to hear your estimates on when will “CANVAS” replace Flash.

  10. Benologist  March 11th, 2009

    If Adobe stopped developing Flash right now Canvas would still only be a substitute for a small portion of what it can do. Flash is constantly and rapidly improving, what the W3 does isn’t even in the race let alone poised to end Flash.

    Canvas is probably a decade away from actually mattering. By the time it matters it’s going to address just some of the “problems” we face now, not then.

  11. Sekhar Ravinutala  March 11th, 2009

    @Collin, great reply. Yeah JS sucks, but you can use GWT though, so that may not be a big issue. We’ll have to see what kind of tools CANVAS gets. Still, CANVAS has a long way to catch up, and the real competition isn’t even Flash, but Flex, which is generations ahead.

  12. James Hofmann  March 11th, 2009

    There is a bunch of stuff that JS doesn’t have right now:

    -Fast implementations on all browsers(IE…)
    -Vectors, sound and video available through an IDE
    -GUI toolkit…

    Any one thing you could discount, the problem is the whole package.

  13. James Boston  March 11th, 2009

    There is some work being done to get support for openGL built into canvas:

    And some work is being done to make using that functionality easier:

  14. // popular today  March 11th, 2009 // popular today…

    story has entered the popular today section on…

  15. Alex G  March 11th, 2009

    in short, the answer is “no”. the long version is “noooooooooooooooooo”.

    canvas is a trinket in the browser atm and it’s simply impossible to catch up years of development and use in short time (as very well illustrated by silverlight).

    there are thousands of flash developers out there who are employed by companies and canvas presents less than zero reason to have them retrained or even to just learn it for fun. I’ve been developing flash professionally since 2002 and currently see absolutely no reason to even look at canvas, even for personal use I can’t think of a reason why i’d want it.

    there has to be an incentive to chose it over proven platform, and canvas presents none atm.

  16. Steven Hargrove  March 11th, 2009

    I agree with the majority of the comments here.

    I’ve been a flash developer since around 2001, and I think you are sadly mistaken and misguided on this one.

    Alex G makes a good point that I have to agree with. What incentive or near benefit does Canvas have over flash? Nothing.

  17. Brandon Ellis  March 11th, 2009

    Canvas looks cool but a Flash replacement it’s not.
    But here’s something to think about – If the CSS2 and XHTML specifications couldn’t get full adoption in a little over 10 years time, JavaScript 3 is split into two camps, and ALL current standards based web browsers (at some time) still render the same content differently, how Canvas is going to get widespread adoption in any near future?

  18. Anders  March 11th, 2009

    Thank-you Collin for cleary pointing out all the reasons why Flash is most certainly not on the way out. Over the years I’ve seen the Flash community slowly evolving.

    Now more than ever Flash/Flex and Actionscript are bigger than ever before, becoming a viable platform for various forms of enterprise. Put simply, its a great time to be a Flash/Flex developer :)

  19. tim  March 11th, 2009

    Thomas (and others), the “writing on the wall” is that people that say “Hey here’s technology X! It’ll be the end of Flash!” are usually people who have never even began to use the Flash platform. I’ve been seeing similar claims for every bit of technology for the past few years. SVG was meant to be the end of Flash years ago due to vector graphics, HTML 5 is meant to be the end of Flash due to video, Canvas is meant to be the end of Flash due to crappy rendering… oh wait, maybe you’ll need some tech that integrates everything *uniformly*! Then you’ll only be missing everything else, like socket communication, data streaming, camera input, SPEED, etc etc. Oh but it’s “growing rapidly” right?

    The problem is that people who keep repeating that bullsh*t is people who knows 10% of what the technology does. When they see some fancy, experimental, largely unsupported tech doing the same thing, they go around creaming their pants saying the big evil is dead. It’s laughable, honestly, and I fear for a community that keep reverberating that kind of lies amongst themselves.

    As a RIA developer before being a Flash developer, I’d love for us to have some great standard tech to work with. One that works the same way across all browsers and all systems. We don’t, Flash is as close as we have, and it’s stable and uniform. Closing your eyes to the truth and saying otherwise isn’t a service to the standard (or OSS…) community, it’s a being blind to reality.

    I’m a tech worker and I judge things as objectively as possible. But hey, your mileage may vary.

  20. Nate  March 11th, 2009

    In 10 years maybe… There will also need to be an audio equivalent of canvas, and you will need to be able to sync the two.

  21. Zach  March 11th, 2009

    Hah, never going to happen. It makes no difference whether or not canvas is the superior technology, flash is too well entrenched.

  22. Josh Tynjala  March 11th, 2009

    As a Flash developer, I’ve been watching the evolution of HTML’s canvas very closely. I do believe that it will come to replace some of Flash’s current use-cases in the future. However, I also expect that Flash will continue to evolve, and it may easily continue to be more useful than canvas for many needs (Adobe is setting the bar, after all… at least for the time being).

    The tipping point (whether a toppling blow or just a healthy nudge) will be when someone demonstrates a workflow for design/development that is as easy or easier than with Adobe’s (and any other popular) Flash tools. It’s not just about providing good developer APIs. That’s great, but a big part of why Flash is so well loved/widely-used is because designers are just as important to Adobe as developers. Get the right visual design tools (or awesome integration with existing tools), then make the APIs easy enough for the simplest projects to be designer-friendly, and Canvas may be able to make a impact on Flash’s dominance.

  23. Ben  March 11th, 2009

    As a Flex developer I heartily agree with other comments suggesting that Canvas in no way matches the capabilities available in Flash.

    In the last few months I’ve worked on projects that involved socket communication, dynamic sound manipulation, real-time video streaming, and recording from a webcam. I’ve rapidly imported graphics created by designers into projects and turned them into complex animations, transitions, etc. I’ve worked cross-continent with various teams efficiently through the excellent RIA workflow Adobe provides with Flash/Flex/Design tools.

    I don’t disagree that Canvas is a step towards non-plugin animation, but there’s so much more to the Flash plugin than ‘animation’. I’d suggest taking a look at what people are accomplishing at an enterprise and RIA level with Flex nowadays before suggesting that Canvas could end Flash…it’s just not the right solution for online applications.

  24. LeeN  March 11th, 2009

    I can only see this happening if they can make it perform fast enough for netbooks, MIDs, and smart phones to handle it. Flash is slow on those platforms, even on my netbook where I can play 720p wmv files hardware accelerated and they play perfectly, flash is terrible about video performance except when in SD and/or when the quality is set to low, and the latest flash got rid of the ability to turn the quality to low. As it is I end up using flash block to prevent web pages from taking up a lot of CPU, on the down side of canvas I will not be able to do this :P.

    As for flash having more features, is meaningless. There is a point where people will trade features for convenience. Or that the little features here and there stop making it worth it.

  25. jose  March 11th, 2009

    I would like what the article says to happen.

    On the other hand I think is not going to be that way,


    In a word: “Performance”, flash is an impressive vector display technology, is not going to be replace by anything less impressive that today doesn’t exist. I have my own raster library and I tell you:
    “There is nothing like flash in terms of fast”, the two people that created flash are very smart.

  26. Ezra  March 11th, 2009

    I don’t care what Flash can or can’t do. It runs like shit on my computer (2.16 Ghz MacBook Pro, with the latest version of Flash). Just watching some crap FLV in standard def uses 80% of my processors. That’s just a pitiful. I can watch 720p h.264 videos with around 25% CPU in Quicktime. So while there are some things Flash can do that Canvas can’t, Flash is primarily used for things that Flash isn’t needed at all and performance will be much better with Canvas. That’s what will drive canvas adoption.

  27. Jake  March 11th, 2009

    Sorry, but if canvas *is* the end of flash… it will be many many years before it can come close to what flash can do currently. Imagine replacing this entire site with canvas:

    By the time canvas even comes close to being able to do that, flash will be leaps and bounds ahead of it anyway. Stop living in fantasy land, sometimes open-source loses to proprietary software.. and the world keeps spinning round.

  28. John Dowdell  March 11th, 2009

    “I honestly detect a slight bit of FUD in your comment, am I wrong?”

    You may be correct that you detect something, but that would depend more upon the bias in your detection abilities than in anything I actually said.

    I’m cutting through the “End of Flash” flamebait, and focusing on its paradoxical core — you can do a CANVAS example for your friends who share your browser choice, but you need to make a Flash version for the rest of the world.

    There is also an unsubstantiated assumption that Flash’s total functionality is duplicated by either (a) a CANVAS spec; (b) a particular CANVAS implementation; or (c) the subset of functionality shared by all CANVAS implementations.

    I don’t mind CANVAS — I was one of the first to sign onto Andrew Wooldridge’s mailing list for it, ‘way back in 2005. But I do mind distortion and unreality — “FUD”, if you will — in its marketing.


  29. saffron loongie  March 11th, 2009

    i will hold my judgement until i play the mario kart implementation in flash.

    also, can the mac-people quit cursing in public? this isn’t your provide home-conversation… there are moral-standards here.

  30. dietbrisk  March 11th, 2009

    One problem:

    too slow.

  31. RE: Is Canvas the End of Flash? | Sleepwalker's Dream  March 11th, 2009

    […] is a response to Is Canvas the End of Flash?, an article Sean Moore shared on Twitter.  My responses are both for the the author and the […]

  32. Michael Ramirez  March 11th, 2009

    I will hold my judgment [on CANVAS] until i play the Quake implementation in CANVAS :)

  33. Workpost Foreman  March 11th, 2009

    Flash is an extremely deep and well-developed technology. HTML 5 won’t be widely adopted for a long time and, somehow, I can’t imagine one tag being able to compete with the latest versions of Flash. Echoing previous comments, maybe Canvas can compete with Flash 2. I’ll keep an open mind though..

  34. Ron  March 11th, 2009

    Where to begin, Collin Cusce? You are so wrong on so many levels.

    2) Javascript is very standardized across browsers. The DOM isn’t, but Javascript most definitely is.
    3) Javascript execution is getting faster almost daily. I can think of absolutely no reason why it could not run as fast as AS3.
    6) You think Javascript’s object model sucks? Go back to school, it’s one of the most powerful around.
    10) Why could canvas not get hardware acceleration?

    Collin Cusce, in my opinion, you are extremely incorrect (and uninformed).

  35. links for 2009-03-11 « storyglot  March 11th, 2009

    […] Is Canvas the End of Flash? | The Stairwell standard web tools can’t do enough and thus we throw it all out the window and use flash instead. Well with Safari 4, and the upcoming Firefox 3.1, we’re going to see the beginning of the end for Flash. Why is this? One word, “Canvas”. (tags: flash programming webdesign development firefox JavaScript canvas html5) […]

  36. Nicolas  March 11th, 2009

    Wrong. It’s Director that will come back and end Flash!

  37. jon  March 11th, 2009

    So, we have a bunch of Flash developers saying it will never fall and a bunch of everyone else giving a brain dump on a bunch of specs.

    The problem with Flash isn’t that it has too few capabilities, it’s that it has too many. Yes, you can do wonderful things with it, but unless it’s for a special application, it’s becoming more and more useless to do large parts of the substance of your site in Flash because of


    which have grown exponentially over time.

    Sometimes less is more.

    Flash will probably stick around to do things like embedded video chats and graphics that are overstimulating, but for the basic things that it first started out for (the stuff that you all claim is all the anti folks know about) it will probably get replaced.

    Without that base, you have to wonder not so much about the current developer base but about the future.

    Only someone very young would bet on any particular computer technology lasting long. Posts like this aren’t flamebait–their tautological.

  38. StoneCypher  March 11th, 2009

    You know, people said the same thing about scalable vector graphics, about silverlight, about shockwave, about IE4’s directx transforms, about CSS animations, JavaFX, ActiveX, et cetera.

    The thing that you guys all fail to understand is what it is that makes Flash attractive to developers: you can deploy application binaries as single files and expect them to work portably everywhere, in a rich media environment. It’s the promise that Java failed to deliver.

    Until you have genuinely portable rich media single file delivery, canvas is no threat to flash. All you need to do is take a quick look at how things like Flex work, and you’ll realize that canvas doesn’t even target the same market as flash after around flash 4.

    Flash is growing faster than any other web front-end technology, and their growth rate is increasing. Saying that flash is on its way out is deeply confused. Try measuring instead of speculating; you’ll end up with a very different world view.

  39. The Java FX Journey » A Canvas’d world???  March 11th, 2009

    […] read an interesting blog post today about the new Canvas support within XHTML 5. The author was essentially equating that Canvas […]

  40. Kevin Suttle  March 11th, 2009

    I have posted a full response here:

    I love topics like this!

  41. Collin Cusce  March 11th, 2009


    To address your failed points:

    The DOM is what I was refering to. Separating the DOM and the API for accessing said DOM from Javascript is fairly ludicrous.

    I can think of a million reasons why it cant run as fast as AS3… for one, it’s run-time compiled. For another, AS3 uses strong typing, which makes for faster code. For another, Javascript runs on a browser process which does other things than responds to whatever Javascript has to say.

    I never said it sucks, I said it didnt have true “classes”… which is why the ECMA stuck them in the 4th standard, which AS3 partially adheres to. Power is not the same thing as usability. Whatever you learned is school isn’t realistic. Go get a job.

    10) Because the browser itself would need to implement an API for interacting with graphics devices. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that… there’s no oversight. Sure it *can*… it just flat out *shouldn’t*.

    I’m sorry you disagree, but you’re disagreeing with reality.

    *sheds a tear*

  42. Rezuan Asrah  March 11th, 2009

    Humans tend to see from the “current” perspective, or from where he stands at that point of time.

    Canvas is cool, but it’s not going to replace Flash.

    When adoption of Canvas will be massive, Flash “shall” still be around.

    When developers come out with cool stuff for Canvas, equivalent of Flex for Flash, Canvas “shall” be a serious contender to Flash.

    Flash shall be dead, and Canvas “will” still be around.

  43. Rezuan Asrah  March 11th, 2009

    Flash is expensive and slow though.

  44. Murmp - Is Canvas the End of Flash?  March 12th, 2009

    […] Is Canvas the End of Flash? Currently / Submitted 5 seconds ago by jsuggs Tags: canvas! flash! html5! technology! web development! There’s no mistaking it, we love flash around here. However, it’s of my opinion that flash is going out. When you look back at why Flash was created and why it exists today its because designers and developers pushed the boundaries of HTML/CSS/Javascript too far and needed something more. Those standard web tools can’t do enough and thus we throw it all out the window and use flash instead. Well with Safari 4, and the upcoming Firefox 3.1, we’re going to see the beginning of the end for Flash. Why is this? One word, “Canvas”. […]

  45. Pig n' Chips / Craig Jones's Blog  March 12th, 2009

    […] on this question. Will [Canvas] be the end of Flash? I think not. Full article here thanks to It is also worth checking out Andrew Wooldridge to as he is experimenting with […]

  46. LeeN  March 12th, 2009

    Scripting performance is only a small part of it, and newer versions of Javascript implementations like TraceMonkey for firefox use jit compiling. A large part of flash is graphics rendering, it is the entire reason for flash in the first place. Another way to think about it, people are not using Flash because Javascript is too slow.

  47. Maxim Gubin  March 12th, 2009

    Canvas looks awesome!
    I’ve been a flash developer and a javascript developer. Certainly flash has made it easier to do things in the past, but the problem is that it hasn’t been evolving as quickly as javascript has.
    Take a look at how many javascript frameworks/language implementations are out there?
    Prototype, Dojo, ObjectiveJ, jQuery, MooTools, etc.
    They are nearly doing all of the things that Flash is, and that’s without Canvas. Canvas is just going to set things off like fire!
    I just hope they finalize the spec and release soon.

    Problem with Flash’s slow evolvement, is that it’s closed source. It will not evolve as quickly as open source products since there are just more contributors and users of OSS.

    I know what you’re going to say. ActionScript is OpenSource. From what I heard is that just isn’t true. They allow you to view the source, but not modify it.
    So how does the flash community expect to improve actionscript if they cannot modify it?

    On that note, you have to check out what this guy is doing with Canvas. It’s incredible.

  48. links for 2009-03-12 « Mandarine  March 12th, 2009

    […] Is Canvas the End of Flash? | The Stairwell (tags: webdesign webdev flash firefox html) […]

  49. i hate flash  March 13th, 2009

    Canvas is an html5 standard where flash is a proprietary mess of horrible code. It’s just a matter of time: flash will die (soon).

  50. crazy man  March 13th, 2009

    While Flash is an impressive technology, the Flash execution engine is closed source. Ultimately, an open source technology will surpass it. It’s just a matter of time. Canvas is just the start.

  51. yop828  March 13th, 2009

    Flash is more than just a 2D graphics technology. Moreover it is possible to build Flex/Flash applications for free.

    People critize it because it is not a standard, which is true. But they seem to forget WhatWG spec which contained CANVAS technology was not part of W3C standard at the beginning (in 2004/2005 if I am right).

    We are in 2009 and unfortunately Canvas does not work yet out of the box on IE 7 on 8 (plug in needed) whereas it is possible to use flash technology on IE 6.

    It’s interesting though there is no discussion about competing technologies like JavaFX or Silverlight….

  52. hk  March 14th, 2009

    Java fx and Silverlight fans are working !

  53. Wayne State Web Communications Blog » Blog Archive » [Friday Links] The Pi Day Edition  March 14th, 2009

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  54. yop828  March 14th, 2009

    Java fx and Silverlight fans are either working or less numerous than Flash/Flex fans ;)

  55. rtraction » Blog Archive » Canvas to replace Flash? Not likely.  March 16th, 2009

    […] Take a look at this article which starts the discussion: Is Canvas the End of Flash? […]

  56. Dev Blog AF83 » Blog Archive » Veille technologique : Navigateurs web, Subversion, Javascript, Frameworks, Tests unitaires, Méthodes, Logiciel Libre  March 16th, 2009

    […] : Canvas a le potentiel pour tuer Flash […]

  57. Das kann was: HTML5 und das Canvas-Element | EGM Weblog  March 16th, 2009

    […] die uns künftig zur Verfügung stehen. Es wird sogar mancherorts darüber diskutiert, ob Canvas das Ende von Flash mit sich bringen könnte. Manche Browser (wie der aktuelle Firefox) können damit jetzt schon was anfangen und die […]

  58. Jeremy  March 17th, 2009

    Well I’m definitely going to have to disagree. I don’t think you seem to understand the full capabilities and market of Flash. I do agree that canvas will take a certain portion of Flash’s market having to do with sIFR and simple animations. But when we’re talking full Rich Internet Applications, it will be a while before it can even compete. Take a look at some suggestions of real world uses for canvas

  59. John Foliot  April 2nd, 2009

    You wrote: “You can have perfectly consistent rendering of any font across all OS’s and browsers.”

    Except, you are not supposed to. The current canvas specification clearly states that: “Authors should not use the canvas element in a document when a more suitable element is available.” In HTML5/CSS3 that would be the @font-face attribute.

    Canvas is not, and should not be considered, the next panacea of the web, any more than Flash or Silverlight is today. The *LAST* thing anyone needs to see or produce is a website completely contained with the canvas element: hopefully we’ve already learned that lesson (with the all-Flash sites).

    As an accessibility advocate, I would also like to warn your readers that using the canvas element is tricky business, and the specification clearly and specifically states that appropriate ‘fallback content’ be provided for non-visual users of your development project. I urge one and all to read the Draft Specification at: for more information and specific details.

    This is not to suggest that the future power of the canvas element does not exist – I for one am excited by the idea – but with additional power comes additional responsibility, so use it wisely and with care.


  60. she  April 2nd, 2009

    Maybe it’s time to dump js as a whole it opens doors to browser-based attacks. Plus i’m done with the popups,popunders,iframes,cookies….need i go on.

    Let’s keep css and dump the rest…..back to the dark ages.

  61. jason  April 4th, 2009

    I also heard that microsoft paint is going to replace photoshop.

  62. Canvas in HTML 5 soll das Ende von Flash sein? | Thomas Horster  April 5th, 2009

    […] Gestern fiel mir dieser Blogeintrag in die Hände bzw. vor die Augen: […]

  63. Hugo Fernandes  April 6th, 2009

    Flash is much more than play with bitmaps or fonts…

  64. Is Canvas the End of Flash? | The Stairwell « Ideas | Just another WordPress weblog  April 6th, 2009

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  65. day and night » Blog Archive » Canvas vs. Flash?  April 6th, 2009

    […] The Stairwell – The canvas tag is most simply an element of HTML5 (HTML4 is the current standard) that allows for dynamic scriptable rendering of bitmap images over time. Sound familiar? cough:flash:cough Currently with HTML we’re stuck with images, boxes, and text. Canvas unleashes all that. […]

  66. Anthony Alexander  May 2nd, 2009

    Flash, in web development is like MS Office needing a plugin to save a file, another to view anything thats not text.. I’ve always hated flash, err, i hate those idiots that abuse it. I usually look for Flash sites to get inspiration for my “AJAX” (ajax in quotes for all the PR people) Flash is bloated and has over stayed its welcome, too bad the standards guys are slow as Flash performance on the GPU

  67. bboy85  May 13th, 2009

    This is funny. Seriously. People should see this as another way to do things not focus on how it will or should replace flash. When one cant see and use advantages of solution no matter is it canvas, flash or assembly language, then it really is loss for humanity. While reading all these comments i get a feeling either topic or its readers are missing the question mark. I double checked – it is there :) so time will tell eventually. Till then lets just hope we are not reinventing the wheel…
    P.S. excuse my bad french :)

  68. ff  June 18th, 2009

    people who are afraid of flash are also afraid of girls, spiders, etc.

  69. Ben  June 25th, 2009

    I agree, canvas is the end of flash.
    Javascript engines V8 and gecko for example are not toys, they are one of the most advanced platform ever build for an intepreted language, except maybe pyton.
    Canvas drawing is HW accel. and it will in a very short time prove it’s speed and possibilities.
    At the end flash may becode a gui tool to develop canvas applications totally replacing the current core with a javascript framework and some advanced effect, and of course drag and drop

  70. Chris  July 10th, 2009

    I think that canvas will begin to take the slack of what is typically handled in Flash, some of the less intensive elements, where Flash (or a plugin of some sort: Gears, Silverlight, etc), will be both used by legacy systems that don’t support HTML 5 as well as intensive pieces that the browser is not able to handle on its own. Either way, Flash is not going away any time soon. So all you Flash developers, quit panicking.

    I will agree with the Adobe crowd that the tools are just not there yet. You pretty much have to be a javascript ninja to compete with the visual effects in Flash. However, with code generation libraries like GWT and Script#, and the countless js libraries like jQuery and MooTools, the entry point is getting lower and lower.

    And let’s not forget, the non-Flash crowd has one other edge….Flash doesn’t run on the future platform of web applications, the mobile phone….ain’t that a bitch? :)

  71. Cool HTML 5 Demos show off the future of the browser – The Blogs at HowStuffWorks  August 6th, 2009

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  72. sybiam  November 13th, 2009

    I disagree. Canvas isn’t the end of Flash.

    I don’t question the speed of javascript. I guess javascript can get as fast as actionscript. RuntimeCompiled or not. It doesn’t look like the real problem.

    Right now, like someone state, javascript doesn’t allow anything like sharedobject. There is no way to have sockets on one side and a server app on the other side that will allow data transmission to one or many client.

    Would be great if javascript allowed low level sockets but it doesn’t.

    On the other hand, there is actually no way to access device like webcam, micro, speaker with javascript.

    Anyone can have access to your javascript sourcecode. So it’s not exactly that great for many enterprise.

    Something similar to flex can be done with time. It’s not a problem. But as long as Canvas/Javascript doesn’t provide access for devices and sockets. It’s never going to be close to replace Flash.

  73. sybiam  November 13th, 2009

    Oh and i’m not a flash advocate. Actually, flash is unfortunately the best alternative for web multimedia…but it’s not yet something i’d really use.

    It consume a lot of memory. It’s kind of slow. It’s getting faster but there is *NO* reason on earth that by the time you call a function that start a sound playback, there is almost 1 seconds delay before the sound even start. Even if the audio file is completely loaded. 1 second delay is huge. But it’s unfortunately the best we have out there.

    Something has to be done. Canvas is the beginning. If I wanted to replace flash. I’d do a opensource plugin that support flash and it’s own library. Allowing to run swf with improved functionality.

  74. Piece Of Sheet » HTML 5 showing of the future with canvas  November 25th, 2009

    […] Is Canvas the End of Flash? […]

  75. Alex Lowe  November 28th, 2009

    This is not the end of flash, but it’s probably the end of swfs. All of the reasons why flash gained traction are disappearing, namely, the poor performance of javascript and browser compatibility issues.

    The main thing standing in the way of Canvas is not Flash, or even IE. Sadly, it’s javascript itself. It’s time to put that non-typed anachronistic group of hacks to the sword, and replace it with a proper OOP language.

    Oddly enough- that’s where I see flash going- right to the DOM, as a high-performance interpreted language, or possibly still compiled. That’s after Adobe makes it fully open source in a few years time. My prediction.

  76. ArcGIS Silverlight API Beta and Some RIA Thoughts | Fuzzy Tolerance  December 15th, 2009

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  85. Adam Carroll  March 16th, 2010

    I think this is the problem with the internet. You have guys like this guy that is a no name voice in a sea of opinions. This post gets picked up by other pretentious band-wagoners and tweeted and then retweeted by all of their followers and soon this is getting posted as fact.

    You say what is going to kill flash is one word “Canvas”

    I say what is going to keep Flash alive and kill HTML 5 is 2 words “Internet Explorer”

    The market share is what you have to be aware of and lets face it people Internet Explorer is the most common browser and one of the worst. Expected rollout of HTML 5 is the year 2012 with complete adoption by 2022. That is a long way away. So in ten years when HTML 5 can play a crappy version of Mario Kart and Flash is making next gen 3D shooters, we will see who is still campaigning for HTML 5.

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  87. Alex  March 29th, 2010

    i like the Mario Kart example. Basically if you want something that looks like crap switch to hml5. But for those of you who still wanna look professional out there, stick with flash. This is something i really don’t get. For ages people have been trying to find a way to mimic flash functionality. AJAX, DHTML, JavaScript and now HTML5. Why can’t they just learn Flash for Christ’s ache? Especially now that AS3 has been completely adopted. I mean honestly i can try hard to tune up my little Ford to look like a Ferrari, but it will never be a Ferrari.

  88. Sam Johnston  April 13th, 2010

    Flash enjoyed near-ubiquity for a time because of *video* (eg YouTube) and now that primary driver is all but gone thanks to HTML5’s tag it will almost certainly fall off its perch this year or next. There comes a time when turning away 1 in X customers is too much – I think it’s about 90%. Furthermore I think we’re already there but due to deliberate sample bias Adobe just haven’t admitted it yet… customers aren’t stupid though and they’ll soon realise that the 3bn mobile devices (compared to 1bn PCs) matter.

    If Flash (the IDE) is to survive then Flash (the plugin) must die.


  89. charles  April 13th, 2010

    thanks, sam! your feedback is helpful.

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  91. Jussi  June 2nd, 2010

    Hmm… To filter some common mistakes around here, I’d like to share my views and knowledge (probably outdated already when you read this):
    HTML5 standard has
    1) Socket support
    2) Video input (webcam, etc.) support
    3) Hardware acceleration

    The problem is that HTML5 is not completely implemented yet. Not to mention CSS3, which is quite an essential part of HTML5. However, to list the pros and cons of HTML5+Canvas+CSS3 vs. Flash (talking about SWF now, not the IDE).

    – Compiled: you cannot extend the functionality of an SWF after it’s compiled, nor can you (as a developer) learn from a compiled app, if the source code is not made available.
    + Compiled: You can hide stuff from the prying eyes and make content harder to copy / “steal”.
    – Requires a plugin: Not really that much of a trouble, but canvas doesn’t and installing plugins such as flash player can turn out to be impossible some Linux distros. And what if you don’t have the administrative permissions? (Internet cafe, office, etc…)
    – The plugin runs on top of the browser. This makes things quite the bit more complicated, considering hardware / system / browser API support.

    – CSS3 is not implemented yet, and especially not uniformly.
    – HTML5 implementations are also varying.
    – Canvas has minor bugs, but most of them have workarounds. However, one has to extend his knowledge quite a bit to make cross-compatible scripts.
    – Most people (50-55%) on the internet use the worst browser, when it comes to supporting these things: IE.
    + Canvas has hardware support and an OpenGL API is easily implementable (so, almost native 3D rendering support)
    + JavaScript bends to anything, really, whereas AS is quite a strict language. However, swf development is not restricted to AS, for example with OpenLaszlo you can use JavaScript.
    – Canvas (so far) has no accessibility support. This is a big minus.

    When I started writing this, I had more stuff on my mind, but anyway, feel free to make corrections and additions to my pieces of information, so we can all benefit.

    The way I see it, the writing on the wall is that SWF is dying. Why? Well, Adobe is a big group, but it’s facing enormous resistance right about now, as it’s up against Microsoft, Mozilla, Google, OperaDev and open source community. First three of these have openly stated that they want to get rid of Flash, so they have joined forces in working on the HTML5. Knowing this, the future of SWF looks quite grim.

    Well, how does the HTML5 get uniformly implemented then? I do not know. IE is a big problem, but already now, one can make his/her IE HTML5-compatible, by downloading a plugin (HTML5 sites query for the installation of this plugin the same way as for Flash), however… You probably know what I mean. (Just in case, a little hint: “let’s download a plugin so that we don’t need another plugin”)

    I hope this comment did not come out too coloured, as I am a pro-canvas person myself, however, my point was to be as neutral as possible.

    P.S. Sam, you’ve got good points there.
    P.P.S. Oh, and one more thing, JavaScript isn’t exactly slow… I’ve made some testing of heavy graphics and engine processing and the lowest frame rates I get are 35FPS on my home PC and at office 75FPS. Of course, the tests aren’t 3D graphics, but every 3D implementation on flash I’ve seen has way worse frame rates than the ones using Canvas and WebGL(OpenGL + Canvas Context).

    ** END OF RANT ** :D

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  93. Webbdesign  August 23rd, 2010

    I think that as long as ie is around, a lot of new techniques such as the HTML 5 canvas will be useless. It is a shame that ie always seem to hinder progress on the web. Canvas and a whole lot of other HTML 5 content are great! Hope it becomes a success.

    Until then we have jQuery that by itself could be the end of flash because it can do a lot of great and flashy stuff and is compatible even with ie 6.

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  101. olo  September 13th, 2011

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    Your prophecy provider is not reliable.

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  104. AntoxaGray  October 8th, 2011

    Canvas have some advantages over Flash is that it’s not stealing browser focus with ugly yellow border.

  105. AntoxaGray  October 8th, 2011

    Also flash will not die, because sometimes you need closed code, for canvas you can just click ctrl-u on .js file and see everything.

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  108. Juvelez  March 14th, 2012

    Well, you still thinking that ?, you have seen recently the things that can be done with Flash and compare it again ?, just for the fact you can move a Pixel across the screen you can everything Flash does.
    Google this terms: Stage3D, RealTime3D, Flare3D, Away3D, RealTime Audio Processing, Full HD, Object Oriented Programming, Compiler, Debugger, Among others

    All these terms are present into the Flash Technology

    None of these terms are present nor Canvas nor HTML5, nor JavaScript Technology

    How you pretend replace FLASH ?

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