Flash vs jQuery : Which is better for me?

"Flash animation" is a buzz word that a majority of our clients will use to describe animation, special effects, and generally any moving part on their web presence. Even though the same solution could be built in many different ways, the customer knows it only to be "Flash", and as such, only asks for Flash. As most clients work in different industries, they may not know that other solutions exist or if Flash is even the best tool for their project.


This guide is meant to arm you with material to better educate your clients.


Vast Changes with Animation in the Web Community

Since its introduction in the year 1996, Adobe Flash became a very popular method of adding animation and different types of interactivity to web pages. With the help of its scripting language called ActionScript, Flash took animation to an entirely different level.

Then, in 2006, the design world marveled at the introduction of jQuery. It quickly became the most popular JavaScript library used by web developers. Designed to make Javascript usage easier and faster, jQuery allows the developer to very efficiently find and manipulate HTML elements with minimum lines of codes. Even though it isn’t known to be the best solution for 3-D and vector-based graphics, the versatility of jQuery is truly quite astounding, making it a much better alternative to Flash.

Prior to 2006, adding animation and interactive features that did not require reloading the web page was 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 in order to work around them.

jQuery offers 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.


Why not just use jQuery instead of Flash?



Flash still has an array of uses that jQuery simply cannot handle. Some of the plus points include its extensive features, 3D capabilities, unfailing appearance in supported browsers, built-in User Interface, supporting vector artworks, a large array font options, and of course, many free and commercial tools are also available all over the web.

The Pros & Cons of using Flash

Flash Pros

  • 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

Flash Cons

  • Not compatible with all browsers including iPhone, iPad and most 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



With jQuery, the file size is relatively much smaller and there are numerous free professional-quality programs that one can use. One can add various types of interactivity to the webpage elements, and its compatibility is much higher than Flash, including iPhone, cell phones, PS3, and PSP.

The Pros & Cons of using jQuery

jQuery Pros

  • Small size
  • Using jQuery or other libraries reduces the Javascript 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

jQuery Cons

  • 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



It is thus very important to know in what situations to use each application. While creating a Slide Show, Form Validation, Drop-down Menus, Tabbed Panels, Pop-ups & Tool-tips, and Expandable & Collapsible Elements it is ideal to use jQuery. When working with Video or Audio Players, complex Animations, 3Ds and other forms of complex Multimedia, using Adobe Flash is the best.

When to use Flash vs Javascript:

Good applications for jQuery

  • Slide Show
  • Form Validation
  • Dropdown Menus
  • Tabbed Panels
  • Popups & Tooltips
  • Expandable/Collapsible Elements

Good applications for Flash

  • Video/Audio Player
  • Complex Animation
  • 3D
  • Complex Multimedia

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, as it simplifies the process of using Javascript and can greatly enhance a web site.


Other Resources

Flash Resources

Javascript Resources