This post and polls were written by TechRepublic member Deadly Ernest.

Flash and Flash Player can be useful additions to your Web site, but do you go overboard with them? Many Web sites now embed Flash files, and some even have interactive Flash. A recent question appeared on TechRepublic about how to embed these movies or animations, and so I think it’s time to discuss the use of such files.

I’ve seen many Web sites that use Flash to allow people to see a film or advanced animation. However, I always question (in my mind) if it was absolutely necessary for them to use Flash — a proprietary code that needs a special player — and not an industry standard movie type that’s openly available for use by all and doesn’t requires special proprietary software to run and view. For example, why use Flash and not an AVI or MPEG file?

This was especially brought to mind when a TR member asked for help converting an MPEG file to a Flash file in order to embed it in his Web site. This, in turn, made me wonder if that particular Web site was created in Dreamweaver, and if it makes it hard for him to use any movie player other than Flash. What really worries me is the growing trend to build Web sites in Flash only, so that you can’t see a thing unless you have the latest Flash Player.

The problem with this trend for the actual operation of the site is that the page takes longer to download, plus visitors must have a proprietary Flash Player — and they don’t have a choice in deciding whether to watch the Flash movie or not. Like many people, when I go to a Web site for the second or third time, I don’t have any interest at all in watching the fancy Flash advertisement on the welcome screen. I also get a bit put out by having to wait for the thing to download before I can navigate past that screen.

Worse still are the interactive Flash sites, because you can’t use them at all without the latest Flash Player (which isn’t always available for every operating system platform), and you have to wait until they completely download. Quite often, I get fed up with waiting and leave these Web sites, and I know that I’m not the only one who’s frustrated by the amount of time it takes to download these proprietary media files and being forced to watch them.

With this in mind, I wish to ask the following poll questions:

Format preference

Automatic download

Required plug-ins

The actual cost of Flash