Year round learning for product, design and engineering professionals

Flash, Silverlight, and other embedded content

With both Microsoft and Adobe putting considerable energy into their respective multimedia formats, Silverlight and Flash, and the rise of web based video, driven in part by the popularity of YouTube, as well as the increasing adoption of Broadband around the world, we wanted to get a sense of the extent to which developers were using this kind of content, how they were using it, and what formats they were using.

We first asked “Do you incorporate media into your sites that requires browser plugins to play?”. Around two thirds of respondents answered yes, and a little under one third no. The number incorporating such content was higher than we had anticipated.

Do you incorporate media into your sites that requires browser plugins to play?
Answer Count Percentage
Yes 774 62.72%
No 339 27.47%
No answer 6 0.49%
Non completed 115 9.32%

We then asked of those who answered yes which formats they use. Unsurprisingly, given how long it has been available, Flash leads with 61% of respondents. More surprising was Silverlight’s very small market share of a little over 2%, essentially the same as that of the Real format. Quicktime did surprisingly well, at just under 20%.

Which kinds of content do you use?
Answer Count Percentage
Flash 757 61.35%
Silverlight 26 2.11%
Quicktime 242 19.61%
Real 25 2.03%
Others 22 1.78%

We also asked what other formats respondents used. Only 3 replied Java, demonstrating how marginalized that language has become for web based content and applications. 4 mentioned the MP3 format, but very little else was mentioned.

As important as the formats that respondents are using, is the uses to which they are putting this content. To this end, we asked “What do you use this kind of content for?”

  • Just under 60% said Video
  • 40% said audio (respondents could choose more than one option)
  • 22% said “Embedded games and other interactive applications”
  • Only 7% said “whole sites” (which is still higher than might be expected)
What do you use this kind of content for?
Answer Count Percentage
Audio 483 39.14%
Video 729 59.08%
Embedded games and other interactive applications 272 22.04%
Whole sites 83 6.73%

It’s clear that on the whole, these plug-in technologies are beings used predominantly for audio and video content, and to a lesser extent to add richer interaction to sites. It will be interesting to see with the increasing sophistication of JavaScript libraries, and performance of JavaScript in the browser, whether these technologies hold their own against JavaScript based solutions in future, outside the areas of video and audio.


Next, in our final section, we’ll take a look at the server side technologies respondents use.

delivering year round learning for front end and full stack professionals

Learn more about us

I have yet to have an end-to-end conference experience that was as professional as what was provided by Web Directions

Joe Toscano Founder,