Guardian interactive review: Flash vs. web standards

The Guardian Interactive Team use Flash, almost exclusively, to create data visualisations and infographics for interactive content on The two main reasons are that it is quick to build and that it looks identical in all browsers.

The problems

Flash version of Phone-hacking scandal: Who’s who

  • It does not look identical in all browsers, it relies on Flash player. In cases of no Flash there is simply no content (other than a message to upgrade/install the player or a message that you are using an iPad/iPhone). An aside to this is that Macs don’t come pre-installed with Flash since October 2010.
  • The information has no underlying structure; so this will be its only purpose
  • Keyboard navigation is erratic – choosing a random route around the circle, broken at some point by moving to the “Show all connections” link.

A better way

My version of Phone-hacking scandal interactive

  • Semantic HTML document structure
  • CSS added to enhance this structure – this Javascript-off state is near enough ‘for free’ in development terms
  • Javascript is added on top of this, along with more CSS, to give the appropriate look and behaviour
  • Sensible keyboard navigation, pressing left and right arrow key takes you around the circle one-by-one


The code for this is in Phone-hacking on Github so fork away.

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One Response to “Guardian interactive review: Flash vs. web standards”

  1. […] Punkchip | Guardian interactive review: Flash vs. web standardsEmma finds an open-standards alternative to the Guardian's continued use of Flash in simple interactives. (guardian web_standards open_standards html5 flash ) […]

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