Twelve years ago I was working at an Interactive Marketing Firm.
When I was hired, one of the owners of the company showed me some websites to look at for inspiration. The two I remember the most (because they blew my mind) were 2advanced.com and egomedia.com.
These two agencies were the Gods of web design at the time. And they both built everything 100% in an application called Macromedia Flash. (later sold to Adobe)
During these years, Flash was the king of web design.
- 2Advanced used to throw huge Raves/Dance parties in exclusive nightclubs when they launched a new version of their portfolio site. The owner would DJ. He was a rockstar.
- The EgoMedia guys wore suits and looked like a team of James Bonds. They had video animations and an audio player on their site. This was insane for that time,
Everyone wanted a Flash website. And the group I worked with were one of a thousand agencies spitting them out for clients.
A few years later, I started to notice a trend.
The Birth of CSS
A lot of the sites in 2Advanced’s portfolio had been replaced with simplified HTML versions. CSS had just come onto the scene and all of the sudden, people were prioritizing their site’s functionality over slick design.
I wrote a blog post about my feelings it and what I thought the future might hold for the flashy agencies that had been on top for so long.
I titled it “The Death of 2Advanced” and posted it to this very domain. (at the time my blog was called ‘The Brain Dump’)
The next day, I woke up to a hellstorm of traffic and comments. My posts usually got 40–50 views. This one had 4,500 in a day. Soon it would hit hundreds of thousands of views.
There were tons of comments. People from all over the world were arguing over the future of design.
The post was being shared in web design forums in China, Brazil, Russia and Germany. It was everywhere.
Why did it blow up like this?
Well – without realizing it – I had touched on an extremely hot topic that was going on worldwide.
The comments and views kept coming for years.
Several years later, I deleted the entire blog (I have a bad habit of that) and the post was lost.
At least that’s what I thought.
“Flash” Forward to 2017
As you probably know by now – Flash did die.
It was buggy, took forever to load and was hard to navigate. It didn’t work very well on mobile. And these days many web browsers don’t support it at all.
2Advanced and Egomedia also died.
2Advanced.com hasn’t been updated for years and Egomedia.com doesn’t even exist anymore.
It’s sad really. I was entrenched in that world for a decade and making animated, interactive Flash websites was my favorite thing to do for years.
But life moves on and I forgot about it really – until yesterday.
Adobe Flash Is Dead
Yesterday morning, I opened up Twitter and saw a Moment titled “Flash is being killed off”.
The headline gave me a serious Flashback and I started reading.
It appears that yesterday, about 12 years after my blog post that pissed off half the planet, Adobe announced that they were finally killing Flash for good.
Flash will be eliminated from the internet by 2020.
As I read the story, I reflected on my old blog post. I remembered how amazing it was to see it ping-pong all over the world and create such a huge discussion.
I wished I hadn’t deleted it.
Then I thought of the Wayback Machine over at Archive.org.
I did a Google search for “The Death Of 2Advanced”. Surprisingly, there were still blogs with live links to the article.
I grabbed the url from one of them and was able to get the date. Next, I went to Archive.org and went back to the year 2005. And Boom! I found it.
I’m adding it here today – as a memorial of sorts. I’m also going to redirect the old post url to this post so that if/when someone clicks one of those links, it will bring them here, instead of a dead page.
The full post is copied below.
Goodbye dear Flash.
You were one of the most enjoyable internet toys I ever found.
Thank you for your service and when you get to the otherside, please give my regards to Geocities.
The Death of 2Advanced
The original post from 2005.
A few years ago, if you asked me what the future of the internet was I would have undoubtedly said “Flash, 3D and Video Everywhere.” I would have talked about how as PC user’s bandwidth grew the acceptance of heavier filesizes would allow for much much more high-end animation.
A few years later it feels like Flash’s use as an animated website tool is dying.
You just don’t see it much anymore. Sure you have the sector where a hardcore flash site makes sense as in the movie and game websites, but as for me, as a standard, the flash wave that was seemingly going to be the ‘future of the internet’ is now taking a shot in the side due to the explosion of CSS, usability, and web standards.
Sites like stylegala, cssvault and cssimport are showcasing beautifully designed sites that also happen to function extremely well. The use of flash is minimal and when it is used it is normally criticized or seen as something that can be overlooked in an otherwise beautiful website.
Now I figure much of this change of pace is due to my own change of focus from flash design to css design but there is some hard evidence that the high end flash animated websites are fading.
Case Study – 2Advanced Studios
For years 2Advanced has been putting out some of the best high end flash web work in the game. 4–5 years ago you could definately say that Eric Jordan was flat out one of the best flash designers around.
These days the design community has caught up to overcome most of those old kings including fellow flash pioneers Ego Media who introduced us to the use of video in flash 6–7 years ago but who’s current Ego7 entity is ho-hum at best. So anyway, where was I?
Oh yeah, I’m using 2Advanced as an example. Most times when 2 Advanced launches a flash website you’ll see it win alot of site of the day awards, the sites are slick and fun and deserve the recognition.
I’m sure the hits go through the roof and whomever the lucky company is that hired them for the job recieves quite a bit of attention for that few days. 99% of the traffic will not read one sentence about what they do but hey… 50k – 100K hits a day can’t hurt.
Go back to these sites a few months later and the heavy flashed sites are history. POOF! Gone… history… nowhere to be found… where did they go?
I don’t know… Web-Heaven? You find that they’ve been replaced by an html version of the original flash site or redesigned completely without the use of flash.
Joshtodd.com – launched as flash site. immediately after intial launch it was replaced by an html version, a years later it’s gone completely.
realtybid.com/ – launched as a heavily animated hybrid site. all flash now gone.
broadcom.com/ – launched as a heavily animated hybrid site. all flash now gone
skyworksinc.com/ – launched as a heavily animated hybrid site. since redesigned most flash gone now.
This is an example of what’s happening at one company. I’m not bashing 2A here I’m just saying that there is a world-wide shift happening from animated flash site design to well coded, usable sites built with xhtml/css/etc. I’m definately not saying that I’m better than they are at anything because that would be lying. I’m merely looking around – and making a comment based on my observations.
I can only assume that 1 of 2 things are happening. (and you know what that makes out of you and me)
After the intial “fever” of the launch of these high end sites the company that is represented by said site begins to experience usability issues.
User errors, bugs, emails from people who don’t know what to do, complaints from folks without the flash player and then there’s this whole content management problem and the fact that the bandwith usage has skyrocketed and it’s going to cost $1000 a month to keep this up and running…
2Advanced has the foresight to say, ok we’re going to launch this amazing flash site in an effort to get as much attention as humanly possible. After the initial push we’ll tone down the look/feel so that your site is actually usable, updateable and you don’t have to pay $1000 a month to host due to bandwith usage.
Now I will say that Flash has a future and in a big way. Companies like Fantasy Interactive are paving the way these days as far as using flash as an application development tool which can also make things move around.
They basically designed and launched one of the coolest sites in history in http://www.rr.com/flash/.
Now here is a site that totally destroys everything I said above. IF (and that’s a big IF) we say that flash website design is still the future of the internet this is the direction it will go. Smart, usable, complex website applications that both entertain and function well… now that’s a future I can look forward to.
And when all this becomes too much for me to think about anymore I just close my eyes and try to imagine how many times since the launch of the roadrunner site a client has told a designer “I want my site to be like that please… and in 3 weeks… and for $5k.”
Eyes rolling, head sagging.
Matthew Reiswig says
I absolutely loved 2advanced. I was ripping that style all the time: angles + collage + pixel type = future.
I still keep up with Praystation’s work…did you ever follow Joshua Davis? I loved his work, too…especially Once Upon A Forest. I still have that Flash-generated artwork hanging in my office, bro.
That guy is still spitting out sick work with code that he developed back in his “let’s-break-flash-with-insane-code” days. Mostly does it for music environments. Imagine that. 😉
Graham Barnes says
A friend of mine at college first introduced me to 2advanced, little did I know that day was the start of my career in web design, while flash was slow (birth of the pre-loaders) still now nothing can hold a candle to the quality of animation based websites, now like many have said above the web is flat and boring, and I thought it was just me growing up but that kind off creativity sparked a lot of our careers.
My design journey started from the 2Advanced, perhaps it was 2005-2006, it’s hard to say by words all the feelings, their graphic and animations was like new world for me.
2Advanced.com Is No Longer…Today is 10/4/2021
I used to always go to their website to make sure that the browsers run correctly on the machines that I build/repair.
It’s sad to see them and everyone else who had awesome flash sites gone!
Dr. Khalil says
Thx, was wondering what happened to them (the website), good ol days…
….and I thought I was the only one — 2advanced a true cult following!
Same here guys,
I got into webdesign and programming through sites like 2advanced, and graphis from Jens Karlson.
Did complete sites and character animations in flash… and can you remember the Pixel Fonts we used back in the days. Today as an old guy impossible to read :), but back then the 6px ultrasharp fonts were the business! … good ol` days…
A.J. Karikari says
Funny thing though, I still (2019) do use Flash for creating flat graphics and logos before importing them as fxg’s into Illustrator and finishing them of there.
Malan Darras says
Ahhh the Macromedia days. Glad you found a use for Flash. Seems it’s been wiped from most of the internet.
Marcus Vinicius says
Good times, 2advanced was remarkable and Flash unlock my creative potential to make animated interfaces, cartoons and even games! Flash always will be a special place in my heart.
SAYING IT AGAIN.. SOMEONE SHOULD CROWD FOND A FLASH ARCHIVE, OR A DOC ABOUT THE FLASHERS OF THE 2000…
Never mind that. Someone should crowdfund a resurrection of Flash.
The internet was once a magical place overflowing with creativity.
Now it’s become a stack of papers in a To-Do tray, all clamoring to kiss Googles ass a bit better than the person ranking above/below.
I didn’t get into web design to kow tow to Google.
Not everyone needs Google. And Flash was only slow if you were rubbish @ it.
If there were security flaws, fix them. Windows has had security flaws, you didn’t see people outside Microsoft with pitchforks and torches.
If all musicians went into the studio with hearts full of ‘will this bassline fit perfectly within the pop chart parameters for blah blah blah’, instead of creating what they wanna create, there would never be any decent music ever again. And maybe there isn’t already.
Cufk off Google. Cufk off Apple. Bring back Flash.
Jason Lasby says
This touches home for me, I got my start designing web sites using Flash! 2A was one of my favorite sites to go to for inspiration! I too feel a little twinge of sadness to see that Adobe is ending support for Flash in 2020, I spent hours in front of my computer making animations and learning ActionScript, but the good news is there are a lot of really great ways to build amazing user experiences!
P CAUGHEY says
egomedia.com – music Grantby: Timber
Animation is forever! 🙂
Malan Darras says
cool! i always thought Ego wrote this music. Very cool find, thanks P
Brandon Jet Keady says
I was just listening to some ambient music, and I recognised what i was hearing but I couldn’t place it until I suddenly remembered it was used on 2Advanced. That website encouraged me to go to college, and design and create ground breaking websites. Yes flash was buggy and slow, but there really but it produced some really clever sites. They were basically interactive art installations.
Malan Darras says
interactive art installations. agreed. <3
Still getting comments today, too. I hadn’t thought of 2advanced for a long time, but for some reason it popped in my head to go look for it about 10 minutes ago. The domain is for sale now. Then I did a google search and found this article at the top of the heap. I’m glad to see there were many designers like myself who loved going to check out the latest revision of their site back in the day.
I love how they kept their older versions available too. You could always click a button and get back to the earlier designs. That is the website that got me interested. After I found it I got myself an Angelfire account and started learning HTML through Web Monkey. I experimented for a long time, and I remember when CSS came on the scene. that changed everything for me.
Malan Darras says
“Still getting comments today, ” – yeah this article (and the old one) is like a magnet for all of us that came up around the same time and were inspired by the same people. Our own strange colony of designers, coders and weirdness.
2Advanced was a massive inspiration for me. I would spend weeks in Flash trying to copy/imitate what I was seeing on screen. I have have a very successful design career now and that was spawned from what they did. I wish the internet today still had that creative drive it once had. Today its a just a world of canned templates and design patterns. While much more usable and accessible, it’s boring.
Couldn’t agree more. Its depressing.
And even some of the best and most creative ones are doing social media design.. What the hell..
I had a friend and he stumbled across 2advanced back in 2001 or so and was so inspired he made a “in the style of” flash website on his PC, and all he was flash 5.0 IIRC and Paint shop pro 5.01 or something. after all day and all night he had a working flash “site” on his PC. He was extremely proud of it and I was blown away because he had absolutely NO formal training in either of the programs, and all he did was read read read on the internet and was self taught. the site was lost after he got a new computer. But we both will remember the great times and awesome job he did on it. I would consider him a “natural” He is now attending college for arts and design… all these years later and doing well at it.
Malan Darras says
i’m sure 2A inspired thousands of people to jump into web design as an art form. Thanks for the story.
Thanks for a great article.
Like many others my “youth” was spend making flash websites. It was an amazing tool and i loved that when you opened the app it looked so basic and impossible to make anything in (Boxes and lines).
But the more you struggled and the better tech got, the better you could make your site.
But at one point everyone figured it out and that killed flash, cause now every banner was covered in video and moving images. What a shame.
When reading this im really sad that there is no real archive of FLASH SITES. A real archive that could take you back and check out the most cool pages. I spend hours on 2advanced, pixelranger, clusta, gmunk, deform.. And many more. SOMEONE.. Should try to create an archive and talk to the designers of the past and get the source files. If it was a kickstarter i would support it. Just dont have the time :(.
Malan Darras says
yeah an archive would be great, may be hard to find a way to make all the different outdated techs work though. But I agree, I miss digging around egomedia’s website for drink recipes. 🙂
Thanks for the reminder man! I was a flash designer/developer during this period as well, wow, so many years spent tweaking flash timelines and symbols and Action Script. I remember this time fondly! It was fun and care-free time to create cool things on the web.. Man, how things have changed, huh?
What will the web look like another 15-20 years from now? I betcha this young generation will look back on social media news feeds, Instagram and SJW rants with the same nostalgia as we did with the dotcom Flash era.
Life marches on!
Malan Darras says
agreed. life marches on. i overheard a teenager telling her artist friend who wanted to make an online portfolio “no one even goes to websites anymore, all you need is an instagram”…
Haha, yeah, that certainly is a perspective. From an intellectual property stand point, using just Instagram and just YouTube, etc is incredibly short-sighted. A few months back there was this wave of artists who collectivly protested the algorithm change in Instagram (a huge fall off in their exposure and thus sales), they jumped ship to another platform.
I don’t think kids get the difference between The Free Internet and Corporations who profit from their data.
Ah, this post takes me back. I had just graduated from school with a degree in commercial design. I was working as the in house web designer for an industrial design company. It was my first real job out of college. We had built our company’s entire site from Flash. I remember seeing Egomedia in 1999 while in college and was blown away. One of my instructors gave us an assignment of presenting a design company to the class that we really loved and explaining why. I chose Ego Media. I wanted to be just like those guys. I to this day still have the .exe file of the downloaded flash intro(if anyone wants it let me know). I watch from time to time to reminisce. After getting my first job I then discovered 2advanced and was floored. It was frustrating to see how talented some people were because I felt I could not even come close to that no matter how hard I tried.
By the late first decade the Flash thing dried up. I eventually began losing interest in web and graphic design. I haven’t designed a site in several years now and now have an office job in a completely unrelated field. Since the standards of responsive layout and flat design took over the web, it really began homogenizing the look of websites. Everything started looking like a template, there was no more excitement to the creative process. With the rise of Wix, templates, 99designs web design became commoditized and I felt there was a huge race to the bottom. So I was making less money and web design became less fun and interesting due to the constraints of web standards and mobile first design.
Divyesh Swamikutty says
A very nice blog… made me nostalgic. I started my career as a web designer and was and still is a big fan of 2adnaved.com. Those days we used to express our creativity through visual designs and Flash was a great software to do so. I was not really a great fan of Flash because of the bugs and other issues that used to creep in, but what it could delivery was great. Unfortunately today the digital medium is all about the performance and less of experience design ( the way experience design used to be ).
I am really sad that those days are gone!
Nueb Kitsune says
2Advanced was one of the most memorable sites for me; their designs giving me lots of inspiration as I was still in grade school learning to make use of Flash. I had originally began when Macromedia was on version 3 with the simplistic and limited set of ActionScript commands. I made use of Flash for many different small projects and websites, following it all the way up till Adobe procured it; which when I found that out, already knew what Adobe had instored for one aspect of the application, making use of their layer filter algorithms. Adobe did add a bit of an interesting twist to designing with the application, but by that time, I think Flash was already on its way down as a trending website design option. But my sentiments are with yours in that, I had a lot of fun, will always remember the cool and interesting things I accomplished with it.
Malan Darras says
yeah Nueb, it was a great toy while it lasted. 🙂 I loved it too.
nuebkitsune yes but
Tyson Kingsbury says
I’m a designer as well (I go by exador in most design forums). If you were doing this, way back when, it’s likely you hung out on Newstoday. I recall chatting with Pixelranger there (of 2advanced fame) from time to time…super nice guy. Reading this post brought back a lot of great memories 🙂 I’ll be honest though. I was never a huge fan of Flash. I loved the work 2advanced were doing, but I thought it was too over the top, and compared to the companies I was doing design work for (banks, healthcare, etc) it just wasn’t a fit. I too saw the CSS writing on the wall… and saw that with a team of good developers, you could do equally amazing stuff without Flash…so…wasn’t too upset at all to watch it waste away 😉
Malan Darras says
Hey exador, Newstoday! I haven’t thought of that site in forever, but their little “News To-Day” jingle is stuck in my head for life. Remember it? I pitched a client once on an intro jingle once (lol), using that jingle as an example.
Pixelranger is/was a monster. I remember when he joined the team. I kept up with him long after his time at 2A. Just checked and it looks like his personal site is still up and running. Dude’s had a great/long career.
Michelle Graham says
🙂 And I still have to deploy flash. I let a user know I had deployed remotely to please test. I get, “How do I test it?” … me, “What were you originally trying to do any you couldn’t because you didn’t have flash?”…. him… “I needed flash player on my computer so that I could watch the onboard tv and movies on my United flight. It required adobe flash player to loaded.”…. really? My time is already being wasted.. where is the f’ing bourbon?
Malan Darras says
haha, sorry to hear Michelle. I still see it (flash) being used from time to time. At this point it’s barely hanging on… Couldn’t imagine trying to deploy it now, as most browsers don’t support or care about it at all. Good luck out there.
2advanced was the perfect example of “silver bullet” does not exist. Early 2000s 2advanced seem like they could solve/fix/build anything for the web/digital media, but we all found out that was not the case.
Hi Malan. When will be the training coming out?
Alexandr Fischenkov says
Malan Darras says
not 100% sure. get on the list and I’ll let ya know. https://www.malandarras.com/course
Troy Stamps says
When I was totally unaware of what was going on in the internet back then, I vaguely remembered Flash being king back then. Although I was not into website building and flash, I had a friend who was selling websites using flash and made good money doing it while unemployed. This just attest to the fact that companies have to change with new paradigm shifts in all things tech to stay relevant.
Malan Darras says
yep. it was fun while it lasted.
Went down the rabbit hole.. A Flash back A future told and A Resurrection and goodbye…nice read. You Saw It In The Future
Malan Darras says
HAHA “Saw it in the future” SIITF