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Flash is dead 💀 (kind of)

walker profile image Walker Harrison ・2 min read

Earlier today, Adobe published a blogpost announcing that they would be gradually sunsetting their well known plugin, Flash. The company will continue "issuing regular security patches, maintaining OS and browser compatibility and adding features and capabilities as needed," according to the post, but the plan is to stop updating and distributing Flash by the end of 2020.

Nostalgic users might shed a tear for Flash's death—who amongst us didn't rely on Flash to serve us an early viral video or whimsical browser game?—but the general consensus is that Flash's wind-down is overdue if anything. With near universal agreement, web developers consider Flash a potential source of security vulnerabilities, sluggish performance, and wasted battery. Major browsers like Chrome and Safari automatically block the plugin—you may recall being asked to allow it to run on various websites.

Originally rolled out in the 1990s, Flash was the standard for online audio and video playback for over a decade. But eventually superior technologies like HTML5 supplanted the plugin, and Flash's persistent bugginess and poor security attracted scores of critics, most notably Steve Jobs who penned a long essay denouncing Flash in 2010.

But Flash's erstwhile prominence means that it's still all over the web, which is why Adobe is relying on its powerful partners, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla, to ease the transition by encouraging developers to migrate current Flash content to modern formats. The three years until the official end-date makes such conversions easier, but Flash was instrumental in the digital emergence of industries like education and gaming, so it's likely that this change will break more than a few old and untended websites.

Many dev.to users surely have experiences, both positive and negative, working with Flash over the years. Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Discussion

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eerk profile image
eerk

Let's not forget that Jobs also didn't like Flash because it was the main reason why users would avoid the App Store. In those days there was a lot of criticism about Apple's 'Walled Garden'. It's fair to say that the success of the iPhone depended partially on Flash going down. Adobe started scrambling for ways to get Flash running on iOS, and then Apple created an App Store developer policy that said you couldn't use Flash to create native iOS apps.

In hindsight, it seems a silly squabble, but Jobs' letter always seemed a bit hypocritical to me.

Adobe was hypocritical as well. Just like with all their other monolithic software, they just kept it alive to squeeze their monthly payments out of you. Their should have introduced creative HTML5 tools YEARS before they finally did. Instead, they killed the only webdesign tool that was out there (Fireworks) to force users into Photoshop.

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walker profile image
Walker Harrison Author

well said. looks like there aren't too many good guys in this scenario...

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

I found out from an Adobe employee a while back that Adobe had decided to discontinue Flash back in 2013, but they continued to push it until about 2015, when they quietly DC'd key parts of the platform out from under a lot of unhappy paying developers (I was one of them). Then, as they pushed the new Adobe Flash Professional CC, the only edition to support the new HTML5 output, they said that "Flash could continue as a first-class citizen," although they had STILL know internally that they were discontinuing it.

So, I'm glad they finally decided to stop pretending. I lost all respect for Adobe during this debacle - my company lost $800 and three years of work because of this, and it would have been more if we hadn't seen the signs and dropped the platform entirely in early 2015. Adobe should have been honest about their plans to discontinue Flash when they first decided it in 2013, instead of trying to milk as much quick profit out of trusting developers in the meantime.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Yeah, seriously. This is the kind of behavior you get from companies like Oracle too. It might be better for their bottom line to milk Flash for all it's worth, but it's bad for customer trust and bad for everyone in the long run. Companies that operate this way, all else equal, will be surpassed by companies with customer-centric approaches.

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andy profile image
Andy Zhao (he/him)

No more flash?! My childhood is going away, too. I remember hacking around Flash games by right clicking and going back and forward a lot, eventually skipping some levels or something.

I don't remember having a bad experience with Flash; the closest would be going on a webpage and just seeing a black box for five minutes before finally figuring out that I needed to load Flash.

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Kurt Corbett

Android supported Flash for a few years and if you ever had the misfortune of using it, you'll know that it was so slow that it was almost unusable.

Feels like a technology from a bygone era (which I suppose it is). I remember that in the late 90s and early 00s all of the best looking websites seemed to use Flash.

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Peter Kim Frank

I will always have a soft spot and nostalgia for all of those "Free Flash Games" websites.

My fav games were Mini Putt and Helicopter