Gone in a Flash: Adobe to Retire 20 Year Old Product in 2020
Posted on 08/03/2017 at 02:05 PM
It’s official. Come 2020, Adobe Flash will be no more than a historic relic. In a recent blog post from Adobe, the company responsible for Flash, it was announced that there are now formal plans to phase out the product, stating that they will discontinue any updating or distribution of the Flash Player toward the end of 2020.
The Rise of Flash:
Introduced in 1996, Flash has since grown to be a technology users, web developers, designers, and digital marketing agencies have relied on for viewing multimedia, executing rich Internet applications and streaming video and audio. It has been used for just about everything from digital ads, to interactive games and animations.
The Case against Flash:
As the internet has evolved, the plugin began to falter; furthermore, there was much push back when it came to preserving Flash Player, both from external factors and from internal challenges within the Adobe company.
Steve Jobs, who was notoriously against Flash, made the decision to prohibit its support on iOS. Much of his hatred of the technology was due to security concerns, however he also felt that performance on mobile devices left much to be desired. In any case, he was very vocal about his concerns, making bold anti-endorsements against the plugin, even penning an essay on the subject in 2010. With iOS eating up more and more of the market share, it can’t be denied the role his views likely played in the product falling out of commission.
Jobs did make some good points. Adobe Flash is lacking from a security standpoint. Since Flash runs inside the same process and memory as the web browser, any bugs in the software present hackers an opening to access memory. Any time this happens, it enables a browser to jump to a specific memory address which will allow a hacker to take control of a machine. In fact, in April, Adobe was required to make a security update to patch a serious vulnerability that put users at risk to ransomware.
Mobile support grew to be a huge challenge for Adobe. In the case of desktop, Flash developers only really needed to worry about configuring support for the two main operating systems available - Windows OS and Mac OS. However, when it came to mobile, more screen sizes and interaction elements needed to be considered. This proved to be a huge hurdle for the company.
So What Now?
The fact is that the internet has outgrown Flash in favor of other options. There are already many alternatives being used in place of Adobe Flash that offer much better solutions suitable for just about any online application, be it for mobile or desktop use.
Open standards like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly have made many advancements over the past few years, and can offer more flexibility, capability and functionality than was ever offered by Flash. In fact, today, most browser vendors integrate these capabilities directly into browsers, further reducing the need for plugins. Additionally, these options are much less resource-intensive than Flash, meaning battery life is much less of a problem.
So Long, Flash!
The Flash Player will officially fall out of commission on Dec. 31, 2020. Some of the bigger-name web browsers are already abandoning it. In fact, Safari in macOS 10 disables Flash by default. Google has also begun the process of disabling Flash in the Chrome browser. If users wish to run it, they must do so with each new site they visit. Big name tech players like Facebook, Microsoft, Mozilla, and others are also making plans to migrate any reliance away from the product.
Global Reach is also taking the necessary steps to ensure that our Content Management Systems discontinue the use of Flash as an accepted file format. While we will eventually prohibit the upload of any Flash files, this does not mean that Flash files that were previously used on a website will stop working once the software is deprecated. However, it does mean that fewer and fewer people will be using Flash Player, reducing the number of people who will have the capability to view your Flash content.
The demise of Flash was inevitable, but ultimately, switching to open standards like HTML5 will lead to a web with better performance, security, and battery life. Here’s to a new age!
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