On Tuesday, Adobe Systems announced it will be ending development and distribution of Flash by the year 2020, effectively killing off the popular plugin. Tech giants including Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Mozilla have also announced their measures to progressively phase out Flash out of the web.
Browsers nowadays retained Flash mostly as a vestigial feature to ensure compatibility with some interactive media on outdated sites, including it by default but leaving it up to users to enable it or not.
Adobe and other industry leaders have encouraged developers to get on with current open web standards and migrate their content to new platforms using tools like HTML5. Some game studios have pledged to help Flash game devs with the titanic task of preserving their games.
The demise of Flash has been long overdue
Flash has been around for more than two decades now, and by the time Adobe acquired the plugin from Macromedia in the early 2000s, it was present in more than 90% of websites in some form or another.
The multimedia framework is known for its rich capabilities to build and play interactive content, including animations, video games, video streaming and other applications. It also transcended web environments and made its way into mobile devices when they got popular.
However, as time passed and the internet evolved, Flash saw itself more and more overshadowed by rising standards rivaling its dominance. Users and developers warmed up to new tools as well, and industry leaders spoke out against the adoption of the software on grounds of performance halting and insecurity.
Steve Jobs was the most famous Flash detractor, penning a letter in 2010 in which he warned against the potential dangers the standard would pose to mobile platforms. He would turn out to be right, as the plugin now represents one of the biggest backdoors for hackers to exploit and wreak havoc in online sites.
Flash might be dead but its legacy will live on
While many negative things have been said about Flash over the years, even by Adobe itself, the software remains an iconic part of web history. Without it thousands if not millions of applications would not work, even today, in sites like YouTube, Facebook, and even your local bank portal.
Epic Games and Unity Technologies have offered their support to platforms like Facebook, which hosts millions of Flash-based games, to help them make the transition towards HTML and other supported standards in the open web of today.
Kongregate, the legendary gaming site with more than 100,000 Flash games of our childhood, has also reached out in support for the move, acknowledging it is for the greater good since the plugin poses great security risks.
Adobe has committed to support rising open web tools as they get more refined and replace the functions Flash once performed and was deemed essential for. After 2020, though, that chapter will finally come to a close.