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Adobe is Dropping Flash: What it means for Web Content

It’s been real Adobe Flash.

Do you remember the stick figure fighting Flash cartoon? Maybe Line Rider? Horrible Nintendo knockoffs? If not, it won’t matter a whole lot anymore. Because Adobe has officially announced the end of the influential and now obsolete program. A cherished piece of internet history must be laid to rest. After years of deteriorating functionality, a growing lack of compatibility, and egregious security flaws, Adobe has decided to take the next three years to phase out the Flash Player in cooperation with tech giants Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla. By 2020, Adobe’s Flash will be no more.

Adobe Flash isn’t as reliable as the Scarlet Speedster. Read up on Flash’s impending doom. #WebDev Click To Tweet

It hits home for me as I look back on the hours spent playing Line Rider in middle school.

As sad as it is, it does not come as a surprise. Unfortunately, Adobe’s Flash isn’t as fast or reliable as the Scarlet Speedster. In 2010, Steve Jobs publicly spelled out the end of Apple’s relationship with Adobe’s Flash products. With technology headed toward mobile devices, battery efficiency, touch-based activity, and more, Jobs decided to cut Flash out of Apple’s mobile product lines. Their lack of evolution brought about fatal concerns and in the end did the same for the creators of the program itself. Though it does not negate the impact that Flash had on the internet itself, it has become profoundly obvious that Flash is no longer the vital giant it once was. Even Adobe admits to it:

“But as open standards like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly have matured over the past several years, most now provide many of the capabilities and functionalities that plugins pioneered and have become a viable alternative for content on the web.”  – Adobe

Sometimes closed proprietary systems work for a company to keep control over their business. Apple, for example, makes a number of virtually non-customizable products. Unfortunately, this can result in a lack of innovation and growth. Flash is the poster child of this as open web technologies have replaced it over the years. According to a recent Google blog post, “Three years ago, 80% of desktop Chrome users visited a site with Flash each day. Today usage is only 17% and continues to decline.”

If those numbers don’t indicate Flash’s doom, I’m not sure what does.

Despite Flash’s inevitable end, there are users who want to keep it alive by petitioning Adobe to release it as an open-source project. With a few thousand petitioners, it seems there is still love for the product somewhere in the world.

For some, they deem it to be a nostalgic piece of technology reminding them of their previous lives of early web development. If deleted, it could waste years of people’s hard work. Others simply want the program preserved as a documented piece of internet history, hopefully diverting future developers to steer clear of anything reminiscent to Flash.

Web content creators have little to worry about when it comes to Flash’s exit. The program has so little stake in the industry at this point that, if you are working in web content, you probably don’t deal with Adobe Flash anyway. With the three year plan, the average user will most likely never notice its disappearance. Adobe is closely working with the major browsers to phase out smoothly.

Whether it is released as an open-source project or cut completely, it will officially be incompatible with most internet browsers by 2020.