Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Here Lies Flash

Adobe (MacRumors):

Since Adobe will no longer be supporting Flash Player after December 31, 2020 and Adobe will block Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2021, Adobe strongly recommends all users immediately uninstall Flash Player to help protect their systems.

Rich Trouton:

To assist with the process of removing Adobe Flash, I’ve written an uninstall script which will completely remove Adobe Flash.

Jordan Rose:

There’s a good chance mainstream browsers will straight-up stop supporting plug-ins soon after, so I’m downloading the standalone player app.

See also: Slashdot.

Mike Davidson:

Then one day in 1997, I clicked on a link to Kanwa Nagafuji’s Image Dive site and the whole trajectory of web design changed for me. It looked like nothing I had ever seen in a web browser. A beautiful, dynamic interface, driven by anti-aliased Helvetica type and buttery smooth vector animation? And the whole thing loaded instantly on a dial-up connection with nothing suspicious to install? What was this sorcery? Sadly, I can’t find any representation of the site online anymore, but imagine the difference in going not just from black-and-white TV to color TV, but from newspaper to television.

Nick Heer:

I am not as rosy-eyed about Flash as Davidson. Most of the Flash-based websites I remember loaded slowly, performed poorly, and were hard to use. I remain conflicted about a more interactive web and the entire notion of websites as applications, and I find it hard to be so kind to a plug-in that was responsible for so many security and stability problems.


It is impossible to know if we would have ended up with rich typography, streaming video players, full web applications, and online games without Flash — and, in the case of the latter two, Java. Regardless of my ambivalence, the web that we have today is rich, universal, and accessible, and much of that groundwork was catalyzed by Flash.

Lars Doucet (via Hacker News):

To this day, I am super mad at all the people who put for the codswallop that HTML5 was this perfect replacement for Flash.

It’s been 10 years since “Thoughts on Flash” was published and HTML5 STILL doesn’t (in actual practice) replicate what mattered about Flash.

What really mattered about Flash, in my view:

  1. For 95% of applications you can just distribute a single SWF file
  2. You have a robust authoring tool that is animation/graphics-first and newbie friendly
  3. You can send a link to your mom and she can just play it w/ no issues

Francisco Tolmasky:

“Thoughts on Flash” was never about the open web and was instead, if anything, about Apple controlling the iPhone ecosystem (and eventually the AppStore).

Joe Rossignol (Hacker News):

And starting today, Adobe has gone one step further and blocked Flash content entirely.

When a user attempts to load a Flash game or content in a browser such as Chrome, the content now fails to load and instead displays a small banner that leads to the Flash end-of-life page on Adobe’s website. While this day has long been coming, with many browsers disabling Flash by default years ago, it is officially the end of a 25-year era for Flash, first introduced by Macromedia in 1996 and acquired by Adobe in 2005.


Update (2021-01-13): Jason Scott:

Now up and running at @internetarchive - 100s of “Flash Loops”, the most concentrated mind-melting outcropping of the Flash era - fast-looping visual images connected to audio hooks from a range of sources. These got into EVERYTHING back in the 2000s.

Update (2021-01-22): David Cohen and Yue Sun:

Depot staff were confused when their computers lost access to the local dispatch system on the morning of Jan. 12, according to the bulletin. The reason: Adobe’s last update to its Flash Player included a kill-switch set to go off that day, when the company ended support for the notoriously virus-prone web standard. Flash was little missed—except in the Chinese government, where it remains in widespread use.


The staff divided into hardware and software task forces, and attempted to restore an older version of Flash from a backup “GHOST system,” an effort marked by triumphs and defeats. By 10 p.m., they had mostly restored computers to backup states—when, suddenly, automatic updates caused the systems to disable Flash again.

Update (2021-03-15): Saam Pahlavan:

With the passing of Flash, I got some game dev friends to write eulogies for our beloved friend.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

It was first introduced as FutureSplash Animator, not Macromedia Flash. My employer at the time had a boxed copy sent for us to evaluate. I was against it from the start since it required a plugin. It was pretty, though. That was some time in early 1996.

For every site that might have made Flash worthwhile, there were a thousand that made it the scourge of the web. Where do we go to dance on its grave? I’ll be there.

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