January 27, 2021•490 words
Today, Mozilla shipped Firefox 85, in which they completely ripped out Adobe Flash functionality. And while Google hasn't quite shipped their Flash-less Chrome release yet, I don't care because Chrome is essentially Google-branded spyware that has no business being on my machines. So, in my world, Flash is dead. 💥💀⚰️
For those of you who didn't grow up in the early '00s playing online Flash games or watching Flash cartoons, Adobe Flash was an easy-to-use technology for building interactive content that could run in a web browser. This was back when the Internet was just finding its feet and technological standards had not yet been agreed upon. Adobe, makers of Photoshop, was one of many companies that created their own tools that far surpassed the abilities of the early Internet.
The content for websites like Homestar Runner and Newgrounds, among many others, were all built using Flash. But internet browsers didn't understand how to display Flash content, which meant users had to download an Adobe Flash plugin.
Once the browser had the plugin installed, Flash sites "just worked". You'd occasionally get pop ups on your computer to update the Flash plugin occasionally, but that was a small price to pay to watch Trogdor burninate the countryside!
Unfortunately, downloading all those plugins and updates gave malicious actors plenty of opportunities to write viruses and take control of another person's computer. Many folks dismissed those pesky update notifications, and millions of computers were left vulnerable because they had outdated versions of Flash. It was a security hole that was frankly not worth having just to watch a couple cartoons or have fancy interactive websites.
Thankfully, the IT community worked together to create web standards that enabled the same sort of functionality that Flash provided, but using a single approach that everyone agreed to follow. If you've seen technology acronyms like HTML5, it's that kind of stuff that helped killed Flash. After we built the modern Internet, Flash really didn't have much of a purpose. And In 2017 Adobe announced Flash would die at the end of 2020.
Spoiler alert: we made it through 2020!
I like to think Flash sacrificed itself to appease whatever apocalyptic gods were lurking among us last year and they apparently deemed it an acceptable enough offering that we get at least one more year. 🤞🏻
But as wonderful and amazing as Flash was in its prime, technology marches onward.
Flash has been reborn using a really cool piece of technology called Ruffle so that we can continue to enjoy Teen Girl Squad cartoons until the heat death of the universe.
And yes, it's written in Rust! 🦀
But the important thing is that nobody will be writing new Flash programs, outside of hobbyists or any companies without the forsight to switch to modern technology.
Fareware Flash. The cartoons and websites created by you were an incredible part of Internet history.
You will not be forgotten!