Ding dong, the witch is dead. Although Flash support has been getting skewered left and right by multiple browsers, word has now come forth from Adobe itself, and the message is simple: Flash will stop being distributed and updated by the end of 2020. It's as if millions of web developer voices suddenly cried out in joy, and were forever happier.
Despite the final word on the matter, Adobe's move has been a long time coming. It's been more than a few years since talk first started about dropping Flash support in browsers, and any site in this day and age that still relies on Flash is a relic passed down through multiple generations. The Google Chrome team even wrote its own eulogy, reminding users that the browser will require explicit permission from users to run Flash content as time moves on, and pointing out that Flash usage among Chrome users has dropped by 80% in the last three years.
Mozilla also talked about Flash's deprecation. The group also noted that Flash will be disabled in Firefox by 2019, and remarked on a blog post written by well-known gaming site Kongregate. The site's games used to run on Flash almost entirely by as late as 2010, and significant usage of HTML5 only appeared by mid-2013. Nowadays, roughly half of the titles on offer use HTML5, a figure that's growing by the month.
For its part, Adobe points to modern technologies like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly as replacements for Flash's now-obsolete functionality. The company notes that those standards are now directly integrated into most browsers without the need for plug-ins. Adobe does say that until the end of 2020, it'll still offer support for the software—mostly in the form of security patches, we'd wager.
On a personal note, being a web developer for many a year led me to develop a particularly nasty hatred for Flash, or at least for the Flash ecosystem. The technology was admittedly fantastic back in the day when browsers had support for next to nothing. But it also quickly became overused, most notably for site elements that should have never been a plugin to begin with, like menus, navigation breadcrumbs, or main text. Since Flash was pretty much the first tech of its type that was integrated into browsers, developer and user familiarity—coupled with the slow development and rollout of better open standards—ensured that it remained in use for far longer than it should ever had. Good riddance.
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