The End of Adobe Flash

Cash Lesley, Managing Editor

It has been 24 years since Macromedia first released Macromedia Flash 1.0 in 1996. Now, after almost a quarter of a century, it is finally nearing its end.

In July of 2017 Adobe announced that Flash Player’s End of Life (EOL) would be on December 31, 2020, the last day of 2020. This date was mainly chosen so everyone who needed to could convert programs from Flash to a different standard. With 3 years’ notice, anybody who needed to convert something should have had enough time to do so.

As for why it’s getting shut down, there is a multitude of reasons. One major reason is that, as Adobe put it, “Open standards such as HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly have continually matured over the years and serve as viable

alternatives for Flash content.” Essentially, there are better options than Flash and it’s not all that necessary anymore. Add to this the fact that many open standards like those mentioned above are being integrated into all the major browsers and it’s even more clear that keeping Flash alive wasn’t viable.

That being said, there were reasons for people to switch before now, the primary one being security. Since it first acquired Flash, Adobe has had a decent collection of controversies due to their slow responses to vulnerabilities, such as when they came out and apologized for taking over a year to fix a known security issue. Beyond this, the sheer number of vulnerabilities that have been recorded is alarming. There have been over 1000 recorded vulnerabilities since Adobe first acquired Flash in December 2005. In 2015-16 alone there were almost 600.

Add to this more specific cases or people that have put Flash in a bad spotlight and it’s no longer hard to imagine why Adobe decided to shut Flash down. Steve Jobs in particular played a large role in this, as even as far back as 2010 he was speaking out against it. In addition to this, he also declared it wouldn’t be allowed on Apple’s mobile devices. 

He said in his letter, Thoughts on Flash, “Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.” Even though Adobe had a response for a multiple of the concerns he had, a name that big deciding that Flash wouldn’t be supported on some of his biggest devices did impact the public’s opinion on it.

Despite all this, Flash will still be sorely missed by some. Between games, websites, and video content, Flash holds a place in the hearts of many. Even given the fact that many of the things they enjoyed are now converted to other formats, the name Flash was still connected to many of them. For example, many browser-based games that originated with Flash are called Flash games, and that will still likely be the name most people think of.

No matter what your view of Flash Player and its history is, it will still become just that, history. Flash may not have been the best, but it pioneered the way that others now follow. Technology will keep advancing despite the nostalgia one may have. But even with all its flaws, the internet wouldn’t be what it is today without it, and for that, it should be given gratitude.

Flash and its decline (Cash Lesley )