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The news has been around for a few years now and the time has come. On the 31st of December 2020, Adobe Systems will officially stop updating and distributing Adobe Flash.

What is Flash Player & how long has it been around?

Initially released in 1996, Adobe Flash is computer software for using content created on the Adobe Flash platform with a purpose of viewing multimedia, running internet applications, and streaming audio and video. It can be run on both a web browser and a supported mobile device.

What is it used for?

Adobe Flash (labelled Shockwave Flash in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Google Chrome), once had more than 3 million developers worldwide using the software to create content as well as an enormous daily user base. In 2013, Adobe stated that more than 400 million out of over 1 billion desktops that used Adobe Flash updated to the new version within 6 weeks of the update’s release.

Developers commonly used it to create online advertising, engaging interactive and animated web content, and even entire websites. The average internet user relied on it to see certain types of digital content; such as watching videos, listening to audio, or playing games.

Why is it disappearing?

This news shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who rely on Adobe Flash as Microsoft announced in 2017(opens in a new tab) that they were planning on cutting the software out completely by 2020.

Over the last few years, the future of the platform has been questioned, most famously when Apple released the iPhone in 2007 and detailed why the company distanced itself from Adobe Flash. Steve Jobs even posted on Apple’s website his ‘Thoughts on Flash(opens in a new tab)’. The main reasons why neither he nor Apple liked Flash was because it fell behind in regards to mobile devices; it’s a huge drain on battery life, eats memory, and the general bugginess that comes with using Flash on mobile.

There were also growing security concerns. Flash player has a relatively poor security history with it being fairly easy for hackers to integrate code to Flash applications in order to spread viruses.

The other reason is that it’s slower than some of its rivals and also requires a separate player. The web browser you use requires that you have the flash plugin configured and turned on, in turn, slowing performance and allowing these security holes (used by hackers to inject the viruses/malware) to appear.

Flash is still around today and many businesses still rely on it but with it being phased out by developers and with the official end date in sight, what can you be doing to prepare?

How to prepare

If you’re a business owner and rely on Flash, look to change it. If you’re a developer looking for alternatives, there are some great alternatives. Spend time into researching these:

  • HTML5
  • Canvas
  • SVGs

For those who don’t need alternatives and just want to use the web without getting issues: Apple’s iOS doesn’t support flash anyway. For Windows users, you could install Unity Web Player or GNU Gnash as possible alternatives to Adobe Flash.

What happens next?

Flash isn’t dead yet but after December 2020, its days are numbered. Web application developers are already looking into and using Client Side Scripting technologies such as HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, Ajax, while others are using Server Side Scripting technologies such as ASP, ASP.NET, Python etc.

Still, with most mobile devices not compatible with Flash, have you missed it? No. It has taken desktop 10 years to catch up on the realisation that the world can keep spinning without Flash, so you won’t miss it on your computer either.

If you’re feeling a bit lost or are considering making big changes to your current site anyway, and you think you would benefit with a new, up to date website, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us(opens in a new tab) today and let the experts do the hard work for you.

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