Adobe ending Flash support at the end of 2020

Adobe logoBack in 2012, Adobe recognized that Flash's end was near, with a five- to 10-year timeframe for its eventual phasing out. Today, the company got specific: Flash will be supported through to the end of 2020, after which the Flash player will cease to be developed and distributed.

In the early days of the Web, Flash served an essential role, offering graphical and interactive capabilities that simply had no equivalent in plain HTML and JavaScript. Since then, a raft of technologiescanvas for 2D graphics, WebGL for 3D graphics, HTML5's video and audio tags, JavaScript interfaces for microphones and webcams, among othershave piece by piece eliminated the need for Flash. With, most recently, support for DRM-protected video being incorporated into HTML5, the need for Flash is largely eliminated.

As such, Adobe, together with Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla, has planned to end-of-life the browser plugin. The plugin will be fully supported and maintained until the end of 2020, with browsers such as Chrome and Edge continuing to embed and patch the plugin. Adobe also says that in "certain [unspecified] geographies" it will move to end the support and use of the plugin more aggressively, due to widespread use of outdated versions of the software.

The writing has been on the wall for Flash for some time, but in ending support and development, Adobe is creating certain gaps that aren't yet being filled. Flash had a wealth of development tools, both first- and third-party, that had a focus on developing rich, interactive content. HTML tooling, by contrast, is typically built around producing websites. Adobe has been working to bring some of its Flash tooling into an HTML5 world. The Flash Professional timeline-based development environment, for example, has been extended to support canvas and WebGL animations, moving away from being a strictly Flash toola change that also saw it renamed to Animate CC in 2016. But other tools, such as the more coding-oriented Flash Builderand a wide range of third-party toolsappear to be left behind.

Perhaps more significantly, Adobe doesn't appear to be offering a long-term way to access the substantial legacy of Flash content. While many uses of Flash were low-valueadvertising, splash screens, and other such annoyancesthere's a vast number of games and other interactive content that will be inaccessible after the end of 2020. This is a significant cultural artifact spanning around 20 years of the Web's earliest days. It's possible that Adobe will do something to fill the gapfor example, it could develop a full fidelity Flash player built using canvas, WebGL, JavaScript, and so onbut if it doesn't, these things will be lost to the mists of time, making humanity poorer as a result.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Adobe, Flash

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