What Ever Happened to Adobe Flash?

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,203   +4,238
I never cared much for flash myself, I used it because I had to on early youtube mostly but I still think this should be read as a cautionary tale: the internet is supposedly a decentralized and open network of PCs yet if you go through this timeline, it really took only 2 companies to completely remove a protocol from existence: Apple and Google.

Scroll back to 2022 and things are orders of magnitude worst: Not even Microsoft was able to sustain a competitor artificially and they dominate a huge chunk of the market by controlling the OS and forcing in their own web browser: For years they managed to force us into having Internet Explorer as an alternative (I know you think their market share was small but think about the last 20 years and how many jobs you had instructed you to ALWAYS use just Internet Explorer because all of their web frontends worked on *just* Internet Explorer and nothing else)

Now Microsoft has abandoned even that and decided to just fork Chromium too, putting Google implicitly in control anyway. It is down to just Apple and Google with Safari and Chrome and respective derivatives and this is a fight I don't think neither of them will back away from: Google dominates total numbers but Apple still dominates the hardware market (If you count iphone sales, which you should most of the web users access by smart phone nowadays statistically) but even though they're a strong company Apple is still on the backfoot and only a couple of bad years away from having to follow suit to what Microsoft did and just switching over Safari to become another Chromium fork.
 
The 2000s Flash was years ahead of everything else. As sluggish as the experience was on the browser, the development environment for it was really great. You had a fully fledged animation studio + ActionScript which at the time (and probably even today), was a much more cohesive programming language than javascript. It really was nice.

Adobe was so intent on capitalizing it to the max though, that they alienated everyone. The web was built with open source tools. Javascript has the lowest barrier to entry of any programming language. It's why most questions on Stackoverflow are about javascript. It's not because it was a good programming language, but it was always free and easy.

Flash was not free or easy. Flash studio was very expensive. It was closed source, it had constant 0-day security exploits that required tedious software updates. Adobe dominated the market so they didn't care about the simmering frustrations of Flash users and developers. Eventually as soon there was an alternative, everyone jumped ship.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,203   +4,238
Yo don't overlook Firefox. Mozzilla literally builds a browser just as good as Chrome's because they believe in personal privacy from corporate interests. They build Firefox for all platforms including ios and android, on a shoestring budget because it's a good thing to do.
I don't, it's my primary browser. But I recognize that well, it's quickly dying out and in dire financial trouble right now so a big part of me is thinking already "Ok what's going to happen when Firefox dies off" Not if it dies off but when it dies off.
 

koblongata

Posts: 517   +282
Flash was great, apart from being an excellent animation tool, ActionScript3 had it all, hardware 3D, broadcast video, even peer to peer network, FLEX framework for real web applications, people were building all sorts of cool stuff back then, AR, AI, you name it, people were building it, and it can be played back right in the browser, pixel perfect across all browsers, everything is getting very matured, full-blown multiplayer games were starting to become possible.
 

Aus spot

Posts: 134   +127
Security! Work blocked it long ago as it was an attack vector into the system. It also slowed things down horribly.
 

adamada72

Posts: 28   +21
I never cared much for flash myself, I used it because I had to on early youtube mostly but I still think this should be read as a cautionary tale: the internet is supposedly a decentralized and open network of PCs yet if you go through this timeline, it really took only 2 companies to completely remove a protocol from existence: Apple and Google.

Scroll back to 2022 and things are orders of magnitude worst: Not even Microsoft was able to sustain a competitor artificially and they dominate a huge chunk of the market by controlling the OS and forcing in their own web browser: For years they managed to force us into having Internet Explorer as an alternative (I know you think their market share was small but think about the last 20 years and how many jobs you had instructed you to ALWAYS use just Internet Explorer because all of their web frontends worked on *just* Internet Explorer and nothing else)

Now Microsoft has abandoned even that and decided to just fork Chromium too, putting Google implicitly in control anyway. It is down to just Apple and Google with Safari and Chrome and respective derivatives and this is a fight I don't think neither of them will back away from: Google dominates total numbers but Apple still dominates the hardware market (If you count iphone sales, which you should most of the web users access by smart phone nowadays statistically) but even though they're a strong company Apple is still on the backfoot and only a couple of bad years away from having to follow suit to what Microsoft did and just switching over Safari to become another Chromium fork.

Agree.

Personally I was sad to see Flash go, I loved making content with it. To me it was the end of the net as we knew it, the open independent web. I so wanted Adobe to open source it since they had no interest in supporting it. But that didn't happen, I've always suspected Jobs had some hand in what went down there from Adobe and how they quickly abandoned it. His open letter had a few valid points but was mostly propaganda for what would become the App Store. Apple fans didn't see that then and they never will... that guy was a master at moving their minds... who cares now I guess, people got the web they deserved today, a closed corporate ecosystem with overloader everywhere. AKA Boring.

 

Vanderlinde

Posts: 138   +93
Hah. I remember back then there where so many courses to "become a flash" designer.

Like flash was completely obsolete in search engine terms. People would build both HTML and Flash standard as a website, where the flash version obviously coudnt be read properly.

Flash was garbage, it had so many security issues, from the Windows 98 era till it got burried we had so many updates in regards of flash.

 

Eldritch

Posts: 427   +679
Many of us are talking about desktops but forget that Flash was atrocious in Mobiles. Even in android where it was supported flash resulted in terrible choppy websites and horrible resizing to mobile.

To be fair, on PC the Flash had continuous security updates and always ran in your taskbar reminding you of updates long before updates were common. That also resulted in perception of it being unsecure even more than it actually was.
 

comnut

Posts: 52   +26
I never cared much for flash myself, I used it because I had to on early youtube mostly but I still think this should be read as a cautionary tale: the internet is supposedly a decentralized and open network of PCs yet if you go through this timeline, it really took only 2 companies to completely remove a protocol from existence: Apple and Google.

Scroll back to 2022 and things are orders of magnitude worst: Not even Microsoft was able to sustain a competitor artificially and they dominate a huge chunk of the market by controlling the OS and forcing in their own web browser: For years they managed to force us into having Internet Explorer as an alternative (I know you think their market share was small but think about the last 20 years and how many jobs you had instructed you to ALWAYS use just Internet Explorer because all of their web frontends worked on *just* Internet Explorer and nothing else)

Now Microsoft has abandoned even that and decided to just fork Chromium too, putting Google implicitly in control anyway. It is down to just Apple and Google with Safari and Chrome and respective derivatives and this is a fight I don't think neither of them will back away from: Google dominates total numbers but Apple still dominates the hardware market (If you count iphone sales, which you should most of the web users access by smart phone nowadays statistically) but even though they're a strong company Apple is still on the backfoot and only a couple of bad years away from having to follow suit to what Microsoft did and just switching over Safari to become another Chromium fork.

another person in search of a clue... most know to switch to FF (a lot will only work in it!! :O ), hack away the bad bits (plenty of support if you search!)

for normal browsing there are plenty of other simpler browsers about!!
 

comnut

Posts: 52   +26
The 2000s Flash was years ahead of everything else. As sluggish as the experience was on the browser, the development environment for it was really great. You had a fully fledged animation studio + ActionScript which at the time (and probably even today), was a much more cohesive programming language than javascript. It really was nice.

Adobe was so intent on capitalizing it to the max though, that they alienated everyone. The web was built with open source tools. Javascript has the lowest barrier to entry of any programming language. It's why most questions on Stackoverflow are about javascript. It's not because it was a good programming language, but it was always free and easy.

Flash was not free or easy. Flash studio was very expensive. It was closed source, it had constant 0-day security exploits that required tedious software updates. Adobe dominated the market so they didn't care about the simmering frustrations of Flash users and developers. Eventually as soon there was an alternative, everyone jumped ship.

too right.. and the Hires html5 started, and it could not keep up...
 

bazz2004

Posts: 1,850   +304
The loss of Flash has been pretty disastrous in the area of security cameras. For example, despite promises to provide fixes so that their cameras would allow use of HTML5 that hasn't happened with ucam 247 systems. What was a good system is now degraded. My system works from an iPad but no longer functions properly with an android phone or Windows PC. Maybe it's due to the weakness of Chinese manufacturers in software development. Great at hacking but not in other respects. There was plenty of notice given by Microsoft and Adobe about the security issues and discontinuation of Flash but camera makers failed to develop their products to accommodate the new situation.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,026   +768
Real shame that Flash was security worry - have good memories playing lots of cool games wth my my son when he was younger .
Given the Flashpoint has 900Gb - that shows you how many must of been created -
Must of been fun for people designing them .
Many of these games moved onto phones/tablets
some became quite big IPs
But lots were colourful & cute - with no grind, microtransactions
just the essence of a game well done
 

McMurdeR

Posts: 507   +644
To be fair, on PC the Flash had continuous security updates and always ran in your taskbar reminding you of updates long before updates were common.

That also gave it the appearance of bloatware. Most people didn't fully understand what it actually did, so they ignored it, compounding the security issues.
 

Hysc84

Posts: 40   +30
Lol the picture is funny

I still remember everytime I need update the adobe flash in order for IE to display ads properly
 

pencea

Posts: 277   +254
So how does one revisit and play some of the classic flash games on sites like Newgrounds?
 

Shirley Dulcey

Posts: 31   +26
Those old Flash animations still look better in native form than they do as YouTube videos. No MPEG artifacts! The audio on the early ones like The Goddamn George Liquor Program is terrible because Flash didn't yet support MP3 audio, only .AU files (8 bit ADPCM at 8000 samples/second; it sounds as awful as you would imagine), but the visuals were already solid.

I miss the creativity of those animations. Flash made creation of them much simpler and more accessible than it had been before, and there was a network of sites that let amateur creators make them and be noticed. Nowadays you can create things with Adobe Animate (the successor to Flash but without support for a player plugin) or Toon Boom Harmony and post the result on YouTube, but good luck getting anybody to watch it.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,026   +768
Flashpoint is quite big - you can download the Flash projector/debugger tool -
right here on Techspot - it's small - you can sandbox it if you choose - doubt old swf files for games - had vulnerably to break out of stand alone app that's run on demand and not in a browser - ie browser checks in-between levels won't work . Upload to totalvirus if you are worried I suppose .
The flashplayer is updated to 2021 - most SWF are from 2014 and before .
Correct if wrong - it was not the games that were the problem - it was the code was there as an extension in your browser to be hijacked by any website - or anyway that got partially into your PC
 

Gezzer

Posts: 258   +132
I enjoyed Flash for what it was, especially "Frog in a blender". If I remember correctly there was a less politically correct version of it as well. But replacing it with HTML 5 was a no brainer and inevitable I guess.

My biggest complaint is OEMs that used it for mission critical deployments. Perfect example my Seagate Go Link NAS. The HTML interface uses Flash and of course refuses to let me change any firmware settings because Flash is no longer installed. Plus networking it with Win 10 has been an adventure due to this. I did learn all about setting up windows credentials, so I guess it wasn't a total waste of time...