What is there to replace the Adobe Flash Player plugin? What were the reasons for disabling this extremely popular technology? Can games and websites based on it still be launched after it was disabled?
Adobe Flash Player – what was it?
Adobe Flash Player, previously also known as Macromedia Flash Player or Shockwave Flash, made its debut on the market in 1996 and for a long time was one of the most important technologies in IT. It was a virtual machine that ran files and multimedia streams, specially prepared animations, as well as the Rich Internet Application (RIA) software. The Flash plug, however, began to lose its popularity over the years.
The first breakthrough moment was April 2010, when Steve Jobs – the then president of Apple – publicly criticized Flash Player, stating that it was full of errors. In fact, numerous holes in program code were increasingly being used by hackers to launch attacks. On July 25, 2017, Adobe, in agreement with the manufacturers of the most popular browsers, announced the end of Flash – the complete shutdown of the technology. As announced, it took place on December 31st, 2020.
Flash plugin – what was it needed for?
The operation of disabling Adobe Flash, by using the so-called time bomb, had an impact on almost every part of the Internet. Even long before the end date, browsers blocked plug-ins based on this technology by default, while informing the user about the planned complete abandonment and the possible dangers of using it. At present, it can be concluded that Adobe Flash plug-ins are not needed for anything.
In the times of the greatest boom in technology, however, it was completely different. Flash Player was the most popular tool for shaping the look and feel of almost the entire Internet. It was thanks to this technology that animations used by websites could be easily created and operated. Interactive Flash games launched in the browser were also a huge market. Using cookies, they even allowed the creation of save points and resuming the game.
RIA programs created with the use of Flash also gained great popularity. Like games, they were launched from the level of a web browser, but their functionality could often compete with traditional software installed on a computer – such as the extremely popular Pixlr photo editor. The announcement of the end of Flash Player left developers with three avenues of action: abandoning extension-based products altogether, converting them to HTML5, or completely migrating to a new technology.
The end of Flash Player – was it the end of the Internet?
Of course it was not the end of the Internet, but the start of 2021 meant it was the end of the Flash plugin. As announced, it was at this point there was a final shutdown of the service throughout the Internet. As a result websites, games and RIA developers who decided to ignore the upcoming revolution or did not have time to prepare new versions of their products were in dire straits. However, the latter option seems unlikely, given the three-and-a-half-year period between the announcement of the technology deactivation plans and its actual occurrence.
A large number of developers departed from Flash even before 2017, as the reasons for their decisions they listed instability and security problems, which was the result of many holes in the software itself. The announcement of the exclusion only accelerated the migration of producers and websites to newer technologies, especially HTML 5. Adobe Flash has become a kind of a public enemy with time. Attempts to use it were blocked or advised against by browsers, anti-viruses and experts.
There were several major areas of criticism of the technology. First of all, in a similar way to cookie files, it stored information on the user’s computer, which could then be accessed by the service provider’s server – that allowed it to build a user profile. The problems with the vulnerabilities – giving hackers unauthorized access to devices – have been repeatedly raised by developers and organizations researching threats on the web. Unfortunately, Adobe continued to ignore them, very sluggishly publishing updates, for which the company even officially apologized.
In the case of mobile devices, the problem of Flash – which was supposed to be multi-platform – turned out to be difficulties with the use of touch screens. For this reason, the Android version was short-lived and was disabled by Google. In turn, Apple at one point practically waged a war against Adobe. Both companies accused each other of problematic Flash performance on Mac computers. The result of the disagreement was a ban of the technology on iOS, and this displeased the users of early iPhones, cut off from some Internet resources.
What solution is there to replace Adobe Flash Player plugin?
The question of what to use instead of Flash Player was left unanswered for a long time. Apple quickly gave up the technology almost completely, which was often criticized by users. However, their ever-growing group – especially in the case of the iPhone that was taking the market by storm at the time – combined with the criticism of holes and bugs in Flash itself, motivated many developers. The long-announced premiere of the new HTML format in 2014 turned out to be a great breakthrough.
So, what is HTML 5 and what are its possibilities? The most important advantage of the new markup language is its full standardization, which makes web pages look the same in every browser for the first time. Compared to previous versions, its syntax has also been simplified, making it much easier to create pages and applications. The real revolution, however, was the introduction of native support for multimedia files, as well as additional functions such as geolocation, graphics rendering (also 3D) or drag and drop.
Compared to Flash, the biggest advantages of HTML 5, however, are its remarkable transparency and a high level of security. Websites, animations and programs created with the use of new technology are distinguished by their low weight and efficient operation on each platform. They also have no problems with working with touch screens. Evidence of the efficiency and potential of the new technology are leaks that Microsoft is planning to gradually transfer Windows functions to HTML 5.
The problem with what to replace the Adobe Flash Player plugin was therefore solved even before the outdated and vulnerable technology was finally turned off. Although you can still find sites on the web that allow you to take advantage of old versions of it, running them poses a great and unnecessary threat to your computer. Currently, the Internet is based on secure HTML 5, which is a testament to significant technological development.