Flash: Saviour of the I.T. Universe
Flash! It’s a word which conjures dynamic action and Queen soundtracks. While Flash Gordon saved everyone of us, Adobe Flash can’t save itself. The death knell rings through the air and Flash is no more. Alas poor Flash, I knew it well.
Like most people, I try not to know it anymore and when Adobe finally pulls the plug on the pesky software in 2020, no tears will fall. A vital component of the World Wide Web’s coming of age, now it’s the drunken uncle dancing at your wedding; you know at some point during the evening, a fall is coming.
To some extent, we should lament its passing. The Flash Player, proprietary software, made the web accessible for all and brought conformity to websites. Everyone, irrespective of the browser they were using, could see a particular site through the same eyes. Everyone, irrespective of the browser they were using, let out howls of frustration at some point as well; the Flash Player had an awful habit of crashing. On a frequent basis.
Despite the huge benefits to the web, at that point clunky and awkward like a teenager at a school disco, it became a nuisance. With lax security, some consider it a menace and there is much work to be done to ensure that its obsolescence doesn’t leave the key hidden under the plant pot by the back door.
Technology waits for no man or software. Adobe acknowledged that inevitability in their statement confirming it is an ex-Flash Player, it has ceased to be. It’s no longer pining for the fjords:
“As open standards like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly have matured over the past several years, most now provide many of the capabilities and functionalities that plugins pioneered and have become a viable alternative for content on the web.”
The only surprise is that the decision took so long. Apple first signalled its demise in 2010 when they dropped Flash Player from their product range and Android followed suit. The late Steve Jobs declared at the time:
APPLE REJECTS FLASH AS ITS CORE
Apple proved to be ahead of the curve in this instance. When Microsoft Edge required a user to click to play the Flash-content in 2016, they walked down the path already trodden by Google and Firefox. Adobe simply bowed to the inevitable but was already on-board with HTML5; the Californian company pitched in with the new open standards driven tool in 2011 and launched Edge Animate, a new content-creation tool.
At the time, Adobe acknowledged the new reality:
“HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively. This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms.”
Not that this is a simple flick of the switch. It is for Adobe when they cut support but developers are the real clean-up crew. Theirs are the decisions to make about where the boundaries of the Brave New World are drawn. In particular, those whose work involves igaming and online casinos are the organisations which have led the way in migrating away from flash with the focus of more sophisticated software applications for casino games, in particular various popular slot titles such as Tarzan, Game of Thrones and Bridesmaids slot games. With the plethora of new online technology to cater an ever tech savvy audience, the deprecation of flash was imminent.
NetEnt, for example, primarily used flash to create their casino games in the past but the move was already underway for the major players in the market with apps resembling smaller versions of their desktop websites. HTML5’s major technological leap was providing a secure platform to replicate the look and feel on mobile devices. For businesses whose USP in the marketplace is a diverse offering on mobile devices, it’s a new era.
Flash’s demise from the customer perspective, will primarily impact users with older or low-end technology. Most likely, patches from Microsoft for each version of Windows, similar to that issued for the Windows 10 upgrade, are to become the norm rather than the exception. Well before 2020 when Adobe turn their support off, the browser developers will have phased out all of Flash’s operational use.
Laptop and desktop manufacturers are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of users disposing older machines and purchasing new kit. Inexplicably, there are Small and Medium Enterprises which regularly use the obsolete machinery. Charities benefit as well; those pcs rendered obsolete can be put to good use in developing countries.
Who knows, Flash may yet inspire the saviour of the universe…