It’s been a long time coming, but it looks like by 2016, Flash will all but be a distant memory.
I started my career in the world of interactive as a Flash developer back in the year 2000. Flash rapidly rose through the ranks as the defacto programming tool for online interactive and rich media experiences. The simplicity of a timeline-based animation tool, coupled with vector illustration and a powerful ECMA programming language – there was nothing this platform couldn’t handle.
In many ways, Flash was everything the internet is today, but 15 years ago.
Then something happened that nobody could have predicted. Mobile took off in a big way, and the leading pioneer, Apple, drove a stake through the heart of Flash by omitting it from its operating system. Android held on for awhile, but it soon too decided to axe the memory hogging application from its mobile platform. It seemed that Flash would eek out a miserable existence as the go-to cross-platform video player for YouTube and every porn site ever.
Well, it seems that too is coming to an end. YouTube has switched over to an HTML5 video player exclusively, and Vimeo has planned to follow, today Twitch announced that they too would be discontinuing their Flash based player and going exclusively to HTML5. Earlier this year, Firefox completely pulled the plugin from it’s browser. Why? Oh, because Flash is so open to hacking and full of security holes, it presents a risk to end users.
The question is, what the hell happened to Flash?
When Macromedia was acquired by Adobe, they axed underperforming products in Macromedia’s lineup and focused on the few product categories where it was underperforming or didn’t have an existing tool. Flash was one of the ones that survived, but it never really got the love that it deserved. ActionScript hasn’t had an update in 9 years – that’s forever in internet time, but it also means that there hasn’t been any active development to make Flash relevant in the modern web era.
With HTML5 out in the wild, Flash never stood a chance. Another strike against Flash is that it is a proprietary system, which means that the only people who can publish in Flash are those who shell out hundreds of dollars for the software (or currently, $50/month for the Creative Cloud subscription). In a world where open source rules supreme, why would I waste resources on a dinosaur when I can accomplish the same functionality with freely available tools?
Flash has been limping along – refusing to die.
I have a feeling that the final nail in the coffin with come in 2016 – and we’ll see all support fully pulled.
You had a good run.