Adobe to Kill Flash Media Player

Adobe Systems announced that it plans to stop improving and distributing its Flash player by the end of 2020. Even though 2020 seems like far away, you need to take steps now because Flash is dying off now.

Why is Adobe killing Flash?

The first major blow to Flash actually came in 2007 when Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs wrote a 1,700-word essay about what he perceived were Flash’s big shortcomings, such as its poor design for touchscreen devices like Apple’s iPhones and iPads, which was one reason Apple never supported the technology for those mobile gadgets.

Although Apple was the first company to stop supporting Flash, they weren’t alone in their frustrations with Flash. Security was the real problem; it was an IT nightmare, with numerous vulnerabilities that caused frequent headaches. It made tech headlines repeatedly for these vulnerabilities.

In the years since Apple’s announcement, Flash has become less and less crucial to the daily web user’s experience. Last year Mozilla announced that Flash would not be included by default with its Firefox browser because of security issues. Microsoft’s Edge also began cracking down on Flash, while Google removed Flash-based advertising entirely from its ad network and opted for HTLM5, rather than Flash, in Chrome.

Fast forward to 2016 and ChromeMicrosoft Edge, and Safari all announce that they will start to block Flash entirely. This effectively cuts off almost all web traffic so it doesn’t make sense for Adobe to continue to support a product that people aren’t using. “We will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to … new open formats,” announced an Adobe spokesperson.

When do browsers stop showing Flash websites?

Microsoft says it plans to disable Flash by default in Edge and Internet Explorer in mid to late 2019, with a full removal from Windows versions by 2020. Google will continue phasing out Flash over the next few years, while Mozilla says Firefox users will be able to choose which websites are able to run Flash next month and allow Firefox Extended Support Release (ESR) users to keep using Flash until the end of 2020. Apple is also supportive of the 2020 end of life for Flash, and Safari currently requires explicit approval on each website even when Mac users opt to install Flash.

What is replacing Flash?

As with all new technologies on the web, there will be a rush of new products and coding languages to replace old ones. It normally takes a few years of designers and coders using the technologies before one emerges the winner and becomes the new standard. In this case, the replacement is overwhelming HTML5. HTML5 is a markup language and is actually very different from Flash. HTML5 requires CSS3 and Javascript to run animations, but it delivers them quickly and across multiple devices. Since HTML5 isn’t a particular software program like Flash, there isn’t just one way to create animations. There are many different competing methods and software that you can use to create animations for HTML5 and so far there isn’t one particular solution that has become the industry standard. Give it a couple of years and it will be obvious.

What does this mean for your business?

If your website runs Flash

You’ve probably noticed a sharp decline in your web traffic, which is a direct result from most modern browsers no longer serving your Flash content. It’s now time to get a web designer to redo your site. This is probably a good idea anyway because your current Flash site isn’t mobile-ready, meaning that it’s not made with a mobile user in mind. Since the majority of web traffic is now done on mobile, it’s important that you think of how your site looks on a mobile device.

I would really recommend that you don’t completely animated everything on your site, even if you use HTML5. A few small animations on the home page photos are about all that I would recommend that you use and that can be done easily using CSS3. Animation takes a while to load and is normally pretty distracting to the end user. It just doesn’t serve much purpose and comes across as annoying most of the time.

If you run ads that use Flash

It’s time to switch over to using HTML5-based animation. Google no longer is showing your ads anyways, so it’s definitely time to move over (even if your ads are video-based content, Google no longer serves them to consumers).

In conclusion

As with all things in the tech sector, products come and go. This time it just happens to be Flash. Soon it will be something else. It’s just important to keep up with the times and make sure to adapt accordingly.

Further Reading

Software options for creating HTML5 ads

Wikipedia’s article on HTML5

Using CSS3 to create animations on your site