Adobe Flash End of Life: Shift to HTML5
by Adam Pease
The Adobe Flash Player platform, which has managed the loading and streaming of multimedia content on websites for decades, received its last update on December 8th. The writing on the wall for the end of Flash has been there for some time, but with 2020 coming to a close, the plugin has finally been discontinued—it is the end of an era for Flash. In this blog, we look back on the legacy of Flash and consider what this move from Adobe suggests about the tech industry today.
The Legacy of Adobe Flash
In the 2000s and early 2010s, Flash was a vital component of the web's burgeoning multimedia ecosystem. Children of the early aughts will remember growing up with browser-based Flash games, bite-sized entertainment that presaged the mobile gaming era we find ourselves in now. And more importantly, Flash was used across the enterprise to manage video, interactivity, and other forms of rich media employed by forward-thinking businesses. And while it was a critical tool that helped many deploy the interactive and complex content they wanted to host on the web, there were also many problems with Flash that have led Adobe to decide no longer to support the plugin.
Why Did the Adobe Flash player Come to an End?
Steve Jobs famously published a manifesto against Adobe Flash, citing security failures, performance issues, and more problems that tarred its name for years to follow. Apple's decision not to support Flash on the iPhone was the first nail in the coffin for the plugin, and in the years that followed, more were to come.
In 2016, Flash was the target of a hack that infected numerous desktop operating systems, laying bare the security concerns that many had long raised about the plugin. With many of these security flaws unmitigated, and the scars of its failures intact, Adobe's decision to deprecate the Flash platform makes sense.
Furthermore, the new HTML5 open source update to the code websites use to function fills the gap Flash once occupied. HTML5 supports the rich content capabilities Flash offered its users and does so in a more secure, and frequently-updated form. For enterprises that relied on Flash, HTML5 will help them support the same user experience. Users that still want to learn how to enable Flash Player can do so by following instructions specific to their browser.
Learning Technology and the Impact on Enterprises
For most of the enterprise, Flash will disappear without a peep. Many businesses that deploy rich media already do so without depending on Flash. And for them, this change will go unnoticed.
However, the one place where the impact of Flash's deprecation will be felt more suddenly is the learning market. Instructional technology has often depended on Flash as a method of delivering informational content to users. Many of the educational videos employed in corporate learning and other markets rely on Flash Players to stream content. For enterprises that depend on learning solutions like this, they should audit their content experience and prepare for a transition to HTML5.
Adobe's decision to stop supporting Flash marks the end of an era. While the plugin helped get the multimedia ecosystem of the internet off the ground, its day in the limelight has passed, enterprises need to decide which content that is produced using Flash needs to be migrated to a new rendering player such as HTML5.