by Graham Pierrepoint
In a week that saw the news that Microsoft Paint would be banished to the digital boneyard – only to be brought back from the grave thanks to widespread condemnation – it is perhaps fitting that another long-running piece of software is also biting the dust very soon indeed. This ancient application, however, is perhaps not as well-loved as MS Paint – and while it certainly holds some nostalgic value for some people, its relevance on the web in 2017 is thinning out more and more. We’re talking about Adobe Flash – once Macromedia Flash – which, in 2020, will be phased out, according to Adobe Systems.
The news comes after years of HTML5 largely replacing much of the technology across websites worldwide. Flash was widely used to support video and audio content in a manageable and versatile way, to the extent where it was bought up by Adobe from Macromedia at the beginning of the last decade. Despite its importance in the role of early web, however, it seems that the much more secure and versatile – as well as dependable – HTML5 has overtaken much of the plugin’s role in terms of site-building. Certainly, the software was not without its critics – with Apple’s Steve Jobs in particular having publicly decried Flash for its poor security and overall usability.
Beyond this, however, it will be the end of an era for certain websites who are accustomed to using the plugin to run successfully. It may also mean that older websites, including those dating back to the early 90s, could feel the pinch – meaning that anyone still enjoying the 21-year-old website for the 1996 movie Space Jam may feel a pang of sadness. All things considered, however, the use of Flash worldwide on the web has dropped dramatically – and with Apple devices having refused to support the software for some time, it is perhaps a good time for Flash to say goodbye.
We won’t see Flash discontinued completely until 2020 – meaning that if you are still running a site with the technology, or are keen to still visit those old haunts that operate on the standard, you have a couple of years to wait it out just yet. From then, however, you can rely upon a faster, more secure web – and it is likely that the majority of casual users today may not even notice the difference. A sad point – in a way!