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The end of Flash

25/02/2021

Adobe announced way back in July 2017 that they would stop supporting Flash, which came to fruition on the 31st of December 2020. From the 12th of January 2021, content has been blocked that uses Flash by Adobe and they have strongly recommended that it should be uninstalled from devices as there will no longer be security updates.

What is Flash?

Flash was originally created by Macromedia in 1996, and was bought by Adobe in 2005. Originally, Flash brought a breath of fresh air to web design and development. Gone were the days of blocky, plain text websites created in tables. Flash could support vector graphics, sound, video, and even 3D elements, which were not as easily supported before its release. Flash was accessible to virtually everyone, which meant that websites could offer more consistent and interactive experiences, even bringing browser-based gaming to life!

Why has Flash become unsupported?

As the years went by and the world of web development grew, Flash started to become outdated as new methods of coding became available. Flash was quite a bulky software that could slow website loading times down, and as the need for having faster website speeds grew for SEO purposes, Flash started becoming replaced by faster and lighter methods of interactivity.

The final nail in the coffin for Flash came with the emergence of smartphones. When Apple released the iPhone in 2007, Flash was deliberately not supported, since Steve Jobs, the Co-Founder of Apple, felt that the software was not well optimised for mobile devices and that Apple shouldn't be reliant on Adobe as a 3rd party to keep the software secure. The iPhone was such a huge hit that web developers had to ensure websites would work on this device, which led to Flash being replaced with more widely accepted standards such as CSS and JavaScript.

So, what happens now there is no Flash?

Put simply, any elements of Flash left on the internet will not work in modern browser. There will also no longer be any prompts asking you to run Flash any more. It is worth being cautious about any pop-ups, links, or emails that might ask you to download Flash, as these are likely to be fake and could infect your computer or phone with malware. 

Even though Flash's demise has felt like a long-time coming in one sense, it's worth recognising what an important role it played in expanding the imagination of a whole industry. It is a crucial milestone in the history of the web and rightfully deserves its place in cyber history.

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