Author(s): Raghu Gopal
Last week, Adobe announced that it will stop updating and distributing its Flash Player by the end of 2020. Flash had been facing an uphill battle during the past year with Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Apple Safari all blocking the Web standard by default. It was released two decades ago as Macromedia Flash 1.0, and was the main tool for serving rich content such as videos and animations on the Web. Adobe acquired Macromedia in December 2005 and rebranded the product as Adobe Flash.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has been instrumental in creating what's likely to be the clear successor to Flash, HTML5. The evolution of the language powers most Web content currently. HTML5 was officially released by the W3C in October 2014 and has matured over the past several years to the point where it can handle "many of the capabilities and functionalities that plug-ins pioneered", according to Adobe. The company explains that helper apps became plug-ins, which in turn became open Web standards. Today, most browser developers are integrating open standard capabilities to replace proprietary formats.
Despite Adobe making the announcement just last week that 2020 will mark the end of Flash as well as the end of an era, the move has seemed inevitable for years. HTML5 standards have been well-implemented and have received a good level of support. It's clear that the need for Flash isn't there any longer. The format has long had its detractors, who believe that a Web without it will lead to improvements in security and as well as battery life on portable devices such as laptops and other mobile products that have supported the plug-in.
Adobe has been repositioning itself as a company that provides the premier tools and services for creating Web content. In fact, it has encouraged the use of HTML5 over Flash. In 2015, CCS Insight had predicted the demise of the plug-in (see Flash Point). Flash forward to summer 2017 and Adobe has made the news official.