The decline and fall of Adobe Flash

It’s been a year since I last posted about Adobe Flash’s impending demise. Like everything else on the Internet, it won’t ever vanish completely, but its decline is accelerating.

The big news is that Google is phasing out support for Flash in Chrome — or, as they euphemistically put it, “de-emphasizing” Flash. Its main target at present is Flash “behind the scenes,” which is used for purposes like analytics.

In December, Chrome will prefer HTML5 over Flash, except for “sites which only support Flash.” Google is short on details here, and treating HTML5 and Flash as alternatives is sloppy terminology. Flash can run on HTML5 pages. In fact, HTML5 pages can depend on the Flash plugin to present their content. What’s usually meant isn’t HTML5 as such, but its new video and audio features. There are many ways to use these features, including DOM manipulation to generate elements on the fly, so Chrome might not always be able to tell whether Flash is required or not.

Firefox is likewise limiting Flash content. “Starting in August,” Mozilla tells us, “Firefox will block certain Flash content that is not essential to the user experience, while continuing to support legacy Flash content.” The main target will be “blocking specific Flash content invisible to users,” just as Chrome is doing.

In a couple of years the only websites using Flash might be abandoned ones and malware sites.

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