Flash began as a simple drawing program and was called SmartSketch. However, over the years, it morphed into the Flash we know today. For years, it was the go-to standard for video animations, including many used in online games.
For a variety of reasons, though, Flash seems to be under attack and on the verge of death. One reason might be because it is a popular attack point for potential hackers. It also is quite resource heavy compared to other options, such as HTML5.
In the summer of 2015, some security vulnerabilities were discovered. Facebook and Internet browsers such as Mozilla responded by calling for Flash to be disabled. Google also has called for Flash to be limited and is implementing methods to pause Flash-based video ads.
Rumblings Impacting Use of Flash
Researchers discovered that all the rumblings may have had an impact on the use of Flash. The use of Flash dropped 15% from 2014 to 2015.
Adobe announced at the end of 2015 that they would rebrand Flash Professional into Adobe Animate CC to keep up with its use as a top animation tool. The company outlines how more than one third of content created by Flash Professional uses HTML5 and that Animate CC will allow users to export animations in more formats, including SVG.
Steve Jobs and Flash’s Demise
Steve Jobs spoke out against Flash in an open letter, which he titled “Thoughts on Flash.” He went into great detail about why he would not allow Flash for the iOS platform and why Flash would not be allowed on iPhones or other Apple devices.
Some of the reasons Jobs outlined included poor security, lack of support for touch devices and poor performance on mobile devices. He also pointed out how fast Flash ate up battery life and insisted that Flash is not necessary to view videos and web content.
A Flash Program by Any Other Name
Even though Adobe may have rebranded Flash into Animate CC, it is essentially the same program as before, albeit with added features and capabilities. There are some concerns that it may have the same security vulnerabilities as previous versions, though.
Some of the added features in Animate CC include a collection of stock art, vector art brushes and canvas rotation on a 360-degree pivot point. Adobe seems to understand the growth of HTML5 and now realizes the importance of embracing open standards in their Flash programs. Hopefully, this will address some of the security vulnerabilities over time.
Flash is often exploited by attackers through watering hole attacks. This is simply when hackers choose a site where the people they are targeting tend to visit, take over that site and push out malware through Flash. This is just one security issue Adobe needs to address if it hopes to keep Flash relevant.
Why Flash Isn’t Yet Dead
Still, many analysts believe that Flash will not completely die out, or at least not for many years. One reason could be because public web pages are reluctant to move away from Flash. There isn’t much incentive to do so, and other software alternatives don’t offer many additional benefits to make the move worth their time and money.
When it comes to ease of use, it is hard to beat a program that many already know and use. People are reluctant to leave what they already know.
Many of the top Internet games still use Flash. This makes it hard to shut it down completely. Also, designers have been trained to use Flash for animations, and getting them to all retrain and shift to another platform is challenging at best. Flash may eventually die a slow and laborious death, but there are still benefits to its continued use:
- Adobe Flash is compatible with a wide variety of browsers — note that this is changing as some threaten to or have disabled it.
- Creates a more interactive website with features such as games, movies and feedback forms.
Unfortunately, there are also some serious concerns:
- Software vulnerabilities.
- It runs slowly on most websites.
- Is a battery hog on mobile devices.
Ultimately, whether or not you use Flash will depend upon the features you want to implement and whether you trust the software to be secure. Adobe has invested a lot of time, money and effort into Flash. It’s unlikely that it will die completely. It will just continue on in new forms, such as the Animate CC.
Like most software, Adobe needs to keep up with the rapid changes in the industry, or its corner of the market will evaporate on a security vulnerability. Those who love Flash will likely always love a similar Adobe product, and those who hate it will likely find another option for editing videos.