What is Flash?

Adobe Flash is a multimedia software platform was extremely popular in the development of websites and mobile games. If you’ve ever watched video or played games in your browser, you’ve probably been asked to download Flash or update your player in order to display content. Flash allows websites to present video, interactive graphics, and games that capture mouse or camera input. While Flash was the standard on the web for a while, it is slowly being phased out due to the switch to HTML5, which was largely the result of the popularity of the iPhone and iPad. Adobe plans to do away with Flash by 2020, but will continue its development of Adobe AIR.


Flash On The Web

Many companies that wanted to incorporate video and interactive images used Flash to create environments where users could explore their products, including brands like Nike, Disney, and Cartoon Network. News sites also took advantage of the technology to embed videos, with “The Huffington Post” and “The New York Times” as major examples. Gamers were among the first to take advantage of Flash’s capabilities, as websites like Newgrounds became popular for those seeking simple games that could be played in a browser. Among the games developed using Flash are “Angry Birds”, “FarmVille”, and “Clash of Clans”. In addition, animated web series made with Flash became viral hits, including sensations like “Happy Tree Friends” and “Homestar Runner”.

HTML5 And The iPhone

When YouTube first launched in 2005, it used the Flash Player to display videos online that were uploaded by users. This made the Flash Player a must-have for anyone using the web as YouTube’s popularity grew rapidly. However, 2007 saw the release of the iPhone, which used the HTML5 format. YouTube began offering videos on both formats so content could be watched on mobile devices.


In 2010, Apple CEO Steve Jobs released a letter entitled, “Thoughts on Flash”. In it, he openly criticized Flash for being inefficient and insecure, and for not evolving with trends in mobile devices. Jobs stated that Flash would not be allowed on the company’s products such as the iPhone and iPad, and that developers of apps for these devices would need to use other programming languages. This was the beginning of the end for Flash.

Adobe developed Flash Player for Mobile, but the switch to HTML5 had already gotten underway because of the attractiveness of Apple’s customer base. By 2015, Google had introduced Google Swiffy, which converted Flash animation to HTML5 automatically so that web advertisements made in Flash could be displayed on mobile devices. In 2015, YouTube switched to HTML5 for good. Due to the resources required to keep Flash going and the issues highlighted by Steve Jobs, Adobe has chosen to go in the direction of HTML5 as well.


The Future of Flash and Adobe

In 2017, Adobe announced that it would “stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats.” While they will still support Flash creators until 2020, Adobe has conceded that open standards like HTML5 are the way of the future. Adobe still has AIR, which is a runtime environment for the creation of applications that can be downloaded from the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store to be used on mobile devices. AIR allows developers to create applications for Windows and Mac, as well as iOS and Android, using the same code with few changes, which will allow for universal development across a wide range of devices.


Other Adobe Tools


In addition to Flash and AIR, Adobe has a wide range of tools for creators, whether you’re building a personal website, creating flyers to share on Facebook, or creating a mobile app designed for a large scale. Among them are:
Photoshop - edit and design images for the web and mobile apps
Illustrator - vector graphics app for creating logos and illustrations
InDesign - design and publish documents for digital and print media
Lightroom - edit and store photos on the cloud
Adobe XD - UX/UI solution for creating websites and mobile apps
Premiere Pro - video editing software
After Effects - create animated graphics and add special effects to video
Acrobat Pro - edit and share PDF documents on a variety of devices
Dreamweaver - code and design websites that adapt to any screen size