Flash

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Adobe Flash
Developer Adobe
Release date 1996
Discontinued 2020
Predecessor SmartSketch
Emulated

Flash is a software platform created by Macromedia and later maintained by Adobe. Used by an overwhelming majority of websites in the early 2000s to the mid-2010s, Flash has been the go-to platform for multimedia and animation, being utilised for streaming video providers such as YouTube, children's websites due to its rich content, and has spawned a subculture of animators as exemplified by the likes of Newgrounds. A number of popular animated series were also animated using Flash, most notably My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Phineas and Ferb and Happy Tree Friends to name a few.

Flash's popularity declined in the late 2010s due to the rise of alternative (and open) web standards such as HTML5 and mobile device manufacturers dropping support for the platform, a prominent example being Apple who publicly stated that iOS will never support Flash. Google followed suit when it dropped support for the platform in subsequent Android releases, and it didn't help that a series of security issues, coupled with Flash itself being a closed standard, has led Adobe to wind down on Flash and retire it in 2020.

Implementations[edit]

Name Platform(s) Latest version Open-Source Active Recommended
Adobe Flash Player Windows Linux macOS Web 32.0.0.414
Lightspark Windows Linux Web 0.8.3 ~
GNU Gnash Windows Linux 0.8.10
Ruffle Windows Linux macOS Web Nightly builds
Open Flash / Doμ Player Web Git
Shumway Web Git

Comparisons[edit]

Adobe Flash Player
The official closed-source implementation by Adobe. Planned to be discontinued in 2020.
Lightspark
A C++ implementation. Says it has 76% of the APIs covered.
Ruffle
A Rust implementation that compiles to WebAssembly. Being sponsored by Newgrounds, and has progressed to the point where it can play the original Flash version of Alien Hominid in the browser.
Gnash
Another C++ implementation.
Shumway
An HTML5 implementation. Was sponsored by Mozilla but then abandoned.

See also[edit]

  • Flashpoint - preservation effort for games designed in commercial web frameworks.