Difference between revisions of "Flash"

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|emulated = {{✓}}
 
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'''Flash''' (previously FutureSplash Animator, before that SmartSketch) is a software platform created by FutureWave Software, and currently owned by Adobe (previously Macromedia). Originally a drawing program for PenPoint OS, later ported to Windows and Macintosh when pen computing failed to take off, frame-by-frame animation features were added to it in a new program called FutureSplash Animator. The company was acquired by Macromedia in December 1996, rebranding FutureSplash Animator to Flash, an amalgamation of "Future" and "Splash". In turn, Macromedia was acquired by Adobe on December 3, 2005. Their operations, networks, and customer care organizations were merged shortly after.
 
'''Flash''' (previously FutureSplash Animator, before that SmartSketch) is a software platform created by FutureWave Software, and currently owned by Adobe (previously Macromedia). Originally a drawing program for PenPoint OS, later ported to Windows and Macintosh when pen computing failed to take off, frame-by-frame animation features were added to it in a new program called FutureSplash Animator. The company was acquired by Macromedia in December 1996, rebranding FutureSplash Animator to Flash, an amalgamation of "Future" and "Splash". In turn, Macromedia was acquired by Adobe on December 3, 2005. Their operations, networks, and customer care organizations were merged shortly after.
  
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! scope="col"|Platform(s)
 
! scope="col"|Platform(s)
 
! scope="col"|Latest version
 
! scope="col"|Latest version
! scope="col"|Accuracy
 
 
! scope="col"|<abbr title="Free/Libre and Open-Source Software">FLOSS</abbr>
 
! scope="col"|<abbr title="Free/Libre and Open-Source Software">FLOSS</abbr>
 
! scope="col"|Active
 
! scope="col"|Active
 
! scope="col"|[[Recommended Emulators|Recommended]]
 
! scope="col"|[[Recommended Emulators|Recommended]]
 +
|-
 +
|Adobe Flash Player
 +
|align=left|{{Icon|Windows|Linux|macOS|Web}}<ref group=N name=plugin />
 +
|[https://www.adobe.com/support/flashplayer/debug_downloads.html 32.0.0.465]
 +
|{{✗}} ||{{~}}<ref group=N>Adobe versions discontinued. Harman versions currently maintained for enterprise customers only.</ref> ||{{✓}}
 +
|-
 +
|[https://github.com/vidkidz/waflash WAFlash]
 +
|align=left|{{Icon|Web}}
 +
|[https://clubpenguinadvanced.github.io/waflash-demo/ Web]
 +
|{{✗}} ||{{✗}} ||{{✓}}
 
|-
 
|-
 
|[https://ruffle.rs/ Ruffle]
 
|[https://ruffle.rs/ Ruffle]
 
|align=left|{{Icon|Windows|Linux|macOS|Web}}
 
|align=left|{{Icon|Windows|Linux|macOS|Web}}
|[https://github.com/ruffle-rs/ruffle/releases Nightly builds]
+
|[https://ruffle.rs/#downloads Nightly builds]
|Mid ||{{✓}} ||{{✓}} ||{{✓}}
+
|{{✓}} ||{{✓}} ||{{~}}<small> (WIP)</small>
 +
|-
 +
|[https://awayfl.org/ AwayFL]
 +
|align=left|{{Icon|Web}}
 +
|[https://github.com/awayfl/awayfl-player git]
 +
|{{✓}} ||{{✓}} ||{{~}}<small> (WIP)</small>
 
|-
 
|-
 
|[https://lightspark.github.io/ Lightspark]
 
|[https://lightspark.github.io/ Lightspark]
|align=left|{{Icon|Windows|Linux|Web}}<ref group=N name=plugin>Web version is not OS-agnostic and requires a browser with support for Flash plugins.</ref>
+
|align=left|{{Icon|Windows|Linux|Web}}<ref group=N name=plugin>Web version is only available as an NPAPI/PPAPI plugin, and is therefore not OS-agnostic.</ref>
|[https://github.com/lightspark/lightspark/releases 0.8.3]
+
|[https://github.com/lightspark/lightspark/releases 0.8.5]
|Mid ||{{✓}} ||{{✓}} ||{{~}}
+
|{{✓}} ||{{✓}} ||{{~}}<small> (WIP)</small>
 
|-
 
|-
 
|[https://swf2js.com/en/ swf2js]
 
|[https://swf2js.com/en/ swf2js]
 
|align=left|{{Icon|Web}}
 
|align=left|{{Icon|Web}}
|[https://github.com/swf2js/swf2js JavaScript file download]
+
|[https://github.com/swf2js/swf2js Download (Free Version only)]<br />Demo sites:<br />[https://swf2js.com/free/index.html Free Version]<br />[https://swf2js.com/prod/index.html Production Version]
|{{?}} ||{{✓}} ||{{✗}} ||{{~}}
+
|{{~}} ||{{✗}} ||{{~}}
 
|-
 
|-
|Adobe Flash Player
+
|[https://leaningtech.com/cheerpx-for-flash/ CheerpX for Flash]
|align=left|{{Icon|Windows|Linux|macOS|Web}}<ref group=N name=plugin />
+
|align=left|{{Icon|Web}}
|[https://www.adobe.com/support/flashplayer/debug_downloads.html 32.0.0.465]
+
|[https://docs.leaningtech.com/cheerpx-for-flash/Changelog Version 33]
|Reference ||{{✗}} ||{{✗}} ||{{✗}}
+
|{{}} ||{{}} ||{{✗}}
|-
 
|[https://gnu.org/software/gnash GNU Gnash]
 
|align=left|{{Icon|Windows|Linux}}
 
|[https://www.gnu.org/software/gnash/download.html 0.8.10]
 
|Low ||{{}} ||{{}} ||{{✗}}
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|[https://open-flash.github.io/ Open Flash / Doμ Player]
 
|[https://open-flash.github.io/ Open Flash / Doμ Player]
 
|align=left|{{Icon|Web}}
 
|align=left|{{Icon|Web}}
|[https://github.com/open-flash/domu-player Git]
+
|[https://github.com/open-flash/domu-player git]
|{{?}} ||{{✓}} ||{{}} ||{{✗}}
+
|{{✓}} ||{{}} ||{{✗}}
 
|-
 
|-
 
|Shumway
 
|Shumway
 
|align=left|{{Icon|Web}}
 
|align=left|{{Icon|Web}}
|[https://github.com/mozilla/shumway Git]
+
|[https://github.com/mozilla/shumway git]
|Low ||{{✓}} ||{{✗}} ||{{✗}}
+
|{{✓}} ||{{✗}} ||{{✗}}
 +
|-
 +
|[https://gnu.org/software/gnash GNU Gnash]
 +
|align=left|{{Icon|Windows|Linux}}
 +
|[https://www.gnu.org/software/gnash/download.html 0.8.10]
 +
|{{✓}} ||{{✗}} ||{{✗}}
 +
|-
 +
|[http://tulrich.com/textweb.pl?path=geekstuff/gameswf.txt GameSWF]
 +
|align=left|{{Icon|Windows|Linux}}
 +
|[https://sourceforge.net/projects/tu-testbed/files/demos/gameswf-2009-08-08/ 2009-08-08]
 +
|{{✓}} ||{{✗}} ||{{✗}}
 
|}
 
|}
 
<references group=N />
 
<references group=N />
  
 
===Comparisons===
 
===Comparisons===
 +
;''Common aspects''
 +
:''Pretty much all of the HTML5 implementations listed here are specifically designed to be used as [[wikipedia:Polyfill (programming)|polyfills]] by webmasters who want to keep their Flash-based sites going despite the forced obsolescence of Adobe's in-browser Flash plugin. They are therefore really not intended for personal use, although it's usually not impossible.''
 +
 +
;Adobe Flash Player
 +
:The proprietary reference implementation, which Adobe stopped directly supporting at the end of 2020. The web version relies on [[wikipedia:NPAPI|NPAPI/PPAPI]], an obsolete browser plugin system that for many years only stuck around specifically because of Flash Player; as Adobe was phasing out the plugin, so too was the plugin system gradually being dropped by all the major browser vendors. The discontinued desktop player version is still available for download from the debug downloads section of Adobe's website, and Harman International is also [https://airsdk.harman.com/flashplayer maintaining an extended support version specifically for enterprise users].
 +
:;CheerpX for Flash
 +
::A proprietary software package designed to make the Harman version of Flash Player usable in modern web browsers by running it inside CheerpX, a payware x86 emulator in WebAssembly. No-one on this wiki has had the chance to properly evaluate it, but we'd expect reference-level accuracy at the cost of woeful performance. That being said, CheerpX apparently has an alternate mode of operation that offloads most of the emulation and processing work to a server app, at which point the in-browser part is effectively just a streaming client.
 +
 +
;WAFlash
 +
:A closed-source C++-to-HTML5 implementation that technically hasn't been made available to outside users, although there are a few sites where you can use it. It seems to be the most accurate of the unofficial Flash players, as of December 2021.
 +
 
;Ruffle
 
;Ruffle
:A Rust implementation that easily compiles to several platforms, but mainly targets HTML5. The devs are planning to focus on ActionScript 1 and 2 support first, with AS3 support coming later. Development of Ruffle is sponsored by multiple veteran Flash game archives, most notably Newgrounds. It's progressed to the point where it can run many early Flash games, including the original Flash version of [https://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/59593/format/flash?emulate=flash Alien Hominid], as well as playing the vast majority of [https://old.homestarrunner.com Homestar Runner] toons.
+
:A Rust implementation that mainly targets HTML5, but is also available as a desktop player. Notably used by a bunch of veteran Flash content sites including [https://www.newgrounds.com Newgrounds], [https://homestarrunner.com Homestar Runner] and [https://www.coolmathgames.com CoolMathGames], and also by the Internet Archive's [https://archive.org/details/softwarelibrary_flash Flash library]. It's progressed to the point where it can run many early Flash games, including the original Flash version of [https://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/59593/format/flash?emulate=flash Alien Hominid]. Unlike the other HTML5 options, Ruffle can actually be installed as a browser addon, with the caveat that a website's hosted copy will usually override the addon even if the site is running an older build.
 +
 
 +
;AwayFL
 +
:An HTML5 implementation developed by the Away Foundation. Sometimes works better than Ruffle, depending on the specific Flash file you're trying to run.
  
 
;Lightspark
 
;Lightspark
:A C++ implementation. Says it has 78% of the APIs covered.
+
:A C++ implementation that's designed specifically to provide drop-in FLOSS replacements for both the desktop and NPAPI versions of Flash Player. It claims to have 79% of the APIs covered, as of January 2022.
  
 
;swf2js
 
;swf2js
:An open-core HTML5 implementation that uses a dynamic recompiler. The open-source "Free Version" supports limited features, such as AS1, AS2 and ZLIB compression, whereas the payware "Production Version" supports further features, such as AS3 and LZMA compression.
+
:An open-core HTML5 implementation that uses a dynamic recompiler. The source-available "Free" version supports limited features, such as AS1, AS2 and ZLIB compression, whereas the payware "Production" version is better suited to newer Flash files using such features as AS3 and LZMA compression. Built on more traditional JavaScript code, so it pretty much always performs worse than the WebAssembly-based options, sometimes noticeably so.
 
 
;Adobe Flash Player
 
:The official closed-source implementation by Adobe. It was discontinued in 2020.
 
  
;Gnash
+
;GNU Gnash
:Another C++ implementation. Focuses on older versions of Flash that Lightspark is less likely to support properly, hence why Lightspark can use Gnash as an automatic fallback if both are installed simultaneously.
+
:A desktop-only C++ implementation that went inactive in 2017, with the most recent stable release dating back to 2012. It focuses on older versions of Flash that Lightspark was historically less focused on supporting properly, hence why Lightspark could (and still can) use Gnash as an automatic fallback if both are installed simultaneously. However, newer versions of Lightspark have pretty much superseded Gnash entirely and there's not much reason to use it at all anymore.
 +
:;GameSWF
 +
::The original basis for Gnash. An ''extremely'' old C++ implementation, definitely one of the first serious efforts to reverse-engineer Flash Player into an open-source package. Inactive since 2009.
  
 
;Shumway
 
;Shumway
:An HTML5 implementation. Developed rather actively for a few years, under Mozilla sponsorship, but ultimately abandoned in 2016.
+
:A relatively very early HTML5 implementation. Developed rather actively under Mozilla sponsorship between 2012 and 2016, but ultimately abandoned before it could reach a usable beta state.
  
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
 
* [[Flashpoint]] - preservation effort for games designed in commercial web frameworks (not just Flash).
 
* [[Flashpoint]] - preservation effort for games designed in commercial web frameworks (not just Flash).
 +
 +
== Resources ==
 +
 +
* [https://nosamu.medium.com/flash-player-emulators-how-to-play-swfs-in-2021-and-beyond-d56c3899b7e6 Article by nosamu (of Flashpoint): Flash Player Emulators: How to Play SWF Files in 2021 and Beyond]
 +
  
 
[[Category:Not really emulators]]
 
[[Category:Not really emulators]]

Latest revision as of 13:28, 21 July 2022

Adobe Flash
Developer Adobe
Release date 1996
Discontinued 2020
Emulated

Flash (previously FutureSplash Animator, before that SmartSketch) is a software platform created by FutureWave Software, and currently owned by Adobe (previously Macromedia). Originally a drawing program for PenPoint OS, later ported to Windows and Macintosh when pen computing failed to take off, frame-by-frame animation features were added to it in a new program called FutureSplash Animator. The company was acquired by Macromedia in December 1996, rebranding FutureSplash Animator to Flash, an amalgamation of "Future" and "Splash". In turn, Macromedia was acquired by Adobe on December 3, 2005. Their operations, networks, and customer care organizations were merged shortly after.

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 FLOSS Active Recommended
Adobe Flash Player Windows Linux macOS Web [N 1] 32.0.0.465 ~[N 2]
WAFlash Web Web
Ruffle Windows Linux macOS Web Nightly builds ~ (WIP)
AwayFL Web git ~ (WIP)
Lightspark Windows Linux Web [N 1] 0.8.5 ~ (WIP)
swf2js Web Download (Free Version only)
Demo sites:
Free Version
Production Version
~ ~
CheerpX for Flash Web Version 33
Open Flash / Doμ Player Web git
Shumway Web git
GNU Gnash Windows Linux 0.8.10
GameSWF Windows Linux 2009-08-08
  1. 1.0 1.1 Web version is only available as an NPAPI/PPAPI plugin, and is therefore not OS-agnostic.
  2. Adobe versions discontinued. Harman versions currently maintained for enterprise customers only.

Comparisons[edit]

Common aspects
Pretty much all of the HTML5 implementations listed here are specifically designed to be used as polyfills by webmasters who want to keep their Flash-based sites going despite the forced obsolescence of Adobe's in-browser Flash plugin. They are therefore really not intended for personal use, although it's usually not impossible.
Adobe Flash Player
The proprietary reference implementation, which Adobe stopped directly supporting at the end of 2020. The web version relies on NPAPI/PPAPI, an obsolete browser plugin system that for many years only stuck around specifically because of Flash Player; as Adobe was phasing out the plugin, so too was the plugin system gradually being dropped by all the major browser vendors. The discontinued desktop player version is still available for download from the debug downloads section of Adobe's website, and Harman International is also maintaining an extended support version specifically for enterprise users.
CheerpX for Flash
A proprietary software package designed to make the Harman version of Flash Player usable in modern web browsers by running it inside CheerpX, a payware x86 emulator in WebAssembly. No-one on this wiki has had the chance to properly evaluate it, but we'd expect reference-level accuracy at the cost of woeful performance. That being said, CheerpX apparently has an alternate mode of operation that offloads most of the emulation and processing work to a server app, at which point the in-browser part is effectively just a streaming client.
WAFlash
A closed-source C++-to-HTML5 implementation that technically hasn't been made available to outside users, although there are a few sites where you can use it. It seems to be the most accurate of the unofficial Flash players, as of December 2021.
Ruffle
A Rust implementation that mainly targets HTML5, but is also available as a desktop player. Notably used by a bunch of veteran Flash content sites including Newgrounds, Homestar Runner and CoolMathGames, and also by the Internet Archive's Flash library. It's progressed to the point where it can run many early Flash games, including the original Flash version of Alien Hominid. Unlike the other HTML5 options, Ruffle can actually be installed as a browser addon, with the caveat that a website's hosted copy will usually override the addon even if the site is running an older build.
AwayFL
An HTML5 implementation developed by the Away Foundation. Sometimes works better than Ruffle, depending on the specific Flash file you're trying to run.
Lightspark
A C++ implementation that's designed specifically to provide drop-in FLOSS replacements for both the desktop and NPAPI versions of Flash Player. It claims to have 79% of the APIs covered, as of January 2022.
swf2js
An open-core HTML5 implementation that uses a dynamic recompiler. The source-available "Free" version supports limited features, such as AS1, AS2 and ZLIB compression, whereas the payware "Production" version is better suited to newer Flash files using such features as AS3 and LZMA compression. Built on more traditional JavaScript code, so it pretty much always performs worse than the WebAssembly-based options, sometimes noticeably so.
GNU Gnash
A desktop-only C++ implementation that went inactive in 2017, with the most recent stable release dating back to 2012. It focuses on older versions of Flash that Lightspark was historically less focused on supporting properly, hence why Lightspark could (and still can) use Gnash as an automatic fallback if both are installed simultaneously. However, newer versions of Lightspark have pretty much superseded Gnash entirely and there's not much reason to use it at all anymore.
GameSWF
The original basis for Gnash. An extremely old C++ implementation, definitely one of the first serious efforts to reverse-engineer Flash Player into an open-source package. Inactive since 2009.
Shumway
A relatively very early HTML5 implementation. Developed rather actively under Mozilla sponsorship between 2012 and 2016, but ultimately abandoned before it could reach a usable beta state.

See also[edit]

  • Flashpoint - preservation effort for games designed in commercial web frameworks (not just Flash).

Resources[edit]