I know. You thought Flash was long gone. You mourned the relationship and moved on. Having made peace with the past and exploring a bright future, you were ready to start a new life with HTML5. Now, thanks to Mozilla, your ex has come calling, bringing back all those old memories. But enough with the metaphors. The organization behind Firefox announced Shumway, an open SWF runtime project, today. With this, the company hopes to bring compatibility for Flash content back to the web, particularly on mobile. A lofty goal, given that Adobe, creator of the Flash format, isn't keen on that last part.

The basic idea goes like this: there is still a good amount of Flash-based content on the web. However, modern browsers either use proprietary plugins (as on the desktop) or are completely unable to display it at all (iOS, modern Android versions). If we want to keep the web open, then there ought to be a plugin that can view this content. The web should not be segmented!

It's a neat idea in theory. If you like the plan and have some technical expertise to share, then Mozilla is looking for people to help out in the following five areas:

1. Core. This module includes the main file format parser, the rasterizer, and event system.
2. AVM1. JavaScript interpreter for ActionScript version 1 and version 2 bytecode.
3. AVM2.  JavaScript interpreter and JIT compiler for ActionScript version 3 bytecode.
4. Browser Integration handles the glue between the web browser and the Shumway runtime.
5. Testing/Demos. Add good demo and test files/links to Shumway.

Therein lies the rub. While the project is a neat idea, and there are certainly at least some occasions where mobile users might have need for something like this, it looks like the team behind this runtime is understaffed from the start. This doesn't feel like a tour de force in the making so much as that little kid from Iron Man 2 trying to take out a drone. Only I think Tony Stark might be a little too busy to save Flash.

The bigger question is whether this is really necessary. Adobe certainly doesn't want Flash to die entirely, as evidenced by their continued desktop investment, but the fact is that nearly the entire internet is trying to get away from relying on a plugin made by a single company. The mobile revolution amply demonstrated that Adobe is slower to adapt than the internet as a whole, and it's growing increasingly necessary that the standards we rely on not be based on an out-of-date, battery-consuming formats.

Mozilla's goal of ensuring that Flash content doesn't become entirely inaccessible is a noble one, but it's unlikely to subvert or even postpone the medium's demise.

Source: Mozilla

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • http://silverfang77.tumblr.com/ Silver Fang

    I would welcome this news and hope the new player is available for download by the time Jelly Bean is ready my Droid 4.

    • Zomby2D

      Or do like most people and sideload the flash player that's still available in the archives from Adobe's website and that still works just fine on JB.

  • TonyArcher

    NOOOO. A clean hard break is necessary. We are in the tough period where companies don't want to rebuild their sites for html5, but the transition will happen! Stay strong people! It doesn't really matter unless FirefoxOS takes off or Chrome adopts it. Both unlikely in the next year.

    • http://papped.webatu.com papped

      It's not really a clean break anyways considering how many sites still run flash (and will continue to) and the amount of people reinstalling the android flash plugin even though it isn't included in their rom...

    • Asphyx

      Hmm Imagine what your opinion would mean if Sun stopped supporting Java due to some new language being invented that did things better was invented and required a CLEAN BREAK because of an issue with Java in Andoid 8.
      It's not the developer of a tech that determines what is obsolete it is the content providers that do.
      If the web is not viewable on a device then whats the point of having the device?
      Don't expect the WWW to make up for what your device can't do. The makers of the products used to access the web are the ones who should be required to support whatever might be used on the WEB.

  • http://kennydude.me/ Joe Simpson

    It's been tried before, and failed before (many times)

  • Sqube

    Talk about a day late and a dollar short. Wow.

  • http://katzmatt.com/ Matt Katzenberger

    As much as I love the idea of a clean break from Flash...oh beleive me I do. There are still sooo many places on the web that rely on it for video.

    Should they? Absolutely not. Do they? Absolutely.
    Flash is here. It's not anywhere close to as dead as it needs to be for us to abandon it like we have. If we *really* want a clean break from it then browsers should completely disallow the Flash plugin in new versions, and should force users to update.

    Anything short of that and we won't really kill flash. We'll just wound it and back it into a corner.

    • Freak4Dell

      Agreed. As long as the desktop version is around, we won't see a quick, clean break from Flash. Rather than mobile users be shut out of every site that uses Flash, I'd like to see the ability be there, so the transition is smoother. Sure, it might hinder the transition a bit, but it's not going to have a huge effect, and it's better than not being able to see Flash stuff at all.

  • http://scribblepeople.net Mike

    Save teh flash... he is fast haha. Wait, one is DC, one is Marvel

  • WHO?

    I haven't moved on! I use browsers that allow flash!

  • thommcg

    Of the past two weeks or so Mozilla have;
    1. Ceased 64-Bit Firefox development,
    2. Launched a custom MSN Firefox,
    3. Announced a Flash support revival.
    It's not 2004 Mozilla.

  • http://twitter.com/Darkmyth_pt Darkmyth PT

    Never too late my friend

  • Cuvis

    There are already a couple of open-source Flash projects, such as Gnash and SWFDec. Mozilla would likely do well to pick one of those up, or fork one.

  • qbking77

    How to install Flash player on your Android:


  • Nick D

    Whether it ends up being good or bad, I'm happy they're trying. There's simply too much Flash content to be able to lose it.

    I see it this way - it makes no sense to eliminate Flash by taking away your ability to use it while there are still sites that only provide Flash content. It would make more sense if it became obsolete as sites stopped using it and then you eventually realized you didn't need it and might as well uninstall.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andresdroid Andres Schmois

    bah... why would Mozilla ever do this... I was already starting to see improvements on html5 websites and flash to secede. If you want flash on your phone just take the extra steps to install it. Making it an extra step doesn't make it unusable, but it doesn't make it easily available and web designers change.

  • Asphyx

    I wish everytime the demise of Flash is talked about the focus would not always to be on what Adobe is doing which really has nothing to do with the need or use of Flash at all.

    Adobe could have scraped it 10 years ago and 1000 different better replacements could have been (and have) been invented.

    But it's not a solution unless the websites who have used it and continue to do so rewrite thier sites to use these new methods. And plain and simply stated they aren't so inclined to spend the money to re-write thier site just because Adobe can't figure out how to make it work well on mobile devices.

    Unless there is some REVENUE reason for making a change to a site most who use Flash will keep on using flash years after Adobe has gone out of business. Only NEW sites will use the newer and better and in those cases will continue to use them even after we are long past HTML5 and onto HTML 7 or 8.

    That doesn't mean that we should never move to better tech but we should not expect that dropping support of a particular technology is going to result in every site ever created to change thier content delivery methods just because something new came along.

    Especially when we aren't paying for the Majority of the content thats using the old tech.

    So we should be supporting anyone who wishes to keep the support for the old tech when the originator doesn't and we should stop bitching about a site not changing how they did things when it WAS the best way to do it at the time it was created and start bitching about dropping support on what has been almost a defacto standard for Video Delivery.

    Just because Adobe has decided to drop it, Just because NOW there is a better way to do it, doesn't mean that the way it used to work should not only be banished from the face of the web but anyone who has ever used it must spend thousands to get it off the web is the right thinking.

    Better to have HTML find a way to support Flash without Adobe's help.

    Or take over the standard and put the copyright into the public domain so anyone else can continue the support Adobe refuses to give.
    I know I will take heat for this but to think that one flippant decision by Adobe should force anyone who used it when it was cool should have to spend to fix something that works is just dumb.
    Doesn't matter that Adobe dropped it, until the Web Sites that used it do it should be supported by someone either the browser makers, HTML5 Standards or some 3rd Party via open source.

  • Zebelious

    I have never personally commented anything about Adobe's Flash technology since all the saga started by Steve Jobs until now. I might be wrong but the above article left me thinking the Author is on the Steve Job's camp when it comes to the Flash technology.

    From my personal experience in Android ecosystem there are more important issues to address (i.e., Security, User Experience, Software Quality not quantity) than keep writing about Flash negatively. Can we all agree as I write this most malware developed for Android had nothing to do with Flash? Can we all also agree that Android crashes has less to do with Flash?

    Most, if not all, Android browsers by default won't allow Flash content to be loaded and run in the context of the browser unless you click the arrow icon for instance. So this not a technology that is imposed on the end users.

    Already no mobile platforms including WP is able to stream from Microsoft Media servers which is very inconvenient for many users and I assure you around the glob this particular technology vasty being used. This is a technical let down behalf Microsoft. Would you wish the same similar technology to be vanished from the mobile platforms altogether too?

    Having said all above, I don't mind Mozilla is making an effort to solve a solution many would face sooner or later. This is not about ecosystems whereas the mindset behind finding a solution to a technical problem.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1065971454 Andrew Hime


    (You abandon 64-bit Windows and Thunderbird for stuff like this?!)

  • spunker88

    Flash is still used on many sites and will likely be around for several more years unless Adobe kills the desktop version as well. I'd say the time is right for this with Adobe's version of flash being dumped.

    A year and a half ago everybody was laughing at how iOS didn't have flash and then when Android lost support they come to the conclusion that flash is now obsolete. Apple users are probably laughing at you guys since they always claimed it was obsolete.

    • Nicholas Loomans

      Just because you can't get it doesn't mean it's obsolete. I have to take my laptop everywhere instead of my useless tablet so I can view the web.

  • nope

    No, adobe did not create the flash format. Macromedia did.

  • Chris Flowers

    "Ravenscraft" HAHA. Is that for real?

  • Brandon Engelman

    Adobe didn't create flash, they bought it from Macromedia. Macromedia didn't even make flash. I've been making flash since it fit on one floppy disk. Yes HTML5 has SOME advantages but if you think you can create everything you do in flash in HTML5 anywhere near and quickly or easily (many things not at all) you're totally mistaken. I really wish people would stop hating on it so much just because some people over used it for really stupid purposes like "Intro's"

  • NonAppleholic

    Oh about 10yrs too late? hahaha.... now that's funny because the only devices I have that don't run FLASH on the Web, are Nexus 7 and my Galaxy Note 3!

    Contrary to your Flash Hater Hype (from a closet Appleholic), I use my devices with either a mod that includes FLASH support or I don't do much on the web without it. That's how much Flash content is still out there on the web today. Which is still estimated to be on some 80+% of the Internet!!!

    So unlike you fools here at Android Police who only pretend to be Android fans, I actually love Android and..... FLASH!!! ;-P .....especially since neither seem to be going anywhere but up in use!!! :D

    BTW.... Mozilla? Keep up the good work! :DDD

  • Alex

    "The mobile revolution amply demonstrated that Adobe is slower to adapt than the internet as a whole"

    No, it did not. As of yet, HTML5 on mobile is still slower and less fully supported than Flash was on Android 2 years ago. Look up benchmarks. Adobe stated its reason for abandoning mobile - Apple was never going to allow Flash on iOS, and given this, the inevitable trend would be for developers to switch to HTML5, simply because iOS was too big of a platform to ignore. With no possible future, Adobe got out of mobile web.

    Flash performs fine today on both Android and iOS. You can buy Flash apps in the app stores. That's what Adobe AIR is. It's Flash, compiled into an app package so that you don't have to install a separate runtime. And those Flash apps outperform HTML5 content running in mobile browsers. If performance was the problem, Adobe wouldn't still be working on supporting Flash for native app development (where performance is a lot more competitive than it ever was in the browser).