Flash isn’t just the name of a member of the Justice League, although it is a member of the Justice League. Flash formed part of the Adobe Suite back in the day. It became as important to the internet and computing as a whole as the likes of Java and Python (spot the guy pretending to know about computer stuff.) But pretty soon Flash content will be unsupported by the world wide web. Let’s take a look at what it is and what that means.
As previously mentioned Flash was created by Adobe. It was a way of creating animated content supported by a programming language called Actionscript.
Actionscript would have been instantly familiar to anyone who had spent time doing some coding in Basic. It was this ease of use that made it so popular, this coupled with a creation suite that was terrifically versatile made for the environment where Flash was able to somewhat take over the web.
The Flash boom
Its simplicity to use led to swathes of Flash-based games, and animations and virtual tours made using the software. Guys with little experience and a bit of time were able to create unimaginable content. The net result was that the internet became chock full of Flash-based games. Some of these were very good. Most of them were trash. However, it meant you never had to worry about not having a game to play.
In order to access this content you needed to install the latest version of Flash player…if you didn’t do this you would not be able to see the content. This was fine, most people happily did this, but not everyone. Unfortunately, some businesses designed their whole websites using the software. The plus side of this was dynamic and interactive sites. The flip side is that Google couldn’t process Flash sites like a regular text-based site, so ranking with a Flash site was basically impossible. It also meant that anyone who didn’t have the correct player installed wouldn’t be able to view your site even if they did miraculously stumble upon it.
The Adobe virus
Even with those issues, a mass of content was created using Flash. This gave rise to a rather insidious virus. I had serious issues with a PC thanks to this and it was very clever. If you did not have a Flash plug-in you couldn’t access Flash content, seeing as so much web content was being produced on Flash at the time this was problematic. So if your browser didn’t have a Flash plugin and you tried to access Flash content it would redirect you to download it.
Unfortunately, a virus was created that made you think you were downloading Flash player, but you weren’t. This was the ultimate trojan horse and was especially rife in macs. (Which was annoying for Apple who had always taken great pride in the fact that they seldom suffered from viruses…although actually in many ways, it was a testament to how far they had progressed.) All this served as a further nail in the coffin for the amazing software.
Unfortunately, we have a future that will not include Flash content. More than anything the tragedy here is we miss out on the creative suite element. Creating animation using tweens was very simplistic and satisfying. It will also render a lot of web content unusable and that too is sad, although Flash was abused, both as a tool to hack computers and a tool to make professional looking content (much of which tried to look slick but just ended up as trash) it did provide some sites with a real x-factor. And will the internet will plough on, and naff browser games will continue to be designed, it is sad to see star die.