The web app everyone uses – and hated

With 2020 in the rearview mirror, most people will need to visit a digital museum to revive animators like Homestar Runner and Peanut Butter Jelly Time or their favorite early online games.

Adobe Flash, the web application behind the bright 90s and period animations and games, finally officially launched in 2021. Stop updating and tinkering Flash Player on Thursday and starts blocking it January 12th. Microsoft I’ll block it From almost all Windows releases as the new year begins, and major browsers like Chrome And the Fire fox It will block Flash extensions, and join Safari, which it already does.

It is the long-awaited demise of a technology from an earlier era of the Internet, a remnant of when there were lower industry standards for audio and video format, making Flash a convenient way for people with different computers and browsers to view the same content. For several years before memes became a household concept, animation and flash games were the dominant form of internet culture.

It was bug-prone and prone to hacking, said Tara Wheeler, cybersecurity fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Science Center, especially as newer versions tried to keep up with evolving internet speeds and file sizes, and browsers could handle better apps. International affairs.

“It was a foolproof way to execute these very large files quite often (remember when it took so long to download media files and you were crazy when they weren’t playing?)” Wheeler said in a text message

“However, ensuring that the audio and video files are played on a system with flash means that sometimes your guests will track mud through the door and onto beautiful clean carpets,” she said.

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A number of projects aim to preserve existing Flash content past its expiration date. One open source program called Ruffle translates specific Flash files to be readable in modern browsers.

Jason Scott, its software curator, said Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library, has an ongoing project to use Ruffle to preserve the most influential games and videos that flourished during Flash’s heyday.

“There are whole little layers of this culture, and they were buried in 2006,” he said, when the video broadcasts began to spread further.

Scott said, “In the archive, we downloaded a few thousand animations, games, and Flash software, and the only downside was that I had to check them out manually.” “Where I could, I tried to archive them to go,” Please don’t worry: We have 200 episodes of Strongbad emails. “

Much of Flash has been used in recent years by the cottage industry for websites like Kongregate, Armor Games and Addicting Games which produce bright and simple web browser games. They have had to phase out Flash in favor of games written in more modern languages.

“It’s bittersweet, because when it comes to Flash and the impact it has made from the creator community, it has probably been the most influential toolkit for an independent developer ever,” said Bill Kramozes, CEO of Addicting Games, said.

“In later years, security was a legitimate concern and concerns about performance, but early in Flash it enabled a lot of people to be creative on the web,” he said.

“The game library is probably the largest collection of game titles ever created. Many of them are questionable, but there is no doubt when it comes to the actual number,” Karmozis said.

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Flash’s expiration date is not a surprise to developers: It has been set since 2017. But a number of companies around the world that are using it for various internal purposes, such as employee training or management software, are suddenly scrambling to find a solution, said Stefano De Rossi, CEO of Leaning Technologies. , A web development company last year started selling an app that makes Flash content for a web page look natural.

“We are being contacted by the banks one week before the deadline, the big defense contractors, and all kinds of companies. It’s honestly great.

Such firms tend to resist the urge to rebuild their internal Flash software from scratch, De Rossi said.

“You can see the companies are resisting this move and hope that over time, some kind of extension will be announced,” he said. “I even heard many of them saying, for sure with Covid, it will be delayed.”

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