How Adobe Flash Player Revolutionized the Web

If you are not aware, Adobe Flash Player is a computer application that enables the execution of rich Internet applications, streaming audio and video, and viewing multimedia content. It basically runs from your Web browser or on supported mobile devices as a plug-in.

Development Of Flash Player

Adobe Flash Player was created by Macromedia and developed and distributed as a freeware by Adobe Systems after Adobe was acquired by Macromedia in 2005. The large user base of Flash Player was attributed to its many uses. In fact, it was a common format for animations, graphical user interface elements, and Web games embedded into the Web pages.

What Happened To Flash After That?

It was in 2013 that more than 400 million connected desktops out of the 1 billion have been updated to the new version of Flash after 6 weeks of release. However, it has been criticized due to its performance. According to some, they experienced a number of security vulnerabilities aside from unreasonable battery consumption.

There was even an open letter published explaining why Flash should be banned from iOS devices. Apart from that, due to modern Web standards, its usage has waned allowing some of the use cases of Flash to run without third-party plugins.

Basic Features Of Flash Player

As a runtime app, it can execute and display content from a SWF file. But it doesn’t have any built-in features capable of modifying the SWF file at runtime. Basically, it can execute software written in ActionScript programming language. This will allow the layer to access certain connected hardware devices, such as the microphones and Web cameras, provided a permission has been granted.

Moreover, Flash has been used by the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) internally so that desktop and mobile applications will have a cross-platform runtime environment. As a result, AIR allows installable apps on Linux, macOS, and Windows, including mobile OS such as Android and iOS.

Data Formats Supported By Flash

  • XML – Native support for XML generation and parsing has been included by Flash Player.
  • AMF – As a Flash equivalent for browser cookies, it uses Local Shared Objects, which is how it allows application data to be stored on users’ computers.
  • JSON – The JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format is one that Flash Player 11 uses to support exporting and importing data. This allows the interoperability with JavaScript programs and Web services.
  • SWF – Adobe published the specs for the SWF file format, which enables the development of the SWX Format project. This uses the SWF file format and AMF enabling Flash applications to exchange data with server side apps.

Flash Player also supports different multimedia formats as it primarily a multimedia and graphics platform. These would include FLV, GIF, JPEG, MP3, and PNG formats. Likewise, it supports streaming protocols, such as the hypertext transfer protocol or HTTP, real-time messaging protocol or RTMP, and transmission control protocol or TCP.

Is It Still In Use?

Adobe announced in July 2017 that it will no longer support Flash Player by the end of 2020. In fact, the company encouraged users to migrate to HTML5 standards instead of Flash. This means that it is still in use up to this writing.

The announcement was supported by Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla.

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