Adobe to kill off Flash in January’s Creative Cloud update

2 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Adobe Flash Is Dead in Name Only.

The platform that was until yesterday known as Adobe Flash Professional CC is now Adobe Animate CC. In an announcement last night, Adobe said that it will now “encourage content creators to build with new web standards,” such as HTML5, rather than Flash. The company says that Animate CC will be “Adobe’s premier Web animation tool for developing HTML5 content.” Certainly, the Web is a different beast from two decades ago, when the first vestiges of Flash started to appear. Adobe Flash is a software platform for creating vector graphics, animation, browser games, rich Internet applications, desktop applications, mobile applications and mobile games. According to an Adobe statement announcing the change, it’s part of an ongoing commitment to “evolve to support multiple standards,” specifically HTML5.

Flash has been slowly dying over the past decade, in part due to an absence of support on smartphones and in part because it’s kind of become a scourge of the internet. Indeed, more than a third of all content created in Flash Pro is HTML5, according to Adobe, so this is more a “repositioning,” as it looks to distance itself from Flash and align itself with current and future standards. With the emergence of HTML5, the need for plug-ins like Adobe Flash ended and gave companies the ability to add rich features into browsers without having to install software beforehand. Though Flash initially had great success as a tool for creating web games and animations, it has a number of downsides that have stood out more and more each year. This doesn’t mean it’s ceasing support for Flash, however.The updated software, which will be out in early 2016, will still support Flash (SWF) and AIR formats “as first-class citizens,” according to Rich Lee, Adobe’s senior product marketing manager.

The company also said that it’s already working on Flash Player 12 and “a new round of exciting features.” Flash’s downfall has been a gradual process. The application essentially looks like an update to the Flash Professional software—albeit with a greater emphasis on HTML5 and a reduced emphasis on, well, Flash.

Apple chose not to support Flash on iPhones, and Steve Jobs famously penned a thought-piece on the platform, in which he referred to the “closed” nature of a software that was created for a bygone era. “Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers,” he said. Those include improved audio syncing, enhanced color changing, a 360-degree rotatable canvas, vector art brushes, CreativeSync integration, multiplatform support, 4K+ video export, and OAM support. “This is just a sneak peek of all the capabilities that we’re bringing to Adobe Animate CC,” said Michael Chaize, principal Creative Cloud evangelist. “I am so excited because there is so much more. It’s just no longer the focus, both because of the negative associations clouding the brand, and because it’s no longer the primary weapon in a developer’s arsenal. In 2015 alone, Flash vulnerabilities have led to targeted attacks, Twitch revealed that it’s switching to HTML5, Google Chrome started pausing “less important” Flash content, and Amazon stopped accepting Flash ads, while both Facebook and Mozilla called for an end to the software.

It’s had to make room for the future, and so has Adobe. “Adobe’s strategy is to make money regardless of what happens in the market,” says Forrester Research principal analyst Jeffrey Hammonds. “They understand that there’s a slow transition to HTML5 going on.” Online advertising, for instance, once a Flash stronghold, has increasingly shifted to HTML5. “At some point you have to embrace the change,” says Hammond. “The rebranding is a visible sign of that, but the internal focus on supporting technologies like HTML5 has been going on a while.” Why go to the trouble of supporting Flash at all, then? It’s as resource-heavy and security-addled and closed-off as ever, and hiding it behind a more anodyne name doesn’t solve what pulling the plug altogether would.

In addition, it can output animations to virtually any format—including SVG—through its extensible architecture. “This has to do with Adobe’s successful pivot in the capability of its tools to support HTML5,” said Al Hilwa, program director of software development research at IDC. “The renaming of Adobe’s animation tools reflects that it now emits HTML5 and is widely used for this purpose, and so the new name reflects this important change in the capability and usage patterns seen by its users. With respect to the other tools, it is good to see that some of the important features have found homes in Dreamweaver and other Adobe apps.” In a tweet, Scott Hanselman, principal community architect in Microsoft’s Web Platform & Tools group, said, “Flash is officially dead. Why not do that, instead? “There continues to be a huge amount of Flash content out there, especially video and gaming content, and we plan to do all we can to keep Flash Player stable and secure because it is the responsible thing to do,” an Adobe rep says. Adobe says stop using it. #openweb…” Moreover, in a separate blog post, Jeremy Helfand, Adobe’s vice president of video solutions, said Adobe Primetime is committed to HTML5.

Even Facebook seems inclined to agree; the social network is working more closely with Adobe to identify and patch any security holes in games hosted on its platform. Whether it’s a smartphone or tablet app, a game, a video, a digital magazine, a website, or an online experience, chances are that it was touched by Adobe technology.

Adobe says that it expects to see Flash use continue, for now, in web gaming and “premium” video, because HTML5 or other standards “have yet to fully mature” to meet those areas’ needs. In addition, Helfand said the Adobe Primetime TVSDK is built on a multithreaded premium video engine integrated with Adobe Flash Player, with native support for HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) and full GPU support for hardware decoding and rendering. In that spirit, today we are announcing that we are working together with Facebook to help ensure Flash gaming content on Facebook continues to run reliably and securely. When Flash does go away, it will exact a cost. “I think a lot of older websites that have not been updated will be broken on laptops and desktops, because a lot of folks have been building on mobile over the last couple of years,” says Hammond. “I actually think we’re going to see a bigger impact in the enterprise world than in the consumer world, because a lot of the technologies behind the firewall are a lot slower to evolve.” The Web already is littered with the artifacts of outdated standards, though; it’s an unfortunate but predictable side effect of barreling into the future. And the workloads that currently fall to Flash—those videos and games—should be manageable in HTML5 at some point, especially given Adobe’s commitment to the open standard. “We’ve always been at the forefront of HTML5 design and development,” says the Adobe rep,” “and have embraced it as the future of the web platform.” “There are differences in HTML5 and Flash, the former being open source while the latter is closed source,” says Malwarebytes security researcher Jérôme Segura. “In theory, this means the code can go through more scrutiny, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to better security.” “The other concern to watch for would be any alterations to HTML5 to accommodate the needs of the ad or gaming industry,” continues Segura. “A piece of technology can start with the best intentions, but as new features and requirements come along developers may have to make concessions, which often have a security impact.”

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