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How Adobe Flash fell, and why Flash content is worth preserving (qz.com)
13 points by imanewsman on Dec 29, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 20 comments

As someone who made a lot of games in Flash that would be difficult to port to HTML5, and a fan of a lot of old Flash content whose creators have pretty much disappeared nowadays, I would like to see more of an effort to preserve and archive these things.

There was a ton of cool creative content that came about thanks to Flash (and Newgrounds in particular). It'd be a shame to lose it all just because people now hate the technology they were built on.

I suppose the simplest thing to do would be for Adobe to produce a WebAssembly build of Flash player. Any old Flash content could be run via that without the need to install Flash on the system.

Wow. that chart is misleading. They consider "No Digital Rights Information" to be a high risk factor. Bias much?

And it's not even correct, with plugins with PDFs. They can have DRM junk encrusted on them.

And it's wrong too. Clearkey, Widevine, and Playready are all video DRMs in HTML5.

Also, EMEs exist in all major browsers. https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/API/Encrypted_M...

This table seems like a load of crap to me. Perhaps especially the "supporting apps" section. Despite the fact that it's supported in nearly every application which supports image files, they list "21", whereas they say "164" for doc! Also, they list HTML as "outdated or deprecated", and they say that doc is not a complex format; they are out of their minds.

Also, they say "SXW (OpenOffice documents)" even though StarOffice had switched to Open Document Foundation formats before they were branded Oracle Open Office.

Almost everything these "researchers" needed to know to discredit their own paper can be read on Wikipedia with little to no effort.

Almost every value on this chart ranges from bogus to infuriating.

HTML is supported by only one vendor?

Which one? Firefox or Chromium-WebKit or Explorer?

Errr, Edge?

Very much, but this chart, and I would say the article is pretty much complete garbage.

Yes, we collectively should save Flash content for its posterity of the older web. But that's a big thing for Archive.org to handle. And I'm sure we can construct a VM to download and use flash content. The only gotcha there, is content that streams from a remote server. The VM would likely be without any networking support, to prevent easily hacked machines (the major reason why we collectively dumped flash).

WHATWG maybe?

Also HTML is apparently more complex than JPEG and MP3. I'll remember that next time I"m hand-coding some audio files and using a machine to generate HTML.

This chart is so nonesense. HTML is deprecated? Really? And how is having more versions a higher risk of obsolescence, but having /multiple specifications/ reduces risk?

And HTML has website: no

That killed all credibility that table has.

Steve Jobs killed Flash by banishing it from iOS, and then WHATWG, the Chrome team [1], and Mozilla [2][3] started rushing to cram [4] all sorts of JS APIs into the web platform instead. Still, it took almost 5 years to catch HTML5 up to the capabilities provided by Flash [5] -- and that's if all vendors agree on which APIs to support [6]. Mobile Safari right now lags behind, which is not to the detriment of Apple: every developer wanting presence on iOS will adopt Apple's preferred workflow, and to date they have had no strong incentive to promote web-based apps, unlike their rivals Google and Mozilla.

Adobe tried to play it cool by pivoting to AIR, a Flash-to-Native generator, which luckily they already had. Meanwhile they put out a press release trying to position their upcoming tools as the preferred toolset for HTML5 production, but this mostly hasn't panned out.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12174503#12175561 [2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12129691#12131403 [3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12192509#12194161 [4] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12129691#12135175 [5] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12259435#12259940 [6] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12758085#12760949

I liked flash a lot. But the problem with Adobe/Macromedia was they never gave it too much development time. It took a long time for flash to start using the GPU. It took a while for flash to start its way towards mobile, before abandoning mobile.

Flash could have been a platform that apps could have been built on and displayed in an app store, but they never promoted anything close to it. Flash could have been a complete browser, but they never cared. Flash could have been a cloud desktop (like Goowy Desktop [bought and shut by AOL]). Flash could have been an OS (like Chrome OS or Android OS). Flash was already a pretty good PDF reader and worked faster than Adobe PDF in the browser, but no one knew.

Flash had so much potential, but Macromedia did not have much money to invest and Adobe bought it without any imagination.

All efforts in Flash went to waste and set the industry 5-10 years behind ... so far behind that we now have to wait for HTML5 to be better ... slowly.

He forgot to mention that since it's closed source and Adobe isn't releasing a SFW converter, even the Internet Archive can't backup a copy of the sfw file and have it useful.

OpenOffice, OOTH, can be converted to HTML or PDF, and even if OO and LO go down, the engine will still be available.

The 'OpenOffice' format in the chart (SXW) is dates from OpenOffice 1.x [1], and was a transitional format between the old binary and the not-yet-developed ODF the same way that Microsoft Office 2003 shipped with an intermediate XML format that is similar but isn't compatible with what later became OOXML.

For all serious uses, ODF has long-ago replaced the SXW format.

[1] https://wiki.openoffice.org/wiki/Documentation/OOo3_User_Gui...

True, but there (I hope, at least) is an old OpenOffice (at least in VS) where you can find a parser.

It's SWF not SFW

My internet browsing has been much more enjoyable as Flash has become less prevalent. I'm glad it's going away. I only wish it happened sooner.

I thought this was a decent read, but I'd like the point out that the author really isn't making the case to save Flash as a technology. Rather, he's saying we should save all the content generated with Flash.

The headline is a little misleading.

Ok, we changed the title above to incorporate that.

View the archived flash content in an ancient browser in a VM. We can't promise to be backwards compatible forever or we'll never move forward.

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