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Petition to open source Flash (github.com/pakastin)
560 points by pkstn on July 26, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 244 comments

No no no no NO. It's time to get rid of Flash. Open-sourcing will make it live forever.

Flash has very little to offer that is not at this point duplicated (or improved upon) by others. It's also woefully insecure. "Many eyes make all bugs shallow" will only work for the most trivial bugs in the most common code paths. Plenty of vulnerabilities will remain. In open source, they'll be even easier for attackers to find and exploit. If you want something open-source and (mostly) Flash compatible, follow nkkollaw's suggestion: support one of the already-open-source alternatives.

Do you think Flash is insecure in principle, or in implementation? I think it is very much a problem of the implementation. I don't know if Adobe/Macromedia could have done better, or if the backwards compatibility requirements make it impossible to maintain, but I'd like to see for myself.

Anyway, you have no reason to be afraid. All mayor browsers are dropping support for plugins anyway. An open source flash player will most likely be used standalone, and not in a browser.

(I can't help but wonder if we are making a huge historical mistake here by the way. Because the Flash implementation was so bad, we were led to believe that plugins are bad per se. But at least in theory, it seems to me that the best architecture would be a minimal browser (just a layout engine), and everything as a plugin. Current browser are horrible monolithic giants, that only mega-corporations (and Mozilla ;-)) can maintain. That they are relatively secure is only due to the massive amounts of human-years that went into polishing and bug fixing in the recent decade.)

I don't have strong feelings on browser plugins vs no browser plugins, but I can say that I can now watch streaming video from the major services and play browser games on Linux now, and that wasn't possible a couple of years (or maybe a little more) ago. I welcome the end of Silverlight, Flash, Java applets, because it means I can use any modern browser to do anything I want on any platform I want (kinda, but it keeps getting more true over time).

Plugins aren't inherently Linux-incompatible it's just that for most of them Linux support was an afterthought or actively avoided for competitive reasons (in the case of Silverlight, I would guess). I don't miss fighting to make Flash work in a 64-bit browser, or having to set my user agent to claim I'm on Windows, to make something work (and have it break periodically for whatever reason).

The issue with a plugin architecture is that it makes it difficult to compete. There essentially will come a pool of plugins which are expected to be installed on every user's machine, & without standardization or open source implementations you'll end up with 1 plugin being used on any base browser as opposed to different versions on each browser

In theory we could create a basic browser with various HTML/JS/CSS spec features created as a plugin

Speaking as a clueless user; closed source plugins, sooner or later, go away. Which is pretty painful. In the interim, the big grief-causers are usually closed source plugins that crash the host.

Open source plugins cause a lot less grief. Typically they don't have a feature I want. Often for legal reasons and not technical, or because a proprietary vendor is fighting back (eg; video patents the first case, Skype protocol the second).

The linux kernel is an example how an open-source-only plugin system works technical wonders. A very interesting case study was graphics drivers circa 2005. The closed source drivers (essentially plugins) tethered the linux community to the technically obsolete X server; and would have crippled the kernel in a similar way if the kernel devs had accepted closed source plugins.

Apple did wonders driving open standards on the web with the explicit acknowledgement that popular closed source plugins were too dangerous for their platform to implement [1].

The issue here is the one Stallman has been harping on since the dawn of time - closed source is unmaintainable in an extremely profound way.

[1] https://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/

You could also argue in the opposite direction: Without a plugin architecture, you are at the mercy of the browser developers to implement a certain functionality.

If you need some native feature, browser vendors can force you to use a native app and thus go through their app store (think Safari on iOS). There is a large category of apps that you cannot make in HTML, for example anything truly P2P (not WebRTC, but based on real sockets). You can't make an IMAP client. You can't make a friend-to-friend file sharing tool, without a central server, that uses your Facebook and Google contacts to find peers (I've tried). You can't make the browser window partially-transparent or use native looking widgets. You can't burn a DVD. And if someone invents free-floating holograms, you can't add them to your page.

Granted, these examples are silly. The web is now a very capable platform. But vendors have always been steering what you can and cannot do based on business and other interests. It would be great to be able to break out of that, by having a kind of "C foreign function" interface for the web.

In addition to this. Many of the new Web features came from people going "Flash does it". Plugins allow capability that can be used by people now. Those instances can then be shown to people who say one of my most hated phrases, "What's the use case?"

Ugh, that phrase is used to kill anything vaguely creative fun or artistic.

It is probably why we all have flat windows 3 inspired UIs now.

Plugin has advantages though, consider I don't need the built in pdf in browser, if the pdf reader was a third party plugin I could decide to not install or remove it, less code that I do not use is better. Also we could have a few prf reader plugins choices instead of having the one Google/Mozilla chose. Anyway the people wanting Flash to be preserved do not intend to built Flash apps but conserve the existing ones, most of them could be run in the standalone player(I think a few try to hook into the browser to get the url or similar ,so those would fail as standalone)

> An open source flash player will most likely be used standalone, and not in a browser.

It'll most likely be modified to run in browsers, too, e.g., via compilation to WebAssembly and suitable web-platform replacements for the low-level IO, etc., implementations.

There is Mozilla Shumway which is an open source Flash runtime in JS.

The jit won't port to current wasm, so it would be slow.

There are some noteworthy security problems with Flash in principle.

If website.com embeds a flash file from flash.example, it will run in the context of flash.example, the embedee. If website.com embeds JavaScript from js.example, the code will run in the context of website.com, the embedder.

This will and has caused problems with interoperability in so far, as I'd call it an ugly and dangerous wart.

See web security literature like "The Tangled Web" (or https://code.google.com/archive/p/browsersec/wikis/Part2.wik...) for more.

The only way to solve that implementation problem is to create competition, just like you have with HTML.

So the W3C would have to define "standard Flash specification" and then everyone would have to implement their own "Flash player". But ain't nobody got time for that.

If the "Flash player" had been a specification rather than a piece of standalone software from day one, I believe the overall security of the Flash players would have been way better.

Very narrow minded. Tens of thousands of games rely on flash, along with many movies and general history of the internet. Open souring it will preserve countless hours of lost work.

They are preserved, no ones making Commodores or GameBoys but I can play all those games just fine. Spin up a XP VM if you want the vintage Flash game experience.

(Hello downvotes? It's true, we preserve all of those things through virtual machines of one variety or another. The Flash plugin doesn't magically stop working because Adobe stops developing it.)

You would have then to create a Flash VM, probably based on Linux not XP, but you may have issues with 3d acceleration, and it will consume a lot of extra resources. For now you can use the standalone player for some flash content but that could change in a few years and the player may not work in new Windows or Linux releases.

I wonder if it works in ReactOS?

I have no idea, but I know the standalone Windows version was working fine under Wine for some games I was playing), this only means that the features those games were using worked fine. Reimplementing Windows is hard, I was playing some old RPG games, Fallout3 and Skyrim works fine in Wine(with mods and such), Fallout New Vegas and Oblivion had issues for me(works for others) I got stutters under wine, Oblivion under Windows10 I get a black screen that I could not find a soluton that worked. So old games don't always work latest Windows, I am not sure if a VM would help since 3d and VMS is slow.

....Don't both your examples work through opensource emulators?

Seems a weird thing to bring up for why we shouldn't opensource a runtime to preserve content....

It does not need to be open source. Just save the plug-in along with your legacy browser and legacy OS and run it all on an emulator. Making it open source is an excuse to allow people to continue flash development in some way.

What if, rather than just play the Flash content, I want to write a tool to convert it to a different format? Or what if I want to port the player to a new platform, or compile it to WASM so I can run it in a browser? There are a lot of things open sourcing Flash would enable that just running it in a VM would not.

And also, why do you care if some people _do_ want to continue developing Flash? It's going to get removed from browsers either way. The mere existence of a Flash player on somebody's desktop somewhere is not a security liability for you.

>> And also, why do you care if some people _do_ want to continue developing Flash?

The argument presented was that open sourcing would allow that little bit of internet history to be preserved. My point is that you don't need source code for that. IMHO we don't want anyone to continue developing flash. Even it's creator has declared EOL for it. I understand there are people who want to mess around with it and do things that are potentially interesting, I object to disguising those desires as a preservation activity.

So instead of being able to make something that just runs flash content when you so choose to you want someone to compile and tend to VM image(s) that runs specific OS and specific browser. All major browsers will stop showing Flash content after it's end of life (that has been confirmed), so I see no harm with having some external software that could run flash games/animations/whatever from a local file.

Just like with Java it's the Flash in browser that sucks, not Flash in and of itself.


Did you actually make an account called KarmaProtector to say something you knew would be downvoted?

How about all the kids who made animations and games with Flash just because it was the only thing accessible enough?

Your reasoning about proprietary stuff is just plain stupid and made completely retrospectively. There is literally no reason why we shouldn't preserve this work just because some people don't see value in them.

You must be fun at parties.

I didn't know Flash devs had a union

Ten of thousands of games are created every year.

Tens of thousands of books are written each year. Tens of thousands of songs are recorded each year. Etc. This is an absurd line of reasoning.

People get permission to build Commodore 64 clones, for retro computing preservation, and Hacker News says that's great. Someone requests similar permission for Flash, and now we're upset about the notion of a proprietary codebase being open sourced? Why? Because Steve Jobs said it wasn't cool? Because you're seriously afraid that it would make a comeback, and dethrone HTML5 on the mainstream web?

Guys, someone started a petition to ask a company to donate a propriety codebase after EOL. That's all. This is just idle chat, because nothing in Adobe's history suggests that they would actually consider this.

Regardless, if you would rather NOT see a historically signficant codebase open sourced, then simply don't sign the petition. And take all the low-quality jokes and guffaws back to Reddit, please.

You’re right; that wasn’t a thoughtful comment.

I hate Flash. And yet, I fully support an effort to open source it. Just like I hate MS Word and would support an effort to open source it.

Open sourcing code does not carry any of the risks you mention because those risks relate to browsers, not to Flash, besides that the whole point is to 'make it live forever' so that the millions upon millions of hours spent building Flash stuff will not have been wasted.

Open sourcing abandonware is exactly the right thing to do.

Exactly, I can't believe the number of people in this thread suggesting that keeping it closed is somehow the right thing to do?

Well, its pretty simple. Why should people be against open-sourcing it?

I think 90% of those who are against it, are against it, because they want to forget flash and never see it again.

So somehow, they must have made so bad experiences with flash, that they do not want to get it for free or even someone else to get it.

So you next question is probably: What could have been such a bad experience? Probably not a just one. From my own memory:

Good experiences with flash:

- youtube, etc.: Flash was overcoming the codec problem we had in the past. By providing a minimal set of supported codecs it was setting a defacto standard for video streaming. But that problem is solved today.

Bad experinces with flash:

- Flash menus (please install that macromedia plugin before you can actually use this website)

- Flash menus (please wait until this uber cool animation finishes to render before you can click on that link)

- Complete 'websites' in flash (Please install that plugin before you can see if this website is of any use at all)

- Header logos with large file sizes, as they are animated like hell

- a laggy computer just because some website embeded a flash animation which uses all of your CPU power

- Contact forms which disallowed copy and paste.

- Websites which you could not find again because the search engine could not find them.

- decisions about being vulnerable vs. actually seeing flash content at all

- tracking cookies beyond normal cookies

- extra applets which are there just to make sure you are a real browser.

So I think nobody has a real problem with those gift cards or the games. But given the history of flash we would better not receive a gift, just to make sure we will never have to experience those moments again.

You won't have to use Flash. Browsers are dropping support for Flash. Its for the sake of archiving and learning about its code base. Just because its open sourced doesnt mean the web is going to return to 2001.

Think about it this way: as a linux user, wouldnt it be a great thing for humanity if Windows XP was open sourced? You wouldnt have to use it. No one would have to use it. But that knowledge and history would be unlocked instead of hidden away. Someone in the future would be able to learn from it or modify it to get a really old obscure program to run. The possibilities are endless.

  > Good experiences with flash:
  > [1 item]
Ah, so you're against it because you're ignorant.

Preservation and reduction of bit rot is a great reason to open source Flash or ensure there is always a definitive version available, even if all the browsers should ban it because it is a messy, unperformant security liability.

Dop not worry. The SWF files will be preserved and long playable after 2020, using Flash Projector, Swiff Player or iSwiff. Just no longer in web browsers.

And I must add that open sourcing it would clear up a lot of situation where the distribution of flash player had an unclear status.

> Preservation and reduction of bit rot is a great reason to open source Flash

It's a reason, and a good point, but it's not a good reason. Improving the already-open-source players would be a better alternative. Adobe could even help facilitate that, by documenting the interfaces and enough of the internals so that other developers can achieve better compatibility. A canonical sandboxed version would also achieve the goal of preservation, without the security woes. Open-sourcing Flash is would just ensure its continued use as it is today, crowding out either of those efforts.

> Improving the already-open-source players would be a better alternative.

The open source players could be improved by comparing implementation with Adobe's once it is open sourced.

Yes, that would also work in the sense of improving compatibility, but it would still leave the other players competing with Adobe's own. Eventually they might prevail, due to being less security-bug-ridden, but in the interim we'd still be worse off.

Also, this whole discussion is moot because open-sourcing Flash ain't gonna happen. I can practically guarantee that it's too entangled with other companies' IP for that to happen. Maybe the people who are arguing that we should treat open source as an alternative to the trash can (which is pretty damn insulting to those of us who actually produce open-source software) could spend just a little bit of their obviously-copious free time lobbying to change that IP regime.

> but it would still leave the other players competing with Adobe's own.

You have that backwards.

The effort going into open source projects emulating a closed source product are wasted if that closed source project can be open sourced. That's a win for everybody, after that the effort can be directed to something more important because perfection is now attainable.

The only reason these open source projects exist in the first place is because the reference implementation isn't open sourced. I'm pretty sure the maintainers of those projects will welcome such a move by Adobe, there is no innate right to some kind of 'protected space' for open source projects that purposefully aim to provide an open implementation of a closed source product. Obviously one of the risks of embarking on such a project is that the original may one day be open sourced.

> The effort going into open source projects emulating a closed source product are wasted if that closed source project can be open sourced.

Yeah, that Linux thing just died when Solaris was open-sourced. Even more relevantly, IE and Chrome.

> perfection is now attainable.

That's cute. As somebody who has actually produced software for thirty years (but without ever hitching my wagon to Flash like some here) I'm a bit more skeptical about the likelihood of taking a gigantic long-lived ball of mud and making it perfect. In particular, security is hard to bolt on after the fact. I certainly wouldn't assume that the maintainers of other implementations would be overjoyed by the prospect. Just look at how many reimplementations there are of things that were already open source. I'd say it's unlikely that a significant number of people will work on Flash without being paid to do so.

> Yeah, that Linux thing just died when Solaris was open-sourced.

I fail to see the relevance. Linux never tried to be an 'open source Solaris clone' and of course it didn't die off, in fact, it flourished, which sort of undermines your argument.

> Even more relevantly, IE and Chrome.

What of them? I could see Mozilla vs IE.

> As somebody who has actually produced software for thirty years

Appeal to authority ;)

> but without ever hitching my wagon to Flash like some here

Join the club. I absolutely hated Flash and for many years resisted using it to deliver video.

> I'm a bit more skeptical about the likelihood of taking a gigantic long-lived ball of mud and making it perfect.

Perfect as in 'perfect emulation', not perfect as in perfect all across the board. Having the Flash source would allow the open source implementations to look at how things were done so they can emulate all behavior up to and including the bugs. If Adobe would open source it then they would not have to avoid looking at even disassemblies of the Flash code.

> In particular, security is hard to bolt on after the fact.

This is not about future developments in Flash, it is about digital archeology. If you start seeing it through that lens then maybe you will be a bit more relaxed about it.

Nobody is suggesting that Flash be given eternal life or that we will have another round of Flash content if Flash is open sourced. The sooner it is gone from the web the better. But that old stuff still remains and maybe one day someone wants to review it. That is what this is about. CF people using C64 Roms or Nintendo stuff 3 decades old.

> I certainly wouldn't assume that the maintainers of other implementations would be overjoyed by the prospect.

Did you ask them?

> Just look at how many reimplementations there are of things that were already open source.

So what? Fragmentation is the very power of open source at work.

> I'd say it's unlikely that a significant number of people will work on Flash without being paid to do so.

Exactly. So that is - again - why open sourcing the old Flash player is a good thing.

> Improving the already-open-source players would be a better alternative.

Between the options of open-sourcing an already-complete and canonically "correct" implementation, and having Adobe document their code and interfaces and improving the partial (but open) implementations that we have, it seems like the latter involves a lot more work. I guess I don't see the benefit.

Open sourcing it won't help preserve content - that's far more effectively achieved via VMs and using the archived players which Adobe provide (and will hopefully continue to provide or allow preservation of on abandoware or other sites).

Maintaining the build systems, compatibility layers and so forth won't be easy (Adobe often couldn't manage it), and bug fixing in the code is a risky prospect for preservation as it could render older content unplayable or differently playable.

The swf file format is almost open - it would be nice if Adobe updated the published specification to the latest format. Again that would go some way towards ensuring the content remained available in some way.

Edit: genuinely interested in the downvotes here - am I missing something fundamental about content preservation? It seems logical to me that the file spec being available + original players is far more valuable than the source, as the source will then bitrot without continuous maintenance. In comparison the players will always run in the VMs.

Not sure if you know but Adobe open source the Flex framework, is now part of Apache and it continued to be used in projects. If Flash and AIR could be open sourced, we could ahve an alternative for GUI application development(nothing wrong with choice) and AIR could compete with Electron

I've had the misfortune to work with Flex - I really didn't enjoy it. It was also incredibly difficult to make Flex apps accessible in a meaningful way.

AIR did hold promise, but ultimately suffered from being terribly cumbersome to extend when you wanted to access native features or platform standard libraries (I've created several AIR native extensions over the years).

However, one of the big problems with using Flex or AIR after Adobe have end-of-lifed Flash is that you're going to lose access to the content creation tools. There are some alternatives (FlashDevelop and FDT for coding, I forget the name of the attempt at an open source Flash timeline editor), but nothing is close to being as good as Adobes own tools when you want to.

If you want to leverage knowledge of ActionScript, people may be better off looking at something like Haxe for cross platform gui app dev.

I would not start a new project in Flex/AIR but I am stil bug fixing existing projects. I use Intelli IDEA, I do not need the drag and drop GUI editor I learned how to make good layouts editing the XML and it is much more simpler to layout components using Flex(or other GUI toolkits , I used Qt and WPF ) then using divs and css(thought he new flexbox in css improved the situation), So in Flex(Qt,and others) you have components like listboxes, dropdowns, DataGrids that are very flexible , you want an item to look different you create an item renderer and reimplement the paint method in AS3 or if is simple enough in plain XML(or using the GUI Designer) In HTML5 land you do not have such flexible components as standard so you need to find an open source or buy this compoenents or implement one. You can say it is easy to implement a dropdown(built in one can't show icons and can't be customized), you hack some divs,lis and some css and it is done. But later you find that you did not consider corner cases, your implementation opens outside of the screen if dropdown is on the bottom of the page, the dropdown has no property where you can ask "show max 6 element, probably you did not add all the standard hover effects, and not implemented all the events, My point is that in Flex and other toolkits you can do a good GUI with good layout using the built in stuff and no hacks(I am thinking at css where some obvious thing did not worked for me until I found on SO that I need to set min-width to 0 so the css engine finding this useless rule would take a different path and display the expected thing). Can you share what GUI toolkits you used and what features you loved from each one? Thanks

I tend to use the native UI for each platform I work on. My general opinion of cross platform UI frameworks these days is that they for developer convenience - they don't help the users. However I'm also aware that persuading the budget holder that users are worth spending money on is hard :)

For the drop downs - when I used Flex I had the same issues over window bounds, in that nothing could extend beyond the limits of the flash rendered window. Did they fix that in later versions?

You can extend over window bounds, what I meant is the dropdown should open up or give you a property to allow you this option, also Flex dropdowns had the property you can set how many items are visible at a time. I learned Adobe AIR because my employer liked it better then Qt at that time and he also trusted Adobe products, moving from c++/Qt (and previous C# Winforms and WPF) to AIR was a downgrade in some aspects but after you learn it you can do your job and implement most of the things fast. What do you use for creating native apps for Windows, I do not know what is the prefered thing this days?

It's not about making it available for continued production use. It's about archiving the content people created with it.

That's getting harder and harder to do as platforms get more and more complicated. "Mostly" compatible is less than helpful. Having access to the actual primary Flash implementation would be invaluable for preservation efforts.

For archiving you can bundle the Flash runtime with SWF in a standalone EXE file.

What about preserving Flash itself? Like it or not it is/was a big part of Internet history.

Even if it's not going to be in browsers, I wonder if there's value in open sourcing it so people can create applications that run flash apps.

There's a lot of content out there made with flash, especially games.

Is there still a standalone Flash player? (or at least, will the debug version work?) Haven't messed with Flash stuff in over a decade but I remember having a standalone player to play downloaded SWF files back in the day. No idea if there's anything roughly equivalent out there in its current incarnation.

A sandboxed player application would go a long way toward the uses mentioned in this thread, no? I wonder when we'll start seeing Flash emulators being developed to play back all that old content.

> I wonder when we'll start seeing Flash emulators being developed to play back all that old content.


A dead project due to the shear complexity and obfuscation and proprietary bug/feature weirdness (e.g. undocumented relied upon in some edge case feature/bugs tend to exist in proprietary single-implementation systems) of flash.

Things like Mono took a decade to finish as an exact clone of a portion of Microsoft's implementation, and that was only possible because the people using it (the target audience begin linux programmers) could fix the code as needed. Flash's target audience is artists.

Last commit was made in March 2016.

Of course there are many: Flash Projector, Swiff Player, iSwiffy, Eltima SWF Player, Gnash...

> No no no no NO. It's time to get rid of Flash. Open-sourcing will make it live forever.

So does DOS, OS/2, CPM, AmigaOS, etc. Let individuals decide what to do with the source code.

This is off base. Flash will die regardless, but making it open source will make it possible to preserve internet history.

Flash will not be further developed by 2020, but it does not mean the Flash Player suddenly will stop running the SWF files. You will still be able to play them using Flash Projector.

>Flash has very little to offer that is not at this point duplicated (or improved upon) by others.

Pray, tell me of a universally-supported compact interactive vector graphics animation format, with sound, in a single file.

Back in the year 2000 I could send a Valentine card with an animated message that could be downloaded as an email attachment and kept forever.

So, what's the improved version of that?

There are many:

- (M)HTML with bundled/inlined SVG and multimedia files.

- SVG with embedded multimedia files (demo: http://xn--dahlstrm-t4a.net/svg/audio/html5-audio-in-svg.svg)

- PDF with embedded multimedia files

> PDF with embedded multimedia files

That a larger can of worms than flash itself.

PDF can also contain Flash, so you get the same can of worms, just nested ;-)

svg is not streamable nor does complex animations well.

E.g. try make a fire or particle effect with SVG

> universally-supported

I thought we're talking about Flash here? You know, the thing that only works on a subset of browsers on the three major desktop OSes and has absolutely zero modern mobile support.

Almost everything that has been done with Flash falls in to one of two categories:

1. Things that should be done in standard and truly universal HTML5, generally with assistance of Javascript, CSS, and SVGs. This includes every single media player and most non-interactive or lightly interactive animations, as well as all navigation elements for a web site. Your valentine's card example is definitely in this category.

2. Things that should be done with a proper game engine.

There's a very small margin in between those two mostly full of games too complicated to be practical in HTML+JS but too simple to really be worth the effort of a full game engine. Even that range is getting a lot smaller these days with the number of high quality game engines available for free to anyone who wants them.

Zipped Website?

MHTML is standalone and natively supported by IE/Chrome/Opera. There are extensions for Firefox and Safari too.

Wasn't this basically what people said about Netscape pre-Firefox? That worked out, and ushered in a new age of Internet.

Flash has an immense amount of value built in which cannot be replaced by any of the alternatives. Maintaining and fixing old code isn't as sexy as jumping on the latest competing standard, but it's far more valuable.

Even if we don't continue to develop new features for Flash, it's important to keep it alive so we don't lose the ability to run the wide variety of flash programs which at this point make up a significant portion of Internet culture and history.

Open source projects with no large company support or full-time employees == no browser will want to continue to support this.

Open sourcing flash just means that devs who have spent years building games in flash can still play those games. It is still a death sentence for the future of flash.

> Flash has very little to offer that is not at this point duplicated (or improved upon) by others

How about streamable vector animation without hogging your CPU like HTML5 canvas or svg? (Zing!)

And also, authoring tools that guaranteed to work everywhere as you draw graphs.

People want this to preserve internet culture. If Flash dies, a very large part of the internet we love vanishes overnight.

False. The standalone Flash Player will not suddenly stop running. In fact, you will be able to open your SWF files for a long time, just not in web browsers, but using Projector.exe or Swiff Player.

Browsers are removing plugin support either way, so I don't see any harm in open sourcing the player.

The security issues with Flash are due to it being closed-source. Make it open-source and a lot of the problems that lead it to being EOLed will be solved.

Nonsense! Open source things like PHP, WordPress, Apache, and Linux are attacked constantly.

Sure, but they're also being defended constantly by armies of programmers. When a vulnerability is discovered, the four projects you mentioned are all awfully quick to issue and distribute patches.

Think about how Google pressured Microsoft to fix a vulnerability when MS was too slow to respond[1]. That's the kind of crap you see with proprietary development.

Open source is just a flat-out better method of developing software, but especially so when it comes to patching vulnerabilities.

[1] https://www.engadget.com/2015/01/02/google-posts-unpatched-m...

Flash has very little to offer as a tool, but as a platform with thousands of hours of beautiful, creative content made for it (Homestar Runner, games, interactive art, etc), it will be tragic to lose all that art and history.

If we open-source Flash, at least museums will have an option to preserve that content for future generations to learn from and enjoy.

I believe there should be an ability to create a secured container to run some Flash content, which isn't critical.

"Time to get rid of Flash" sounds more like irrational attitude than anything approaching positive evolution of technology. We are meant to push technology forwards, fix it, make it better, find the positive aspects, not get on high-horses with brand-loyalty agendas about what should die and what sucks.

The true purpose to open sourcing Flash is archiving / making it impossible to never be able to revisit Flash sites which are a huge part of internet history, e.g. NewGrounds and other sites.

What is a real alternative?

What tech can do what Flash does and is as easy and approachable as Flash for non-developers?

I mean sure with WebGL and mad computer graphic skills no problem, but with out?

I want to say "Java Applets", but that feels like trolling.

Really flash had its place for animations, games, and sound/video stuff. There isn't any single alternative, although a lot of things it was used for can be supported directly nowadays. (Things like using the clipboard, etc.)

It won't be what it is today, it'll mean that it will live on as a niche. There are large business applications written in Flex that actually work well. The existing open-source Flash alternatives will not serve these applications. It will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to port these applications and bring little to no benefit to the organisations that use them.

Adobe could donate the source code of the player and stop selling development kit/toolchain.

Developing a new toolchain might take so long that it wouldn't make sense as a project.

It seems a reasonable compromise to me.

What if someone finds flaw in opened source of Flash? If it's open sourced after it's end of life, then no one will get hurt.

I went to the Github page specifically to vote against this petition ... Using the star is more of a bookmark to me but it certainly doesn't provide a way to down vote the idea.

my first thought was 'wow now flash will finally be safe to allow to run on my machine'.

am i being naive?

Flash is cancer. It literally retarded the growth of browser technology by years.

Quite the opposite. Flash allowed creativity on the web to grow whilst the web was being held back by IE6.

Aside from experiments in user interfaces, creative hubs like Newgrounds, YouTube and Vimeo relied on Flash to promote user-generated content on the web. I'd even go as far as saying without Flash those sites may have never existed.

I learned to program in ActionScript 2 on Macromedia Flash MX back in high-school. In spite of all the (deserved) hate Flash gets, we got to give it credit too.

- It was a response to the stagnant IE-dominated web that allowed people to experiment and create incredibly rich content that is still hard to replicate.

- It's editor was amazing for introductory programming. It was as easy and intuitive to use as any vector-graphics editor, but you could get really complex on your programming too. It was very visual, very graphical, which helped.

- It was great for animation. I really can't think of anything that compares. There's lots of animation software out there but most are targeted to video. There's lots of libraries for animating Canvas/SVG, but they don't have interfaces/editors for non-programmers. Flash was an amazing middle-ground; a great creative AND technical tool IMO.

- ActionScript was nice; it wasn't daunting, it had types to help you, but they didn't clutter the syntax. If I recall correctly, the tooling wasn't too shabby either, with good auto-complete and suggestions as you type.

It's thus no wonder it caught on like wildfire and there was so much content for it. It was a good option for technical projects and creative ones, beginners and experts. I definitely don't want to see Flash making a comeback on web, but I wouldn't mind seeing it in standalone applications (assuming security doesn't become an issue), and I could see its value on education, granted, with the right editors and tools.

So much hate for Flash. Yes it has regular security holes, is CPU hungry and a lot of people used it to create some mightily annoying things....

But Flash was a gift from the gods back in the early days of IE and most people forget that. If you wanted to make some HTML look nice you had little more than the dreaded 'blink' tag to work with.

If it weren't for Flash I doubt we'd have anywhere near as advanced CSS, SVG, Canvas and HTML5 bells and whistles that designers can actually use now.

I doubt Adobe will open source it though. They probably know there's a whole heap of other security issues in it that'll get found and exploited as soon as they release it. Your average user won't be able to patch fast enough!

I had browser games in flash that worked, now I have unity games that don't.

I honestly wish we'd stuck with flash.

It's ok to dislike something and recognize how poor it is compared to better implementations it helped inspire, but still respect what it did for us in the past.

Flash, Java Applets, and jQuery all changed the web for the better and were amazing things at one time. But we should move on.

What's the point of moving on from jQuery? Does plain javascript now offers the same functionalities?

There’s nothing wrong with jQuery. It’s a perfectly good library to use if that’s what you know. Get your code shipped.

For the most part for common tasks supporting IE10+, yes.

There are still some things it will do for you that can be tedious with vanilla and arguments could still be made to use it as a dependency. But imho, it should be treated more of as an optional dependency that you use when/if you need it, rather than a cross browser compatibility crutch.

http://youmightnotneedjquery.com/ helped me out quite a bit as I transitioned away from using it for day to day. It's not exactly 1-to-1, but it helped ease the initial pain.

> They probably know there's a whole heap of other security issues in it that'll get found and exploited as soon as they release it.

So wait until 2020, after all major browsers have dropped support for it. No reason to worry about vulnerabilities in software that nobody's using in production anymore. If anyone still cares, they can always fix the security problems themselves.

As the currently-most-upvoted hater, I kind of agree. Flash was fantastic back in the day. I played many games and movies that way, and was thusly enriched. But the Sega Genesis was also great in its day. So was the vinyl record. Those days are gone. Flash has accrued negatives, which now outweigh the positives.

Sega has emulators, vinyl record players still exist.

Open sourcing flash doesn't mean it will stay mainstream, it probably shouldn't. But there is valuable flash content. If they kill flash and don't open source it, the only way to run flash will be on old browsers possible in old operating systems. This will put a big burden on businesses requiring old flash apps.

>> This will put a big burden on businesses requiring old flash apps.

And also consumers who may have devices like webcams that require flash to view the video feeds from a browser.

Flash has emulators too. I think you just made my point.

Actually if there is a good emulator, I'm happy.

If Sega suddenly open-sourced the Genesis hardware, all it would do is make the emulators better. It wouldn't make people start writing new Genesis games, or whatever it is you're worried about happening here. Whatever negatives there are to Flash, they would not be affected in any way by the player becoming open sourced.

If it weren't for Flash I doubt we'd have anywhere near as advanced CSS, SVG, Canvas and HTML5 bells and whistles that designers can actually use now.

And the web is much worse because of it.

The one thing that was excellent about flash was that you could easily disable it and all the security issues and annoying crap would disappear. You can't do that today without breaking stuff.

Why not contribute to well-established open source Flash players?



Or https://github.com/mozilla/shumway which doesn't require any native code

Shumway is a dead project (hasn't been updated for a while). Too bad, because it showed promise.

Last time I tried it was working surprisingly well. Even if it's dead it can be useful.

> Even if it's dead it can be useful.

An appropriate thing to say in a discussion about Flash :)

It can be forked and continued.

An open source Flash player is not perfectly bug-for-bug compatible with the real Flash player.

Sure, but if anyone is really interested in Flash and Adobe's player is reaching EOL, whatever open source project gets to be used as its substitute will become the standard, and no one will care about compatibility with Adobe's Flash player, since no one will have it installed.

This ignores all legacy Flash applications, which were designed for the original player (bugs and all). These are the legacy that need to be preserved. Presumably (though I'd love to see counterexamples) most people using Adobe Animate CC (the latest version and rebrand of Flash) these days are targeting HTML5 anyways.

Ah, I see.

Then I guess the bugs can be taken into account like Firefox did with IE6?

Perhaps having a compatibility-mode on/off so that new movies could follow the standard.

I think movies and animations are not the problem, those would be easy to playback if the codecs are right, there are planty of games, some 3d, and some interactive applications that use Flash and Flex, there are tons of APIs that Flash supports and implementing all of those exactly as in Flash was a huge task for the community, since Flash is not used in new projects just as legacy very few developers are interested in working on that in their free time.

Which one is everyone going to install: an open source flash player that's not quite compatible, or the adobe one that's perfectly compatible?

The one that isn't abandoned, which in 2020 will be the open source one.

Again, I don't see why if there's interest in Flash and Adobe is abandoning its player, the open source ones can't be made to work as well (or as bad) as Adobe's.

Firefox copied IE's quirks back in the day, I don't see why it can't be done again.

Flash is more complex than HTML/CSS/JS though.

are you sure? i worked with flash and actionscript, and i doubt they are more complex than html/css/js, personaly i think the contrary.

What make more difficult the reimplementation is the abscence of a specification or a standard.

I am talking about the entire history of Flash from 1996 on.

The SWF specification has been open for many years.

Because they're all alpha-level, and will probably always be to Flash what ReactOS is to Windows.

Perhaps, but let's say Windows is gone tomorrow: wouldn't React OS gain a lot of traction given all the software for Windows, and perhaps get a spike of volunteers?

> let's say Windows is gone tomorrow

one can dream

IF Adobe open source it with a good license would make the live easier to the other projects, you could probably reimplement 80% of Flash without problems just by using the API documentation but the rest of 20% will be harder, having the code would solve this.

> The latest beta release of Gnash has been made at version 0.8.10 in mid Feb, 2012.

All of the above.

Again. From my game dev days, the people that really lose (over and over) are the artists. Millions of hours have been sunk into laying out vector graphics with the Flash IDE. Code I understand should eventually be tossed away, but, not art. I guess staring at millions of beautiful vector timelined illustrations changed my opinion - but it is art to me. And like books, I think its a sin to toss. I hope the artists convert their .fla files over and save what they can.

That's not going away, though. Adobe Animate isn't being EOL'ed.

Hopefully! However, I doubt Adobe will continue flash IDE support - while taking down the flash browser plugin. I expect an announcement soon.

Code is art too.

I can't understand why people are against open sourcing some proprietary code, why would it affect you? If you hate Flash that much you will have the opportunity to see the source code and confirm that is bad. All the open source reimplementation are incomplete, so with the opening up of Flash the open source ones could have a look (if license allows) and finish the reimplementation.

I can't believe what I'm seeing. People on HN don't want something to be open sourced? Is it opposite day?

Because it's Flash and their God Steve Jobs said that Flash was bad. It's really as simple as that.

I want to believe that you're not right, but you might be. I just can't understand why a massive proprietary codebase becoming open wouldn't be a Good Thing

Hate does not have to be rational - just as any other emotion. It also does not matter whether flash code quality is good or bad. It influences nothing at this point. They want it bad, so they will see it bad. And since all bigger projects have dirty places here and there, flash is pretty much guaranteed to have some too.

> why would it affect you?

Security affects everyone. Even if I can keep my own machine uninfected, I can't do the same for my bank's machines. Nor can I do the same for random strangers whose machines get 0wned and then used to launch new attacks against me, my bank, and everyone else. Insecure software needs to be replaced by more secure software, not put on indefinite life support.

You do know that Chrome, Firefox, and Edge (at least) have all stated that they will drop support for flash as soon as it's EOL'd. So why again would open sourcing Flash after that point make a difference in your security?

Only thing you can argue is that if someone is using old out of date software they would be at risk, but they are already at risk. Open sourcing Flash would not make it any less secure if it's not being used anywhere anymore.

Do you suppose that nobody will use the open-source version of Flash to make a spin of Chromium with Flash support, to serve the very kind of people who just can't seem to live without their legacy apps? If the browsers are open source and Flash is open source, millions of systems will be left vulnerable in this way.

So you don't want some code to be open source because you care about some tech people may used that open source code and get infected? Java was open sourced and you don't have an open source Java plugin forced upon you.

Yes, I do, quite often.

What do you mean is Firefox and Chrome forcing Java on you? Did Java getting open sourced affected you in a negative way? how?

What is preventing them bundling the old out of date Flash with Chromium?

Why even bother worrying about Chromium? People who are going to want the legacy Flash stuff are running Windows and there isn't even Windows build of Chromium. How come people on HN always come up with some ridiculous edge case that has zero baring on reality.

Chances are that Flash contains licensed third-party IP and thus Adobe couldn't unilaterally open source it even if they wanted to.

True, but even a non-functional source dump with lots of the guts ripped out and redacted would be extremely useful for researchers and preservationists.

I suspect Adobe isn't interested in committing man hours to that process.

Right. This is mentioned near the top of TFA:

> We understand that there are licenced components you can not release. Simply leave them out with a note explaining what was removed. We will either bypass them, or replace them with open source alternatives.

As bdcravens and ghaff allude to elsewhere in this subthread, the question is whether Adobe can be convinced to put in the effort required to strip out licensed IP. Maybe a crowdfunded campaign with a bounty to cover Adobe's costs would be more compelling than a slacktivist petition like TFA.

Now I'm really curious if that's the case. It could explain why they didn't open source the Flash runtime back when they open sourced the flex compiler.

At the very least, there would certainly need to be a lot of due diligence work. A lot of people seem to think that open sourcing something is as simple as dumping a source code tree to github, setting a license, and calling it a day.

It's not. Even when doing so is a priority, it can take months of work.

For example the several video codecs. But I think all of those are supported by VLC, for instance.

FWIW I posted[1] in the Flash EOL thread the other day that an Adobe employee told me years ago that licensing issues were the main hindrance to open sourcing the Flash player. (Another HN user who said they used to work for Adobe seems to back this up.) A lot of technology in the player was licensed and difficult to remove/refactor such that the player code could realistically be opened up, and there was little business incentive to invest resources into it. I'd imagine the incentives are even less now.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14850791

I said this already in another comment, but for this reason I think a crowdfunded campaign with a bounty that Adobe can use to cover their costs would be more likely to succeed than a simple petition.

Such a campaign could also send a much stronger signal of how badly people actually want an open source flash player. Starring a repo is too easy; it's better to let folks put money where their mouth is. Imagine if the hypothetical campaign raises a million dollars. It'd be hard for Adobe to ignore.

I assume it's patents that comprise the licensed technology? Does Flash contain code that has been licensed from other companies? If it's just patents, there's no problem in open-sourcing; on the other hand, I can see licensed code being a problem. But with all of the open-source implementations various codecs, gutting out the parts of Flash that contain the licensed code, and open-sourcing would be a viable option indeed.

It's been years, so take this with a truckload of salt, but if I recall correctly the issue was licensed code, along with a mostly ad-hoc structure of the player which meant extracting this would be difficult without a total rewrite, which is hard enough as is to justify but probably even more so when there's no clear business incentive for it. As well, a rewrite means considerable risk to breaking old content, which Adobe (and before them Macromedia) worked pretty hard not to do. I can see why this wasn't very palatable.

As I said though, it's been years and I'm just relaying what I can recall so I may very well be getting things wrong.

I worked at Adobe near the Flash team back in the day, and the PMs I knew would have absolutely loved to open-source the Player. The problem isn't willingness, it's third-party code, of which there is apparently a lot.

If there was just a button to be pressed, Adobe would have pressed it circa 2010. But at this point, I think open-sourcing Flash Player is the kind of thing where the project to figure out what all would need to be done would cost more than Adobe would want to invest, never mind actually doing the necessary work (both engineering and legal).

Flash has generated a tremendous amount of assets that will be lost. Preserving them for historical reasons is extremely important but i am far less interested in preserving the technology than preserving the idea or creation itself. I would love to see an effort around conversion or transcoding flash assets to other technologies. For example, flash movies being rendered to an open standard or flash games being automatically converted to javascript/html5. The content creator deserve to have their legacy recorded and maintained but this is not the solution. (granted it may be a solution for other use cases, but i am not sure what those are)

To transcode all Flash content you need a similar amount of work as reimplementing Flash since you need to transcode all the functions, it is similar as Wine project is doing and it is always behind and there are bugs, having the source will help implementingt the translation.

Wine is an emulator, hence the name. (WINdows Emulator) By transcoding I am referring to rendering the flash content in a completely new medium. For example videos could be rendered using the existing closed source implementation into an open source video codec/format. For the interactive flash content, the content creators have the option of porting it to another platform to preserve the idea. Adobe even provides a tool to assist with this (https://helpx.adobe.com/animate/how-to/convert-flash-ads-to-...) Finally transcoding would recompile the framework into another framework. Think of this as converting Flash/Actionscript into HTML5 Canvas/Javascript.

(W)ine (I)s (N)ot an (E)mulator

It's a compatibility layer.

Thank you for the correction.

They will not be lost after 2020. They will run as usual using the Flash Player Standalone Projector or Swiff Player.

Its naive to assume that devices in 2020 will still be able to run Flash Player Standalone or that Swiff Player is still in existence.

Really? Will standard Windows EXE files be no longer executable by 2020?

As long as it stays away from a browser it's perfectly fine.

I am already using gnash to run flash games and a feature complete open source implementation would be very welcome.

There could be an issue of opening up even more security issues for people with Flash still installed. That, in turn, will likely lead to an all out campaign to remove Flash from everything possible (maybe not a bad thing at this point).

But, honestly - Flash as a platform hasn't advanced much in quite a while. What it once offered - rich multimedia runtime engine across platforms - is either available in the browser directly or can be attained through even more rich engines such as Unity3D.

There is an all out campaign to remove flash from everything possible. Soon it will be gone from every major browser and phone. That's exactly what this is in response to.

Personally I just want to ensure there's a way for me to go back and look at all the work I did in high school. It's already a pain to figure out how to run my old SWF files, and soon it's going to be nearly impossible.

Maybe I should just snapshot a VM with everything set up correctly?

If you use the VM solution you probably need some open VM format, in case in a few years the current formats are dropped.

Just use a raw disk image? What format is there to lose?

VirtualBox uses an XML file that stores your VM settings, and for disks there are a few options,for my work I use the disks that grow (so I set the disk to 100Gb but if I use 20 Gb now it will use 20Gb of my real disk space)

That's fair, but the XML is probably non-essential, and I believe there are already open source converters for most disk image formats. There's some risk, but I don't think it's very much.

No, you don't need your silly flash player to play free games in your web browser or offer to users at a payment plan and method of your choosing. We've got this great app store for you to use that only costs $100 a year to submit apps to and we keep 30% of all the money you make on your game.

Most of those games you're referring to are on mobile, and even Android hasn't received a Flash update in 4 years.

    Notice: The idea is not to save Flash Player, but to open source Flash!
What exactly is being referred to here? The Flash authoring tool I assume? As in, the application that you install on your desktop and use to create Flash animations with?

I think a better description of the purpose of this petition might be a good idea. A lot of people conflate Flash and Flash Player.

No, they're talking about the player. But they don't want to save it from doom, but instead to preserve it so all the current code targeting flash can still potentially be used.

Think of it like an emulator. It would still be stripped from browsers, but you could download the SWF and play it locally, in the "flash emulator". Except it'd be based on the real thing, and as such, would achieve perfect compat right away.

You still will be able to run your SWF files after 2020 using the latest Flash Player Projector.exe.

To play a .swf you can use the standalone Flash Player.

A projector is a different thing, it's a special .exe version of the .swf with the Flash Player bundled at compile time. So the concept of using the latest projector to view an old .swf doesn't make sense.

Sorry for the pedantry but that's the third time I've read it used incorrectly on this thread.

According to the official Adobe Flash downloads page (https://www.adobe.com/support/flashplayer/debug_downloads.ht...), Projector is also known as standalone Flash player:

> Adobe Flash Player 26 (Win, Mac & Linux) debugger (aka debug player or content debuggers) and standalone (aka projectors) players for Flex and Flash developers.

That's what I thought as well. All the latest versions are here:


Just for historical reasons, it's good to have the source out there. Fifty or a hundred years from now, someone may want very badly to recover some old .swf file.

I don't think anybody wants to see what's actually under the covers. Also, I'm pretty sure they've licensed patents from other participants, so it's not very likely they would bother trying to figure out all those details.

Future history does need a copy they can use in the future to look at web sites of the past though. Content that relies on proprietary technology will be lost in the annals of history.

Open sourcing code allows a new vector for finding vulnerabilities. Just because the software reaches its EOL doesn't mean it is removed from every computer.

I believe that open sourcing Flash should be done for the sake of software preservation. But I would recommend 2025 (end of life for Windows 10 and IE11) as the earliest release date.

You have to understand the source of the problem. The browsers do NOT want to support this level of plug-in since it is less secure. That is why the Unity plug-in went away, that is why ALL plugs ins are going away. Flash is still alive as AIR in mobile and desktop. But it is DEAD in browsers.

There should just be a Flash only browser with an HTML5 blocker muhahaha.

"So Adobe, you're killing Flash now. That's fine since you apparently can't fix it."

Seriously, why start with sentences like that if you really care about it being open-sourced?

Changed it, thanks for the comment!

Aren't more of recent application for Flash is to deliver DRMed video while rest moving to something else like HTML5. If this is the case opensource Flash won't really help...

A bunch of us suggested this to Macromedia around 2005. Unfortunately, it never became a popular topic. Adobe took it over and well; turtles all the way down.

Sometimes it is hard to say "goo bye". But we have to. Like growing kids, we should stock our kid's stuff in an old chest and forget about it. If someone really wants to reminisce or something like this, save your own local copy of flash and use it as u want. But in face of web community such things like flash really have to die. Thus how new directions of web will born.

Browser vendors are already disabling flash by default. There is no need to "kill" anything. Even if it were opensourced today it will still meet the same fate. The only people who care about open sourcing are those who want a standalone flash player for archival purposes.

Gnash works pretty well with non AS3 noninteractive movies and looping swfs. Most games are still broken though.

The idea is not to preserve Flash player as is, but to open source Flash spec to make it possible to archive all the good stuff out there!

what about petitioning Google so they open source Swiffy ?

To me Google Chrome is the one responsible for killing Flash, Adobe is just playing catch up.

Big star from me.

I never understood the hate flash got, sure it was abused by ads but to this date I have never seen the same level of animated and vibrant websites that were around in its peak.

Everything is the same old bootstrapped template now, its pretty boring.

I'm all for a Flash emulator that emulates the functions that Flash currently has, but do not start an open source project that adds more functions and security issues and whatnot. Any further development must be stopped.

I would do anything to preserve those white buttons with glowy green borders.

I would love to see what kind of Simcities are in that source code

Where can I sign a petition to let Javascript die before 2020?

yes! great idea. Also quick observation, Flash is so hard to get rid of because it's still a very useful tool. We're lucky to have had it in the 2000's

There are a ton of Black Hat hackers who would love to see this petition become real

Shut it down, the internet is massively more secure without flash

ActionScript is still loved by the Starling community. I don't really think i'll miss the swf format, though

Adobe Animate isn't being EOL'ed.

How about a petition to have Adobe put into all versions of Flash going forward code to disable the flash player on the EOL date so that the danger of security vulnerabilities from the damn thing will be greatly reduced.

Browser vendors are already dropping support, so there isn't much reason to double dip

me personally, I love this idea and would work on this in spare time as long as my bottle of TUMS is within arms reach. Very Cool, Very Cool.

Dear god no, please just let it die, I don't care about Badger, Badger, snake or Flash hentai flash game nostalgia that much.

This is a really short-sighted perspective. Letting Flash die would be a serious contributor to bit rot. Archival of all the historical content created in Flash is a respectable goal even if we should _never use Flash again for anything new_.

Just because a piece of culture isn't exactly to your particular taste doesn't mean it shouldn't be preserved and it should be impossible for anyone to experience it in the future. And besides, that's a really selective and disingenuous generalization of Flash. There are a huge number of important, interesting Flash games that are worth preserving for history's sake.

What about the end of the world? Are you le tired?

Yes, most definitely le tired of having to deal with Flash.

Let it go gracefully.

Please, let it die.

Just let it die!

Let flash die. We don't need it. We got HTML5.

No one who has used both significantly really thinks HTML5 can provide an equivalent alternative to the Flash platform today. Sure it can cover a lot of the common use cases and it can be made to work, but it's really a poor substitute (albeit without the security and other issues). HTML5 is the future, but it still needs work.

Let it die.

If you want save flash, just install an virtual machine with WinXP and stay in the past. Too much website still use flash.. come on they have been warned so many times, flash must die.

This will probably take years of course. Hopefully the H.264 patents will expire at least not long afterwards.

Its already open sourced. Its called HTML5!

Burn it to hell ∆

I support this. In 20 years when no one is using it anymore and the source code is released for academic purposes.

Really? Really!? All the years we've suffered with this, this insecure "Thing* and you want to give it eternal life in open source? Not just no, but hell no. You want video? Use HTML 5's Theora, H264, or WebM.

I take it you are going to convert all of the Flash videos into these formats for us?

Even if this did happen I doubt browsers would support it (as already mentioned) If nostalgia is the problem, it would be far less effort to recompile those games into html5

Recompiling the games into html5 would be far easier if we had source-code to reverse-engineer to create a translator with.

Yikes. How about a petition to burn it with fire? Petition to erase all mention of flash from history books?

Isn't Flash player's code super-messy by now? (a hint towards that could be all the vulnerabilities found for it every week). Open sourcing it would have to dramatically improve the code quality and in a relatively short period of time (2 years max), otherwise browser vendors would never go along with it (nor should they).

Sounds like a daunting task, especially if no big organization/leader takes up the task of cleaning it up, the way OpenBSD did with LibreSSL.

You don't necessarily need to fix all the bugs. It just needs to be sandboxed properly. In the extreme case you could compile it to web assembly and run it inside the browsers existing wasm sandbox.

I think all the comments are missing the point. This is about preserving our digital history. A huge amount of content exists only in flash. It would be sad to see it all disappear. It's even being used in important AI research, with openAI making a ton of old flash games available for training AIs. I have fond memories of many simple flash games I used to play on the school computers. I still have a bunch of .swf files I saved that won't open anymore.

How come they won't open?

I have no idea. Whenever I try to open the file, firefox and chrome just download it. It used to work fine.

(Also even back in the day some flash games had built in DRM that required contacting an external server to run. And I have no idea how to fix that.)

Maybe your .swfs need to be embedded in an HTML page to work? If they use external assets referenced by relative URLs the path is relative to the embedding HTML page (this used to cause some confusion).

If you really want to get them working you can try:

- Opening them in the debug player, maybe you'll see a trace that gives you a clue.

- Decompiling (with the right software this is often quite successful... 'Sothink' used to be pretty good) , opening in the Flash authoring environment and re-exporting.

- Trying older versions of Flash Player (Adobe still provides them for download)

If you like your flash plugins, don't delete them.

> otherwise browser vendors would never go along with it

Huh? Who said anything about browser vendors? This is about preserving history, not preserving features in web browsers. Browser vendors can and should continue to remove support for Flash regardless of whether it's open sourced or not.

Flash doesn't have to be shipped with browsers. You could always install it manually.

It would be good to have it as the reference player, for archivist purposes and to help the already existing open efforts achieve higher compatibility. This doesn't mean it has to ever be run as a browser plugin or outside of a sandbox (such as a VM, an emulator or a bsd jail).

it'd be so embarrassing that it'll never happen

I had access to the FlashLite source code a while back, and it was a total disaster. I can't imagine how bad the mainline code is.

No matter how bad source code is it's will still make it much easier for other implementations to get better compatibility.

Plenty of people in game development used Scaleform and it's have much better compatibility than any open source Flash reimplementation while it's codebase is solid.

How about just open sourcing pepper flash to start with? That has fewer security issues, if I understand it correctly.

It probably still would not be enabled by default.

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