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Disable Flash support by default in Firefox 69 (bugzilla.mozilla.org)
83 points by doener 32 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 58 comments

Flash is already disabled by default, by virtue of not being installed by default. It is also disabled by default, by virtue of being click to play by default.

What this actually means, per the roadmap [0], is "stop telling users what they need to do to make the website work".

[0] https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Plugins/Roadmap

I wonder what's going to happen to all the incredible Flash media, especially games, produced over the years. I hope someone's archiving them, because I'd hate for us to lose them.

This should be a solemn reminder about proprietary (especially binary) file formats. They serve a purpose but are an awful way to archive things of value.

I truly hope that we have learned our lesson from Flash and choose formats like SVG (human readable and an open standard) from now on for things like animations and games.

> I truly hope that we have learned our lesson from Flash and choose formats like SVG (human readable and an open standard) from now on for things like animations and games.

At least with a flash game, you can often just download the .swf file and run it however you like.

With HTML-based stuff, you're often reliant on a server being up. Authoring tools are also just not what they were with flash - the sheer number of quality vector-based games and animations has dropped like a rock. I'm not sure if this is something Adobe will resolve eventually, but at the moment it's just kinda sad.

Don't forget rendering engines. Even if you download everything you need, there's a chance the game will look weird (or won't work at all) because the developers only tried one browser.

For all its faults, whether a Flash game worked or not came down to "did you install the plugin?".

Not true. Browsers work with file addresses on your system. You can download an HTML file and all its JS and CSS and if navigate to the path of the HTML on the disk, the website would just behave as if it were served by a static server.

While true for simple things, this is one of those things that’s highly variable depending upon how you built your app. If all your JS is included via script tags and all your image assets are referenced directly, sure, probably.

When anything is dynamically generated things get iffy, though. It’s one of the big problems both Google and services like the Wayback Machine and Pinboard have had with searching and preserving content.

Of course gaming as a whole has also evolved, so it’s less likely you’d ever get a purely single player game in the first place, and who knows if the game will even load in 10 years if it can’t connect to the server to see if you’re registered or not.

> Browsers work with file addresses on your system.

Not for AJAX requests they don't!

If that were the case, 'The Web' wouldn't be pushed like it is right now. 'The Web' is a way to take control from users and put it into the hand of the ones that control the servers. People work on fully fledged binary programs compiled to 'The Web' that your computer just executes while the other half happens on the server. That's as proprietary and inaccessible as it gets.

It's a great reminder that Flash at the time was way beyond any other technology for the designers and animators who were the primary users of it.

And the fact is that most of the open technologies take years in order to become as full-featured as the closed-source ones. By that time the trend that artists were following is out of fashion.

By the way - if we think about it. Are there yet any actual tools that allow you to program SVGs as easily as you could once program Flash? I understand it's technically possible to compile from Flash sources to SVG, but are there actual tools yet?

> any actual tools that allow you to program SVGs

There's Synfig Studio that's open source and supports SVG export: https://www.synfig.org/

Even if you use open formats, if it's a web app it's not unlikely that it has a server side dependency. For single user flash apps it's uncommon not to be self-contained. So actually it's a requirement as well that the source code and the assets are open.

I used to do some Flash Game Developmemt. My gut tells me that most games had game assets that are self contained. It's a lot easier to author an SWF that way (from my own experience).

It's a reminder that browsers are such huge beasts that no one can viable fork them when they feel the browsers are regressing.

Then use a succession of non-viable forks that are re-based periodically from the main but with most of the crap choices removed.

This. Works in proprietary formats will be lost to time after supporting vendors lose in the marketplace.

At best, there will be crippled, lossy exports -- lossy because vendors chasing lock-in and network effects don't want to make it easy for customers to leave.

I've cited the demise of Opcode and Studio Vision in the past when making this argument, but that's niche. The Death of Flash brings down the point with greater weight.

There was a time when the web was not able to handle SVG and Flash was the only option for rich interactive websites.

They'll still be downloadable and playable in a standalone player.

Also it would technically be possible for someone to write a WebAssembly flash player. Although I don't know if anyone will feel particularly motivated to.

It's always been possible to have free flash players. Gnash is one example. But they've never been feature complete or particularly fast. Maybe if Adobe opened their player things would improve.

The advantage now that flash is no longer being developed is that a player could concentrate on supporting the features used by the most popular content. Like dosbox it might not perfectly replicate the environment (at least to start with) but it could run the games everybody wants.

Adobe formats are notorious for bloat and scope creep. Implementing a conformant PDF reader would require you to implement a full 3D engine.

And implement Flash.

But that's hardly unique to Adobe. Any document format that allows (arbitrary) other things to be embedded is subject to that. A Word document with other things embedded in it is no different. (Just like correctly rendering or editing an OpenDocument file would require you to implement half of SVG and MathML – while they're open specifications it doesn't necessarily mean you have an implementation at hand you can use.)

People are already working on it. You can check it out here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17629173

Case in point: I tried to run the orisinal games, like Winterbells, for my daughter and found that they no longer work on Firefox. I was heartbroken - some of these flash games are art and should be archived.

You can just download Chrome, it has Flash built-in. Until they kill it in Chrome as well, of course.

Flashpoint[1] claims to have archived over 10,000 games for Flash and other web plugins.

[1] http://bluemaxima.org/flashpoint/

Maybe someone could create a WASM implementation of Flash? I wonder if we could convince Adobe to open source Flash player after they finally kill it for good.

At one point Mozilla was working on a flash reimplementation - http://mozilla.github.io/shumway/ - not sure of the current status but it's a good place to start looking.

I'm pretty sure shumway is dead judging from bugzilla and lack of activity in that repo


> I hope someone's archiving them

Why not do it yourself? Archive your favorite games. Datahoarding is a fun hobby that can help others.

there are a lot of tools that will convert flash to html5, although I don't know if any of them support dealing with user input.

Per https://wiki.mozilla.org/Release_Management/Calendar, the projected release date for Firefox 69 (stable) is 2019-09-03.

They've warned about this for a while now, good to see it going through.

I just finished uninstalling flash on all my computers and it feels great, not as great as uninstalling java though years ago. There's finally no sites that require it. I can thank the mobile first trend for this.


--Steve Jobs, "Thoughts on Flash," 2010

Took 9 years for it to get chucked out of the PC space.

The annoying thing is that with the rise of the open web, fingerprinting has become significantly easier.

Private browsing or a VPN doesn't make you anonymous because your web browser is fingerprint-able because of the peculiarities of the hardware its running on.

That not to mention things like Google Chrome for Android that puts your phone model and software build number in the user agent. That puts you in a very small population especially with carrier customised software versions.

Combine that with even the basics of fingerprinting, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canvas_fingerprinting) then you are known.

You can disable or cripple fingerprinting by disabling or faking the data you send.

Tails even warns you about resizing the Tor Browser window because the size of the window could fingerprint you.

The difficulty of avoiding fingerprinting multiplies exponentially depending upon how paranoid you are (or need to be). Keeping Google from knowing (passively) who you are is one level. Keeping the oppressive governmental regime you’re exposing the corruption of that has a dedicated secret police force actively attempting to track you by name is completely a different one.

"First, there’s “Open”.

Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc."

oh the irony on this :D

How's it ironic? Nobody claims any of Apple's stuff is "open".

Not to mention the next paragraph in that article directly says "Apple has many proprietary products too". Not one bit of irony there if you read the entire letter.

Until it's easy to recreate a Strong Bad E-Mail in HTML5, Easter eggs and all, Flash doesn't deserve to die.

Ask NH: How do you watch Homestar Runner in 2019?

Will this force HBO to switch from Flash now? That'd be nice because HBO is the only service I actively use that still requires Flash and it hurts me every time I have to give it permission to run.

Jeez. I'd been thinking about switching to Firefox now that Chrome is making me re-enable Flash every time I visit a website, but guess there's no point.

Why do you want Flash? Unless you're using a very outdated proprietary piece of software that can't be updated there's no reason for it.

I'm visiting sites that use it, many of which aren't updated (for flash games in particular the original creator may not even be around).

Firefox should still be better for your use case here. They're just changing the behavior for people who don't have Flash enabled.

Seeing this feels a bit like when the end of production of floppy disks by Sony was announced in 2010.

"Oh but they were still being produced?"

But... but... zombo.com


Another reason for people to switch to Chrome

Adobe themselves have abandoned Flash. They announced the end of life for Flash quite some time ago:


All browsers will block Flash soon enough. It has no future.

It’s being steadily phased out in Chrome, too, to be completely removed by the end of 2020. https://www.blog.google/products/chrome/saying-goodbye-flash...

Another reason for people to switch to _Firefox_. FTFY

I've had Flash disabled for 1.5 years already and it's really not been a problem. This is a good move by Mozilla.

Chrome is on the same tracks as Firefox.

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