Adobe Sends Flash To Retirement Home; Shifts Focus To HTML5

FlashHTML5

Adobe announced at the start of this week the formal, albeit slow demise of its much loved and hated multimedia tool Flash.

The company is shifting heavily to HTML5, and winding down Flash as a product. When Adobe releases its Creative Cloud update next month, Flash Professional will change its handle to Adobe Animate CC.

However, Adobe Animate CC will still be capable of producing SWF files and will support Adobe’s stand-alone AIR runtime. The Adobe Flash Player that MANY digital signage platforms used for many years – despite its CPU hogging, memory leaks and vulnerabilities – will be supported by Adobe for at least another five years.

So Flash is not dead, but has been moved out of the main house and is now watching The Price Is Right at a retirement home. Its survival or death will owe mostly to the motion graphics and interactive developer communities. If there is a viable market, still, for Flash, Adobe will serve it. If HTML5 gets feature and capability parity with Flash as we now know it, it probably goes away. Right now, HTML5 is solid at video and does motion graphics, but Flash is still where it is at for gaming and premium video delivery.

Adobe has been making this transition for some time, and already has numerous HTML5 tools.

In the context of digital signage, HTML5 is generally thought to serve most needs, and allows media playback on things running on mobile processors and the so-called smart display panels.

Here’s what Adobe says:

Today, open standards like HTML5 have matured and provide many of the capabilities that Flash ushered in. Our customers have clearly communicated that they would like our creative applications to evolve to support multiple standards and we are committed to doing that.

So today we are announcing Animate CC, previously Flash Professional CC, which will be Adobe’s premier web animation tool for developing HTML5 content while continuing to support the creation of Flash content. Adobe Animate CC will be available in early 2016. In addition, Adobe will release an HTML5 video player for desktop browsers, which will complement Adobe’s support for HTML5 on mobile.

While standards like HTML5 will be the web platform of the future across all devices, Flash continues to be used in key categories like web gaming and premium video, where new standards have yet to fully mature. Moving forward, Adobe is committed to working with industry partners, as we have with Microsoft and Google, to help ensure the ongoing compatibility and security of Flash content. 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. As part of this cooperation, Facebook will report security information that helps Adobe improve the Flash Player.

Looking ahead, we encourage content creators to build with new web standards and will continue to focus on providing the best tools and services for designers and developers to create amazing content for the web.

My take: I doubt very many, if any, developer teams working on signage platforms would read this and think, “Oh No!” This has been an evolution and there’s nothing sudden about it. I still see products and experiences being developed that use Flash, but nothing like a few years ago. The drive to lower hardware costs in this industry has pushed developed to hardware that doesn’t and couldn’t run Flash.

Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes

Editor/Founder at Sixteen:Nine
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than a decade. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He's based near Toronto.
Dave Haynes

@sixteennine

Decade-old blog about digital signage and related tech, written by industry consultant and shit-disturber Dave Haynes.
Projects: Amazing Motion-Sensing LED Lobby In DC https://t.co/pp36BmbNIZ https://t.co/XTHGoHnZl7 - 22 hours ago
Dave Haynes

5 Comments

  • You know its really too bad. Flash was perfect for digital signage. Without it everyone has been repeatedly reinventing the wheel by making their own software in HTML5 or whatever language that does what Flash does. HTML5 is great for the web where there are so many different devices. But for digital signage where you control the whole stack, from the processor, OS all the way up to the exact screen pixel count, the kind of key-frame animation Flash offered gave you so much more control with so much less effort. Fortunately, the new Animate CC allows you to do allot of the same things using the HTML5 canvas.

  • @Jennie – Again you are bang on. It’s trendy to beat up on flash but you seem to be in the know. For digital signage, all the flash complaints are invalid: CPU Hogging: It’s your content, you have the fla, code it better. Security: What are you going to do, infect your own players with a malware .swf? The distribution channel is closed. Memory leaks: Again – it’s a programming language, just do some QA and fix your bugs. These tired old complaints only apply to the web where you don’t control the flash content. In signage, it was the closest thing to a universal dynamic content runtime there was. Now with HTML5, as I’m sure you know, each browser has varying levels of support, creating new issues that were never a problem with flash. The real problems with flash are the ones that are never discussed: NPAPI/PPAPI windowed vs windowless modes and OS constraints on how windows are drawn. BTW dave, flash runs fine on Android/ARM. We still support it. Modern SOC’s like RK3288 will deliver desktop-like performance for flash. Adobe stopped supporting but various chinese firms like RockChip are keeping flash alive by patching lollipop and now even marshmallow because it is still better than HTML5 for many things and there are still real use cases on android that are dependent on it.

    • Dave Haynes says:

      Thanks for comments. You both know waaaaay more than I about the technical side. BUT … Bryan, you at least used to say Flash leaked memory like a firehose. ;-]

    • @Dave – Yeah, that was around the time Flash changed how bitmap objects were garbage collected (and memory freed). The thing with flash is: It’s a programming language. So you can leak memory – gobble CPU uselessly, whatever. Some content was terrible – other content like the grand visual stuff was (and is) simply great.

  • Pascal Opara says:

    Really interested in the growth of digital signage networks for advertising in clubs, malls and hotels. Looking for info on bandwidth cost implications for these types of deployments. Pascal in Lagos.

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