The company Adobe made the announcement everyone was expecting in July in a lengthy blog post: the Flash Player will be completely discontinued by December 2020. This is the final blow for an outdated, vulnerable and bulky technology which had its heydays in the early 2000s. Animation effects and user interactions have changed the way people use websites and web applications. They made the World Wide Web a more exciting place, but they also fell prey to malicious exploitations.
But, Really, Why Must Flash Go Away?
The simple answer to this question is that Flash technology is outdated and now has modern, open source alternatives. But for Flash aficionados, a longer and more detailed answer is necessary.
If your website contains Flash elements, it has been a target for viruses, malware and other malicious software for years. Flash files are easy to exploit and hack into. A hacker can insert their own piece of code into Flash files on your website, infecting the computers and smartphones of people who browse it. What actually happens is that the leads you try so hard to attract to your website will realise that the website has infected their devices and caused them data loss.
Are you prepared to risk the damage to your reputation for the sake of the Flash animations on your website?
What Is the Position of Major Browser Developers on This Issue?
To be honest, if your website contains Flash elements, it has been already subject to restrictions by major browsers by default for more than a year. Apple enforced the exclusion of Flash since 2010 – neither its browser Safari, nor its key products: Mac computers, iPad tablets and iPhone smartphones, have Flash software pre-installed.
Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox have already disabled Flash by default, requiring users to manually allow access. Microsoft Explorer and Edge browsers followed suit with the same decision.
So, What Does the Killing off of Flash Mean for Your Website?
If your website still has Flash elements, you should reconsider replacing them with open source HTML5 technology, which offers the same level of interaction and the same complex animations as Flash. This can be done by any web developer and your website will not notice any difference.
However, if your website is built mainly in Flash, you will need a complete redesign. To understand how much time you actually have available for this, here is the timeline for the phasing out of Flash support by the main browsers:
- 2nd half of 2018 – users need to manually enable Flash on each session
- Beginning of 2019 – a warning will be displayed on the screen for websites using Flash
- 2019 – Flash is disabled by default without possibility of manual activation; it may be activated for certain websites on user prompt
- 2020 – Flash support is discontinued, but Firefox ESR will continue to offer Flash support until the end of 2020
- 2021 – Flash elements will no longer play on the Mozilla Firefox browser.
Microsoft Explorer and Edge:
- 2018 – Edge will require manual enabling of Flash for each session; Explorer will continue to play Flash
- 2019 – Flash is disabled by default on both browsers and users must allow it to play manually
- 2020 – Flash is systematically removed from Explorer and Edge, and by the end of the year it will no longer run.
While Google Chrome did not publish a detailed timeline, it can be expected to be similar to the two above.
Last, but not least, Facebook™ has started sending out notifications to game and app developers to replace Flash technology with other modern technologies by the deadline set by Adobe.
Therefore, you should consider parting ways with any Flash elements included in your website soon enough and keep it sleek, up to date and safe for your visitors.