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July 14th, 2015

The Call To Kill Adobe’s Flash In Favor Of HTML5 Is Rising

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The technology industry finally agrees on one thing: Flash must die.

The fever pitch to bring the death of Adobe Flash is accelerating.

Following the high profile breach of the surveillance company Hacking Team, critical zero day bugs were discovered in Flash that allowed attackers to take over user’s machines to steal information or hold them for ransom.

In response to these critical bugs, Mozilla went to rather extraordinary efforts to block the Flash plugin from its Firefox browser. Adobe quickly released a patch (Flash version 18.0.0.209) and Mozilla’s blocklist page shows that the issue has been resolved.

After the Hacker Team Flash vulnerabilities became public over the weekend, Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos called for the end of Flash once and for all.

Outside of the Firefox patch, Adobe has been relatively silent on the most recent maladies of Flash. Adobe has not announced an end-of-life cycle for Flash nor given any indication that it plans on doing so.

See also: The Era Of The Video Plugin On The Web Is Over

Flash has long been the dominant video and rich media plugin for the Web, to the chagrin of technologists and users alike. For users, Flash requires constant updates and does not work with most mobile browsers. On iPhones or iPads, it has never been supported as Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs famously lambasted Flash for its lack of battery efficiency and security shortly before his death. Google would follow by ending support for Flash on Android in December 2011.

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For its part, Microsoft has realized that the era of the video plugin for the Web is basically over. Microsoft has announced the end-of-life cycle for its Silverlight video plugin and has stated that it will not support Silverlight in the forthcoming Edge browser for Windows 10.

Security researcher Graham Cluley elaborates on what he believes Adobe should do with Flash:

If Adobe Flash is ever going to be kicked to the kerb (as it seems it should be) then a date clearly needs to be declared to drive the push to a Flash-free world. It’s not just important for browsers, of course, but also for companies whose websites and in-house applications might rely heavily on the technology.

The problem is that perhaps Adobe doesn’t feel happy acknowledging that securing Flash is beyond them, and so is unwilling to drop the product. The truth is that the company would probably gain a lot more respect from the internet community if it worked towards this ultimate fix for the Flash problem, rather than clinging on to the belief that it might be able to one day make Flash secure.

Bring Forth The Era Of HTML5 Video

One of the reasons the video plugins like Flash and Silverlight are no longer needed on the Web is due to the rise of HTML5 video standards. Microsoft Edge will take advantage of HTML5 video tools including DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP) from MPEG. Google has adopted a variety of HTML5 video standards for its Chrome browser such as V8 and V9 variants of WebM. Apple supports H.264 while Mozilla has long tried to push Theora as the standard HTML5 video standard on the Web.

The reason for the push by browser makers to adopt HTML5 and Web standards for video is because the various stacks offer much more flexibility and support than proprietary systems owned by the likes of Adobe, Microsoft and Apple (with Quicktime).

The major technology companies do not often agree with each other when it comes to technology standards and the direction of the industry. The quibbling over various versions of HTML5 video standards is distinct proof of that. But the one thing they can all agree on is that Flash must finally die so that HTML5 may rise.

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  • GasPoweredCat

    Kill it with fire!!!

  • Oussama Gammoudi

    “Flash must finally die so that HTML5 may rise” LOL, that’s funny, why won’t HTML5 just rise by itself by providing a better alternative !!!

    • Destitude

      Because companies don’t want to have to re-write portions of their website for something that “just works” using Flash.

      • Stenio

        Following your logic, all those problems are not Adobe’s problem, but Developer’s because they don’t change to HTML5.

        • Michael Margetish

          It’s hard not to blame developers when they want to continue using an unsecure plugin to deliver “content”.

      • generationpolitics

        hahaha blaming developers? Wow!
        HTML5 isn’t supported on older browsers. We still have a government thats runs on Windows XP. Majority of people that say kill flash don’t have a clue what development is.

        Flash will not go away anytime soon regardless of how many bugs or flaws come with it.

        Don’t give advice, since you can’t even figure out who to blame.

        • DanRowinski

          So, you would say that the Chief Security Officer at Facebook doesn’t have a clue what development is? Or longtime security pro Graham Cluley? Or, you know, Steve Jobs? Because those are the people that have said such things.

  • cianclarke
    • DanRowinski

      Right? I mostly thought that this was a dead topic these days. But apparently not.

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  • Tim

    I just want something that works well on all my devices and platforms and Flash is not it. HTML5 though just may be.

  • Daniel Augustin

    🙂 is this some silly dispute for nerds ? Flash was one of the best multimedia platforms for more than decade and will be shame to fall because of it is not IN like beards of hipsters… Now someone want to droll the whole complex producion process and quality platform to partial jobs just simply make more money ? I have a questions… I am designer who dayly deal with this html/flash shit and I want to know how efficient in the real business is this example?

    Task – we need a jumping ball with all effects blur, glow, shadow, transparent, gradient tidy cute little ball to introdce some shit… oh and on the splash screen. We don`t have budget… and need to be done “mockup” today asap and as small as possible (ok this is not heavy graphics but still vector antialised etc..)

    OK fair enough…

    Now still this days is possible to do it at least mockup in 10 minutes in the flash… and one single file to send… test post done.

    Nerd vesion: I will create in let say illustrator ball… vector ball. Now what ? I have to go to “some” tools to try to “animate” and apply some half functional pseudo effects and pass it to developer who don`t have time… obviously…

    Than wait. and wait. Oh OK he scripted some wobbly animation not good enough… back to me to “discuss” and spend hours to explain because developers aesthetics usually creative imagination is below zero… and spend almost whole day by scripting that shit. hmm my estimation 4 – 6 hours

    Now my question is… Maybe I am not educated and to be honest lazy designer to copy paste what was done before from smashing magazine because that is not art or creativity at all. But is this simply more expansive ? Production slow like huge brown product of your bottom after big steak? You need for one job minimum 2 or 3 people… one is obviously parazite manager to transfer and supervise comunication and “workflow”…

    Finally instead of having simple one file … you have a mess of folders scripts and pain looking list of files silly impossible to place as a splash screen if your cms is not so “cool” and “complex” or what ever to integrate that easy simple fast ?

    Now I want to be free designer not to learn another overload of html scripting because Mr Nerd have problem with that ? I want to create including effects simply fast and possible more less in the flash environment. And in vectors…

    For me is this article like complain about the cracked egg. Why is the egg not square ??? So it will not fall down from the table ? Let`s do it square! It`s cool for me as developer it fits to my logic… apart of the fact that everybody want nice sexy rounded egg. = every manager will not criticise the behavior – developers part… but how it looks like because they don`t understand. Even cleaning woman is in that position she likes green/red But for poor developers… It is simply bad. Silly lobby like amazing marketing of Apple.

    Html was meant to be an interactive newspaper not multimedia graphic content at all. It is like paint the brown product by gold of silly opinions of “developer” …

    Peace V

    • thinsoldier

      Mozilla was working on a flash to html converter that would handle simple examples like the one you describe. I don’t know how far they got.

      http://mozilla.github.io/shumway/

      https://developers.google.com/swiffy/

      They could probably do it perfectly with assistance from Adobe but I’ll bet Adobe would rather make a proprietary product that does the same thing.

      Recent versions of Flash have had HTML5 canvas export powered by CreateJS for some time now.

      http://www.createjs.com/

      The thing about being super busy is you never have the time to stay up-to-date on new tools that can help you to be less busy.

      http://blog.gskinner.com/archives/2015/04/introduction-to-the-flash-cc-html5-canvas-document.html

    • thinsoldier

      And the benefit of that mess of files is that each file can be properly cached by the browser resulting in faster page load times. And in some cases updating an asset in your animation requires replace one of those jpg files without the need to open flash and re-export everything.

      • Daniel Augustin

        Well.. in this case you are talking about two things.. One is about the process time to show in the browser what I can say depends on the material you load in. I am talking about vectors indefinitely scalable not shitty jpegs. Pixellation atc.. have you red my note ? I am complaigning about VECTORS. geometry not pixels… but maths.. And that is seriously trouble to newspaper html stuff in terms of performance… And sacond sorry buddy but no. Pre cache is one thing… second is the fact about the integration for complex systems… I was doing canvas export I was trying to understand compilation to html whatever but the fact is that you as a developer or who ever you are can tweak it but is this necessary ??? seriously.. why ? I want one universal platform and not ripped of by limitations of code (means not to be involved if is not necessary for design procedure) really the tools I have in this days are not sufficient. They are simply not. Do I have to wait another 10 years to wait ?

        • Jennifer Inman

          You don’t use canvas for vector graphics. The svg tag gives you vector support in html5… as well as animations, transitions, etc. Also fully style-able through css, and able to be manipulated through javascript.

    • thinsoldier

      And Adobe “could” easily dedicate 50 developers and 100 million dollars towards the goal of removing all security vulnerabilties from Flash. That would solve the problem they have on desktop computers once and for all. But it would not solve the problem of power consumption on mobile devices.

      Adobe has chosen instead to focus on building the next generation of tools for designers. Tools that can export to HTML5.

      The #1 reason for building a new genration of tools instead of spending 100 million dollars fixing security problems in flash is that the browser developers at Microsoft, Apple, Google and Mozilla will now take on 100% of the security responsibilities. Adobe will have zero security responsibilities. Adobe won’t have to pay their developers overtime to fix zero day vulnerabilities anymore. They won’t have to pay for bandwidth to serve millions of flash update installers every few weeks anymore.

      • cdub

        It has been shipped of to India. They are focused on other tools.

      • Daniel Augustin

        OK fair enough.. vulnerability etc.. however… I am talking about reality and aplication. trying to defend two things. One is the fact of production time efficiency money second is application. I don`t give a shit about develpment I want to create! Without boundaries… I do see your point seriously I do about development in terms of programming but focus is just one way. Not for people they sell developers work.. This is reality! You can do things amazingly good but if it looks like a shit nobody will buy it. And quick response is just about designers to tweak and show. And this is for me simply ripping off amazing tool just because it doesnt fit in to the “logical” description in this days. Seriously I agree with the “potential” etc.. but why I have to think about scripts ? About programming ? About something that is possible to do in one person instead of two ? Are you good designer to say I don`t give a shit ? In reality you are amazing programmer but designers work is going to be “in terms of marketing” degraded to second violin… why ? The third thing is the fact that Adobe needs to be pressed to find solution with the brains they are hiring. For sure. But believe me I was programmer as well and choosed harder way to be designer. You can smile but as I said at the beginning reality is like that. And video with Steve 🙂 sorry but if you have billion bullets one time you will hit the bulls eye.. seriously but be smart and hit that fu in red eye with 10 shots !!! That is art of genius. Simply for me amazing marketing. Apple… no comment.

        • Jim Henton

          As an individual that does not create with Flash and just “uses” it to be able to see a page that has Flash content my view is different than yours. I hate flash and cannot wait until it is in the trash and never seen again. It hogs massive amounts of memory, constantly crashes, requires a seemingly endless number of ‘updates’ that makes me feel like I am on a hamster wheel, and a seemingly unwillingness as a company (adobe) to ever address/fix any of these issues.

          • Michael Margetish

            Right, from a user standpoint, Flash is a huge security hole that a lot of users, simply refuse to accept anymore… oh your site needs flash? aww too bad for you, I’ll simply find a better site that gives a crap about sercurity.

        • thinsoldier

          I’m not sure what you are saying. And I don’t see why you are so upset.

          You will continue to be able to create things in flash. You will have the option to export them as videos or as a collection of HTML5 files. You will either learn the benefit of having individual, plain text, browser-cache-able files OR you will hand your export over to a developer who does.

          Most likely you will still be better off by handing your export over to a developer who can re-implement your “flash design” with code that is much more efficient on mobile devices, must faster to download in general, AND enhance it with super-fancy webGL effects that are not available to you in flash.

          You must realize we are moving to a world where Flash is like Photoshop. The designer “designs ” something in one, and then a developer uses that as a visual guide to create something that “actually works best” in multiple browsers on multiple devices.

          You say you want to “create without boundaries” and you speak of “reality and application”. The reality is that there is no flash runtime on mobile devices and there never will be…. UNLESS there are huge advancements in mobile processor efficiency and battery power storage. OR Adobe devotes resources to rebuilding Flash from the ground up with a focus on efficiency. Probably both things would need to happen. Those are real boundaries, that is reality.

    • DanRowinski

      Thank you for the detailed question and thank you to Thinsoldier below with a good response to the issue.

    • thinsoldier

      Also recall that iOS and Android devices have a lot of high quality advertising that is animated and interactive.

      Are those ads created with flash? No. Of course not. Flash doesn’t run on mobile devices.

      https://developer.apple.com/iad/iad-producer/

      http://advertising.apple.com/ad-showcase/

      http://www.google.com/webdesigner/

      • Ники Банков

        Comment moderated due to language– read about adobe air on android and ios.

        • We will be civil to each other here, thank you.

        • thinsoldier

          Give me a link to exactly what you think I need to read.

    • thinsoldier
    • Michael Margetish
  • Mike

    Kill Flash. KILL IT DEAD, KILL IT TRIPLE DEAD. Drive a stake through its miserable evil heart so that it is never again able to waste my time requiring endless useless daily updates. I have been looking forward to that day for many years now – may the final nail finally be put in its coffin so that we its captive users may no longer be in misery.

  • Luke

    I feel Flash developers have been let down by Adobe. Flash itself when used properly (i.e. to build an application rather than a website or sparkly thing) is excellent. We’ve had to move across to HTML5 and it’s a shame as it’s a shed load more work to get the same functionality and compatibility across platforms and devices.
    If it’s genuinely dangerous to use then inevitably it has to go but if it can be ‘fixed’ then there is a place for it. Why do you have to be a dog or a cat person. It is possible to love both and if you don’t, don’t feel everyone needs to hear about it.
    As for the security officer of Facebook. Why should I value his opinion exactly? How much personal data do they mine? Providing a technology is secure its value can be gauged by many factors.

    • thinsoldier

      Adobe thought to themselves “why should we spend money fixing flash and being responsible for its security when we could just help the browser companies to evolve html5 to where it needs to be and then they will have all the security responsibilities and we will have none, and we can fire half the security related programmers and make a fortune creating the next generation of design software built from the ground up for html5”

  • Phil Haynes

    Is HTML5 something you download? How do you get it? How do you access it to run video?

    • Yuri da Silva
      • DanRowinski

        Thank you Yuri.

      • Phil Haynes

        Thanks, Yuri. I had already read that. I’m just not nerdy enough to understand it.

        • Robin

          HTML is just a way of writing a text file so that a browser can read it and know what images to load and where to put them.

          HTML5 is just a newer agreed upon way of writing this text file, mostly the same but with a few new special words for things like videos and drawing surfaces.

          HTML5 is not what a game is written in, but it allows you to write a game in javascript and get a browser to display it on a drawing surface that was defined by the HTML.

          You don’t download HTML5, but you do have to download a modern browser to have access to its features.

          • Phil Haynes

            Thank you, Robin. I have all three browsers — Firefox, Chrome, IE. I think they’re all up to date. It looks like I don’t have to do anything to benefit from HTML5. It just performs for me because of what’s happening with the Internet that’s beyond my reach anyway.

  • cdub

    Notice how most people that jump on this bandwagon know nothing about HTML5 and its potential security risks. Of course something with the penetration Flash has is going to get hacked. DUH. Nobody would even expect what they do out of the web if Flash had not brought video and interactions to the web. HTML5 is not some godsend. It does totally make sense that the native language of the browser would evolve and should evolve and require less plugins.

  • dallasthemaster

    Flash still has many benefits. You can embed just one file, without having to worry about iframes or anything like that, and you can compile the code so that someone can’t just steal it by copy-pasting. Flash has also always been faster than HTML5 for me. (at least video playing) I am not saying HTML5 is not good, or that flash is better than it, I am just saying that flash will not just ‘die’. Flash has benefits over HTML5, and HTML5 has benefits over flash. They both have uses, and advantages over each other. It is up to the individual to decide whether they want to use HTML5 or flash. This is just like those people who go on about desktops being obsolete because of laptops. >.>

    • Michael Margetish

      I refuse to install that buggy flash plugin on any of my browsers… If a site needs flash I simply move on… as should you.

  • Mick

    Ok, give me a tool-set that is as complete and portable as Flash and I’ll start using that.
    These arguments flare up all the time then conclude with “We must make the switch to HTML5, and NOW” but so far nothing has really come along that rivals Flash in utility.
    There are tools out there that produce *some* of the functionality but they have a long way before becoming the defacto.

    • thinsoldier

      But flash isn’t portable enough for portable devices….

  • Robert Fletcher

    It’s interesting to me that people are so interested in killing off Flash. When it comes to advances in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, one of the things you hear over and over is that “we can’t break the web”. The planning committees are always worried about how to integrate new features without breaking existing ones so that existing websites out there will continue to function as expected. But there are still huge portions of the web that use Flash as well, and killing it off will have the effect of “breaking the web” in many places. I’ve never programmed in it myself, nor am I particularly interested in it as a technology, but it seems to me like there needs to be some strategy for continuing to support Flash sites and applications indefinitely.

  • Pablo Etchebest

    Adobe Flash is an awesome tool for graphic designers, even for making games. Yesterday i could animate with keyframes and tweens, shapes, vectors, color pallettes, bones, clips, etc, Today i have to put everything in variables, functions, frameworks, libraries, i have to study programming from scratch, it is good to use logic thinking but for visual designers sometimes it is boring. I hope they come up with a tool like Flash in the future but for now it looks like we re mining rocks.

    • thinsoldier

      No. You can export to html5 from flash. There are other products (some from Adobe themselves) that are aiming to be the next “flash” in terms of ease of use for creation but with a focus on outputting html5.

    • Daniel Augustin

      Exactly… I did a few comments earlier and I was almost dumped under ground… I would appreciate to highlight jobs descriptions of guys what are commenting here to compare how many developers/designers are defending each technology just for fun. Or let say to make a bit more objective personal opinion. For me as professional visual designer is absolutely crucial extreme flexibility and efficiency in outputs and animation mockups simply playing with multimedia content straight etc… in the html5 I am simply bond to programming wasting time energy and in reality of real production I am deadly sure that the html5 visual processing is 4times longer even much much more and struggling like hell.
      In my opinion I prefer gold path between flash and html5 just because flash is seriously far more advanced and focused from the ground for multimedia content … html in the past was simply meant to be used as a interactive texts and static images like virtual newspapers on internet and now they are blaming flash and trying to paint with gold something what purpose was totally different direction. Oh and not to mention totally unsecure scripts. Best example is in betting industry… every “IN” developer is hailing html5 but all major companies are running compiled things to avoid any scripting tweaks etc.. so what is more safe and what is more vulnerable ?

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  • Tom Grant

    when will browsers support video capture?

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  • Julian Coates

    Can I just get this clear in my head. I use Flash every day, along with other tools like gsap, to make interactive thingys for web pages. I do not publish from Flash as swf (any more), I publish from Flash to html5 canvas. So when people say Flash is dead, are they not being somewhat innacurate – is it not just swf that is becoming obsolete? Please somebody tell me if I have got this wrong!

  • Gaetan

    “.. due to the rise of HTML5 video standards.”

    Apparently it hasn’t “risen” enough yet, unfortunately.
    At that time there is still so many browser inconsistencies around HTML5 videos and it takes tremendous efforts if you want to build a video based solution that works just perfectly. I just realized that while working on my own HTML5 video player. Sometimes the video just stops playing because of buffering but no events is fired, waiting event is not fired everytimes when it should be, improper buffered TimeRanges values on Firefox ubuntu, playing event is sometimes fired before the video is actually playing etc. And these weird behaviors differ from browser to browser and OSs to OSs. They want to “kill” flash? Great! But at least provide a consistent alternative, and not something that you have to spend time hacking around to make it work well.

  • ICUR2YS4ME

    Hey, let’s kill the Internet too, because you know, viruses are all over that thing too, in fact, there are a hell of a lot more viruses infiltrating the internet than infiltrating Flash right so let’s kill the internet? We are dealing with morons!

    • Michael Margetish

      Since ditching Flash I have yet to get a virus on any Windows 7 PC… coincidence?

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  • MetaliMan

    Isn’t this more of a human resources issue than a technical one? Everyone is saying that there’s no one at Adobe smart enough to figure it out. The CEO and COO of Adobe are shortchanging their investors and covering up incompetence at best, according to their job description, without regard to the product. We are all just collateral damage between egos…the CEO and COO of Adobe have failed and have that on their resume….they’re wasting time and money covering for their underlings. The paradox is that that is their job. Poor guys, I certainly would not want their position, their ego should be crushed and probably is, in private.

    Everything stems from the top and the buck ends somewhere….the top dogs don’t do ALL of the work themselves in any business bigger than one person. Personal failure is what they have to admit….their employees just aren’t smart enough. Stop dumping on Flash for technical details, Flash is not a living growing entity on it’s own in any world, and the head of a corporation is responsible for many reasons,,,,which stem to his or her employees.

    That’s not name calling. It’s separating office from production in reality. Every Adobe CEO should have tried firing every single employee, no matter the cost, as a gesture before continuing with Flash….instead of piddling around watching it die slowly to no one’s benefit. Now he appears to be heading to the unemployment line with a resume of hiring a lot of the wrong people and not firing the ones who aren’t bringing their skills to work with them, at best excuse.

    If you were head of Adobe, how would you feel if you couldn’t find anyone smart enough to fix it when the head of Apple calls it crap?

    • DanRowinski

      Of course, there is something to be said for the management of Flash. But it still comes down to the fact that Flash is again and again the attack vector for malware because of its technical implementation.

  • Arbiter Nemo

    First of all: Flash is not stopping HTML5 from ‘rising.’ Secondly; it if was, then that would imply that Flash is still superior and the most preferred.

    We all know HTML5 is going to succeed as a standard for multimedia on the web, but that doesn’t mean Flash–or any other developing medium for that matter–will die out. In fact, Flash may continue to be used by developers for another 20+ years, AT LEAST. Visual Basic 6 has survived this long, so what makes people think Flash won’t fare any better?

    .:: No more plugins ::.
    —————————–
    Are plugins really that much of an issue? I haven’t seen anyone complain about the Java plugin being a nuisance. Unity also has a web player that needs to be installed into the browser, but no one has an issue with that either. They aren’t even that big or take that long to install. Besides, doesn’t Chrome already come with Flash Player installed? Gee, thank goodness they went through all that trouble for us. Otherwise we’d be spending a good 30 seconds of our precious time doing it ourselves.

    .:: Bad Performance ::.
    —————————–
    Sure Flash has a performance issue by itself, but isn’t Flash being supported by the Starling Framework? And while I personally question why Adobe hasn’t included full GPU accelerated features into actionscript’s architecture, I’m sure they have their reasons.

    .:: Security ::.
    —————–
    Since when did the World Wide Web come to this stunning revelation that HTML5 was immune to security risks? Hackers, crackers, white hats, pink hats, whatever the heck you call these nerds, are eventually going find something in HTML5 to exploit. The very computer you are using right now (yes, even you, Mac users) is vulnerable. All it takes is for someone to give a damn.

    All-in-all, HTML5 is the new bigger and better, we can all accept that. But whether people like it or not, Flash will continue to be used by developers that refuse to let go of it. That’s just nature, so deal with it.

    • Michael Margetish

      As it stands right now, most malware on the internet can be blocked by not installing flash plugin and running an ad blocker, not to mention, flash doesn’t work on mobile devices etc etc… Unless that changes soon I can’t see how it can survive.

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  • Adobe Flash game is over now.Definitely it was the best technology but now there are much better solutions in the market.

  • Toby O’Brien

    I now have Windows 10 latest version and emailed Microsoft twice now to complain about MS Edge and Flash constantly freezing online video. I have now turned Flash of and started using the HTML 5 Player, it doesn’t freeze, mess up or use as much memory. I am all in favour of the HTML 5 player, Adobe does Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator very well. I believe they need to retire from the web at last, they simply cannot create a steady product anymore. Before anyone jumps in I also used Firefox and Chrome and Flash froze with these as well, Flash Player 9 or so worked perfectly but Adobe seems to update this thing nearly every month. So I am now ditching Adobe Flash Player, after all what sites out there use 100% flash these days? Old products that don’t compete with the market today. If Macromedia can die out why can’t Adobe? Look at Alias and Autodesk, things change…