Didn’t you hear? Flash is dead, sentenced to death by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs years ago, but the much maligned and still-too-often-used animation package hung around, clinging to life, despite continued security breaches, bad press, and a name that became synonymous with digital dirt. Flash is dead! Long live Flash!
What’s In A Name?
There’s an inherent problem with digital technology. Hardware dies. Software lives forever. If so, how is it that Flash is dead? Flash is software, right? Well, as it turns out, after I read the fine print on the Photoshop Creative Cloud updates that came to my Mac on Tuesday, all Adobe did was rename Flash, repackage it to fit the trends of today, and sidestep the latest round of digital mud hurled against the company’s walls, thanks to Flash.
That’s like renaming Batman to George Clooney. No. Bad example. Adobe renamed Flash to Adobe Animate (which, by the way, is exactly what Flash does; except for all the security breaches). Here’s what an Adobe executive assigned to the task of putting a spin on the living dead app called Flash had to say.
Why the change? The use of open web standards and HTML5 has become the dominant standard on the web. Over the past few years, the Flash Professional CC product team has embraced this movement by rewriting the tool from the ground up, adding native support for HTML5 Canvas and WebGL as well as output to any format (such as SVG) with an extensible architecture. This flexibility has been a huge hit with Adobe customers. Today, over a third of all content produced in Flash Professional CC is HTML5-based, reaching over 1 billion devices worldwide. In order to more clearly reflect its role as the premier animation tool for the open web and beyond, we updated the name.
Translation: Flash is a dirty word. Animate is not, plus it’s more descriptive, more friendly in a Disney-esque way, and we hope there are no copyright or trade mark issues we cannot buy our way out of.
For a variety of reasons, absolutely every one of them totally legitimate, Flash became a dirty word, at once worse than Comic Sans, and slightly more favorable than the common name used for The Affordable Care Act passed by Congress a few years ago.
Animate CC will show up in a few months and Flash will be no more, but if you want to know when and where Flash began to die and why, Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs marked the watershed moment almost six years ago (see how long it takes for the walking dead to stop walking?).
Thoughts On Flash is a Jobs-penned (maybe ‘inspired’) missive of six reasons Flash sucks and shouldn’t be on any computer system, let alone Apple’s then pristine iOS for iPhone and iPad. Here’s an excerpt:
Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.
The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple’s mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content. And the 250,000 apps on Apple’s App Store proves that Flash isn’t necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications, including games.
New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.
So, it turns out that Steve Jobs was right about the future. Again. Flash is dead!