Monday, October 7, 2013

Firefox Shumway to remove the obsolete Flash

Adobe Flash has been the dominating but hated multimedia content delivery platform. iOS never supported Flash and Android has lost its Flash support as well with computer users repeatedly complaining about performance and security issues related to Flash. Now Firefox makes their move against Flash as well through the Mozilla Shumway project which aims to completely remove the need for users to have the Adobe Flash plugin installed.

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Image from the Shumway project:
For a very long time, Adobe Flash has by many considered to be a necessary evil on the internet. The Flash platform allows content creators to deliver interactive multimedia experience to the users. However, the management of Flash by Adobe has been less than ideal. The Flash platform is one of the primary virus infection sources for users and simultaneously is extremely inefficient and easily slows down the user experience even on powerful computers. Over the years, this has led to Flash being abandoned by more and more people, in particular Apple has always hated Flash and its highly successful iOS system used on iPhones, iPads and iPods has never supported Flash. Recently, Android lost its support of Flash as well and Flash is similarly very poorly supported on Linux. 

Now, Mozilla apparently also has decided that the era of Flash is over and through its Shumway project, aims to make Flash completely obsolete for its Firefox users. The Shumway project has the aim to create an engine for Javascript and HTML5 which will be able to read and run files compiled for Adobe Flash. 

In essence, the Shumway project aims to make it unnecessary for users to have the Flash plugin installed in their web browsers, something which will likely result in a much more secure system as well as better performance. The Shumway project itself, is not completely new, and the integrated PDF support released in Firefox 19 is built on the Shumway engine.

At present, it is not clear when Shumway will be released officially as a proper replacement for Adobe Flash, but the Shumway engine itself can now be found in the nightly builds ahead of Firefox 27. It will not be enabled by default, but the users can easily enable it through the about:config configuration page. 

With Adobe Flash attacked from multiple directions, including HTML5, hopefully, it will not take very long before we all can finally get rid of the troublesome platform altogether that has caused way too many headaches and computer issues than anything deserves.

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