Adobe has set the official end of support for its popular Flash Player, the browser plug-in that brought rich, interactive animation to the early web, at the end of 2020. The company will not start blocking Flash content until January 12th, the major browsers have discontinued support, and Microsoft prohibits it in most versions of Windows.

Flash player was released in 1996, and it was once one of the most popular ways for people to stream videos and play games online. But the flash player has suffered from security problems and failed to move into the era of smartphones, and Adobe will no longer provide security updates for the plugin, and I have urged people to uninstall it.

And when the flash player was first released, most netizens were connected via a dialup connection which was very slow by today’s standards. But Flash Player has allowed web designers and animators to deliver exciting content that can be downloaded relatively quickly.

You can create a full-fledged three-minute animation with multiple characters, backgrounds, sounds and music of less than 2MB and can be viewed within the browser.

Sites like Newgrounds, billed as a YouTube flash platform, have sprung up to service the growing demand for interactive animation and games. The site allowed people to post available content in real time, and the content is removed at the end of the day if the community feels it is of low quality.

Flash was more than just an animation, it also allowed websites, such as YouTube, to broadcast high-quality videos. And by 2009, Adobe said, “Flash Player” is installed on 99 percent of desktop computers connected to the Internet.

The world at that time began to shift towards mobile devices, and Adobe was slow to respond. Major brands, such as Facebook and YouTube, were broadcasting videos via smartphones without flash, and in November 2011 Adobe completed the development of the flash player for mobile devices.

In 2015, Apple disabled the Safari web browser plug-in by default, and Google’s Chrome browser began blocking some parts of the flash content.

Adobe announced in July 2017 that it would terminate the Flash Player in 2020, and made clear that other technologies, such as HTML5, are ready to provide the alternative, without requiring users to install and update the plug-in.

Given that Adobe is moving to ban the Flash player from displaying content as of January 12th, there are concerns that years of animation, games, and interactive sites will be wasted.

Games company Zynga closed the original FarmVille New Year’s Eve after 11 years, relying on the flash player. And an open collaborative project known as Ruffle is developing software that can play such content in a web browser without the need for a plug-in.

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