ADOBE'S DECISION to kill off Flash yesterday was a bit like that girl you know with the really dodgy partner that none of you likes. The one you've been telling her for ages is no good. But she's stuck by him and even admitted at times that things aren't what they ought to be, but that it's too complicated to split. You had to let her make her own mind up.
Fortunately, enough of your mates, specifically just about every browser on the planet, has said they want nothing to do with him, so eventually, hands start to get a bit tied, and so when the breakup finally came last night, we were all there to give Adobe a reassuring "you can do better" cuddle, rather than line up with the "told you so" stuff. That ship has well and truly sailed.
But as we get all the "wouldn't wanna be ya" stuff out of our systems (privately, of course), it's worth remembering that Flash wasn't all bad, and although by the end it was a bloated mess with as many security holes as a lump of KGB Emmental, it set the web as we know it today on its way, and we shouldn't lose sight of that.
Flash brought us low footprint in-browser gaming. Who can forget titles like the ridiculously addictive Boomshine (which you can play in endless HTML5 remakes, if you're curious).
Flash brought us media. It didn't just allow so-called "Web 2.0" - it was Web 2.0, bringing rich media, clips, and live streams to computer screens. Before that, pure MPEG was where it was at, and that meant waiting for it all to download, or, with those early, slow connections, buffering the crap out of it.
And for better or worse, Flash brought us advertising. It monetised the web. It made it financially viable, and even if you sit and curse the adverts, or worse still block them, you can't deny the fact that without them sites like ours simply wouldn't exist, because there'd be no mechanism to pay people, and the ads wouldn't have been pretty-pretty-shiny enough to attract attention.
Fortunately, in these more enlightened times, we pay attention to ads without them being rammed down our throats like that.
Flash allowed interactivity. Flash content could interact with your microphone and speakers. It could be made into a tool - a piano perhaps, or a virtual keyboard. It turned the web from being a one-way delivery system like Teletext, into a two-way interactive experience.
The problem now is its aftermath. Its demise will leave some legacy web pages completely busted. It wasn't that long ago that UK web page builder Moonfruit was entirely Flash driven (it was adapted in 2013) and the BBC only switched iPlayer away from Flash last year.
While most major companies have made arrangements to move over to HTML5, there's an entire history of the web that risks being lost as it has been abandoned and risks never being converted.
So at this point, we're quite happy to give an almighty "thank crap for that" that Adobe has finally seen sense enough to kill off its irksome charge, something that it should have done years ago, but at the same time, let's give it a fair send off - the web as we know it today was built on Flash, and we owe it a debt of gratitude.
And if, between now and 2020, you find a site that renders in Flash, give the webmaster a nudge. If everyone does that, hopefully, we'll lose as little as possible by its passing.
Except of course the monthly fit of hysterics when we get emails through with messages like "there are 79 patches for Flash this month". Which really happened. µ
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