A Dying Breed: The Rise and Fall of Flash Files

A Dying Breed: The Rise and Fall of Flash FilesFlash files have popularised many different aspects of the internet, helping businesses advertise their products and add live to their websites, and providing fun in the form of memes for more casual web users. However, like all technologies, Flash files may not be around forever.

The Rise

Adobe Flash, formerly Macromedia, has been around since 1995, and is currently on its 11th version. It started as a project by Johnathan Gay and Charlie Jackson, and has been the basis of many of the top websites visited by people throughout the last decade or so. This platform is easy to program and so is widely used within a range of industries. Websites from the beginning have used this platform for online gaming, such as children’s websites like Neopets and Disney, who have both used flash to create games to entertain, advertise and educate. Without flash, Popcap, which is one of the largest casual gaming companies, would not exist. This platform loads quickly, even on the slowest connections, and does not require keeping a large amount of data on the hard drive of the computer which is being used to play the game. While occasionally a computer may still not have the RAM or processing power needed to play a game successfully, most flash games will load even on the slowest computer. Asides from aiding the gaming industry, without flash, there would be no Youtube, as they stream media, are highly reliant on a framework which allows them to get their content to your screens quickly, reliably and efficiently. It doesn’t make sense for everybody to have to download an entire file to watch in the uncompressed format of an avi or mpeg file as the internet used to be. Streaming on demand revolutionised the way people could share their most beloved memories, most important current events, and what entertainment they love. Though Adobe’s platform seems to be in an impenetrable castle, there are contenders.

The Fall

Technology moves on, new software and new platforms are being developed and built all of the time. Whether live or not, most of the current websites that stream do rely on flash, but there are contenders on the horizon. One of the largest and most talked about contenders is HTML5. This platform will be supported by all upcoming browsers, and there is a lot of support currently. HTML5 is designed to support streaming of not just video and audio, but streaming of full function video games, so that anyone with the able connection will be able to play in their browser, without download. HTML5 is also open source, so anyone is able to make their device or browser support HTML5 as long as they have the ability, while flash is still chained up by the Adobe Corporation, who are also thinking of charging for premium development features. All of which will hurt them in the long run. The future is always uncertain, so whether flash will die is yet to be seen.

Picture: jfv – Fotolia