Adobe’s Flash software powered an unforgettable era of the internet. From browser-based games to animations, Flash made things possible that people had only ever dreamed of.
Today, the technology is basically obsolete. At the end of 2020, Adobe plans to stop supporting Flash, meaning that it will also be useless on browsers like Chrome and Firefox.
Although browsers won’t be able to run everyone’s Flash favorites, The Internet Archive plans to preserve this important piece of digital history. It will emulate Flash content, allowing users to browse and play with thousands of games and animations. A library containing more than 1,000 pieces of content is already available.
Ruffle Saves the Day
The Internet Archive is dedicated to preserving all kinds of history from the World Wide Web. It accomplishes this in a number of ways, including direct emulation and scraping servers to take a snapshot of old webpages.
The organization is currently partnering with a Flash emulator called Ruffle. Eventually, Ruffle will get incorporated into The Internet Archive’s system to make it easier for users to access it. Unfortunately, the emulator won’t work with Flash projects made after 2013. This is due to the fact that it supports Adobe’s ActionScript 1 and 2 but not Flash Professional CC (which was released in 2013).
Ruffle is an open-sourced project that is backed by popular Flash sites like Coolmath Games, Newgrounds, CPMStar, Deepnight.net, and Crazy Games. Chances are, anyone growing up in the early 2000s recognizes at least a few of those sites for the hours of entertainment they provided. Notably absent from the list is Kongregate, another popular game site. That’s because it plans on hosting Flash games independently even after December.
Preserving a Legacy
Flash irreversibly changed the course of the internet. In its early days, users without a high-level of coding experience could only make dull, boring pages. Then, Flash came along.
The Internet Archive says, “Software [Flash] allowed a beginner or novice to make surprisingly complicated and flexible graphic and sound shows that ran beautifully on web browsers without requiring deep knowledge of individual operating systems and programming languages.”
Over the years, Flash became an important part of the internet’s architecture. Countless developers and everyday people developed new projects with it.
The success wouldn’t last forever, though. In 2010, Apple became the first major company to disavow Flash. It said that the software wouldn’t be supported on iOS. That put the writing on the wall and led Adobe to abandon support for Flash on mobile devices.
Soon after, major browsers like Chrome, Edge, and Safari decided to embrace HTML5 as the default option. In 2017, Adobe announced that it would be ending support.
Now, the end is just a month away. As the world prepares to say goodbye to Flash, it is important to remember how vital it was to the internet’s growth. The Internet Archive’s new Flash emulator is a perfect way to pay tribute.