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End of Adobe Flash Support

Nanoman's Company dropped support for Adobe Flash on 2016-10-04. Other organizations that have already done so include Mozilla, Google, Facebook, and Apple, so we weren't the first to do this, and many more will certainly follow.

Problems with Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash, previously known as "Macromedia Flash", had been a major source of frustration for Nanoman's Company and our customers since the 1990s. Since ending the last of our Microsoft Windows support on 2010-01-01, Adobe Flash had been by far the most annoying software we'd supported, and for several reasons:

  • Adobe Flash is closed-source software. This means that we couldn't detect all the bugs that existed in it before they became a problem, and every time a bug caused a problem, only Adobe could fix it.
  • Adobe Flash isn't an open standard. This means that nobody can create alternative software that's fully compatible with Adobe Flash, although some people have tried.
  • Adobe Flash is notoriously insecure. It seems to us that there isn't a week that goes by without us hearing about some major security vulnerability that's been discovered in Adobe Flash.
  • Adobe Flash is extremely unstable. The vast majority of the times when our customers reported stability problems with their web browsers, we determined the cause to be some Adobe Flash content running on a page they were trying to access.
  • Adobe Flash is extremely inefficient. Web pages that use Adobe Flash tend to need much more electricity than web pages that don't.
  • Adobe Flash is generally inaccessible for people with seeing and/or hearing disabilities. Devices used to help such people access web pages are generally unable to interpret Adobe Flash content.
  • Adobe Flash is available for very few operating systems, and for the few operating systems that Adobe supports, they don't all get the latest releases. This means that somebody can have one version of Adobe Flash installed, but a different version that they can't install is required to access some website's Adobe Flash content.
  • Adobe Flash doesn't have native versions available for FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and our other favourite operating systems. Simply getting Adobe Flash to work required a lot more effort on our behalf than what was required for most other software.

When a customer was affected by one or more of these problems, they usually thought that there was something wrong with their computer. The actual problem wasn't their computer, but rather the decision of a web designer who decided to use Adobe Flash instead of a better alternative. Some designer's bad decision cost us the time required to explain the situation to our customer, so that was another problem.

Adobe Flash causes problems for users who want to access content, for web designers who want users to access content, and for support providers who are powerless to make Adobe Flash's inherent problems go away. Only Adobe benefits from Adobe Flash.

Inferior from the Beginning

Like the atomic bomb, Adobe Flash is one of those things that never should have been invented. It has caused suffering for a great many people, and we have always had better alternatives.

There has never been a technical reason for web designers to use Adobe Flash for content instead of other methods. Web designers have always had ways to present content without the problems associated with Adobe Flash, but this sometimes would have required more time than the designers were willing to invest. Unfortunately, this recklessness on behalf of a minority of web designers resulted in torment for their audiences.

When web designers began embedding videos into their pages, users were expected to have video player software installed on their computers that could play whatever video format had been embedded. Because there are so many different video formats, and because many web designers didn't like how some video players would render on their pages, Flash was seen as a way to create a consistent look and feel. YouTube and some other major websites imposed Flash onto their users, and this caused headaches for these users' technical support providers too.

Death of Adobe Flash

Given the severity of Adobe Flash's problems, it's remarkable that it retained its undue prominence for as long as it did. Fortunately, education and consumer pressure eventually convinced its major content producers to switch to alternatives.

The standardization of HTML5 and other widely-used open technologies helped facilitate a rapid decline in Adobe Flash usage. YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, and many other websites ditched their Adobe Flash reliance, and web browsing improved for everybody.

Adobe Flash Zombies

Given how long it had been around, there are still many websites that haven't yet converted their old Adobe Flash content. Generally, this content is limited to advertisements, malicious software, and other things that most people don't want.

Unfortunately, there's still some legitimate content that isn't available without Adobe Flash. A notable example of this are the websites of a few Canadian television broadcasters who won't stream their videos using anything other than Adobe Flash. As a Canadian IT company, this caused a lot of frustration for us and our customers.

Going Forward

If you need to access something that requires Adobe Flash, Nanoman's Company won't help you. You'll need to contact the content's creator and/or the website's webmaster, tell them what you want to access, and that your IT provider doesn't support Adobe Flash. If you wish, you may refer them to this page.

If you absolutely must access some Adobe Flash content, then you will need to figure out how to do so on your own, or get assistance from another IT provider. Only Adobe can provide complete support for Adobe Flash, so don't be surprised if other IT providers are equally limited in their ability to assist you.