back to article Google goes full Anti-Flash-ist, boots Adobe's insecure monstrosity out of web search index

Google plans to help Adobe's Flash exercise its right to be forgotten – by gradually stripping the animated content from its search index, starting some time later this year. Flash was beloved by millions of netizens roughly two decades ago. In the years after its introduction in 1996, Flash provided a development platform …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Porn

    I’m pretty sure this won’t stop dodgy porn sites popping up a message saying “Your Flash player is out of date and needs updating...”.

    Anonymous coward because my detailed knowledge of this subject might antagonise the wife.

    1. SoltanGris
      FAIL

      Re: Porn

      I'll add Xfinity (aka Comcast) to that list.

      THey offer a TV over internet streaming service for web browsers with my internet subscription..

      As of last week or so when I checked, they still require Flash to be used in order to

      view the garbage they proffer for streaming.

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Porn

        I'll add Xfinity (aka Comcast) to that list.

        Well we *ARE* talking about Crapcast/suXfinity here. Spending money on modernizing their systems (or even making them usable) would mean less money in their Buyout Bonanza competition with Disney.

  2. macjules Silver badge

    What??

    Flash was beloved by millions of netizens graphic designers who thought they were web developers roughly two decades ago.

    FTFY

    1. sbt Silver badge
      Meh

      Cross platform embedded/streaming video

      As a web dev of roughly two decades ago, but not a graphic designer, I'll just point out that Flash owned the early embedded video space until HTML5 appeared and plug-ins weren't needed anymore. In fact, video sites such as for TV catch-up were the last hold-out for me until I stopped bothering to update and enable the plug-in and its absence was no longer noticed.

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Cross platform embedded/streaming video

        As someone who tried to explain CSS and JavaScript/Jquery to graphic artists .. sorry .. “developers” 20 years ago who then decided that Flash was less complicated and easier to understand, my response would be somewhat along the lines of “you Flash if you want to”.

        1. sbt Silver badge
          Facepalm

          The lowest common denominator

          Well JQuery's only 13 years old, so that's impressive. I'll say it again. As a web developer, not a graphic designer, I used flash for video. I used CSS/JS for layout/dynamic content. And HTML tables before that.

          Flash was and is horrible and proprietary but if you wanted people running different browsers to see your stuff, choices were limited.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: The lowest common denominator

            "Well JQuery's only 13 years old, so that's impressive"

            There is NOTHING "impressive" about JQuery. It is nothing LESS than a poor quality HACK, working around early javascript limitations with what can ONLY be described as "unnecessary BLOATWARE".

            Some idiot "developer" used JQuery on a project that I had to finish. I removed most of the JQuery-isms when fixing the problems, but a few still remain in "it works" code. Once they're GONE, the entire library goes into /dev/null for that project.

            FLASH on the other hand, has inherent problems that have lead to its demise. Why ANYONE would allow "those plugins" to live on their computer or device amazes me. They are beyond security craters; they're like gaping security Einstein/Rozen bridges to HELL.

            Flash kept a moving target "standard":for long enough to CONSTANTLY BREAK THE OPEN SOURCE VIEWERS (like gnash). Its security NIGHTMARE and closed source plugins made Linux and FreeBSD use of flash DIFFICULT at best, especially FreeBSD.

            Still WORSE, many times a "flash upgrade" would INCLUDE SPYWARE BUNDLED ALONG WITH IT, such as menu bars and SPYWARE. You had to EXPLICITLY SHUT THAT !@#$% OFF EVERY! STINKING! TIME!!!

            Adobe's aggressive INVASION with their "free plugin" was *JUST* *PLAIN* *WRONG*. It had frequent CERTs and (apparently) more SERIOUS security patches being applied than Windows itself. More often than not (at least for a while) it seemed that the frequent 'patch Tuesday of major concern' would be due to (you guessed it) the Adobe FLASH plugin or something that was side-by-side related to it, like MS Intarweb Exploiter.

            And I thought NOBODY was using Flash any more... guess I was wrong about that.

            Big FAIL Icon for Flash. And JQuery. And all of that CRAP WARE.

          2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: The lowest common denominator

            Flash was and is horrible and proprietary but if you wanted people running different browsers to see your stuff, choices were limited.

            Well, if IBM had been significantly smarter, we could have been using the java-based HotMedia instead.

            (oh, wait; java-based..... nevermind...)

      2. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Cross platform embedded/streaming video

        And remember, it was a massive improvement on Real Player which is what it replaced in that space.

        1. big_D Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Cross platform embedded/streaming video

          Yes. Replacing a colander with a sieve is always a great move to stop leaks. ;-)

          But, yes, before the HTML5 video tag was standardized and supported by most browsers, it was a necessary evil.

          I worked at one web agency, where they loved Flash. The whole corporate presence was a single big Flash blob, as was their Intranet. I hated it.

          I had to do an internal project in 2008 for product tracking in their photo studio. I wrote it as a website with no Flash, just CSS/HTML5 and, in total, 10 lines of JavaScript on one page from 70 (PHP/MySQL on the backend). They could scan the barcodes using a standard hand scanner, they could do searches, generate reports, all without using Flash or JS.

          I got an message on LinkedIn a few weeks back. It was a photographer at the old company who thanked me for the system - 10 years after I left the company! :-O

          1. overunder Bronze badge

            Re: Cross platform embedded/streaming video

            "But, yes, before the HTML5 video tag was standardized and supported by most browsers, it was a necessary evil."

            You're slipping. For _VIDEO_ Flash was never neccessary, it's just that 90% of people thought it was and the other 10% became tired of that capital 'Q' anchoring a 120x120 square with no help printed but "Quicktime" (good luck finding a "Quicktime" option in Microsoft IE).

            Now if you wanted more than 1 hyperlink _IN_ a video (and not over)....Macromedia was it.

          2. N2 Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Cross platform embedded/streaming video

            I got an message on LinkedIn a few weeks back. It was a photographer at the old company who thanked me for the system - 10 years after I left the company! :-O

            Pint, with no flash.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cross platform embedded/streaming video

          I've argued before that Flash effectively fulfilled the promise that Java Applets failed to deliver- embedded apps (and other sorts of rich content) over the Internet, within your browser.

          Applets were (by far) Java's most hyped selling point and destined for big things, but were ultimately hamstrung by being too heavyweight for PCs of the time (not to mention MS's deliberate use of "embrace, extend and extinguish" in their implementation to damage Java's intended compatibility).

          I won't say that Flash killed Applets, more that it filled their intended niche once they'd already failed. As a more lightweight media/presentation tool that grew into something more powerful (in sync with the improving capabilities of contemporary PCs), it's understandable why it succeeded.

          If it weren't for the security issues, it would probably have been more respected, and there were good reasons it was a success in its day. Even then though, the "Flash blob within a browser model" would probably be something we'd want to get rid of today- I still have memories of banks' job application websites (c. 2004) built entirely as Flash blobs for obvious style-over-substance reasons. This meant that they broke (e.g.) the standard browser backwards/forwards navigation and other standard functionality in an annoying way. Ugh.

          1. macjules Silver badge

            Re: Cross platform embedded/streaming video

            Something far worse than Flash killed Java. Larry Ellison. A bit like saying that, "Good news old chap, we've killed off your case of 'flu. The bad news is that we had to give you Ebola to do it."

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Cross platform embedded/streaming video

              I was talking specifically about Java Applets, not Java in general. Applets- i.e. client side Java within the browser- were Java's original big selling point, and even though Java went on to be successful anyway- mainly on the server side- Applets had already all but proven to be a damp squib by the time the new millennium rolled round.

              Whether or not Java as a whole is now in an Ellison-induced decline is beside the point- Oracle didn't take over Sun Microsystems- the creators of Java- until 2010, long after that.

      3. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: Cross platform embedded/streaming video

        > Flash owned the early embedded video space

        It's still been heavily used for that far too recently too.

        A little while ago now (but not nearly as long ago as it should've been), I disassembled a customers flash player SWF concerned with playing back multi-bitrate video, then spent about 4 days (well, at the time, nighshifts) working through the resulting actionscript to find the bug that was causing the behaviour the customer was complaining about (playback would break just after switching bitrate).

        The customer in question was a mammoth American media organisation who I can guarantee you've both heard of and seen their logo before movies. i.e. more than big and rich enough to know better.

        But there they were, still using a flash based player in order to achieve adaptive playback with RTMP rather than switching over to HLS (which even then was very well supported).

  3. hatti

    No more tween anims then

  4. N2 Silver badge

    This is about

    10 years too late

    Just die Flash, the quicker we can kill it off, the better.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: This is about

      I remember a web dev-ish kind of person told me I needed to learn Flash, it was the future. So glad I didn't.

      1. jaywalker444

        Re: This is about

        Actually if you bothered to learn Flash properly, your skills would still be relevant as Flash used common programming methods such as classes and prototypes which translate to other object orientated programming languages. Not only that, but if you bothered to learn the animation timeline, you would have gained knowledge about vector graphics, timing, layering, masking and many other skills around interactive motion graphics. Flash was and still is superior when it comes to compressing assets into a single binary package for web delivery. Yes it needed to retire, but did not deserve the viral hate - most of which was ignorantly repeating the meme as this article has done.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: This is about

          Yes it needed to retire, but did not deserve the viral hate

          While I agree it was a wonderful toy for its purposes, it deserves all the hate it gets and much more for the complete lack of security.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: This is about

            I still remember the days of getting a friend's PC (or Mum's) and cleaning it up. So virus scan it, clean it, uninstall unwanted freeware crap, check there was a firewall/anti-virus running.

            Then update, browser, Quicktime, Flash, Shockwave, Java and maybe Realplayer (ugh!).

            ...harp music...dream nostalgia...barely suppressed screams...

            1. arctic_haze Silver badge

              Re: This is about

              "Then update, browser, Quicktime, Flash, Shockwave, Java and maybe Realplayer (ugh!)."

              And what about Silverlight?

      2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: This is about

        I remember a web dev-ish kind of person told me I needed to learn Flash, it was the future.

        If I'd spent my time learning everything that was "going to be the future", I'd probably have forgotten how to walk. As Niels Bohr remarked, prediction is difficult, especially about the future.

      3. N2 Silver badge

        Re: This is about

        About 15 years ago I started work for a company with both feet firmly in the past as far as the Internet was concerned, it took over 2 years to be rid of their crappy flash website, which probably cost a fortune and got about 200 hits a month probably by accident.

        Traffic was 15-20,000 monthly after that, God only knows how much it cost in sales.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I believe the browser version of the Channel 4 streaming service All4 is still requiring Flash yet. Its about time the devs pulled their finger out and banished flash from the website.

    1. Andy E
      WTF?

      Beat me to it

      I don't understand why Channel 4 are sticking with Flash. Seems stupid to restrict your potential audience to only those that can view a legacy platform. A potential audience that is getting smaller and smaller.

      1. LateAgain

        Re: Beat me to it

        Not as stupid as using a platform that will not work on phone/ tablet / "smart" tv

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: Beat me to it

          The app versions use non-Flash based streaming as I have no problem using All4 on my ancient iPhone or partner's iPad. I suppose they don't expect you to try to watch through a browser on such devices.

          (when I say 'no problem' - I mean apart from having to sit through seemingly hours of adverts!)

    2. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

      All4...

      ...It's been a while since I last tried to use All4, but back then it used Flash DRM, which excluded Linux users. As a result I looked for the programs (Drifters, fact fans) SOMEWHERE ELSE. And I found them free of DRM AND free of adverts. Well done Channel 4, now I know how to get your content without adverts.

  6. Alister Silver badge

    Finding a browser to manage VMWare is going to get interesting, at the moment it's all Flash based.

    1. Allonymous Coward

      VMWare still does that? I thought they at least had a standards-compliant web UI by now (been a couple of years since I used it, mind).

      Enterprise software that pulls this sort of stunt needs to die. I have fond (sarcasm) memories of an IBM server ILO UI that required a very specific browser/Java plugin combo. Probably because all the later versions fixed the various security holes it needed in order to run. I think we ended up keeping a VM hanging around specifically to use it, until we decommissioned the last of those boxes.

      How about flipping to another virt platform that treats you like it's 2019? Not always an option of course, but sometimes it is.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You must be running an old version of vSphere. Current versions use HTML5 as the primary management client. The flash client is still there, but is clearly marked as deprecated.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      VMWare isn't all Flash based.

      The current version uses primarily HTML5 (we have vSphere 6.7.0.30000).

      In ESX 6.5 there still wasn't feature parity, some features, such as adding hardware passthru only worked on the Flash client, but with the current version I can add it over the HTML5 UI. I certainly haven't used the Flash version regularly for years - I keep a special VM just for vSphere Flash on our older VMWare servers.

  7. David Given
    Unhappy

    There's masses of early interactive web content that's both really cool and historically valuable, and is likely to be gone forever because it's written in Flash. Orisinal, Grow Cube, all those free-to-play flash games that prototyped native games... the technology was kinda awful, but the tooling was superb. It was really great at lowering the barriers for producing animated and interactive content for non-programmers. The only thing even remotely comparable today is Unity.

    I've seen a few Javascript flash players but they all seemed to kinda suck and they're really to clunky to use (requiring the user to install an extension or something). Adobe apparently have no interest in maintaining an upgrade path for all this old content, which is weird. Ideally there'd be a standard drop-in module which web browsers could use which provided a flash player entirely browser side, avoiding the security issues.

    Anyway, here's Homestar Runner discovering the Flash apocalypse. (Flash version.) http://homestarrunner.com/flashisdead.html

    Also now I'm going to have to replay the Grow Cube games again. Dammit.

    1. LateAgain

      There were lots of really nice games on websites and, when you worked out how to download it, they would play offline.

      Sad that they will also get "forgotten"

    2. DougS Silver badge

      People write emulators for ancient stuff that was used by a fraction of the people who used flash, so I'm sure there will always be ways to run it, just like you will never not be able to run TRS-80 programs if you feel the need.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >Adobe apparently have no interest in maintaining an upgrade path for all this old content

      Harman (Samsung) picked up a lot of this, moving corp AS applications to native/standards via Apache Royale etc is one of their things - they've been (quietly but officially) working on non-standard runtimes for years in embedded systems too (many readers here will be using their Flash/AIR car dashboards daily) and they have just released an updated AIR SDK with 64bit Android support (Adobe ambered AIR without bothering a few months back).

      Elsewhere porting good quality ActionScript to Typescript or Standards (Native, C, WebGL etc too) via Haxe and similar is pretty straightforward too - so where there's still an audience for legacy and content was professionally developed it's already happening.

    4. Tomato42 Silver badge

      as hard as it may be to believe it, but newgrounds are still alive

    5. Ogi

      I concur, one of my fave games (and first flash game I really got into) was a ninja game by Metanet called "N" which I played while at school (so early/mid 2000's).

      Out of Nostalgia I had a search online, and looks like it still exists (http://www.thewayoftheninja.org/n.html), its still being developed, and they have ported it to other platforms.

      However it did get me thinking about other flash games I enjoyed, that might have been abandoned, or the developers don't have the funds to port it from Flash.

      We may well end up having a re-run of the old "Abandonware" DOS/Arcade games situation. They became playable again by the effort in creating open source DOS/Arcade emulators.

      I guess one good thing with Adobe halting further development of the flash technology is that it will give some time for the open source flash developers to catch up with the reverse engineering. Eventually we might have an online archive of SWF games you can play on an open source fully compatible flash player.

  8. FuzzyWuzzys
    Happy

    So long "Badger Badger Badger" we loved ye.

    Flash was good for the time but it's now time to move on ( we should have 10 years ago! ). So long and thanks.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Linux

      Re: So long "Badger Badger Badger" we loved ye.

      That's still on Youtube though. Along with Brian May's version... link with sound

      I'll go for the only black and white logo available.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: So long "Badger Badger Badger" we loved ye.

        pfft they don't loop like the old flash versions, after 10 minutes Badger Badger Badger started to desync

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Re: So long "Badger Badger Badger" we loved ye.

      So long & thanks for all the Flash.

      FTFY.

  9. macjules Silver badge

    Places still using Flash

    Comcast have a Flash site for MPX - ThePlatform, their web streaming service. They acquire it in 2006 and never changed the web UI, apart from changing the login screen (https://console.theplatform.com/sign-in). Once you have logged in the whole site is in Flash.

    Sad, innit?

  10. DrBed
    Trollface

    But wait!

    What about Silverlight? And Moonlight? M. de Icaza said...

    Now for real: I'm missing Xara web plugin, it was astonishly fast (much faster then AS/Flash imo), too bad it stumbled.

    1. Tomato42 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: But wait!

      don't worry, web assembly is here to replace them

  11. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    REBIRTH, FLASH! AAARRRGGGHH!

    Why can't Adobe secure Flash? It can do so much more than JavaScript+CSS+HTML5 in visual terms with less device resources and I for one would like to see Flash reborn!

  12. Roger Kynaston

    Frog in a Blender

    And the gerbil in the microwave fed my childish humour even though I was nominally a grownup (aged in my thirties). Back when you could share attachments without risking stuff. Then I love you came along and kiboshed it. More innocent times.

  13. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Tell that to Lloyds

    If you go to the onlinebusiness.lloydsbank.co.uk website my browsers says a flash plugin was blocked. Given that Flash is supposed to be so insecure, and that banks are supposed to be doing everything and anything they can to bolster security, is it not just absolutely crass that their site tries to load some flash content?

    I don't think banks always take security as seriously as they say they do

    1. Richy Freeway
      Facepalm

      Frog

      Have they changed their ridiculous password policy yet? Last time I changed my password with them I was limited to something like 12 characters and they all had to be alphanumeric.

      Insane.

      Edit : Apparently not.

      To create a secure password you need to:

      Use between 8 and 15 characters, without spaces or special characters.

    2. N2 Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Tell that to Lloyds

      Ah yes, Lloyds, took me three years of constant nagging to disable the keyboard in their secret word picklist. And they still prevent !@£$ etc in passwords - wankers.

      Dont expect anything from that shower too quickly unless you owe them.

  14. Big_Boomer Bronze badge

    'Bout bloody time

    Adobe should have put a bullet in that infected zombie years ago. Awesome it it's time, but it's time was up at least a decade ago.

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