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Adobe Flash formerly Macromedia Flash and FutureSplash is a multimedia software platform used for production of animations , rich web applications , desktop applications , mobile apps , mobile games , and embedded web browser video players.
Flash displays text, vector graphics , and raster graphics to provide animations, video games, and applications. It allows streaming of audio and video , and can capture mouse, keyboard, microphone, and camera input. End users view Flash content via Flash Player for web browsers , Adobe AIR for desktop or mobile apps , or third-party players such as Scaleform for video games.
The ActionScript programming language allows the development of interactive animations, video games, web applications, desktop applications, and mobile applications. Flash was initially used to create fully-interactive websites, but this approach was phased out with the introduction of HTML5. Instead, Flash found a niche as the dominant platform for online multimedia content, particularly for browser games. Following an open letter written by Steve Jobs in stating that he would not approve the use of Flash on their iOS devices due to numerous security flaws, use of Flash declined as Adobe transitioned to the Adobe Air platform.
The Flash Player was deprecated in and officially discontinued at the end of for all users outside China, as well as non-enterprise users,  with many web browsers and operating systems scheduled to remove the Flash Player software around the same time. In the early s, Flash was widely installed on desktop computers , and was often used to display interactive web pages and online games , and to play video and audio content.
Between and , numerous businesses used Flash-based websites to launch new products, or to create interactive company portals. After Flash 5 introduced ActionScript in , developers combined the visual and programming capabilities of Flash to produce interactive experiences and applications for the Web.
In , Macromedia Flex was released, and specifically targeted the application development market. Between and , the Speedtest. Developers could create Flash web applications and rich web applications in ActionScript 3.
Flash video games were popular on the Internet, with portals like Newgrounds , Kongregate , and Armor Games dedicated to hosting Flash-based games. Many Flash games were developed by individuals or groups of friends due to the simplicity of the software.
Scaleform is supported by more than 10 major video game engines including Unreal Engine and UDK , CryEngine , and PhyreEngine , and has been used to provide 3D interfaces for more than major video game titles since its launch in As the Internet became more popular, FutureWave realized the potential for a vector-based web animation tool that might challenge Macromedia Shockwave technology.
FutureWave approached Adobe Systems with an offer to sell them FutureSplash in , but Adobe turned down the offer at that time. Flash was a two-part system, a graphics and animation editor known as Macromedia Flash, and a player known as Macromedia Flash Player. FutureSplash Animator was an animation tool originally developed for pen-based computing devices. Due to the small size of the FutureSplash Viewer , it was particularly suited for download on the Web.
Macromedia distributed Flash Player as a free browser plugin in order to quickly gain market share. Macromedia upgraded the Flash system between and adding MovieClips, Actions the precursor to ActionScript , Alpha transparency, and other features. As Flash matured, Macromedia’s focus shifted from marketing it as a graphics and media tool to promoting it as a Web application platform, adding scripting and data access capabilities to the player while attempting to retain its small footprint.
In , the first major version of ActionScript was developed, and released with Flash 5. Actionscript 2. The last version of Flash released by Macromedia was Flash 8 , which focused on graphical upgrades such as filters blur, drop shadow, etc. It introduced the ActionScript 3.
Adobe Flex Builder built on Eclipse targeted the enterprise application development market, and was also released the same year.
Flash 10 improved animation capabilities within the Flash editor, adding a motion editor panel similar to Adobe After Effects , inverse kinematics bones , basic 3D object animation, object-based animation, and other text and graphics features.
Flash Player 10 included an in-built 3D engine without GPU acceleration that allowed basic object transformations in 3D space position, rotation, scaling. With AIR, developers could access the file system the user’s files and folders , and connected devices such as a joystick, gamepad, and sensors for the first time. In May , Adobe announced that Adobe AIR was used in over , unique applications and had over 1 billion installations logged worldwide.
Adobe has taken steps to reduce or eliminate Flash licensing costs. For instance, the SWF file format documentation is provided free of charge  after they relaxed the requirement of accepting a non-disclosure agreement to view it in Adobe has not been willing to make complete source code of the Flash Player available for free software development and even though free and open source alternatives such as Shumway and Gnash have been built, they are no longer under active development.
On May 1, , Adobe announced the Open Screen Project , with the intent of providing a consistent application interface across devices such as personal computers, mobile devices , and consumer electronics. One of Flash’s primary uses on the Internet when it was first released was for building fully immersive, interactive websites. These were typically highly creative site designs that provided more flexibility over what the current HTML standards could provide as well as operate over dial-up connections.
Fully Flash-run sites fell out of favor for more strategic use of Flash plugins for video and other interactive features among standard HTML conventions, corresponding with the availability of HTML features like cascading style-sheets in the mid’s. Fifteen years later, WAP had largely been replaced by full-capability implementations and the HTML5 standard included more support for interactive and video elements.
Support for Flash in these mobile browsers was not included. In , Apple ‘s Steve Jobs famously wrote Thoughts on Flash , an open letter to Adobe criticizing the closed nature of the Flash platform and the inherent security problems with the application to explain why Flash was not supported on iOS. While Adobe eventually won, allowing for other third-party development environments to get access to the iOS, Apple’s decision to block Flash itself was considered the “death blow” to the Flash application.
In , Adobe ended support for Flash on Android. With Flash’s EOL announced, many browsers took steps to gradually restrict Flash content caution users before launching it, eventually blocking all content without an option to play it. By January , all major browsers were blocking all Flash content unconditionally. Only IE11 , niche browser forks, and some browsers built for China plan to continue support. Furthermore, excluding the China variant of Flash, Flash execution software has a built-in kill switch which prevents it from playing Flash after January 12, Adobe Flash will still be supported in China and worldwide on some specialized enterprise platforms beyond As early as , around the same time that Adobe began encouraging Flash developers to transition their works to HTML5 standards, others began efforts to preserve existing Flash content through emulation of Flash in open standards.
While some Flash applications were utilitarian, several applications had been shown to be experimental art, while others had laid the foundation of the independent video game development.
Google had developed the Swiffy application, released in , to convert Flash applications to HTML5-compatible scripts for viewing on mobile devices, but it was shut down in Closer to Flash’s EOL date in , there were more concentrated efforts simply to preserve existing Flash applications, including websites, video games, and animations beyond Flash’s EOL.
Flash source files are in the FLA format and contain graphics and animation, as well as embedded assets such as bitmap images, audio files, and FLV video files. The Flash source file format was a proprietary format and Adobe Animate and Adobe Flash Pro were the only available authoring tools capable of editing such files. Flash source files. Note that FLA files can be edited, but output.
Flash Video files [spec 1] have a. The use of vector graphics combined with program code allows Flash files to be smaller—and thus allows streams to use less bandwidth —than the corresponding bitmaps or video clips. For content in a single format such as just text, video, or audio , other alternatives may provide better performance and consume less CPU power than the corresponding Flash movie, for example, when using transparency or making large screen updates such as photographic or text fades.
In addition to a vector-rendering engine, the Flash Player includes a virtual machine called the ActionScript Virtual Machine AVM for scripting interactivity at run-time, with video, MP3-based audio, and bitmap graphics.
Virtually all browser plugins for video are free of charge and cross-platform, including Adobe’s offering of Flash Video, which was introduced with Flash version 6. Flash Video had been a popular choice for websites due to the large installed user base and programmability of Flash.
In , Apple publicly criticized Adobe Flash, including its implementation of video playback for not taking advantage of hardware acceleration, one reason Flash was not to be found on Apple’s mobile devices. Soon after Apple’s criticism, Adobe demoed and released a beta version of Flash Flash Flash Player supports two distinct modes of video playback, and hardware accelerated video decoding may not be used for older video content.
Macromedia also hired Middlesoft to create a freely available developers’ kit for the SWF file format versions 3 to 5. Macromedia made the Flash Files specifications for versions 6 and later available only under a non-disclosure agreement , but they are widely available from various sites.
In April , the Flash SWF file format specification was released with details on the then newest version format Flash 8.
Although still lacking specific information on the incorporated video compression formats On2, Sorenson Spark, etc. The file format specification document is offered only to developers who agree to a license agreement that permits them to use the specifications only to develop programs that can export to the Flash file format. The license does not allow the use of the specifications to create programs that can be used for playback of Flash files. The Flash 9 specification was made available under similar restrictions.
Previously, developers could not use the specification for making SWF-compatible players, but only for making SWF-exporting authoring software. The specification still omits information on codecs such as Sorenson Spark , however. The Adobe Animate authoring program is primarily used to design graphics and animation and publish the same for websites, web applications, and video games. The program also offers limited support for audio and video embedding and ActionScript scripting.
Adobe released Adobe LiveMotion , designed to create interactive animation content and export it to a variety of formats, including SWF. LiveMotion failed to gain any notable user base. In February , Macromedia purchased Presedia, which had developed a Flash authoring tool that automatically converted PowerPoint files into Flash.
Macromedia subsequently released the new product as Breeze, which included many new enhancements. Various free and commercial software packages can output animations into the Flash SWF format including:. The Flash 4 Linux project was an initiative to develop an open source Linux application as an alternative to Adobe Animate. Development plans included authoring capacity for 2D animation, and tweening , as well as outputting SWF file formats. UIRA intended to combine the resources and knowledge of the F4L project and the Qflash project, both of which were Open Source applications that aimed to provide an alternative to the proprietary Adobe Flash.
Adobe provides a series of tools to develop software applications and video games for Flash:. Third-party development tools have been created to assist developers in creating software applications and video games with Flash. Adobe Flash Player is the multimedia and application player originally developed by Macromedia and acquired by Adobe Systems.