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Blog/Macromedia Flash 5.0 launched 22 years ago

26th August 2022

Flash – the piece of software that changed the web for some 15 years was launched 22 years ago this week.

Macromedia Flash (or Adobe Flash as it became) is/was a multimedia software platform, used to produce animations, rich media applications, games, web apps and mobile apps (and more!). It featured its own inbuilt programming language – Actionscript – that made much of its interactivity: mouse, keyboard, camera and microphone input, possible.

Before Flash came along the web was a pretty staid place. Web design was static, and boring, and a bit amateur. But before long, FLA was almost ubiquitous, and added glossy animations and pixel perfect interaction. And where it was used sparingly, it looked and handled brilliantly!

But there was a problem. It relied on a plugin – Flash Player – to be able to run. And Flash player was riddled with security vulnerabilities. But worse still, it prevented core web content of sites from displaying natively in the browser (ie, you needed an extra bit of proprietary kit in order to see it). And that went against the very ethos of the web.

And so it had to go.

Thankfully, by the time Steve Jobs announced in 2010 that it would not be supported on any of Apple’s IOS platforms, HTML5 & CSS3 had arrived and would (partly – at first at least) fill the gap in the market for slick animation and glossy interactivity online.

But for many of us who used FLA to design games, websites and apps, nothing quite matches the experience of designing with FLA. Its interface was great, and the way that it synced the visual with the programmatic hasn’t (to my mind) been superseded in the intervening years.

So, although we acknowledge that it’s time had come and that it was the right decision to phase it out altogether, we still mourn its passing!

Happy Birthday Flash! And also, RIP Flash.

Maddison Creative WAS a Flash designer and developer, but is now a multimedia design studio, specialising in web design, digital advertising and graphic design. Get in touch today.

Maddison Creative 2020