Adobe will also remove Flash Player from computers shortly.
Few technologies have created such a divisive and widespread passion as Flash. Many rave about its versatility and user-friendliness as a creative platform or its crucial role in the rise of web videos. Others loathe Flash-based advertising and web design or despise the resource intensity of the Flash Player plugin in later years.
Regardless of which side of the hatred you end up with, there's no denying that Flash has changed the way we consume, create, and interact with content on the web. It has shaped the internet of today.
But now, after about 25 years, Flash is finally coming to an end. In less than six months – December 2020 – Adobe will officially stop supporting and distributing Flash Player, the browser plugin that we all most associate with the technology. And already months before this end-of-life change, Flash was turned off in most web browsers (often marked as a security risk if you override the default settings). Even Google Chrome, the browser of choice for flash content for a long time, will soon remove Flash Player.
Technically speaking, technology will live on. The Flash authoring tool is part of Adobe Animate, while the rendering engine is included in Adobe AIR. This will be handed over to the enterprise electronics company Harman International for ongoing maintenance, as it is still widely used in the corporate division. But it's safe to say that Flash, as we know it, will soon say goodbye after a decade of decline.
Recognizing its service to all types of content creators and consumers, its contribution to the distribution of online video and multimedia content, and the split that the platform is pursuing, it is time to rethink the rise and fall of Flash – with a little help from its main creator Jonathan Gay; a number of web resources; and interviewing others who were involved in its ultimate success.
You may not know the name FutureSplash Animator, but you certainly know the software that created it
Birth or a wave of the future
Sometime in mid-1992, Jonathan Gay decided to start a company to do something. What exactly he hadn't found out. But something.
More than eight years earlier, his friend and former boss Charlie Jackson had founded Silicon Beach Software – a Mac-focused software company that had great success with its Dark Castle games and the creative tools SuperPaint and Digital Darkroom. Gay had been there as a teenage programmer from day one and worked after school in the afternoons. (Not just any programmer, but the "most phenomenal programmer" Jackson had ever seen.) In early 1990, to fund his dream of competing in the United States international rapid-fire pistol shooting (a dream he later fulfilled)) Jackson sold Silicon Beach to Aldus Corporation.
Gay asked Jackson for help starting this new company, but Jackson had six months to ban Aldus from competition and could not do anything until then. He told Gay to take the time to think about a product. The couple soon came up with the idea of developing software for GO Corporation's PenPoint operating system, an operating system designed specifically for tablet computers and personal digital assistants.
It was an impressive technology. PenPoint-based tablets might be the next big thing, and the new EO Personal Communicator, developed by a company from GO's hardware department, seemed particularly impressive.
Silicon Beach had built its success on getting to the market early – on the Macintosh, before larger companies stepped in. This new company, which they called FutureWave, would try to do the same. "The idea was," We can have the graphics area on this tablet, "Jackson told Ars." So we started designing a vector drawing program. And we called this SmartSketch. "
With the common business sense of the three co-founders of FutureWave – marketing vice president Michelle Welsh was different – and the technical magic of gay and programmer Robert Tatsumi SmartSketch quickly took shape. Gambling failed, however, when AT&T bought a majority stake in the company behind the EO tablet – also known as EO – and then killed the product, then bought GO and, to put it briefly, effectively killed it.
"I think we sold two copies," said Jackson. "And one was for the architect who designed Bill Gates' house."
FutureWave soon ported SmartSketch to Windows and Mac, hoping to find an audience that appreciated their efforts to "make drawing on a computer as easy as drawing on paper". However, the company tried to divert attention from its many larger competitors (Corel, Adobe, Autodesk, etc.).
Their course changed when Wacom, which SmartSketch had bundled with some of its digitizer tablets, ran into budget problems and had to withdraw from SIGGRAPH & # 39; 95. They gave FutureWave their booth and asked the small startup to bring many SmartSketch boxes with them – as this is always a good event for product sales. "We didn't sell anything," Gay recalled. "It was pretty embarrassing."
On the other side of the aisle, a company called Animo had a Disney-style animation package for television and film production. Many people were drawn to this booth, and many of them stopped by FutureWave's room to look at SmartSketch – whereupon they would recommend FutureWave to create a rotoscopic app. "We thought there would never be a market for an animation tool," said Gay, "but it sounded like a fun thing to build."
Around the same time, Jackson struggled to convince retailers to have SmartSketch in stock. Then he noticed that CompUSA had kiosks and shelves with products in the best position, on which the phrase "Made for the Web" was embossed. So he told Gay they had to do something for the web.
Gay wondered if they could somehow combine these ideas: a cel-based animation program that could create animations that would play on websites.
They initially called this new program SmartSketch Animator, but later renamed it CelAnimator and then FutureSplash Animator. To meet the web requirements, they hacked a prototype web animation player – the FutureSplash Player – in Java.
Tired of running a business with no money and no market access, however, they decided to try selling the technology before shipping. Her boyfriend and co-founder of Silicon Beach, Eric Zocher, Vice President of Engineering at Adobe, has arranged a meeting with Adobe CEO John Warnock for her.
"I still remember getting on the plane with a 486 mini desktop in a travel bag to meet with John Warnock and show him our incredibly slow Java prototype," Gay said. "It was like two frames per second of this simple animation. It worked, but it was very slow."
Listing image from WebDesignMuseum.org