Newgrounds on the Flash EOL

Tom Fulp posted his thoughts shortly after the Flash EOL was announced earlier this week. In retrospect, I should have waited until the next day so I wouldn’t have to make a completely separate entry about it now, but I really wanted to get my own thoughts out the door ASAP, and so I did.

As I still consider myself to be an active Newgrounds Flash artist — just not a super active one — and for any others who might be reading this from a search or something, I wanted to quote the things he said that are most relevant to me and, well, share my thoughts on his thoughts, I guess.

Adobe will still support Adobe Animate, their re-branded version of Flash. You can still use it to make animation but you will share it in video format vs SWF. Most animators are already doing this. Just about every animation you watch on NG is now an MP4 loading in an HTML5 video player.

My thoughts on Adobe Animate are well-documented. No other digital animation and illustration software exists that is nearly as easy to use, intuitive and powerful.

No, people don’t need animation software that exports animation in HTML5 format. We just need animation to be in video format. We created Swivel for this many years ago and it’s super popular.

For new animations that I make going forward (including most likely the follow-up to my Origins series), yeah, Swivel will be my go-to — it’s a no-brainer, really.

My legacy animations, as I mentioned previously, simply weren’t made with 16:9 in mind, and so are going to look terrible if I attempt to convert them unmodified to that aspect ratio. If I can’t find any alternatives, I’ll probably just pillarbox them with Swivel and be done with it. And that’s just the ones I don’t think I’ll run into any legal trouble migrating, since a lot of them still use unlicensed music and finding free alternatives will be no trivial task.

Newgrounds supports games in HTML5 format, which is becoming increasingly dominant. There is a big question of whether we will be able to preserve the 80,000+ games that were made in Flash. At the least, you could download and play them in an external player but we are hoping to have a solid web-based option by the time 2020 rolls along. Options include javascript that can interpret and run an SWF file, software that can convert existing swf files to javascript or something using WebAssembly, which is still maturing. A lot has been happening in this space but nothing is perfect at the moment.

The ‘B’ee Game is written in ActionScript 3.0, so it’s very unlikely it’ll have much of a future unless Adobe open sources the Flash Player or someone manages to come up with their own implementation of AS3, both of which have an equal chance in hell of happening. But given that it’s a simple game and nothing terribly groundbreaking or ambitious and I’m really only doing it for the learning experience, I’m happy if it gets even a year of shelf life, let alone 2 or 3.

A lot of people still don’t realize that NG has been transitioning away from Flash for many years now and 2020 won’t be as bumpy as some may think. The end of Flash won’t be the end of NG.

It’s true: I myself have taken for granted the fact that NG has been years into the transition. I’m not concerned at all that NG itself is going away — it’s just the legacy content we’re all worried about. After all, the legacy content is what I, and most of my peers, grew up with.

Flash was never the reason for bad advertising on the web, bad ad companies were. Most ads are now using HTML5 and the irony is they are larger files and often consume more resources than Flash did. We also have new problems, for example Flash-based ads were never able to steal focus from your browser and force the page to scroll back to the ad. HTML5 ads that do that have been cropping up on NG this past year and we have to chase them down. We’re also seeing more ads that do forced page redirects. This is why it’s a great idea to become a supporter, so you can browse NG ad-free and ultimately help us run less ads for everyone else.

As a hobbyist web author who’s never worked professionally (not yet anyway), I’ve personally never had to deal with ads, so I’ll defer to Tom’s experience. If what he says about HTML ads is true, that’s disgusting and makes Flash banner ads look like shimmering gold.

Unfortunately, I can’t afford to be a supporter yet, but I’d love to, and I certainly don’t rule out becoming one in the near future.

Flash as a security threat was kind of a meme. Yes, Flash had vulnerabilities that needed to be patched and it was a bummer that it was a closed system. However your OS and your web browser also have vulnerabilities that get patched, as does all software. It became a popular thing to complain about but the reality is most people were getting their viruses and malware somewhere other than through an SWF file.

I have to agree on Flash as a security threat being a meme. I’m sure at least one attack has been successfully pulled off with a malicious SWF somewhere in the world over the last decade, but I’ve personally never heard anything like it in the news. The FUD is off the charts.

It really bothers me when people cheer the death of Flash. I totally get why it’s time to move on but you shouldn’t cheer the death of something that empowered so many people and brought so much joy to the web for 20+ years. I think it’s a bandwagon that a lot of joyless people have jumped on, sorry if you’re one of them.

Even Tom Fulp agrees with me on this front. Then again, he’s the creator of the original Flash Portal (with a capital P), so, it’s only natural that he would agree.

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Things to keep in mind: