For most of us, Flash is still a big part of our online lives, even though most smartphones and tablets don’t support it and a lot of online video has moved away from it. It’s still common enough that if you don’t have it installed on your computer, you’ll encounter at least a few “missing plug-in” messages through the course of the day. But that isn’t keeping Mozilla from moving away from the once-dominant plug-in.
Enter Project Shumway. As Cnet notes, Project Shumway is a new technology Mozilla is developing that would allow Firefox to play back Flash media without the Flash plug-in.
The technology, which first appeared in nightly developer builds of Firefox this past week, is currently limited in what it can do. For now, Cnet says, Shumway only works with Amazon’s product tour videos, and only on Windows and OS X—Linux users will have to wait a little longer. Also, it only works with developer builds of Firefox for the time being.
Mozilla plans on including Shumway in Firefox releases intended for the general public at some point, and when it does, it will support “some Flash content,” according to the project roadmap. There’s no word on when, exactly, that will be, though.
Flash lives on…for now
There’s no getting around the fact that Flash has its issues. It’s a security nightmare, it can chew up processor cycles like nobody’s business, and it’ll constantly nag you to install updates. But it’s so hard to leave behind completely, as our Brad Chacos found out in 2013.
On my Mac, I use Safari as my primary browser—without Flash installed. But I’ll often have Chrome running as well: Chrome has Flash Player built in, so it’s a handy way to have Flash when I need it without having it bog down my regular browsing. As someone who likes to indulge in binge-watching old Homestar Runner Flash cartoons every now and then, I don’t think I’ll be able to go entirely Flash-free any time soon.
Still, the writing is on the wall for Flash, and it’s likely only a matter of time before it ends up in the dustbin of digital history.