Macromedia Flash > Adobe Flash > Adobe Animate

Adobe Flash is still around but you just can’t buy it. Adobe will end support for the platform by 2020. It’s possible you haven’t heard of this multimedia software platform because it came off the shelf about 2 years ago. It’s a multimedia software platform used for production of animations, rich Internet applications, desktop applications, mobile applications, 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. That may sound familiar as that’s exactly what Adobe Animate does. As I mentioned in my other blog post, “Adobe Flash Rebranded”, they are in fact the same software. However many folks think of Adobe Animate as a new program that generates HTML5 canvas animations. Instead of exporting an ActionScript 3.0 animation for the old Flash Player, it exports JavaScript animation that can be embedded into any HTML5 page for any modern browser.

WikiPedia lays out Adobe Animates history and it’s fascinating. I was working as a designer for Padulo Advertising in Toronto back in 1994. So in 1996 I had the good fortune to use Macromedia Flash version 1.0. And it made a tremendous impact on my business and the type of work I began to do in Advertising.

Macromedia
In November 1996, FutureSplash was acquired by Macromedia, and Macromedia re-branded and released FutureSplash Animator as Macromedia Flash 1.0. 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. By 2005, more computers worldwide had Flash Player installed than any other Web media format, including Java, QuickTime, RealNetworks and Windows Media Player.

Macromedia upgraded the Flash system between 1996 and 1999 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 2000, the first major version of ActionScript was developed, and released with Flash 5. Actionscript 2.0 was released with Flash MX 2004 and supported object-oriented programming, improved UI components and other programming features. The last version of Flash released by Macromedia was Flash 8, which focused on graphical upgrades such as filters (blur, drop shadow, etc.), blend modes (similar to Adobe Photoshop), and advanced features for FLV video.

Adobe
Macromedia was acquired by Adobe Systems in 2005, and the entire Macromedia product line including Flash, Dreamweaver, Director/Shockwave, Fireworks (which has since been discontinued) and Authorware is now handled by Adobe.

In 2007, Adobe’s first version release was Adobe Flash CS3 Professional, the ninth major version of Flash. It introduced the ActionScript 3.0 programming language, which supported modern programming practices and enabled business applications to be developed with Flash. Adobe Flex Builder (built on Eclipse) targeted the enterprise application development market, and was also released the same year. Flex Builder included the Flex SDK, a set of components that included charting, advanced UI, and data services (Flex Data Services).

In 2008, Adobe released the tenth version of Flash, Adobe Flash CS4. 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).

Also in 2008, Adobe released the first version of Adobe Integrated Runtime (later re-branded as Adobe AIR), a runtime engine that replaced Flash Player, and provided additional capabilities to the ActionScript 3.0 language to build desktop and mobile applications. With AIR, developers could access the file system (the user’s files and folders), and connected devices suxh as joystick, gamepad and sensors for the first time.

In 2011, Adobe Flash Player 11 was released, and with it the first version of Stage3D, allowing GPU-accelerated 3D rendering for Flash applications and games on desktop platforms such as Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Adobe further improved 3D capabilities from 2011 to 2013, adding support for 3D rendering on Android and iOS platforms, alpha-channels, compressed textures, texture atlases, and other features. Adobe AIR was upgraded to support 64-bit computers, and to allow developers to add additional functionality to the AIR runtime using AIR Native Extensions (ANE).

In 2014, Adobe AIR reached a milestone with over 100,000 unique applications built, and over 1 billion installations logged across the world (May 2014). Adobe AIR was voted the Best Mobile Application Development product at the Consumer Electronics Show on two consecutive years (CES 2014 and CES 2015). In 2016, Adobe renamed Flash Professional, the primary authoring software for Flash content, to Adobe Animate to reflect its growing use for authoring HTML5 content in favour of Flash content.

End of life
Although Flash was previously a dominant platform for online multimedia content, it is slowly being abandoned as Adobe favors a transition to HTML5 due to inherent security flaws and significant resources required to maintain the platform. Apple restricted the use of Flash on iOS due to concerns that it performed poorly on its mobile devices, had negative impact on battery life, and was deemed unnecessary for online content. As a result, it was not adopted by Apple for its smartphone and tablet devices, which also reduced its user base and encouraged wider adoption of HTML5 features such as the canvas and video elements, which can replace Flash without the need for plugins. In 2015, Adobe rebranded its Flash authoring environment as Adobe Animate to emphasize its expanded support for HTML5 authoring, and stated that it would “encourage content creators to build with new web standards” rather than using Flash. In July 2017, Adobe announced that it would declare Flash to be end-of-life in 2020, and will cease support, distribution, and security updates to Flash Player. After the announcement, developers have started a petition to turn Flash into an open-source project, leading to controversy.

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