Should Adobe Flash become Open Source? Three reasons in favor and three against

The announcement of the disappearance of Adobe Flash in 2020 had to come sooner or later, but there are those who want to give this technology a second chance.

In fact, the idea is to give the project to the Open Source community so that from now on independent developers will be in charge of ensuring that Flash can continue to exist. Does something like that make sense? The truth is that ** there are good arguments both for and against **. Let’s see them …

A singular request

Adobe Flash
Image Source: Google Image

A Finnish developer named Juha Lindstedt started a unique campaign the day after Adobe put the Flash expiration date. For this user ” Flash is an important piece of internet history, and killing it will mean that future generations will not be able to access the past.”

The petition that has been published on Github already has more than 3700 “signers” (they have marked it as a star favorite), and for Lindstedt there are still many important reasons to preserve it.

In fact on that page GitHub explains how there are still a number of projects in fields such as art or video games in which work with Flash continues to prove its worth. There are also some Open Source developments that like Gnash or Lightspark have been offering alternative ways to continue working with Flash and that are limited by the closed code and owner of the project.

In favor: Preserve history

Adobe Flash
Image Source: Google Image

Let’s start with the reasons that defend that proposal. Why should Adobe turn Flash into an Open Source project? There is a powerful argument, of course, which is precisely what the creator of that proposal wielded, but he is not the only one who supports this initiative …

  1. Preserving Flash for the story: as explained by Lindstedt himself, Flash technology has not only been one of the pillars of the evolution of the web, but it is still used in games, experiments and websites. This type of conversion to Open Source project would allow access to that past and, of course, learn from it.
  2. Security improvements: another of the potential advantages of making the jump to Open Source licenses would be the fact that all types of developers could audit and evaluate the code to improve it and correct all types of vulnerabilities. It is true that this code could also be used to the contrary, but the management of other projects that have been assigned to the Open Source community suggests that the advantages in this regard would be greater than the disadvantages.
  3. Conversion to modern formats: although Adobe itself offers tools to move Flash content to open and more modern standards, if Flash were to become Open Source there would also be renewed efforts in this regard that for example would guarantee that this work could also be done even with formats that appear after the “death” of Flash.

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Against: Too many security risks

Adobe Flash
Image Source: Google Image

That preservation of the history defended by those who support this initiative is too risky for many: Flash has become a major security problem for millions of users for years, and that is precisely the main argument against keeping Flash as Open Source technology. This and other arguments go against these intentions …

  1. Security problems: as we said, in recent years we have seen how Flash stopped evolving. Adobe simply released updates in the form of security patches. The vulnerabilities found in this technology are numerous, and in fact opening the project to Open Source could be unsuccessful: many fear that Flash is too complex to be able to save it – despite the fact that thousands of developers contribute to it – and make it become in a safe alternative to what we have today.
  2. There are already better alternatives: standards such as HTML5 have achieved that many of the functions offered by Flash can already be had thanks to these modern, open and more secure technologies. The conversion tools to this and other technologies have also shown that living without Flash is perfectly possible.
  3. Browsers do not want Flash: all those responsible for the big browsers on the market have made it clear that they are preparing their developments to stop supporting Flash by the end of 2020. Chrome, Firefox, Edge and even Facebook, which for years have been vehicles for the expansion of that technology, will stop giving room, and it seems unlikely that the jump to Open Source will change that situation now that as we say there are very valid alternatives.

It will be difficult to see an Open Source Flash

Adobe Flash
Image Source: Google Image

All these arguments can be added others, such as the fact that very few developers and websites support Flash and Adobe will get rid of a heavy burden when you stop working on this technology.

Not only that: it is not sure that releasing the code and converting Flash into Open Source will not violate third-party technology licenses that Adobe may have included throughout the different versions of the application. It would probably be difficult at the legal level to resolve those conflicts in order to turn Flash into an Open Source project with all the potential that is spoken of in that proposal.

All these arguments make us think that it is unlikely that Flash will end up being Open Source, but also that this development expires does not mean that it has to disappear altogether.

If technologies such as virtualization allow us to recover environments from the past for all kinds of purposes, the same could be done with an old version of a browser in a virtual machine with which to continue accessing these contents without putting anything in danger (beyond the virtual machine, of course).

What do you think? Do you think Adobe should turn Flash into an Open Source project?

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