Adobe Kills Flash but not Really, and that's OK

Sometimes on TV shows a character gets killed off, but the actor playing that role sticks around as the long lost twin, look alike cousin, clone, or some other contrived part. That's pretty much what Adobe is doing with Flash, but there's a better chance for a good story line here.

So long, Flash. Hello Animate CC.So long, Flash. Hello Animate CC.

Adobe has a big Creative Cloud update coming in January 2016, and one of the changes will be the renaming of Flash Professional CC—Adobe's long-time Flash content creation tool—to Animate CC. To be fair, this is more than rebranding; it's a big step towards shoring up Adobe's place as a mainstream HTML5 content creator. It's also an important step on the path to Flash's inevitable demise.

For content creators, this is Adobe's big sign in the sky saying, "We get it. You aren't making Flash content like you were and need serious HTML5 tools. Fine."

It's no secret that Flash's glory days are long past. There was a time when killer online content was all built in Flash, and Flash Player was even part of the standard operating system installation on the Mac. Thanks to hefty downloads, performance issues, and major security flaws, however, content creators started migrating away from Flash in favor of HTML5 and CSS.

Apple dealt Flash a harsh blow by pulling its player plug-ins from standard OS X installations, and refusing to allow the platform on the iPhone and iPad. When Apple posted an open letter from Steve Jobs in April 2010 calling for the end of Flash, the platform's death spiral was locked in.

At the time, Mr. Jobs said Flash was "closed and proprietary, has major technical drawbacks, and doesn't support touch based devices."

Website developers have been migrating away from Flash for years, modern browsers routinely block Flash content over security issues, and Amazon recently told advertisers that Flash ads were verboten.

Now it seems Adobe's years-long refusal to accept Flash's decline has ended. The company finally responded to Steve Jobs's open letter, and instead of saying, "Nope! You're wrong, Steve," Adobe seems to be accepting the inevitable.

In a five-years-late open letter response, Adobe stated,

Today, open standards like HTML5 have matured and provide many of the capabilities that Flash ushered in. Our customers have clearly communicated that they would like our creative applications to evolve to support multiple standards and we are committed to doing that.

Loosely translated: Developers were migrating away from Flash, and Adobe didn't want to lose their business.

Websites that rely heavily on Flash, like Pandora, BBC, and, have been put on warning: Flash's days are numbered. It's time to move on.

The move away from Flash has been years in the making, and it'll continue to be a slow process. That said, dropping the Flash name in favor of Animate for Adobe's multimedia content creation tools makes it clear the Web now belongs to HTML5.

It's a smart move for Adobe, and a great way to keep its Web developer base during Flash's long road into oblivion. Animate CC gives Web developers the HTML5 tools they want while keeping the Flash tools they may need for the time being.

This makes the transition into post-Flash world easier for Adobe and Flash developers. Even though Flash is a sinking ship, there are still plenty of sites that rely on the platform so it's important for Adobe to maintain the tools developers need while they migrate to modern technologies such as HTML5 and H.264.

Maybe Adobe needed to go through a grieving process before accepting Flash's golden age was over. Maybe someone left a copy of On Death & Dying on Adobe's coffee table. Regardless, Adobe is moving into the post-Flash era in a big way, and they're doing it without leaving developers hanging in the breeze.