Adobe Flash Player

Adobe Flash Player (labeled Shockwave Flash in Internet Explorer and Firefox)[5] is computer software for using content created on the Adobe Flash platform, including viewing multimedia contents, executing rich Internet applications, and streaming audio and video. Flash Player can run from a web browser as a browser plug-in or on supported mobile devices. Flash Player was created by Macromedia and has been developed and distributed by Adobe Systems since Adobe acquired Macromedia in 2005. Flash Player is distributed as freeware or, in China, as adware.

Flash Player runs SWF files that can be created by Adobe Flash Professional, Adobe Flash Builder or by third party tools such as FlashDevelop. Flash Player supports vector graphics, 3D graphics, embedded audio, video and raster graphics, and a scripting language called ActionScript. ActionScript is based on ECMAScript (similar to JavaScript) and supports object-oriented code. Flash Player is distributed free of charge and its plug-in versions are available for every major web browser and operating system. Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 11 in Windows 8 and later, and Microsoft Edge come bundled with a sandboxed Adobe Flash plug-in.[6][7][8][9][10]

Flash Player once had a large user base, and was a common format for web games, animations, and graphical user interface (GUI) elements embedded in web pages. Adobe stated in 2013 that more than 400 million out of over 1 billion connected desktops update to the new version of Flash Player within six weeks of release.[11] Flash Player has become increasingly criticized for its performance, consumption of battery on mobile devices, the number of security vulnerabilities that had been discovered in the software, and its closed platform nature. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was highly critical of Flash Player, having published an open letter detailing Apple's reasoning for banning Flash from its iOS device family. Its usage has also waned because of modern web standards that allow some of Flash's use cases to be fulfilled without third-party plugins.[12][13][14]

In July 2017, Adobe announced[15] that it would end support for Flash Player in 2020, and continued to encourage the use of open HTML5 standards in place of Flash.[16][17] The announcement was coordinated with Apple,[18] Facebook,[19] Google,[20] Microsoft,[21] and Mozilla.[22]

Adobe Flash Player
Adobe Flash Player v11 icon
Original author(s)FutureWave
Developer(s)Adobe Systems
Initial releaseJanuary 1, 1996 (23 years ago)
Stable release(s) [±]
Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS32.0.0.171[1] / April 9, 2019[2]
Android 4.0.x11.1.115.81 / September 10, 2013[2]
Android 2.x and 3.x11.1.111.73 / September 10, 2013[2]
Solaris11.2.202.223 / March 28, 2012[2]
Preview release(s) [±]
Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS32.0.0.161 Beta / March 15, 2019[3]
Written inC++
Operating systemWindows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS (current)
Solaris, BlackBerry Tablet OS, Android, Pocket PC (discontinued)
PlatformWeb browsers and ActiveX-based software
Available inChinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, and Turkish[4]
TypeRuntime system and browser extension


Adobe Flash Player is a runtime that executes and displays content from a provided SWF file, although it has no in-built features to modify the SWF file at runtime. It can execute software written in the ActionScript programming language which enables the runtime manipulation of text, data, vector graphics, raster graphics, sound and video. The player can also access certain connected hardware devices, including the web cameras and microphones, after permission for the same has been granted by the user.

Flash Player is used internally by the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR), to provide a cross-platform runtime environment for desktop applications and mobile applications. AIR supports installable applications on Windows, Linux, macOS, and some mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android. Flash applications must specifically be built for the AIR runtime to use additional features provided, such as file system integration, native client extensions, native window/screen integration, taskbar/dock integration, and hardware integration with connected Accelerometer and GPS devices.[23]

Data formats

Flash Player includes native support for many data formats, some of which can only be accessed through the ActionScript scripting interface.

  • XML: Flash Player has included native support for XML parsing and generation since version 8. XML data is held in memory as an XML Document Object Model, and can be manipulated using ActionScript. ActionScript 3 also supports ECMAScript for XML (E4X), which allows XML data to be manipulated more easily.
  • JSON: Flash Player 11 includes native support for importing and exporting data in the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format, which allows interoperability with web services and JavaScript programs.
  • AMF: Flash Player allows application data to be stored on users computers, in the form of Local Shared Objects, the Flash equivalent to browser cookies.[24] Flash Player can also natively read and write files in the Action Message Format, the default data format for Local Shared Objects. Since the AMF format specification is published, data can be transferred to and from Flash applications using AMF datasets instead of JSON or XML, reducing the need for parsing and validating such data.
  • SWF: The specification for the SWF file format was published by Adobe, enabling the development of the SWX Format project, which used the SWF file format and AMF as a means for Flash applications to exchange data with server side applications.[25][26] The SWX system stores data as standard SWF bytecode which is automatically interpreted by Flash Player.[27] Another open-source project, SWXml allows Flash applications to load XML files as native ActionScript objects without any client-side XML parsing, by converting XML files to SWF/AMF on the server.[28][29]

Multimedia formats

Flash Player is primarily a graphics and multimedia platform, and has supported raster graphics and vector graphics since its earliest version. It supports the following different multimedia formats which it can natively decode and play back.

  • MP3: Support for decoding and playback of streaming MPEG-2 Audio Layer III (MP3) audio was introduced in Flash Player 4. MP3 files can be accessed and played back from a server via HTTP, or embedded inside an SWF file, which is also a streaming format.
  • FLV: Support for decoding and playing back video and audio inside Flash Video (FLV and F4V) files, a format developed by Adobe Systems and Macromedia. Flash Video is only a container format and supports multiple different video codecs, such as Sorenson Spark, VP6 and more recently H.264.[30] Flash Player uses hardware acceleration to display video where present, using technologies such as DirectX Video Acceleration and OpenGL to do so. Flash Video is used by YouTube,[31] Hulu,[32] Yahoo! Video, BBC Online[33] and other news providers. FLV files can be played back from a server using HTTP progressive download, and can also be embedded inside an SWF file. Flash Video can also be streamed via RTMP using the Adobe Flash Media Server or other such server-side software.
  • PNG: Support for decoding and rendering Portable Network Graphics (PNG) images, in both its 24-bit (opaque) and 32-bit (semi-transparent) variants. Flash Player 11 can also encode a PNG bitmap via ActionScript.
  • JPEG: Support for decoding and rendering compressed JPEG images. Flash Player 10 added support for the JPEG-XR advanced image compression standard developed by Microsoft Corporation, which results in better compression and quality than JPEG. JPEG-XR enables lossy and lossless compression with or without alpha channel transparency. Flash Player 11 can also encode a JPEG or JPEG-XR bitmap via ActionScript.
  • GIF: Support for decoding and rendering compressed Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) images, in its single-frame variants only. Loading a multi-frame GIF will display only the first image frame.

Streaming protocols


Hardware acceleration

Until version 10 of the Flash player, there was no support for GPU acceleration. Version 10 added a limited form of support for shaders on materials in the form of the Pixel Bender API, but still did not have GPU-accelerated 3D vertex processing.[42] A significant change came in version 11, which added a new low-level API called Stage3D (initially codenamed Molehill), which provides full GPU acceleration, similar to WebGL.[43][44] (The partial support for GPU acceleration in Pixel Bender was completely removed in Flash 11.8, resulting in the disruption of some projects like MIT's Scratch, which lacked the manpower to recode their applications quickly enough.[45][46])

Current versions of Flash Player are optimized to use hardware acceleration for video playback and 3D graphics rendering on many devices, including desktop computers. Performance is similar to HTML5 video playback.[47][48] Also, Flash Player has been used on multiple mobile devices as a primary user interface renderer.[49]


Although code written in ActionScript 3 executes up to 10 times faster than the prior ActionScript 2,[50] the Adobe ActionScript 3 compiler is a non-optimizing compiler, and produces inefficient bytecode in the resulting SWF, when compared to toolkits such as CrossBridge.[51][52][53][54][55]

CrossBridge, a toolkit that targets C++ code to run within the Flash Player, uses the LLVM compiler to produce bytecode that runs up to 10 times faster than code the ActionScript 3 compiler produces, only because the LLVM compiler uses more aggressive optimization.[53][54][55]

Adobe has released ActionScript Compiler 2 (ASC2) in Flex 4.7 and onwards, which improves compilation times and optimizes the generated bytecode and supports method inlining, improving its performance at runtime.[56]

As of 2012, the Haxe multiplatform language can build programs for Flash Player that perform faster than the same application built with the Adobe Flex SDK compiler.[57]

Development methods

Flash Player applications and games can be built in two significantly different methods:

  • "Flex" applications: The Adobe Flex Framework is an integrated collection of stylable Graphical User Interface, data manipulation and networking components, and applications built upon it are termed "Flex" applications. Startup time is reduced since the Flex framework must be downloaded before the application begins, and weighs in at approximately 500 KB. Editors include Adobe Flash Builder and FlashDevelop.
  • "Pure ActionScript" applications: Applications built without the Flex framework allow greater flexibility and performance.[58][59][60] Video games built for Flash Player are typically pure-Actionscript projects. Various open-source component frameworks are available for pure ActionScript projects, such as MadComponents, that provide UI Components at significantly smaller SWF file sizes.[61][62]

In both methods, developers can access the full Flash Player set of functions, including text, vector graphics, bitmap graphics, video, audio, camera, microphone, and others. AIR also includes added features such as file system integration, native extensions, native desktop integration, and hardware integration with connected devices.

Development tools

Adobe provides five ways of developing applications for Flash Player:

Third-party development environments are also available:

Game development

Adobe offers the free Adobe Gaming SDK, consisting (as of August 2014) of several open-source AS3 libraries built on the Flash Player Stage3D APIs for GPU-accelerated graphics:[65]

  • Away3D: GPU-accelerated 3D graphics and animation engine
  • Starling: GPU-accelerated 2D graphics that mimics the Flash display list API
  • Feathers: GPU-accelerated skinnable GUI library built on top of Starling
  • Dragon Bones: GPU-accelerated 2D skeletal animation library

A few commercial game engines target Flash Player (Stage3D) as run-time environment, such as Unity 3D[66] and Unreal Engine 3.[66][67] Before the introduction of Stage3D, a number of older 2D engines or isometric engines like Flixel saw their heyday.[68]

Adobe also developed the CrossBridge toolkit which cross-compiles C/C++ code to run within the Flash Player, using LLVM and GCC as compiler backends, and high-performance memory-access opcodes in the Flash Player (termed "Domain Memory") to work with in-memory data quickly.[69] CrossBridge is targeted toward the game development industry,[70] and includes tools for building, testing, and debugging C/C++ projects in Flash Player.

Notable online video games developed in Flash include Angry Birds, FarmVille and FarmVille 2, and AdventureQuest (started in 2002, and still active as of 2011).[71]


Desktop platforms

The latest version of Flash Player is available for Windows XP and later, Mac OS X 10.6 and later and Linux.

Adobe Flash Player is available in four flavors:

  1. The "Internet Explorer – ActiveX" version is an ActiveX control for use in Internet Explorer, its shells, and other Windows applications that support ActiveX technology. This plugin cannot be installed on Windows 8 and later, because these OSes come with their own integrated Flash Player ActiveX.
  2. The "Firefox – NPAPI" version is available for Firefox as well as other applications that support NPAPI technology.
  3. The "Opera and Chromium – PPAPI" version is available for Chromium and browsers based on Chromium (such as Opera) as well as other applications that support PPAPI technology. This plugin cannot be installed on Google Chrome as it comes with its own built-in Flash component.
  4. The "projector" version is a standalone player that can open SWF files directly.[72]

On February 22, 2012, Adobe announced that it would no longer release new versions of NPAPI Flash plugins for Linux, although Flash Player 11.2 would continue to receive security updates.[73][74][75] In August 2016 Adobe announced that, beginning with version 24, it will resume offering of Flash Player for Linux for other browsers.[76]

The Extended Support Release (ESR) of Flash Player on macOS and Windows was a version of Flash Player kept up to date with security updates, but none of the new features or bug fixes available in later versions. It has been on version 11.7 as of July 9, 2013,[77] version 13 as of May 13, 2014,[78] and version 18 as of August 11, 2015.[79] Adobe has decided to discontinue the ESR branch and instead focus solely on the standard release as of August 2016.[80]

Availability on desktop operating systems
Operating system Latest stable version Support status
Windows XP and later, Server 2003 and later Current stable version:[81] 2001–
2000 Old version, no longer supported: and[82] 1999–2013
98 and ME Old version, no longer supported:[82] 1998–2011
95 and NT 4 (IA-32) Old version, no longer supported:[82] 1996–2005
macOS 10.610.14 Current stable version:[81] 2009–
10.5 (IA-32,x64) Old version, no longer supported:[82] 2007–2013
10.4 (IA-32,PPC)–10.5 (PPC) Old version, no longer supported:[82] 2005–2011
10.010.3 Old version, no longer supported:[82] 2001–2011
Classic Mac OS 7.6.1–9.2.2 (PowerPC) Old version, no longer supported:[82] 1996–2005
7.6.1–8.1 (68k) Old version, no longer supported: 5[83] 1996–2002
Linux desktop Current stable version:[81] 1996
Solaris Old version, no longer supported:[82] ?

Mobile platforms

In 2011, Flash Player had emerged as the de facto standard for online video publishing on the desktop, with adaptive bitrate video streaming, DRM, and fullscreen support.[31][32] On mobile devices however, after Apple refused to allow the Flash Player within the inbuilt iOS web browser, Adobe changed strategy, enabling Flash content to be delivered as native mobile applications using the Adobe Integrated Runtime.

Up until 2012, Flash Player 11 was available for the Android (ARM Cortex-A8 and above),[84][85] although in June 2012, Google announced that Android 4.1 (codenamed Jelly Bean) would not support Flash by default. Starting in August 2012, Adobe no longer updates Flash for Android.[86] In spite of this, Adobe Flash is still available to install on Android devices via Adobe's update archives (up to Android 4.3).

Flash Player is certified to be supported on a select range of mobile and tablet devices, from Acer, BlackBerry 10, Dell, HTC, Lenovo, Logitech, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp, SoftBank, Sony (and Sony Ericsson), and Toshiba.[87][88][89] As of 2012, Adobe has stopped browser-based Flash Player development for mobile browsers in favor of HTML5,[90][91] however Adobe continues to support Flash content on mobile devices with the Adobe Integrated Runtime, which allows developers to publish content that runs as native applications on certain supported mobile phone platforms.

Version 9 was the most recent version available for the Linux/ARM-based Nokia 770/N800/N810 Internet tablets running Maemo OS2008, classic Mac OS and Windows 95/NT.[92] Version 10 can be run under Windows 98/Me using KernelEx. HP offered Version 6 of the player for HP-UX.[93] Other versions of the player have been available at some point for OS/2, Symbian OS, Palm OS, BeOS and IRIX.[94] The Kodak Easyshare One includes Flash Player.[95]

Adobe said it will optimize Flash for use on ARM architecture (ARMv7 and ARMv6 architectures used in the Cortex-A series of processors and in the ARM11 family) and release it in the second half of 2009. The company also stated it wants to enable Flash on NVIDIA Tegra, Texas Instruments OMAP 3 and Samsung ARMs.[96][97] Beginning 2009, it was announced that Adobe would be bringing Flash to TV sets via Intel Media Processor CE 3100 before mid-2009.[98] ARM Holdings later said it welcomes the move of Flash, because "it will transform mobile applications and it removes the claim that the desktop controls the Internet."[99] However, as of May 2009, the expected ARM/Linux netbook devices had poor support for Web video and fragmented software base.[100]

Among other devices, LeapFrog Enterprises provides Flash Player with their Leapster Multimedia Learning System and extended the Flash Player with touch-screen support.[101] Sony has integrated Flash Player 6 into the PlayStation Portable's web browser via firmware version 2.70 and Flash Player 9 into the PlayStation 3's web browser in firmware version 2.50.[102] Nintendo has integrated Flash Lite 3.1, equivalent to Flash 8, in the Internet Channel on the Wii.

The following table documents historical support for Flash Player and AIR on mobile operating systems:

Platform Latest version
Android 2.2–4.1, ARM Cortex-A8+[103] Flash Player 11.1, AIR 3.1[85][104][105]
Android 2.1 Flash Lite 3.0
iOS Flash Player 11.1, AIR 3.1[84][104]
BlackBerry 10.0–10.3.1 Flash Player 11.1, AIR 3.1
BlackBerry Tablet OS Flash Player 11.1, AIR 3.1[104][106]
Maemo Flash Player 9.4[107]
PlayStation 3 with Firmware 2.50, NetFront 2.81 Flash Player 9.1 (update 3)
PSP with Firmware 2.70 Flash Player 6[108]
Symbian OS Flash Lite 4.0[109]
Wii (Internet Channel) Flash Lite 3.1[110]
Pocket PC 2003[111] Flash Player 7[112][113]
Windows Mobile 5[111] Flash Player 7[112]

Other hardware

Some CPU emulators have been created for Flash Player, including Chip8,[114] Commodore 64,[115] ZX Spectrum[116] and the Nintendo Entertainment System.[117] They enable video games created for such platforms to run within Flash Player.

Open source

Adobe has taken steps to reduce or eliminate Flash licensing costs. For instance, the SWF file format documentation is provided free of charge[118] after they relaxed the requirement of accepting a non-disclosure agreement to view it in 2008.[119] Adobe also created the Open Screen Project which removes licensing fees and opens data protocols for Flash.

Adobe has also open-sourced many components relating to Flash.

  • In 2006, the ActionScript Virtual Machine 2 (AVM2) which implements ActionScript 3 was donated as open-source to Mozilla Foundation, to begin work on the Tamarin virtual machine that will finally implement the ECMAScript 4 language standard with the help of the Mozilla community.[120] It was released under the terms of a MPL/GPL/LGPL tri-license and includes the specification for the ActionScript bytecode format; Tamarin Project jointly managed by Mozilla and Adobe Systems[121] It is now considered obsolete by Mozilla.
  • In 2011, the Adobe Flex Framework was donated as open-source to the Apache Software Foundation and rebranded as Apache Flex.[63] Some saw this move as Adobe abandoning Flex, and stepping away from the Flash Platform as a whole.[122][123] Sources from Apache say that "Enterprise application development is no longer a focus at Adobe. At least as Flash is concerned, Adobe is concentrating on games and video.",[122][124] and they conclude that "Flex Innovation is Exploding!".[124] The donated source code included a partly developed AS3 compiler (dubbed "Falcon") and the BlazeDS set of technologies.[123][124]
  • In 2013, the CrossBridge C++ cross-compilation toolset was open sourced by Adobe and released on GitHub.[125][126] The project was formerly termed "Alchemy" and "Flash Runtime C++ Compiler", and targeted the game development market to enable C++ video games to run in Adobe Flash Player.[127]

However, Adobe has not been willing to make complete source code of the Flash Player available for free software development. Free and open source alternatives to the Adobe Flash Player such as Shumway and Gnash have been built, but are no longer under active development[128] and therefore not a viable alternative. The only fully functional third-party Flash Player is the commercially available Scaleform GFx Player, which is game development middleware designed for integration into non-Flash video games.



In some browsers, prior Flash versions have had to be uninstalled before an updated version could be installed.[129][130] However, as of version 11.2 for Windows, there are now automatic updater options.[131] Linux is partially supported, as Adobe is cooperating with Google to implement it via Chrome web browser on all Linux platforms.[132]

Mixing Flash applications with HTML leads to inconsistent behavior with respect to input handling (keyboard and mouse not working as they would in an HTML-only document). This is often done in web sites[133] and can lead to poor user experience with the site.

The February 20, 2014 update to introduced a reported bug, producing green video with sound only. This defect is related to hardware acceleration and may be overcome by disabling hardware acceleration via the Adobe settings in Firefox (accessed by right clicking within the video) or in Internet Explorer (within the Tools settings).[134] This defect may be related to widely used graphics hardware, AMD Radeon HD video cards, and similar visual defects have occurred in earlier Flash updates, with the same workaround.


Flash Player supports persistent local storage of data (also referred to as Local Shared Objects), which can be used similarly to HTTP cookies or Web Storage in web applications. Local storage in Flash Player allows websites to store non-executable data on a user's computer, such as authentication information, game high scores or saved games, server-based session identifiers, site preferences, saved work, or temporary files. Flash Player will only allow content originating from exactly the same website domain to access data saved in local storage.[135]

Because local storage can be used to save information on a computer that is later retrieved by the same site, a site can use it to gather user statistics, similar to how HTTP cookies and Web Storage can be used. With such technologies, the possibility of building a profile based on user statistics is considered by some a potential privacy concern. Users can disable or restrict use of local storage in Flash Player through a "Settings Manager" page.[136][137] These settings can be accessed from the Adobe website or by right-clicking on Flash-based content and selecting "Global Settings".

Local storage can be disabled entirely or on a site-by-site basis. Disabling local storage will block any content from saving local user information using Flash Player, but this may disable or reduce the functionality of some websites, such as saved preferences or high scores and saved progress in games.

Flash Player 10.1 and upward honor the privacy mode settings in the latest versions of the Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari web browsers, such that no local storage data is saved when the browser's privacy mode is in use.[138]


Adobe security bulletins and advisories announce security updates, but Adobe Flash Player release notes do not disclose the security issues addressed when a release closes security holes, making it difficult to evaluate the urgency of a particular update. A version test page allows the user to check if the latest version is installed, and uninstallers may be used to ensure that old-version plugins have been uninstalled from all installed browsers.

In February 2010, Adobe officially apologized[139] for not fixing a known vulnerability for over a year. In June 2010 Adobe announced a "critical vulnerability" in recent versions, saying there are reports that this vulnerability is being actively exploited in the wild against both Adobe Flash Player, and Adobe Reader and Acrobat.[140][141] Later, in October 2010, Adobe announced[142] another critical vulnerability, this time also affecting Android-based mobile devices. Android users have been recommended to disable Flash or make it only on demand.[143] Subsequent security vulnerabilities also exposed Android users, such as the two critical vulnerabilities published in February 2013[144] or the four critical vulnerabilities published in March 2013,[145] all of which could lead to arbitrary code execution.

Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report[146] states that a remote code execution in Adobe Reader and Flash Player[147] was the second most attacked vulnerability in 2009. The same report also recommended using browser extensions to disable Flash Player usage on untrusted websites. McAfee predicted that Adobe software, especially Reader and Flash, would be primary target for attacks in 2010.[148] Adobe applications had become, at least at some point, the most popular client-software targets for attackers during the last quarter of 2009.[149] The Kaspersky Security Network published statistics for the third quarter of 2012 showing that 47.5% of its users were affected by one or more critical vulnerabilities.[150] The report also highlighted that "Flash Player vulnerabilities enable cybercriminals to bypass security systems integrated into the application."[150]

Steve Jobs criticized the security of Flash Player, noting that "Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009".[151] Adobe responded by pointing out that "the Symantec Global Internet Threat Report for 2009, found that Flash Player had the second lowest number of vulnerabilities of all Internet technologies listed (which included both web plug-ins and browsers)."[152][153]

April 7, 2016, Adobe released a Flash Player patch for a zero-day memory corruption vulnerability CVE-2016-1019 that could be used to deliver malware via the Magnitude exploit kit. The vulnerability could be exploited for remote code execution.[154][155]

Vendor lock-in

Flash Player 11.2 does not play certain kinds of content unless it has been digitally signed by Adobe, following a license obtained by the publisher directly from Adobe.[156]

This move by Adobe, together with the abandonment of Flex to Apache was criticized as a way to lock out independent tool developers, in favor of Adobe's commercial tools.[157][158][159]

This has been resolved as of January 2013, after Adobe no longer requires a license or royalty from the developer. All premium features are now classified as general availability, and can be freely used by Flash applications.[160]

Apple controversy

In April 2010, Steve Jobs, at the time CEO of Apple Inc. published an open letter explaining why Apple would not support Flash on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.[151] In the letter he blamed problems with the "openness", stability, security, performance, and touchscreen integration of the Flash Player as reasons for refusing to support it. He also claimed that when one of Apple's Macintosh computers crashes, "more often than not" the cause can be attributed to Flash, and described Flash as "buggy".[161] Adobe's CEO Shantanu Narayen responded by saying, "If Flash [is] the number one reason that Macs crash, which I'm not aware of, it has as much to do with the Apple operating system."[162]

Steve Jobs also claimed that a large percentage of the video on the Internet is supported on iOS, since many popular video sharing websites such as YouTube have published video content in an HTML5 compatible format, enabling videos to playback in mobile web browsers even without Flash Player.[163]

China specific version

Starting with version 30, Adobe stopped distributing Flash Player directly to Chinese users. Instead, they selected as a partner and released a special version of Flash Player on a specific website,[164] which contains code to pop up advertisement window contents.[165][166][167] The partnership started in about 2017, but in version 30, Adobe disabled the usage of vanilla (global) version of Flash Player in China,[168] forcing users to use that specific version, which may pose a risk to its users due to China's Internet censorship.[169] This affects Google Chrome and Firefox users, as well as Internet Explorer users using Windows 7, as Microsoft still directly distributes Flash Player for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge through Windows Update in Windows 8 and upward.

Release history

Flash logo
The old Macromedia Flash Player logo

See also


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Further reading

External links

Add-on (Mozilla)

Add-on is the Mozilla term for software modules that can be added to the Firefox web browser and related applications. There are three types: extensions, themes, and plug-ins. Mozilla hosts them on its official add-on website.In 2017, Mozilla enacted major changes to the application programming interface (API) for add-ons in Firefox. The long-standing XUL and XPCOM capabilities were replaced by an API modeled after Google Chrome's; Firefox extensions are now largely compatible with their Chrome counterparts. Plug-ins were deprecated, with the exception of the Adobe Flash Player.

Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash is a deprecated 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. Related development platform Adobe AIR continues to be supported.

Artists may produce Flash graphics and animations using Adobe Animate. Software developers may produce applications and video games using Adobe Flash Builder, FlashDevelop, Flash Catalyst, or any text editor when used with the Apache Flex SDK.

End-users can view Flash content via Flash Player (for web browsers), AIR (for desktop or mobile apps) or third-party players such as Scaleform (for video games). Adobe Flash Player (supported on Microsoft Windows, macOS and Linux) enables end-users to view Flash content using web browsers. Adobe Flash Lite enabled viewing Flash content on older smartphones, but has been discontinued and superseded by Adobe AIR.

The ActionScript programming language allows the development of interactive animations, video games, web applications, desktop applications and mobile applications. Programmers can implement Flash software using an IDE such as Adobe Animate, Adobe Flash Builder, Adobe Director, FlashDevelop and Powerflasher FDT. Adobe AIR enables full-featured desktop and mobile applications to be developed with Flash and published for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Wii U, and Switch.

Although Flash was previously a dominant platform for online multimedia content, it is slowly being abandoned as Adobe favors a transition to HTML5. Flash Player has been deprecated and has an official end-of-life at the end of 2020. However, Adobe will continue to develop Adobe AIR, a related technology for building stand-alone applications and games.

Adobe Scout

Adobe Scout is a visual profiler for Adobe Flash content running on desktop or mobile platforms, and works together with Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR. Scout enables in-depth profiling of ActionScript 3 code execution, 2D graphics and text rendering, and 3D graphics rendered via the Stage3D application programming interface (API).Scout is the successor of the code profiler introduced in Adobe Flash Builder. Scout was released in January 2013, and provided memory and code execution profiling. Stage3D support was added c. June 2013, along with an integrated Stage3D rendering preview and draw-call recording and replay toolset.


Away3D is an open-source platform for developing interactive 3D graphics for video games and applications, in Adobe Flash or HTML5. The platform consists of a 3D world editor (Away Builder), a 3D graphics engine (Away3D or AwayJS), a 3D physics engine (Away Physics) and a compressed 3D model file format (AWD).Development is managed by the Away Foundation, a UK-based non-profit focussed on building and maintaining free and open-source software resources for high-performance mobile games and applications. The foundation is supported by corporate sponsorship (Adobe, JetBrains among others) and individual donors.

Browser extension

A browser extension is a small software module for customizing a web browser. Browsers typically allow a variety of extensions, including user interface modifications, ad blocking, and cookie management.

Browser plug-ins are a separate type of module. The main difference is that extensions are usually just source code, but plug-ins are always executables. As of 2019, plug-ins have been deprecated by most browsers, while extensions are widely used. The most popular browser, Google Chrome, has thousands of extensions available but only one plug-in: the Adobe Flash Player that is disabled by default.

Epic Citadel

Epic Citadel is a tech demo developed by Epic Games to demonstrate the Unreal Engine 3 running on Apple iOS, within Adobe Flash Player Stage3D and using HTML5 WebGL technologies. It was also released for Android on January 29, 2013.

The application allows players to explore a medieval landscape without being able to interact with it otherwise. The application further has a built in benchmark mode and a "guided tour" mode. Nonetheless this demonstration garnered significant attention as it showcases a free SDK called Epic’s Unreal Development Kit (UDK)The game uses dual zones with touchscreen control that are mapped as virtual joysticks. One controls the camera angle while the other controls the motion of the camera. The tech demo allows players to navigate through a fictional castle realm with various areas such as a circus bazaar, a river and a cathedral. The artwork of this demo was created by Shane Claudie and the program itself was created in eight weeks by a small team of programmers at Epic Games using the UDK.


Flash XML Graphics (FXG) is a specification for an XML-based graphics file format for describing two-dimensional vector graphics developed by Adobe Systems. FXG was planned as a graphics interchange format for cross-application file support, to be used by Adobe Flash and Adobe Flash Player.The XML model for FXG is based as closely as possible on the SVG XML graphics format.


Flare3D is a framework for developing interactive three-dimensional (3D) graphics within Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR, written in ActionScript 3. Flare3D includes a 3D object editor (the Flare3D IDE) and a 3D graphics engine for rendering 3D graphics. Flare3D runs on current web browsers utilizing the Adobe Flash Player, and uses Stage3D for GPU-accelerated rendering. Flare3D has not been under active development since late 2014.Flare3D has been used to develop popular browser-based video games such as FarmVille 2 and CityVille 2. Flare3D is one of the first frameworks to make GPU-accelerated 3D applications practical for web browsers, and is similar in purpose and design to Away3D. Flare3D has been used to create 3D models in online applications, such as Space Designer 3D.

The Flare3D platform consists of a 3D world editor, a runtime engine, and a collection of plug-ins for various applications.

The 3D editor may be used to lay out 3D objects, and to generate compressed Flare3D binary packages of 3D models. Such 3D models and animations may be imported from third-party programs such as Autodesk 3ds Max, or Autodesk Maya, or other mesh-based 3D modeller. The 3D runtime engine is typically supplied as a closed-source SWC package, although small portions are released on the GitHub open-source website.The Flare3D engine uses Stage3D for GPU-accelerated rendering, and contains support for rigid body physics, skeletal animations, and a proprietary GPU-shader language known as FLSL (Flare3D Shader Language). The engine also integrates with FLARToolkit (for augmented reality), Away Physics (from Away3D) and Starling (an Adobe project).The Flare3D plug-in for Autodesk 3ds Max is provided for free, and enables one-click exporting of a 3D model from 3ds Max to the Flare3D file format. Animation data is also exported, for "Hierarchical" and "Skinned"-based animations. Texture data is automatically converted from unsupported formats to JPG and PNG formats which are supported by the Flare3D engine.Flare3D has online help and a collaboratively-edited Wiki, forums, tutorials, examples, and documentation.


FlashDevelop is an integrated development environment (IDE) for development of Adobe Flash websites, web applications, desktop applications and video games. The resulting applications run in Adobe Flash Player or Adobe AIR, on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Android or iOS. The primary purpose of FlashDevelop is enabling developers to edit, compile, debug and publish a Flash ActionScript project. It supports ActionScript 2.0, ActionScript 3.0, Haxe and other upcoming languages. It has code completion, syntax highlighting, snippets and other features similar to Microsoft Visual Studio.

FlashDevelop is free and open source software, mostly written in C# and is built on the efficient Scintilla editor component. It is extensible with a plugin architecture and is a .NET Framework 2.0 application only available for Microsoft Windows. As an open source project with a modular plugin system, users are able to improve and optimize the program, as well as write plugins for features that may be missing. The project is primarily funded by donations.FlashDevelop uses the free Adobe Flex SDK to build ActionScript 3 and MXML applications, the free MTASC compiler to build ActionScript 2 applications, and the free Haxe toolkit to build ActionScript 3, PHP, Neko or JavaScript applications. It also has code completion and highlighting for XML, HTML, PHP, and CSS.

Flash Video

Flash Video is a container file format used to deliver digital video content (e.g., TV shows, movies, etc.) over the Internet using Adobe Flash Player version 6 and newer. Flash Video content may also be embedded within SWF files. There are two different video file formats known as Flash Video: FLV and F4V. The audio and video data within FLV files are encoded in the same manner as they are within SWF files. The F4V file format is based on the ISO base media file format and is starting with Flash Player 9 update 3. Both formats are supported in Adobe Flash Player and developed by Adobe Systems. FLV was originally developed by Macromedia.

In the early 2000s, Flash Video used to be the de facto standard for web-based streaming video (over RTMP). Notable users of it include Hulu, VEVO, Yahoo! Video, metacafe,, and many other news providers.

Flash Video FLV files usually contain material encoded with codecs following the Sorenson Spark or VP6 video compression formats. The most recent public releases of Flash Player (collaboration between Adobe Systems and MainConcept) also support H.264 video and HE-AAC audio. All of these compression formats are restricted by patents. Flash Video is viewable on most operating systems via the Adobe Flash Player and web browser plugin or one of several third-party programs. Apple's iOS devices, along with almost all other mobile devices, do not support the Flash Player plugin and so require other delivery methods such as provided by the Adobe Flash Media Server.

Gnash (software)

Gnash is a media player for playing SWF files. Gnash is available both as a standalone player for desktop computers and embedded devices, as well as a plugin for several browsers. It is part of the GNU Project and is a free and open-source alternative to Adobe Flash Player. It was developed from the gameswf project.Gnash was first announced in late 2005 by software developer John Gilmore. As of 2011, the project's maintainer is Rob Savoye. The main developer's web site for Gnash is located on the Free Software Foundation's GNU Savannah project support server.Gnash supports most SWF v7 features and some SWF v8 and v9, however SWF v10 is not supported.


idiomag is an early product created by idio, a UK-based technology company founded in 2006 by two Warwick Business School graduates, Andrew Davies and Ed Barrow. The idio platform allows publishers and brands to personalise their content and distribute it across multiple platforms, which is intended to improve audience engagement and revenue.

Using this platform, a consumer site is run at, which delivers digital music content to its users, in the form of a daily personalised music magazine. This magazine is viewed through the user’s browser, using the Adobe Flash Player, and can contain the full spectrum of text, images, and video chosen for each reader based on their tastes. The user can then find concert dates, download music, and buy tickets.The site also provides a widget, allowing the user’s magazine to be delivered on popular social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo, or on individual blogs.

The site aggregates content from a range of sources, both from the mainstream music press and the blogosphere, like a “glossy RSS feed”. Content is selected based on the user’s listening history, either manually entered or drawn from music sites such as, Pandora, and iLike.In 2009, the site released their API, making idiomag's content-delivery model available to web application programmers.


Papervision3D is an open-source, 3D graphics engine for rendering 3D content within Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR.Unlike modern Flash 3D engines such as Away3D and Flare3D, Papervision3D is not built for Stage3D and renders 3D content fully on the CPU without GPU-accelerated rendering.

Plug-in (computing)

In computing, a plug-in (or plugin, add-in, addin, add-on, or addon) is a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing computer program. When a program supports plug-ins, it enables customization.

Web browsers have historically allowed executables as plug-ins, though they are now mostly deprecated. (These are a different type of software module than browser extensions.) Two plug-in examples are the Adobe Flash Player for playing videos and a Java virtual machine for running applets.

A theme or skin is a preset package containing additional or changed graphical appearance details, achieved by the use of a graphical user interface (GUI) that can be applied to specific software and websites to suit the purpose, topic, or tastes of different users to customize the look and feel of a piece of computer software or an operating system front-end GUI (and window managers).


SWFObject (originally FlashObject) is an open-source JavaScript library used to embed Adobe Flash content onto Web pages, which is supplied as one small JavaScript file. The library can also detect the installed Adobe Flash Player plug-in in all major web browsers, on all major operating systems (OS), and can redirect the visitor to another webpage or show alternate HTML content if the installed plug-in is not suitable.The library is independent, although related external libraries often integrate with it, such as SWFAddress for deep linking and SWFFit for dynamic content scaling.

With the multitude of Flash embedding JavaScript libraries, SWFObject has emerged as the most popular being used by over 2,600,000 websites as of 2011, including high-profile websites such as,,,, and YouTube.

Shumway (software)

Shumway is a discontinued media player for playing SWF files. It was intended as an open-source replacement for Adobe Flash Player. It is licensed under Apache and SIL Open Font License (OFL). Mozilla started development on it in 2012. It is an improvement on an earlier project called Gordon; these names are an allusion to Flash Gordon and Gordon Shumway.Shumway renders Flash contents by translating Flash file contents to HTML5 elements, and running an ActionScript interpreter in JavaScript. It supports both AVM1 and AVM2, and ActionScript versions 1, 2, and 3.

Development of Shumway has effectively ceased. Although the project remains available on GitHub (see External links), in February 2016, the project was moved to the "Firefox Graveyard" and is thus considered defunct from Mozilla's point of view. Mozilla's strategy for the time being is to continue to support Adobe Flash, as an exception to its general policy of ceasing support for NPAPI plugins by the end of 2016.


In computing, Stage3D (codenamed Molehill) is an Adobe Flash Player API for rendering interactive 3D graphics with GPU-acceleration, within Flash games and applications. Flash Player or AIR applications written in ActionScript 3 may use Stage3D to render 3D graphics, and such applications run natively on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Apple iOS and Google Android. Stage3D is similar in purpose and design to WebGL.Stage3D was introduced in Adobe Flash Player 11.0 and AIR 3.0 in order to facilitate GPU-acceleration of 3D content in Flash applications In Flash Player 10 and earlier, 3D Flash applications had to render 3D graphics completely on the CPU. Flash Player 10 supported a limited form of GPU acceleration support for materials, in an API called Pixel Bender.GPU Shaders in Stage3D are expressed in the Adobe Graphics Assembly Language (AGAL). Stage3D objects depart from the traditional SWF rendering model in that they cannot be added to SWF's display lists; instead they must be instantiated via ActionScript.Because Stage3D is a low-level library that may be tedious to use directly, it has seen some higher-level 3D and 2D libraries built on top of it in order to benefit from the higher performance that it provides. An incomplete list of libraries and game engines using it includes: Unreal Engine 3, Away3D 4, CopperCube, Flare3D, Starling, ND2D or Adobe Labs' Proscenium. Similarly, WebGL 3D applications may be built with three.js, a higher-level library similar to these. Away3D and Starling have been christened as official components of the Adobe Gaming SDK.


Swfdec is an outdated free and open-source replacement for Adobe Flash Player. It runs on Linux and FreeBSD and is distributed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). Its last release was 0.8.4, on December 21, 2008 (2008-12-21) and latest in stable 0.9.2 of 2008-11-11.

Development of Swfdec has stopped. As of March 2016, the most recent commit to its Git repository was in December 2009.

Tamarin (software)

Tamarin is a free software virtual machine with just-in-time compilation (JIT) support intended to implement the 4th edition of the ECMAScript (ES4) language standard. Tamarin source code originates from ActionScript Virtual Machine 2 (AVM2) developed by Adobe Systems, as introduced within Adobe Flash Player 9, which implements ActionScript 3 scripting language. ActionScript Virtual Machine 2 was donated as open-source to Mozilla Foundation on November 7, 2006, to develop Tamarin as a high-performance virtual machine, with the support from broad Mozilla community, to be used by Mozilla and Adobe Systems in the next generation of their JavaScript and ActionScript engines with the ultimate aim to unify the scripting languages across web browsers and Adobe Flash platform and ease the development of rich better performing web applications.

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