Mozilla’s announcement that Firefox will practically stop playing Flash videos and games early next year was a reminder that a large part of the web’s history, both good and bad, will soon disappear, but it will definitely not be. forgotten. Despite all the criticism it received over the years, it still generated a plethora of content, some of which never made the transition to HTML5. As guardians of the long and massive history of the Internet, the Internet Archives are announcing a safe haven for these animations and games, at least those that will be able to run on a special Flash emulator.
Flash delivered what was extremely necessary for the young Web in the 90s, when dial-up connections, inconsistent browsers and the lack of standards made it more of a western when it came to interactive content. Three decades later, Flash became a security risk, but it would be a terrible service for the story and a lie to claim that it did not produce a type of content that would have been lost forever if it weren’t for the hard work of some Fans of Flash and Internet historians.
Last year, the Ruffle emulator came up with the exact goal of preserving Flash content, allowing them to run even without the vulnerable Flash plug-in. Ironically and fatally, it was written using Rust, the programming language born in Mozilla, which dates back to Netscape of yesteryear. Ruffle also uses WebAssembly, the low-level, high-performance web code that works on any modern browser, without the bloat and insecurity of Flash itself.
The Internet Archives are now using Ruffle, which is still in development, to feed the new section of his emularity system. The compatibility with Flash is not 100%, unsurprisingly, but the amount of animations it can already play is quite impressive. They are also calling on creators and content owners to bring their old Flash masterpieces (or errors) to Archives for security.
Few are likely to shed tears when Flash officially disappears from the web next year, but many have memorable moments with technology, whether good or bad. It is definitely comforting that the community has taken control where companies like Adobe have never bothered to try to preserve a large part of the Internet’s history, however embarrassing it may be at times.