Adobe doesn't care about developers

Published on . Flash

TL;DR If your business depends on Flash, have an exit-plan ready, because they could remove any feature at their leisure. Much like when building for Facebook, Twitter, or any other proprietary platform, Flash should be regarded as an untrusted third party that could kick you off at any time.

Flash used to be hot stuff but nowadays Javascript, HTML5, WebGL and several neat API’s get you pretty much 80% there. For those applications or games that require features not yet available in HTML5 you could always fall back to Flash. That’s what I’ve been recommending, at least until now.

Adobe just tagged this bug report with “NeverFix”. This bug was one of the highest voted in the past year, and describes how in Flash 11.8 Adobe silently crippled the JIT compilation of shaders on the GPU. The now-disabled feature enabled complex effects on real time video, quick renderings of huge images, and was “hacked” a lot to provide fast parallel data processing.

The feature was all about using the GPU’s parallel architecture to do something fast. And now it isn’t fast anymore: They discovered a security issue and instead of fixing the problem they took the easy route and moved the shaders to the CPU. They even had the gall to claim that because of modern computer performance nobody would notice. They didn’t even mention it in the changelog.

The comments on that report show otherwise, but I’ll let you read those yourself. Suffice it to say a lot of developers are now screwed because their app or game is running at 2fps.

From now on, take this to heart: Don’t trust Adobe. If you want to do something that requires Flash, think really, really hard if you can’t do it some other way. If not, maybe it’s a reason to not do it at all. Sooner or later Adobe might ruthlessly drop support for features you need. Closing this bug is just one of a million signs showing they just don’t care about developers. Maybe they should hire Ballmer.

About the only thing it’s still good for is copy to clipboard.

David Verhasselt

Senior full-stack engineer with 5 years of experience building web applications for clients all over the world.

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