This news was kind of expected as other popular browsers have already indicated their plans to end support for the flash software. According to Mozilla, some parts of the flash software that are not really necessary for users browsing experience would be blocked leaving only the essential parts. A streamlining of sort.
The reason for this is to make Firefox more secure because hackers find it easy to get access to our systems through security lapses that are very common in Adobe Flash. Other benefits of the action include:
- the ability to load Web pages faster
- improved battery life of laptops during browsing. Though the net gain in terms of battery life is debatable. Anyway, that remains to be seew
- enhanced browser responsiveness
- the browser would be less prone to crashing.
The last two points are of particular interest to me. In the last few months, I have almost torn my hair out with frustrations at the intermittent freezing and crashing of my Firefox.
Imagine while in the middle of doing something important with time as a decisive factor, only for the browser to freeze midway through. Then you have to wait for it to start responding again. Even worse is when the browser would suddenly crash completely. In which case you need to restart it and hope that you’ve not lost anything important.
The last time it crashed, I was forced to update my Opera for Windows. I just did not fancy using Chrome for some reasons. I have to say, something good came out of that experience in the form of the Opera browser which is practically flawless.
So if ending support for Adobe flash would end that problem, then it can’t come soon enough because I still prefer Firefox to other browsers.
The news was announced in a blog post by Firefox developer Benjamin Smedberg. Among other things he said:
Over the past few years, Firefox has implemented Web APIs to replace functionality that was formerly provided only by plugins. This includes audio/video playback and streaming capabilities, clipboard integration, fast 2D and 3D graphics, WebSocket networking, and microphone/camera access. As websites have switched from Flash to other web technologies, the plugin crash rate in Firefox has dropped significantly.
Firefox will continue this trend by blocking specific Flash content invisible to users. This is expected to reduce Flash crashes and hangs by up to 10%. To minimize website compatibility problems, the changes are initially limited to a short, curated list of Flash content that can be replaced with HTML. We intend to add to this list over time.
These changes are part of our ongoing efforts to make browsing safer and faster without sacrificing the Web experiences our users love. As we announced last year, Firefox plans to drop support for all NPAPI plugins, except Flash, in March 2017. The next major Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) release, also scheduled for March, will continue to support plugins such as Silverlight and Java until early 2018, for those users who need more time for their transition.
We are experimenting with many other features and improvements that will make Firefox an even more awesome platform for discovery and collaboration. We welcome your feedback and feature requests.”
I just can’t wait till the beginning of next month to see how my Firefox behaves after updating to Firefox 48. However by the time Firefox 53 is released in March next year, automatic flash plugins would be disabled. By then, users would have to manually click to enable all flash to work in their browser. I guess that would be nice as it would save us quite a bit of mobile data.
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