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Topic: PSA: The Death of Flash/SWF and e621

Posted under General

Since we've been getting quite a few threads about this topic, and there likely will be more in the future yet, we've decided we'd make this PSA/heads up to hopefully answer all questions before they crop up.

TL;DR: Nothing will change on e621 itself, we will not be deleting any files, nor will we prevent the upload of new files. However in order to view flash files in the future you will likely need to download a standalone flash player projector and play the games/videos locally.

Long Answer: The death of flash is purely related to both the browser plugins as well as the continued development of the creator programs. The end user can still download the older versions just fine and use them locally, there just won't be any new updates to either of those. Since the Adobe Flash Player parts are compliant with Windows 10 they will likely continue to work for natively on windows for a decade or two at least.

How to get and use the standalone Adobe Flash Player Projector:

1.) Visit the Adobe Flash Player Debug Downloads
2.) Click "Download the Flash Player projector" and save the executable to your computer
Optional: Move the executable to a directory that you're less likely to empty on accident so you don't lose the thing
3.) Run the executable, click "File", click "Open...", select the flash file you want to start and open it.

Optional: You can set the projector as default for opening all flash files by following the below steps:
1.) Right click a flash file
2.) Select "Open With..."
2.5) If it already has an association this might change to "Choose Another App..." instead
3.) In the newly opened dialog box click "More Apps"
4.) Scroll down to "Look for another App on this PC" and click it
5.) Navigate to your Flash Player Projector executable and select it
6.) Click "Open".

All flash files should now have their icon replaced from a white rectangle to the Flash Player icon, and when double clicked directly open the file in the projector.

Updated by Mairo

Finding your save files from browsers and migrate them to the standalone flash player projector:

Important information for all instructions: Flash Player saves everything in .sol files in a cached directory, if you follow the instructions below any reference to "save files" means these .sol files.

Finding your save files

Migrating your save files to use with the Adobe Flash Player Projector:

The Adobe Flash Player Projector will store all files in a folder at %AppData%\Macromedia\Flash Player\#SharedObjects\​. Open the aforementioned path by copying the link in the code block into your File Explorer's address bar and open the single folder therein.

All savegames must now go into the localhost folder. Once pasted in they should show up just fine when next starting the projector.

Updated by anonymous

felix_nermix said:
You can use Lightspark for playing Flash/SWF files.

Directly from the page:

Current status
Lightspark is still in alpha state, it currently implements around 67% of the Flash APIs.

The original adobe flash player projector is perfect and should be preferred above any third party creation that may or may not actually work as expected.

Updated by anonymous

felix_nermix said:
You can use Lightspark for playing Flash/SWF files.

As NMNY said, it's best to use actual Flash Player for now, as all the open source projects that are meant to replace it aren't production ready yet, and won't be for a long time.

Updated by anonymous

randomguy85 said:
As NMNY said, it's best to use actual Flash Player for now, as all the open source projects that are meant to replace it aren't production ready yet, and won't be for a long time.

One thing I remember being even default in Ubuntu over 10 years ago was Gnash as this was open source alternative on offer as the OS did not ship with any closed source software or support by default, even MP3 playback required installing the restricted extras package. All I remember from that is that almost literally nothing worked and solution was always to install proper flash.

Lightspark seems to derive from Gnash. Also similar to Gnash, they seem to focus on browser plugin support and websites primarily rather than flash file compatibility and they have compatibility still for sites like speedtest which has already moved on to HTML5 ages ago.

Open source versions will definitely be required in the future for maintained security, performance, archival, etc. but as of writing this, for normal users, simply use regular flash and use files from known sources, especially as it is updated still. You'll just hinder yourself by using other solutions at this point one way or another.

Updated by anonymous

I think an ideal scenario would be to try to get more users to screen-capture non-interactive Flash posts and re-upload them as webm files, if possible. Since most modern browsers support webm out-of-the-box, it would mean that the content could still be enjoyed by many users without them having to install the standalone Flash Player projector.

thuser85230558 said:
I think an ideal scenario would be to try to get more users to screen-capture non-interactive Flash posts and re-upload them as webm files

I get the feeling screen-caps would cause generation loss (data/quality loss due to conversion)

Anyone who wants to have flash support indefinitely just needs to keep an old version of their browser installed. I don't plan on updating my browser once Flash support ends.

mynameisover20charac said:
I get the feeling screen-caps would cause generation loss (data/quality loss due to conversion)

As long as the quality is acceptable and the resolution high enough I doubt very many people would care. I use screen recorders a lot and I don't usually notice very many problems when playing back video of programs I have recorded.

The quality may not be 1:1 but at least it would be better than nothing imo

thevileone said:
Anyone who wants to have flash support indefinitely just needs to keep an old version of their browser installed. I don't plan on updating my browser once Flash support ends.

That's a pretty bad idea, old browser versions tend to have a lot of security vulnerabilities. so I wouldn't recommended it unless you use it exclusively for e621 (I still use IE11 just to browse Twitter though, because fuck Twitter's "redesign")

mynameisover20charac said:
I get the feeling screen-caps would cause generation loss (data/quality loss due to conversion)

If you captured losslessly then used something like ffmpeg to convert to webm, with the right settings you'd barely tell the difference.

There's also a program called JPEXS decompiler you can use to extract video from flash files directly. You'd still need to convert to webm, but it can be useful for removing a game UI or something like that.

rlctntfr said:
If you captured losslessly then used something like ffmpeg to convert to webm, with the right settings you'd barely tell the difference.

Converting what is generally a vector graphics format to a basic video is a terrible idea. A massive flash content website from back in the day whose name currently escapes me did just that - several years ago.
They are now stuck with medium resolution at best (which was 'high resolution' back then) videos of what would have otherwise been scalable to whatever resolution the viewer wanted, and they ended up converting some interactive media as well, ruining what interactivity it had.

IMO if you are to add a converted video of a flash file, do so as an optional download and leave the original file intact for future access by those willing/able to still do so.

rlctntfr said:
If you captured losslessly then used something like ffmpeg to convert to webm, with the right settings you'd barely tell the difference.

There's also a program called JPEXS decompiler you can use to extract video from flash files directly. You'd still need to convert to webm, but it can be useful for removing a game UI or something like that.

Pretty much this.
Only problem I see with screencaps is framerates. You might not be able to match the original framerate and depending on your machine, you can end up with frame drops which then are at the end encode.

Newgrounds Swivel gets rid of this issue and has lossless AVI capture (just need to use -c:v rawvideo with ffmmpeg input file for it to work), just make sure that the capture is set to same resolution flash originally was to avoid scaling artifacting with bitmaps.

Best approach with newer flash files which are essentially just a video is definitely use decompilers. Altough do take note that some artists use flash to insert e.g. watermarks on their work, so overlaying those with video encoding is nice thing to do.

wharrgarbl said:
Converting what is generally a vector graphics format to a basic video is a terrible idea. A massive flash content website from back in the day whose name currently escapes me did just that - several years ago.
They are now stuck with medium resolution at best (which was 'high resolution' back then) videos of what would have otherwise been scalable to whatever resolution the viewer wanted, and they ended up converting some interactive media as well, ruining what interactivity it had.

IMO if you are to add a converted video of a flash file, do so as an optional download and leave the original file intact for future access by those willing/able to still do so.

Last several years I haven't seen proper vector using flash files at all, but they were really essentially what was flash 10-20 years ago.
This is also why telling how to convert flash files is pain, because no single flash file is same as other, they can be done with almost any way or contain almost any files. Many users are having problems even knowing if flash is using vectors or bitmaps.

With vectors I have been instructing those converting them into videos to either use double the original or 1080p. Because even mobile phones these days have 1080p so when original vector flash file was sharp as hell, converting it with same resolution to video now it's blurry with video being upscaled by the player.

This is also why with e621 the ruling is that we do accept filetype conversions with animations, however original is the one we want the most and conversions should be set as child posts to original. Additionally I'm trying to enforce that quality of the conversions is of really high quality so we aren't getting blurry messes with screencap UI showing and framerates being slideshow.

你们这个网站换头像的地方在哪儿呀?
Where is your website changing its Avatar?
高一的塑料英语瑟瑟发抖
(我只是随便找个帖子进来问问……)

huron said:
高一学生表示看不懂(doge)

huron said:
你们这个网站换头像的地方在哪儿呀?
Where is your website changing its Avatar?
高一的塑料英语瑟瑟发抖
(我只是随便找个帖子进来问问……)

On any post, press Set as avatar on left side panel.

gattonero2001 said:
It appears the standalone will not be available after the EOL.

I guess that makes sense, because normies are still downloading the goddamn android APK to install on their phones.

gattonero2001 said:
Does that change anything about e621's approach to the issue?

Not really, no.

OK, so what can we do? It's dead fileformat that's being buried by its creator. We are already on stance that we won't delete old uploads and still accept new uploads even if format is deprecated. Do you have some kind of suggestion how else to approach the situation? Are we somehow accountable when the files are not directly viewable by viewer?

gattonero2001 said:
If you don't mind the question, why keep the old uploads and accept new ones if nobody can access them? Or perhaps it can be done and I misunderstood the situation?

There will likely be a 3rd party player people can use if there isn't already. There will also likely be people who will distribute the last functional version to others. In other words, the reason to keep the old uploads is in hopes that there will be way to access them in the future.

nromrore said:
There will likely be a 3rd party player people can use if there isn't already.

There isn't much progress on that front unfortunately, there just doesn't seem to be enough demand for an open-source emulator or something for Flash Player at present.

I know Newgrounds is already using an alternative front-end for the playback of Flash so at least that's something. But the time-bomb thing is worrying - are all Flash player installations going to bricked starting 2021? Is there going to be any sort of viable workaround for this? Will we have to distribute cracked version of Adobe Flash with the time-bomb removed or something? The future is pretty uncertain.

Long story short, Adobe are dicks.

gattonero2001 said:
I'm not a tech savvy person, so I can't really contribute substantially to the discussion. I guess I was just hoping there would be a way to save the site's content, but if that's not possible, it's perfectly understandable.

That's what I'm asking: What is there to save? The content will not alter at all in any way in future, the bits stay identical.
Or are you saying that MS-DOS games are dead and not saved, because nobody uses MS-DOS anymore?

thuser85230558 said:
I know Newgrounds is already using an alternative front-end for the playback of Flash so at least that's something. But the time-bomb thing is worrying - are all Flash player installations going to bricked starting 2021? Is there going to be any sort of viable workaround for this? Will we have to distribute cracked version of Adobe Flash with the time-bomb removed or something? The future is pretty uncertain.

Long story short, Adobe are dicks.

I'm just more and more baffled on how people see this situation.

Flash is browser plugin and browsers like chrome will have it included with installation, so of course that means in future that the support for the plugin will not be available and with chrome there won't be flash in new updates at all.
However Adobe Animate CC will continue to exsist and be used by fuckloads of people. Projector is freeware standalone software, what is there to crack?

Also Adobe isn't dick, they just made a frankensteins monster and haven't been able to kill it before this.

gattonero2001 said:
The standalone projector has to be cracked because there is a time bomb in the code. The time bomb was put there by Adobe to prevent the use of the standalone projector after the EOL. I'm not sure how Adobe Animate is relevant to the discussion, though.

Where did you get this whole time bomb deal?

Flash-based content will be blocked from running in Adobe Flash Player after the EOL Date.

means Flash player plugins specifically, because for regular end users, that is the software they are meant to use and the block is mostly about browser manufacturers full on disabling the plugin support which flash relies on.

Also it is kinda relevant as Adobe Animate CC is Adobe Flash new name and it will install Flash projector for your machine so you can preview the content you are making with Animate CC or have exported in flash format in past.

Adobe Animate CC is Adobe Flash (remember the old memes of people asking how to do flash and the answer was flash?) just rebranded for animators (so on paper it's not flash, even though it's literally flash), which is the software to make Flash animations and will continue exsisting in future as well.
Flash player is browser plugin which is used to view flash content on webpages.
Flash projector is standalone flash player used for debugging and handling local files with Adobe Animate. This can also be downloaded by standalone application, meaning it cannot be automatically nuked or updated, so they would've needed to plant this "time bomb" into all and every version they have released ever.

mairo said:
That's what I'm asking: What is there to save? The content will not alter at all in any way in future, the bits stay identical.

Websites and media don't last forever, and any content that they may have may not be mirrored anywhere else and wind up being lost time, regardless of whether its a Flash file or an MS-DOS disk or whatever. That's why preservation efforts like Flashpoint exist, to archive online games that run on Flash so that they aren't lost forever when their hosts disappear (which a lot probably will once the cutoff date passes). I'm aware that at least one file from e621 is already in the project, and the entire thing is over 220GiB large at present (mostly games and various shit like that).

The standalone flash projector is a bit of a hassle to use, but I recently found out that the K-Lite Codec Pack appears to support flash files. It can even handle interactive flash, at least the mouse-click ones, I'm not sure how it'd handle keyboard inputs.

Call me naiive, but there's something I don't get; why is Flash being so arbitrarily declared obsolete anyway? It clearly won't stop being used anytime soon.

pc_genie said:
Call me naiive, but there's something I don't get; why is Flash being so arbitrarily declared obsolete anyway? It clearly won't stop being used anytime soon.

It's long outlived its usefulness as a browser plugin, so the only reason to have it is if you have preexisting legacy content. No new content should use it. Developers can be a stubborn bunch though (I know, I am one), and they like to stick with things as long as it works for their needs, regardless of other problems it may cause, so declaring it obsolete discourages its use and gets more people to move to more modern alternatives. It won't be completely 100% stopped, but over time more sites and people will have to move away from it (and there's various reasons to, including security and mobile battery life).

stupid questions, maybe already asked...
but why not migrate to HTML5?

akarisu said:
stupid questions, maybe already asked...
but why not migrate to HTML5?

Literally about to ask just this. Thinking about doing a couple small web games, but I'm not about to learn a platform that should have been dead a decade ago! Plus it looks like Chrome is about to cut Flash support completely in December which I feel will be the final nail in its coffin. Are there any other plans to support interactive content or will this become solely an image/video platform (with the ability to download swf files) come 2021?

The issues with html5 were mentioned in forum #270886.

But this thread wasn't so much about not wanting to migrate to modern formats, it's about still being able to access existing Flash content. It would be a huge undertaking, if even possible at all, to convert all flash posts to a newer format even if the site did support it.

fifteen said:
It should be noted that Adobe plans to remove any download links related to Flash from their website when Flash gets discontinued, so while the Flash Projector will keep working for the forseeable future, it won't be available from any official source past December 31st, 2020.

In truth, this is probably the most distressing thing about all this. Merely ending browser support isn't what Adobe is interested in. If they could, they'd wipe Flash off the entire internet. Even when used offline. Needless to say, we should probably start an underground network of distributing standalone Flash projectors before it's too late.

They've already started.
You can no longer get older versions of Flash from the official site.

I fear the available version might have been modified in some way to stop working after the EOL date.

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