Petition calls for Adobe Flash to survive as open source zombie

Dev thinks we need to keep notable .SWFs readable for the sake of posterity

By Simon Sharwood


A group of developers have taken to GitHub with a petition to save Adobe Flash following the Photoshop giant's largely welcomed decision to end support for the oft-reviled software in 2020.

The petition to open-source Flash acknowledges Adobe's reasons for killing Flash, namely that it's been superseded and is woefully insecure.

But web developer Juha Lindstedt, who created the petition and goes by the handle Pakastin, argues that Flash deserves to survive because it is “an important piece of Internet history and killing Flash means future generations can't access the past. Games, experiments and websites would be forgotten.”

“Flash was a platform for creative expression in an exciting new medium with global reach at a time when sound and moving images were barely breaking into the internet,” he writes. “Many artists took the media and shaped it to their own style. These digital pieces were both mesmerizing and disturbing.

“We do lots to save and restore old manuscripts so, why not consider any interactive artworks that were developed on this platform and can't be ported truthfully to just a video format.”

His answer is for Adobe to open source the spec for Flash, and whatever code the software giant can comfortably release. That will allow the open-source community to take the project in any direction it wants, Lindstedt said, such as producing a HTML5 converter or a dedicated player. "We're not saying Flash and Shockwave player should be preserved as is," he added.

“We understand that there are licenced components you can not release,” Lindstedt continued. “Simply leave them out with a note explaining what was removed. We will either bypass them, or replace them with open source alternatives.”

“Signing” the petition is as simple as starring the repository wherein it resides. At the time of writing, 3,388 entities have done so.

Efforts to have vendors release source code have had mixed success. A petition to have IBM release OS/2 foundered after hints from Big Blue that the operating system was still in use by organisations that could not tolerate the code being widely-available. Others, like VMware, release more code as part of efforts to engage with developers. Companies like Netflix routinely open source their own tools, just because they think they'll be useful. And of course Facebook open-sourced hardware designs and sparked the Open Compute Project which reveals many cloud companies' such efforts. ®

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