'Occupy Flash' movement wants Adobe's plug-in dead

'Keeping Flash Player alive on the desktop doesn't accomplish anything,' says group

A small group of website and mobile app developers have kicked off an "Occupy Flash" campaign to put a stake in the heart of Adobe's popular browser plug-in.

The organization, which launched a website earlier this week, said its goal was to "Get the world to uninstall the Flash Player plug-in from their desktop browsers."

And the group didn't mince words why it was after Flash Player.

Occupy Flash comes to bury, not praise, Adobe's Flash Player plug-in for desktop browsers.

"Flash Player is dead. Its time has passed. It's buggy. It crashes a lot. It requires constant security updates," said the Occupy Flash site. "It's a fossil, left over from the era of closed standards and unilateral corporate control of Web technology."

Last week, Adobe announced that it was halting development of Flash Player for mobile browsers, but that it would continue work on the plug-in for desktop browsers such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla's Firefox, Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari.

The dumping of Flash for smartphones and tablets was, said analysts last week, a sign that although Flash Player on the desktop was doomed to follow , it wouldn't be superseded by HTML5 for several years.

Occupy Flash agreed.

"As of last week, Adobe dropped [Flash Player] support for mobile," said a member of Occupy Flash in a telephone interview today. "That was a roadmap for splitting the Internet into two. They know they've lost the mobile battle, so keeping Flash Player alive on the desktop ultimately doesn't accomplish anything."

The Occupy Flash representative declined to identify himself by name, saying, "We decided not to make this about us, but about Flash Player." He stressed, however, that none of the handful of site and app developers behind the movement worked for an Adobe competitor.

The group took its name from the Occupy Wall Street protests that have spread to many cities in the U.S.

"The Web is an open place, and we're for open standards and for what is in the best interest of our users," he said. HTML5, which Occupy Flash says has already "won the fight for the future of our Web browsing," is a loose collection of still-under-considerations standards that allow the Web's native language to handle chores once done by plug-ins like Flash Player.

"All we're trying to do is move technology forward," said the Occupy Flash spokesman. "It's clear that the Web won't rely on plug-ins in the future."

The group, which is four or five strong, is composed of developers based on the West coast of the U.S. The occupyflash.org domain was registered on Nov. 11, two days after Adobe's announcement of the demise of Flash on mobile platforms.

Two members of the group, including the spokesman -- who said he is a user interface designer based in Seattle, Wash. -- and a website designer, crafted the Occupy Flash site over the weekend.

Occupy Flash urged browser users to uninstall Flash Player, and provided instructions for both Windows and Mac OS X users to do so. It also called on developers on stop using Flash in future projects, and encouraged users to upgrade to a browser that supports HTML5.

Adobe did not reply to a request for comment on Occupy Flash's manifesto and movement.

The vast bulk of the response to Occupy Flash -- "98% positive," the spokesman said, has been upbeat, but the group has received some angry messages.

"We have no hatred for our fellow Flash developers," the representative said, noting that at one time or another, all in the group have worked in Flash. "They may feel that we're threatening their jobs, but we're on the side of moving the Web forward. We want to make sure the technology is moving forward."

In that way, Occupy Flash is reminiscent of Microsoft's campaign to kill off Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) , which urges users of the decade-old browser to replace it with a newer application, such as IE9.

Occupy Flash didn't miss the connection between it and Microsoft's attempts to eliminate IE6.

"The IE6 countdown has made great progress," he said, talking about the website Microsoft launched last March that shows the aged browser's current usage share . "But it's still fairly entrenched."

IE6 was targeted by Microsoft in part because it can't support HTML5.

"We're pretty realistic about the facts," said the Occupy Flash spokesman. "Flash Player is on like 99% of the desktops. Our little movement won't change that, but we want to start the conversation.

"There are some issues that need to be solved in HTML5 -- it's still a work in progress -- but it's getting there," the representative said. "Things change, that's the nature of the industry. But developers and users will adapt as they always do.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com .

See more articles by Gregg Keizer .

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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