Flash brought life to static webpages since 2008, making it possible to develop play videos and animations on the web. Flash has also been a favourite platform for online gamers. By 2013, it was the number one tool for web content creators and users. In the second half of 2013, Flash runtime, which plays Flash content, was installed over 500 million times.
However, this plug-in that transformed the usability of the World Wide Web is finally the victim of the deadly sting that technology often inflicts on its children. Google finally announced that it would not index flash content or sites built entirely on SWF files.
Limitations of Flash
Flash made the process of creating rich media too easy that it soon become a hub of security exploits. Besides, it also was resource-intensive, consuming large chunks of CPU performance, bandwidth, and battery power.
The above limitations marked the beginning of the end for this technological game-changer. However, it has survived for a decade, but not scot-free. Apple, for example, has always turned Flash off by default on its Safari browser and has never added it to its iPad and iPhone hardware products since 2010.
The first significant blow to Flash’s future came in 2017 when Adobe, the plug-in’s owner, announced that it would stop supporting and distributing Flash in 2020. It advised users to opt for other mature alternatives such as HTML5, WebAssembly, and WebGL. This announcement not only confirmed the inevitable demise of Flash, but it also hastened it.
Within a month, browsers came up with roadmaps on how they would phase out Flash. Mozilla made Flash available per site and blocked it automatically on some websites. Firefox promised to remove all Flash support by early 2020.
Google Chrome made its stand clear with the release of Chrome 76 at the end of July 2019. In this browser version, Flash is blocked automatically in favour of HTML5.
Microsoft has been in limbo as some of its users still depend on the vintage IE running on Windows 7. However, since this operating system will be gone by 2020, there is no doubt that Flash on Microsoft will go with it.
Google’s final blow
Given the preceding, Google’s recent announcement on the future of Flash content and SWF files did not come as a surprise to many. Nonetheless, it acted as the final nail on Flash’s casket.
Google promised not to rank sites built entirely on Shockwave Flash files’ SWF extension. However, the search engine has guaranteed to rank HTML pages with flash content still.
The effect of not indexing Flash content
Google’s decision to not index Flash content and SWF files mean that Flash content will no longer appear on Google’s search results, which makes their existence irrelevant. Consequently, henceforth, having Flash files on a website, will not have an impact on its search engine ranking. Besides, since other search engines are likely to follow suit, Google’s declaration confirmed the demise of Flash.
Fortunately, according to Google, users will not feel the impact of this change.