Mozilla edges closer to replacing Flash with JavaScript

Mozilla edges closer to replacing Flash with JavaScript

Summary: The Firefox codebase has gained Shumway, a JavaScipt-based Flash VM and runtime intended to replace Flash.


The efforts to remove Adobe as a source of pain for Mozilla and Firefox continue at pace, with the announcement that Shumway has entered the Firefox codebase.

The Shumway experiment intends to replace the omnipresent Flash plugin with a JavaScript renderer for Flash's SWF file format that does not use any platform native code. Should the experiment be successful, it would allow Firefox to dispense with the need for a Flash plugin, which would allow the browser to render Flash content on platforms that Adobe does not support, while at the same time removing a common attack vector via Flash from the browser.

Shumway's arrival in Firefox's code follows on from the launch earlier this year of PDF.js, a PDF viewer written in JavaScript, that was made publicly available in Firefox 19.

Firefox users who wish to experiment with Shumway without creating a build environment can install an extension to test its functionality. Alternatively, Shumway is now part of Firefox's Nightly builds, but is disabled by default — a preference change will enable Shumway.

Developers and designers can test Shumway support for their SWF files by using the Shumway Inspector.

While Chrome can also boast about having a built-in PDF viewer and Flash implementation, it takes a very different approach to that of Mozilla.

Google uses the Pepper, or PPAPI, interface to enable its Flash and PDF viewer implementation in Chrome. PPAPI is a rewrite of the NPAPI interface that can trace its heritage back to Netscape Navigator 2.0. Last month, Google announced that it intends to remove NPAPI support from Chrome in stages throughout 2014.

Topics: Web development, Google


Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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  • iPad & iPhone

    When is Apple going to join support of swf? Or is Apple's hatred of Flash more important than the needs of its users?
    • They can't support it

      Flash drains battery life fast, and they already use rather small batteries to begin with. They being Apple, of course.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • They WON'T support it

        Such BS. This conversation is so old. Make it default to OFF. Allow users to use it when they wish. Problem solved! Kindle can handle it, why can't Apple?
        • You aren't paying attention

          The other devices, the ones that handle flash, have bigger batteries.
          Michael Alan Goff
    • Since this is JS, they don't need to

      Website makes would just have to include the javascript themselves, and load it on the browsers that don't have any plugin for playing Flash.
    • That ship sailed and sank...

      Adobe stopped supporting Flash on Android... Apple's point was right. It's full of security holes and drains batteries...

      Why do you guys keep beating a dead horse?

      Yes, I can side load it from an old Flash plugin on my Nexus but I rarely use it as I know it's a security issue and hasn't been updated in over a year...

      Let's all move on!
  • There are some annoyances ...

    in browsing web pages with video, whether flash or Youtube format:
    (1) when "collecting" pages in tabs (from a series of links in a search page, or in an email such as the ZDNet bulletin) to view in one session, if any tabs contain flash content, the entire computer (keyboard, mouse, everything) sometimes locks up while one of the videos tries to "play" in its hidden background tab, then the error message "a script on this page failed" finally allows the computer to continue working, and the video frames (usually ads) have the flash player broken icon/message
    (2) when viewing Youtube videos, the mouse/trackpad MUST be used to start, pause, adjust volume, mute/unmute, close popup ads, or control playback, by clicking inside the Youtube box; SOMETIMES, after this, the white space outside must be clicked in order to restore the normal scroll up/down function of the up/down arrow keys (they are changed to volume controls), and SOMETIMES even this does not work, and the mouse/trackpad becomes the ONLY way to scroll through the page, for the remainder of the time that tab is open (using F5/refresh SOMETIMES helps, but it restarts the video)
    (3) when collecting pages as described above, one or more tabs containing a video that starts by itself begin "playing" their video and actually playing their audio SIMULTANEOUSLY while more pages are being collected for viewing. If this happens after two or three additional pages have been loaded, it is inefficient to search for the bad one(s) and pause them; then when focusing on those pages later to view them, their videos have to be restarted, sometimes invoking the problem described in (2) above.

    If these problems come from Flash, then hopefully Firefox will fix them. If they come from using Javascript, they may get worse.
    • Pre-alpha

      It's pre-alpha software. It's got bugs in it. It will improve over time as they fix them.
  • Is it just me

    For some reason when I enabled it on Firefox, then moved to a site that checked version, it says it's version 10.0.
    Michael Alan Goff