Mozilla edges closer to replacing Flash with JavaScript

The Firefox codebase has gained Shumway, a JavaScipt-based Flash VM and runtime intended to replace Flash.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

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.

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