Adobe Flash's swf format is set to reach end of life by the end of this year. Already Safari has dropped support from its latest browser and Microsoft has disabled it by default on its latest Edge browser. From the 1st jan 2021, support will be dropped by all browsers, with the possible exception of Firefox Enterprise (with updates disabled!).
For those of you who missed the announcement back in July 2017, Adobe has come to an agreement with the major browser vendors to cease support. This includes Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla.
The dropping of the vector based format also affects Adobe Acrobat users, with Adobe warning that the Playback of Flash media (*.flv and *.swf) content in existing PDFs will not be supported. Also swf's created with Adobe's Flex product will suffer the same fate.
The swf format played a key role in making the internet sexier. For many it was the tool that opened the door to creating rich media content for the web in the first place.
The small company FutureWave Software originally defined the file format with one primary objective: to create small files for displaying entertaining animations. The idea involved a format which player software could run on any system and which would work with slower network connections. FutureWave released FutureSplash Animator in May 1996. In December 1996 Macromedia acquired FutureWave and FutureSplash Animator became Macromedia Flash 1.0.
The first sign of problems for the swf format were sounded out a few years after the launch of the original iPhone in Jan 2007, when Steve Jobs, co-founder and then-chief executive officer of Apple Inc., on April 29, 2010 published his Thoughts on Flash an open letter to Adobe concerning the Flash format:
the rapid energy consumption, computer crashes, poor performance on mobile devices, abysmal security, lack of touch support, and desire to avoid "a third party layer of software coming between the platform and the developer".
Unfortunately the format outlived Steve Jobs who himself passed away 6th Oct 2011.
For those of you with legacy flash sites or applications, you might also be interested in Apache Royale that offers support for AS3, similar to that used in Flash and Flex products. This could be the goto application for breathing new life into your legacy swf applications.
Royale is a powerful, open-source application technology that lets you easily build desktop, browser and mobile applications for multiple devices and operating systems, using the same programming model, tools, and codebase.
Certainly the end of swf support, once supported out of the box by all mainstream browsers, marks the end of an era.