Adobe has started making announcements about future of Flash and as expected there are lots of twists and turns and caveats. For example, on Linux, it has been announced that Flash will migrate to Googles PPAPI ‘Pepper’ APIs and will be bundled with Chrome. This means that future versions of Flash will no longer be available for Firefox and other browsers that support Netscape plug-in APIs. This is expected to happen post Flash 11.2.

Netscape plug-in API (or NPAPI), has been around since Netscape Navigator days and has undergone very little change since then. The architecture, although suited well at the time, has not been able to keep up with the fast changing market requirements, particularly for multimedia. We’ve faced challenges with plug-in integration for graphics with Flash for example that were traced to the plug-in architecture and took long time to overcome.

Pepper API is essentially enhanced NPAPIs but has been rewritten by Google from scratch. Some of the advantages offered by  PPAPI include (from Wikipedia):

  • Execution in a separate process from the renderer/browser
  • Defining standardized events, and 2D rasterization functions
  • Provide 3D graphics access

Now given the fact that Adobe is targeting gaming market with Stagevideo, the word 2D and 3D support jump out - don’t they? So hopefully we’ll be able to Flash player capable of running XBox style games on PC!

Then what’ll happen to browsers that don’t support PPAPI? Well, Mike Chamber’s blog says that Adobe will continue to support NPAPI until Flash 11.2. Beyond that, either Firefox will have to support PPAPI or partner with Adobe to come up with something else or just hope that HTML5 picks up. Is this going to lead to more fragmentation on the web? We’ll see.

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