Shumway: Mozilla wants to virtualize Flash

Mozilla wants to “virtualize” Flash technology, making rich Internet contents available to users without the need to install additional (and often flawed) plug-ins inside the browser. The “virtual machine” designed to achieve such a feat is called Shumway, a new open source project officially backed by the Firefox foundation.

Hosted on the open source software repository GitHub, Shumway is described as “an HTML5 technology experiment that explores building a faithful and efficient renderer for the SWF file format without native code assistance”. Originally meant as an acronym for Shockwave Flash, SWF is the default extension for multimedia/interactive files interpreted by the Adobe Flash Player.

Over the years, Flash has become more of a security risk than a multimedia plug-in and is often the butt of many jokes. Hence the idea sponsored by Mozilla: by using standard web technologies as HTML5 and JavaScript, Shumway would execute Flash code inside the browser’s own process eliminating the issue of running external, native code as the aforementioned Flash plug-in.

Halfway between an HTML5 virtual machine and a web interpreter for Flash contents, Shumway is a “community-driven” project that needs a lot of work and love from the open source developers. If the experiment of creating “a general-purpose, web standards-based platform for parsing and rendering SWFs” was successful, Mozilla would eventually integrate the code with Firefox and give Adobe web tech a means for extending its permanence even in the so-called “post-Flash” world that awaits us (or so they say) in the not-so-distant future.

Source: Phys.Org.

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16 Comments

I somehow suspect though that Adobe is already working on a way to port Flash to HTML5 apps. With web fonts, <audio>, <video>, WebGL and Javascript most things should be possible, even though it'd all run much much slower than it does in Flash.

They already have it. cs6, maybe even cs5 can export to html5. theres also plenty of tools im sure to convert swf to some html crap

CobaltHex said,
They already have it. cs6, maybe even cs5 can export to html5. theres also plenty of tools im sure to convert swf to some html crap

This is an attempt to remake the run-time. As a result, this solution would allow user to use Flash sites that have not been, and may never be, converted.

Frazell Thomas said,

This is an attempt to remake the run-time. As a result, this solution would allow user to use Flash sites that have not been, and may never be, converted.

A hand off to a render server proxy would be smarter and easier. For the money being wasted on getting this even close to working, a small server farm could be put in place and maintained by Firefox/Mozilla for 20 years.

Think of Flash video on the iPad/iPhone... Microsoft servers repackaging it into Quicktime was far better for providers like Hulu and Apple than trying to support Flash.

And how exactly will this solve any of problems brought supposedly by Flash?
What it will be, however - double slow and double error-prone, yes.

Salty Wagyu said,
Rather see a replacement to flash, flash just introduces choppy video be it youtube or streaming from BBC/4od.

Hardware acceleration?

Well, Mozilla need to do something. Linux isn't getting anymore flash updates apart from security. Chromium have pepper and Mozilla has, well nothing at the moment.

Wait wait ... how would that work?
To do that, Mozilla needs to have AVC and DXVA support...
Otherwise, it ain't possibility as a replacement.

Is it funny that the first thing I thought of when I saw "Shumway" was "Alf"? And then the author's name is Alfonso. Even freaking better. I also think flash needs to die.

What a huge waste of time.. They should work on making their browser not render like crap.. It used to be IE.. now only firefox manages to mess up everything..

Edited by PmRd, Jun 12 2012, 5:03am :

PmRd said,
What a huge waste of time.. They should work on making their browser not render like crap.. It used to be IE.. now only firefox manages to mess up everything..
Examples?

PmRd said,
What a huge waste of time.. They should work on making their browser not render like crap.. It used to be IE.. now only firefox manages to mess up everything..

The project is community-driven - who are you to say that people shouldn't get to use their time for this if they want to?

Kirkburn said,
Examples?

I don't have to give examples, Part of my job is web design and everything we do looks perfect in IE or Chrome but has to be fixed in Firefox.. I don't have examples because I fixed them.

Lamp Post said,

The project is community-driven - who are you to say that people shouldn't get to use their time for this if they want to?

Who are you to say I said people shouldnt use their free time for this if they want to. Flash will be long gone by the time this project is able to give good results. There is no way HTML5 and Javascript can be as fast at rendering Flash as native code. So like I said, this is a huge waste of time.

Edited by PmRd, Jun 12 2012, 6:39pm :

PmRd said,
Part of my job is web design and everything we do looks perfect in IE or Chrome but has to be fixed in Firefox.. I don't have examples because I fixed them.
Honestly, I find that quite ... unlikely. Unless you're designing only for IE9+, I cannot see how IE8 could give you less issues with Firefox (and even with IE9, I'd be surprised, since it's still quite a way behind in terms of feature support). Really, examples, please. Even something vague.

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