Data Sets

Article: Dedoose and the Future of Adobe Flash

Hello everyone, I’m Jason Taylor, Dedoose’s Chief Technology Architect.

I want to respond to some recent inquiries regarding Dedoose’s future in relation to Adobe Flash. First and foremost, have no fear, we are aware of these developments and can assure you that Dedoose will be available for a long time to come. If you are not already in the know, Dedoose already has a desktop App, available for OSX, Windows, and Linux (via Wine) that does not use the Flash Player, rather running via the Adobe AIR runtime system. For now, we like this alternative to browsers due to its ease of updating, compatibility, and the security updates that are included. Learn more and/or download the desktop application at https://www.dedoose.com/blog/dedoose-desktop-app.

To some history, on July 25, 2017 Adobe announced they would be moving the Flash Player browser plugin to end of life in 2020. This means that Adobe will stop adding new features to the Flash Player past that time. Note that they have confirmed there will be continued security updates for the Flash Player. So, at the outset, this shift will have virtually no effect on the Dedoose App web version. However, it is possible that Google and other browser vendors may disable the Flash Player plugin around December 2020. Should that be the case, this will render the current web version of Dedoose unavailable. Importantly, keep in mind that this will have no effect on the Desktop version of Dedoose and Dedoose will continue to be available for Windows, OSX, and Linux machines as both native executables and Adobe Air applications (and Dedoose may switch to only native executables at some point in the future). As part of this ongoing process, we have updated our messaging to start encouraging more people to make use of the desktop App. It has been the superior version of the Dedoose application since released as it doesn't rely on a web browser’s overhead. Regardless, for convenience purposes, many people wish to continue using the browser version. For those individuals, we recommend the use of Google Chrome as the browser of choice. And, for those without administrative access to their machines, we will likely be pushing out a portable executable of Dedoose that requires no machine access and runs without installation.

Now, for the technologically curious, I’d like to share more about why we have a Flash version in the first place and what we are doing as we look into the future. When EthnoNotes for the web (Dedoose’s predecessor) was created in 2006, we knew that we wanted a collaborative rich application that people could access with web browsers as easily as they do with traditional desktop applications. At that time, the only technologies available that could handle this type of application in a browser were Sun’s (now Oracle) Java virtual machine and Adobe’s Flash virtual machine. These types of complex write once, run everywhere applications require virtual machines that can run on multiple platforms and in multiple browsers. Though Flash has gained a questionable reputation for Adobe’s handling of security updates, along with others using it to develop advertisements that bogged down end user’s computers, the tool itself has always been nothing short of amazing. Due to its rich history in animation and video games, the Flash virtual machine gave us the ability to be over a decade ahead of where most web browser apps were at the time. Finally, the world has caught up with these developments and the World Wide Web Consortium has published and implemented an open source browser based virtual machine known as WebAssembly. WebAssembly is still under active and intense development, but it’s future looks outstanding and we are watching closely.

In the meantime, Dedoose has been quietly and discreetly been working on two separate versions of the Dedoose client to assure we are ‘future proof.’ The first involves a complex compiler platform that takes the current version of the Dedoose App and recompiles it to HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. This version will allow us to migrate the Dedoose App as it currently exists to current web browsers without the need for any plugin. In addition, we are hard at work on a new version of the Dedoose App that takes full advantage of modern programming and computer features. This version will not just work on Desktops and the Web, but also on tablets and other mobile devices. As Web technologies continue to evolve, we are always working to capitalize on advances to expand Dedoose feature offerings and improve performance. While we don’t want to spill all the beans just yet, you can be sure that we have always looked to the future and are thrilled that the technology for which we have been waiting, for many years, is finally here and we are running with it.

Stay tuned and we look forward to continuing to be technology leaders in this expanding software space and in our role teaching the world about ‘Great Research Made Easy!’

Sincerely,

Jason Taylor CTO, Co-Founder, and Architect @ Dedoose