Mozilla’s Flash Plugin Replacement Shumway Lands in Firefox Nightly

A Flash replacement called, “Shumway”?? I guess all of the cool plugin names have already been taken.

The majority of browser developers agree that plugins based on Netscape’s old NPAPI are bad and that HTML5 is the future of the Internet. This has several reasons, with major ones being compatibility, stability and security. Companies disagree on how that future will look like in particular though. Google for instance introduced its Pepper API in Chromium and Chrome, and is still making use of plugins. The only difference here is that they use the new API and not the old one.

Mozilla’s take on the matter is different. The company wants to get rid of plugins completely, and has been working on replacements for popular ones for some time now.

Shumway is the organization’s idea to replace Adobe’s Flash Player on the Internet. It has been working on the project since 2012. The main goal of the project is to create a platform for parsing and rendering SWF files. Unlike Google’s implementation, which is reserved to Chromium-based browsers, Mozilla’s is completely open and released as open source on Github.

Shumway lands in Firefox

shumway mozilla

Shumway has been available in form of a browser extension for some time now for testing purposes. This extension is still available, but Mozilla landed the core code in the Nightly version of Firefox today.

The technology is not enabled by default right now, but that can be easily done. Shumway has additional requirements though, and you may need to make changes to certain preferences in Firefox to make it work at all.

  1. Adobe Flash Player still needs to be installed, and it needs to be set to Ask to Activate in the Add-ons Manager.
  2. Click to Play needs to be enabled in Firefox.

With that out of the way, load about:config in the browser’s address bar and hit the enter key. If this is your first time here, confirm that you will be careful. Now search for shumway using the search form up top, and double-click the preference to change the value of¬†shumway.disabled from true to false.¬† Restart Firefox afterwards to complete the operation.

shumway

You should not expect miracles right now though. A quick test on popular sites such as Kongregate or YouTube turned out that it is not really able to replace Flash just yet on these sites. It did not work at all on YouTube for example, with Flash being used automatically on the site even though click to play was enabled. On Kongregate, games would not load but display the Shumway logo in the lower corner.

The Shumway extension supported several parameters that were not set by default in Firefox, and it seems that the native integration supports at least some of those as well. You can check out this Github Wiki page for a list of supported configuration parameters.

Closing Words

Code integration is a major step for the project, and while it will certainly take some time before the implementation lands in the stable version of Firefox, it is fair to say that Mozilla is making good progress so far. It remains to be seen if Shumway will be able to replace Adobe Flash fully though in Firefox and maybe also other browsers out there.

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