Mozilla Enables Flash Replacement Shumway Partially on Amazon

It sounds like Mozilla still has a lot of work to do on its Flash alternative; it will be interesting to see if Shumway turns out to be a viable replacement for Flash.

Browser developers and web companies work on various alternatives for Adobe’s popular Flash technology. The most common solutions are to replace Flash video with HTML5 video and to replace Adobe Flash with a native version of the plugin that provides better control. Google for instance maintains Pepper Flash and Microsoft its own version of Flash on Windows 8.

Mozilla on the other hand made the decision to create a Flash replacement that it called Shumway. As you can imagine, this is a much larger undertaking than using a different plugin system to run Flash.

You can read more about the decision that lead to the Shumway project as well as on progress that has been made in recent time with a click on the following links:

  1. Shumway: Mozilla-backed Virtual Flash SWF Technology
  2. Shumway: Mozilla working on JavaScript Flash Player implementation
  3. Mozilla’s Flash plugin replacement Shumway lands in Firefox Nightly

Shumway for the most part was not ready for prime time use up until now. While demos on the Are We Flash Yet site ran fine, neither Flash video nor games worked when you enabled Shumway to replace Adobe Flash in Firefox.

A first step to change this was integrated in Firefox Nightly today. Mozilla enabled Shumway support for videos on Amazon.

This requires some clarification as Shumway won’t run all videos yet on the site. In particular, it won’t run Amazon Instant Videos or Amazon Prime Videos.

What you can play however are video trailers and samples that Amazon may display on its site.

amazon video shumway

When you visit a page with a video clip and click on it, you should see the Shumway box in the upper right corner come up shortly thereafter.

This confirms that Shumway is being used to play the video and not Adobe Flash. Any attempt to play instant or prime videos fails currently even though the Shumway box is displayed on the screen. The video area itself remains black however no matter how long you wait.

Video playback is controlled by an about:config parameter currently. The paramter shumway.swf.whitelist lists all sites and destinations on the Internet on which Shumway is being used instead of Adobe Flash to load Flash contents.

It is only enabled for Amazon Video currently and while you can theoretically change that to the * wildcard symbol to run Shumway on all sites with Flash contents, the vast majority of them won’t play as Shumway is still a work in progress.

It is possible to disable Shumway in two different ways. You can set shumway.disabled to true to disable it in Firefox or open the add-ons manager about:addons to disable or remove it from there.

disable shumway

disable remove shumway

Please note that Shumway is currently only working if you have Adobe Flash player installed on the system and set it to ask to activate or always activate. Mozilla plans to remove the dependency in future versions of the extension.

Shumway has only been enabled in Windows Vista and newer, and on Mac OS X.

Here is a page on Amazon that you can test the implementation of Shumway on (Frozen DVD).

This is a big step for the Shumway project even though it is of small use to Firefox users currently. Still, it demonstrates that Shumway has the potential to replace Adobe Flash when it comes to video playback. Now, if Mozilla would only get it to work on all of Amazon or another high profile site, that would send a clear message. (via Sören Hentzschel)

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