Adobe Flash Animations and Interactive Applets

   Practically Extinct small

Animations, games, and other interactive applets created with Macromedia Adobe Flash Player and Shockwave Flash, along with their accompanying websites. These are primarily .swf files, but they can also include networked collections of .swf files and external assets, as well as the web pages where they are displayed.

Digital Species: Web

Trend in 2022:

No change No Change

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

Trend in 2023:

No change No Change

Previously: Practically Extinct

Imminence of Action

Immediate action necessary. Where detected should be stabilized and reported as a matter of urgency.

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve | Inevitability

Loss seems inevitable: loss has already occurred or is expected to occur before tools or techniques develop.


Flash and Shockwave based games; cartoons; interactives.

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Migration plan initiated; supported in multiple browsers; security vetted; emulation pathway.

2023 Review

This entry was added in 2019. The 2019 Jury noted that flash animations and applets were a mainstay of interactive web design from the late 1990s. Flash animations and interactives are created using tools supplied by the Adobe of the same name. Although Flash enables the development of sophisticated interaction at low cost over the web, it has had a chequered history in terms of browser support and has been plagued by security concerns. The 2020 Jury added the trend towards greater risk based on the indication by Adobe for some time that there would be withdrawal of support to Flash Animation.

The 2021 Jury noted the discontinuation and withdrawal of support did indeed occur. Flash is no longer supported, and loss has already occurred with Adobe's deprecation of Flash and lack of support in modern web browsers. For this reason, the classification moved from Critically Endangered to Practically Extinct with a trend towards greater risk given the loss of dependence on Flash, which has resulted in new aggravating conditions for migration pathway, emulation pathway, source code, lack of capacity or motivation to support, no commercial interest.

The 2023 Council agreed with the Practically Extinct classification and noted an increase in imminence of action required with greater inevitability of loss.

Additional Comments

Flash represents a significant amount of the creativity of websites in the early 2000s including net-based art and cartoons. With extinction, archives will need to consider if it is possible to preserve interaction through the development of new web archiving and emulation tools and techniques. These are culturally significant artefacts or so of the web and were a gateway for many early game developers given the ease of which Flash games could be made.

It’s important to note there are quite a number of community projects working on this, whilst the focus tends to be on Flash games there is still work around Flash animations. Projects like Flashpoint Archive do have their own workflows for getting the games/animations but have their own preservation issues. The survival of Flashpoint is reliant on a small group of people with the storage space entirely relying on one person maintaining it. Other Flash game archives exist as well, such as Flash Game Archives. The Internet Archive has a number of Flash game collections as well. There is also work being done around emulating Flash within web browsers through Ruffle which increases access to Flash games and animations.

Case Studies or Examples:

See also:

  • van Veenendaal, R., Wijsman, L., Takema, J. and Rappard, M (2023) ‘Around for Decades, Gone in a Flash: How we dealt with Flash objects and the National Archives of the Netherlands’, iPRES 2023 Conference, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA, 19–22 September.

  • Richner, J. (n.d.) ‘How Flash Games shaped the video game industry’. Available at: [accessed 24 October 2023]

  • Scott, J. (2020), ‘Software Library: Flash’, Internet Archive. Available at: [accessed 24 October 2023]

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