Web plugins were quite useful to upgrade the web browsing experience but things are completely different now. Google Chrome recently dumped support for plugins such as Java and Silverlight, and now its Firefox’s turn. Late Thursday, Mozilla announced on its blog that Firefox would stop supporting plugins based on the Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) architecture by the end of 2016.
NPAPI plugins helped browsers add functionality such as gaming, rich interactive maps, and video support. But plugins also came with problems such as security vulnerabilities, stability issues, and performance drawbacks. The Web standards community overcame these problems by creating native functionality, such as HTML 5 video, in order to do away with plugins.
For Mozilla’s Firefox, that journey will end at an unspecified date in 2016; three years after Firefox first started restricting plugin behavior with click-to-play functionality. Firefox started the process of removing web plugin support three years ago with the introduction of manual plugin activation. New platforms like 64-bit Firefox for Windows are planned to be launched without plugin support.
Naturally, the impossible-to-kill Adobe Flash platform is exempted from this doom, but everything else will be completely disabled. Although it’s falling out of fashion, Flash video and Flash-based ads are still widely available online. Once Flash becomes less pervasive support for it will likely disappear, and many companies are working toward that end. Amazon, for example, recently announced it would ban Flash-based ads
Let’s take a moment of thanks for standards like HTML5 making the web a better place to browse and start counting down the days until Flash can join Java in the internet’s trash pile.