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Is Adobe Flash Player Part of the Adobe Creative Suite?

Judy Pirillo (yep, my mom) asks:

What exactly is Adobe Flash Player? I have it installed, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have any Adobe programs on my system.

Adobe LogoAdobe Flash Player is a free, downloadable plug-in offered by Adobe to make viewing Flash content on your browser possible. Browsers like Google Chrome come with a Flash player pre-installed so you don’t have to download it independently. In recent years, Apple stopped installing Adobe Flash Player on new systems in an effort to move customers away from Flash content in favor of HTML5 and other alternative standards. You can still install Adobe Flash Player, though, and its presence is a little more obvious since you need to consciously install it and keep it updated.

Adobe Flash Player makes it possible to view and interact with Flash content embedded on websites. YouTube would be a great example of a site that depends largely on desktop users having Flash enabled. There is an HTML5 version of YouTube, though it doesn’t work with all videos as of yet.

Adobe is one of the largest names in productivity software out there. It has a catalog of several dozen programs including Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and Flash publishing tools like Flash Professional. While these tools are designed to help you create content and media, the free viewing applications provided by Adobe (such as Flash Player) make it easier for your audience to consume the content.

Adobe Flash Player isn’t really a part of the Adobe Creative Suite. It’s actually just a decoding plug-in that allows you to view the content. Much of this content is actually basic multimedia files such as FLV, MP3, PNG, JPEG, etc. played by a controller built using Flash. HTML5 has largely allowed developers to replace Flash on their sites by embedding these multimedia files directly to their pages. Adoption among some larger content distribution avenues (like YouTube) has been slow as developers work on solutions for delivering embedded advertisements and other features important to the site’s bottom line.

Often, people confuse Shockwave with Flash. While both share a similar code base, Shockwave comes into play on browser-based games and other experiences that require a little more interaction between the user and the content. The Adobe Flash Player is there for lighter Web applications and enhancements. An experience built in Adobe Flash Professional would likely play back using Adobe Flash Player, while one built in Adobe Director would play back using Shockwave.

Having Adobe Flash Player installed on your system doesn’t necessarily affect performance by just being there, though having it installed over Chrome can create a problem as two conflicting versions of the program can cause instability. We’ve published on article explaining how to resolve this issue with Google Chrome.