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Chrome Blocking Flash Plugin – Flash PPAPI to the Rescue

plugin blocked

A recent update to the Google Chrome browser has introduced a step towards the removal of support for the The Netscape Plug-in API (NPAPI). The result is that any pages that utilize a plugin using the NPAPI (such as Flash, Silverlight, etc.) will be disabled, you will receive a “Plug-in Blocked” notification, and any object on the page utilizing the plugin will display the beloved “missing plugin” image.

From here you have the option of individually enabling the plugin on a per-domain basis (this is done by clicking the “Plug-in blocked” notification, and selecting the option to allow plugins for this domain). This is a fast, but rather annoying workaround that will only work for the next few months until Google permanently disables NPAPI support (at which point, this option will no longer be available).

The Solution:

Unfortunately, the solution is to replace any plugins that use the NPAPI with new versions written using alternative (and still supported) methods. One example of this is the Adobe Flash Player plugin which now offers a version written using the Chromium Pepper Plugin API (PPAPI). This version will be supported going forward, and will allow you to run content requiring the Flash Plugin in new versions of Chrome. More information about the Flash Plugin update can be found at http://blogs.adobe.com/flashplayer/2014/12/flash-runtime-16-update-new-ppapi-installers-and-air-news.html and you can download the updated Flash Plugin at http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/flashplayer.html

flash-plugin-ppapi

Thoughts:

With Googles decision to back WebRTC and other HTML5 based streaming and real-time communications API’s, I don’t find it the least bit surprising that they have decided to take another step towards shutting down alternative methods of implementing such functionality. While many people have been claiming for years that “Flash is Dead,” and I have finding myself more and more inclined to agree, this does serve as a gentle reminder of just how much content out there still runs on Flash. That being said, let us not forget that on the world wide webs, dead does not mean gone…


Debugging Flash/Flex Apps in Google Chrome (and killing the cache)

Since switching over to Google Chrome as my default browse some months back, I have had one persistent (see also annoying) issue: I have been unable to get the Flash Debugger to run properly in Chrome. I initially tried a number of fixes, none of which seemed to resolve the issue. Eventually, I gave up, and simply started using FireFox for debugging. Fast-forward a few months, and I am now ready to bail on FireFox due to memory usage issues (my Macbook AIR has almost gone up in smoke a few times thanks to these lil problems). To add to the fire, I have also been dealing with the HUGELY bothersome (and very common) issue of the browser caching my .swf files while I am debugging (i.e. I run debug, and the file displayed is a cached version, so I end up trying to resolve bugs that may not even exist anymore). So this morning, sitting in a cafe in Little Italy (San Diego), listening to the rain falling softly on the concrete outside, I decided it was high time I tackle theses issues. Luckily for me (and you), the solutions came quickly, and I now have Google Chrome debugging my flash builds, and running the latest build every time no less!

Debugging in Chrome:

Aaron West wrote a nice blog post outlining the how to make sure Google Chrome is using the debug version of the flash player here: http://www.aaronwest.net/blog/index.cfm/2010/4/27/Configuring-Chrome-with-Flash-Player-Debugger . Aaron did a very nice job of explaining the changes necessary to make force Chrome to use the debug player, so I will not reiterate them here; however, I will add one thing (which turned out to be the missing link for me): In order to find the correct Flash plugin to disable, you may first need to click the “Details” link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Doing this will expand the list of plugins (in my case, there were 2) and allow you to disable the correct one.

Plug ins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disabling Caching:

I saw a number of fixes for the caching issue, some of them better than others, but none quite as elegant as I would hope (i.e. a setting in Chrome to simple disable caching). Then I came across a blog post by Andre Gil’s (sorry for the spelling, I don’t know how to make the fancy accent over the e), which outlined a very nice solution in which Andre had written a small application that essentially gives you the option to launch Google Chrome with the cache disabled. You can get the app, and read about its’ use in the section titled “Cache Problems” of the following post: http://blog.somepixels.net/2010/05/how-to-develop-and-debug-flex-on-google-chrome/

 

That’s all folks. Now get back to work, and happy debugging!

 

**Update**

I am still having some issues with caching. Currently, I have found that I most often have to do a hard-refresh in Chrome in order to force it to load the latest build of the .swf. I will be working on finding a solution for this and will update once I have it!