Chrome users, if Flash content has felt a bit more robust this week, don’t worry, you’re not imagining it. With version 20 of Google’s open-source browser, the company was ported the popular multimedia extension from the ancient Netscape plug-in API (NPAPI) to Google’s modern alternative, called “Pepper” (PPAPI). The result is a drop in Flash-related crashes, sandboxing for Windows XP and a path for performance improvements in the future.
Google software engineer Justin Schuh posted the news on the official blog for Chromium, the core project behind Chrome. Schuh writes that 99.9 per cent of Chrome users “rely on Flash”, which isn’t a surprising statistic considering how ingrained Adobe’s software is in our day-to-day internet escapades. He also mentions that until this update, Windows XP users did not benefit from a sandboxed Flash plug-in, something which more modern operating systems have had since 2010.
The transfer from NPAPI to PPAPI has taken nearly two years, but according to Schuh, the effort has been worth it:
Beyond the security benefits, PPAPI has allowed us to move plug-ins forward in numerous other ways. By eliminating the complexity and legacy code associated with NPAPI, we’ve reduced Flash crashes by about 20%. We can also composite Flash content on the GPU, allowing faster rendering and smooth scrolling (with more improvements to come). And because PPAPI doesn’t let the OS bleed through, it’s the only way to use all Flash features on any site in Windows 8 Metro mode.
Linux users have had Flash running on the new API since last year, while Mac OS X should get the update sometime “soon”.