Mozilla enables Flash replacement Shumway partially on Amazon

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 12, 2015
Updated • Feb 13, 2015

Browser developers and web companies work on various alternatives for Adobe's popular Flash technology.

The most common solutions are to replace Flash video with HTML5 video and to replace Adobe Flash with a native version of the plugin that provides better control.

Google for instance maintains Pepper Flash and Microsoft its own version of Flash on Windows 8.

Mozilla on the other hand made the decision to create a Flash replacement that it called Shumway. As you can imagine, this is a much larger undertaking than using a different plugin system to run Flash.

You can read more about the decision that lead to the Shumway project as well as on progress that has been made in recent time with a click on the following links:

  1. Shumway: Mozilla-backed Virtual Flash SWF Technology
  2. Shumway: Mozilla working on JavaScript Flash Player implementation
  3. Mozilla’s Flash plugin replacement Shumway lands in Firefox Nightly

Shumway for the most part was not ready for prime time use up until now. While demos on the Are We Flash Yet site ran fine, neither Flash video nor games worked when you enabled Shumway to replace Adobe Flash in Firefox.

A first step to change this was integrated in Firefox Nightly today. Mozilla enabled Shumway support for videos on Amazon.

This requires some clarification as Shumway won't run all videos yet on the site. In particular, it won't run Amazon Instant Videos or Amazon Prime Videos.

What you can play however are video trailers and samples that Amazon may display on its site.

amazon video shumway

When you visit a page with a video clip and click on it, you should see the Shumway box in the upper right corner come up shortly thereafter.

This confirms that Shumway is being used to play the video and not Adobe Flash. Any attempt to play instant or prime videos fails currently even though the Shumway box is displayed on the screen. The video area itself remains black however no matter how long you wait.

Video playback is controlled by an about:config parameter currently. The paramter shumway.swf.whitelist lists all sites and destinations on the Internet on which Shumway is being used instead of Adobe Flash to load Flash contents.

It is only enabled for Amazon Video currently and while you can theoretically change that to the * wildcard symbol to run Shumway on all sites with Flash contents, the vast majority of them won't play as Shumway is still a work in progress.

It is possible to disable Shumway in two different ways. You can set shumway.disabled to true to disable it in Firefox or open the add-ons manager about:addons to disable or remove it from there.

disable shumway

disable remove shumway

Please note that Shumway is currently only working if you have Adobe Flash player installed on the system and set it to ask to activate or always activate. Mozilla plans to remove the dependency in future versions of the extension.

Shumway has only been enabled in Windows Vista and newer, and on Mac OS X.

Here is a page on Amazon that you can test the implementation of Shumway on (Frozen DVD).

This is a big step for the Shumway project even though it is of small use to Firefox users currently. Still, it demonstrates that Shumway has the potential to replace Adobe Flash when it comes to video playback. Now, if Mozilla would only get it to work on all of Amazon or another high profile site, that would send a clear message. (via Sören Hentzschel)

Mozilla enables Flash replacement Shumway partially on Amazon
Article Name
Mozilla enables Flash replacement Shumway partially on Amazon
Mozilla has enabled its Flash replacement Shumway on Amazon partially so that Firefox users can play some of the videos offered on the site using Shumway.

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  1. Saad said on February 14, 2015 at 9:49 am

    i had tray Shumway. Performance of Flash player is very more than HTML5.

  2. Å ime Vidas said on February 12, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    I tried a few videos in the “Related Video Shorts” section for the Amazon page linked in you post, but they all play as “video/mp4” for me. Interestingly, I get a black screen at first, and only after I activate Flash (via the address bar icon), the MP4 videos start playing. Still, I’d like to test Flash via Shumway. Could you link directly to a video that plays in Shumway for you?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 13, 2015 at 7:59 am

      I did, the video on the page that I linked does. Note that you need to have Adobe Flash installed and set to always activate or ask to activate. You also need to run Vista+ or Mac OS, and need Shumaway installed.

      1. Sören Hentzschel said on February 13, 2015 at 1:49 pm

        The remove button should remove the add-on, but Shumway should still work on Amazon, because Shumway is integrated in Firefox. I don’t have the Shumway add-on installed and Shumway works on Amazon.

        I think the difference is the Shumway version. Your screenshot shows Shumway 0.9.3783 as add-on, the current Shumway version integrated in Firefox is 0.9.3775:

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on February 13, 2015 at 2:27 pm

        Ah that explains it, thanks Sören. Quite strange to have this conversation in English ;)

      3. Sören Hentzschel said on February 13, 2015 at 11:14 am

        “and need Shumaway installed” – Shumway is part of Firefox (at least part of Firefox Nightly), there is no add-on needed, it’s similar to pdf.js. ;-)

      4. Martin Brinkmann said on February 13, 2015 at 11:52 am

        What I meant was that it needs to be listed under Add-ons. I have not tried what the remove button does but I assume it removes it from Firefox? Or is that something different?

  3. Caspy7 said on February 12, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    The demo they showed previously was for Facebook videos. Wouldn’t be surprised if that was their next (high profile) whitelist site.

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