Flash Power Tools: Flash Switcher for Firefox

By: Joseph Balderson

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Do the Switch

The only solution, until recently, was to use one of the standalone Flash Plugin switchers out there, such as the Kewbee Plugin Switcher, which is still very effective for switching Flash Player plugins for projectors and browsers other than Firefox. It is not a bad solution, but being basically an installer/uninstaller utility, still requires relaunching the browser every time you want to test for a different Flash player version. Not a terribly elegant solution.

Programs such as this seemed like they were the best the Flash development community to could expect. Until recently.

On October 27, 2006, Alessandro Crugnola (creator of the SEPY actionscript editor) released the Flash Switcher extension for Firefox. It allows you to switch Flash Player browser plugin versions, on the fly, without restarting your browser. The answer to my development prayers.

Here are a few pertinent links to get you started:

Note: installing the plugin from the direct link may yield a more up-to-date version of the plugin. Check Alessandro Crugnola's blog page for details.

Using Flash Switcher

  1. While using Firefox, install this extension by clicking on the download link on the mozilla extensions page, or the direct link on Alessandro's site, and follow the instructions.
  2. After the installation process when you restart Firefox select Tools > Extensions. You should see Flash Switcher present in your Extensions window.


    Image 2: The Firefox Extensions Window with the Flash Switcher Firefox extension installed

    Now let's see this extension in action.

  3. Open your Firefox browser, and go to Adobe's site. This will tell you which version of the Flash player is currently installed in your browser.
  4. Click on the Flash Switcher Button button at the bottom-right of your browser window, and the Flash Switcher menu will appear. The current version of the Flash player will also show at the top of the menu.
  5. Select a different player version from the menu.


    Image 3: the Flash Switcher extension menu

    Now your browser will show an alert message notifying you of the Flash player plugin change.


    Image 4: the Flash Switcher extension success notification

    If perchance you get the following message...


    Image 5: the Flash Switcher extension error notification

    ...it is most likely because you have another instance of the Flash player open in another tab or another window.

    When you click to select a new Flash player from the Flash Switcher menu, the extension deletes the NPSWF32.dll file located in the plugins directory of your Firefox browser, and then copies a version of the same file from the selected extension folder back to the Firefox plugins directory.

    To delete a file in Windows, all running instances of that application must be terminated. But the extension can only close the instance of the player in the currently selected window or tab. Therefore, if you have multiple tabs or windows open with Flash content, all other instances of the Flash player must be closed manually, even if it's just a matter of clicking to a non-flash page in the other tabs or windows.

    After swapping the Flash player .dll file, Flash Switcher restores the previous web page in your current tab or window

  6. Now that we have clicked on the 8,0 r24 player version from the menu, the Adobe plugin checker page indeed confirms its success.


    Image 6: A successful Flash player switch

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Keywords
flash, flash player, plugin, firefox, plugin switcher, flash switcher, dll, extension, powertools, tools