(Update) Intent to Implement - HTML5 by Default

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Anthony LaForge

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Sep 20, 2016, 5:36:39 PM9/20/16
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HTML5 by Default is still on target for release in December (Chrome 55).  Thanks to everyone for your feedback, particularly around user impact.  To this end, we plan to use Site Engagement (instead of a Top 10 list) to determine when a user would be prompted to allow the use of Flash Player.

Here’s how it works: Within Chrome, a user’s Site Engagement score ranges from 0 to 100 for each site.  This score is based upon the user’s history and is calculated using the number of repeat visits and the duration of each visit.  In Chrome, anyone can see their own Site Engagement score at chrome://site-engagement

When a user visits a site, Chrome will only prompt if the Site Engagement score is below a certain level.  To start, the threshold score will be 1 (meaning the user has visited the site at least once).  Over time this threshold will increase to 100 (in Q2 2017), and at that time any site using Flash will trigger a one-time prompt.  We are planning on using Site Engagement within Chrome, instead of a Top 10 list,

This change will minimize user impact for sites that they visit the most.  As before, users will only be prompted once per site (their choice will be remembered) and users will have full control over where Flash is allowed to run.

Anthony Laforge
Technical Program Manager
Mountain View, CA

Lawrence G

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Sep 20, 2016, 6:50:22 PM9/20/16
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The best tool for converting legacy Flash files into HTML5 was Swiffy, sadly withdrawn with just two weeks’ notice in mid-June. 

Swiffy wasn’t just used to translate banner ads – many educational firms (including my own) were using Swiffy to convert eLearning animations into HTML5 and missed the 1st July deadline. 

Please can Swiffy be restored? It promoted the very migration away from Flash that everyone wants. 

larr...@yahoo.com

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Sep 21, 2016, 12:35:00 AM9/21/16
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Once history is cleared, all the site-engagement info is gone.

Octavian Naicu

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Sep 22, 2016, 3:43:25 AM9/22/16
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Safari 10 just took a much harder stance on the issue with Flash Player turned off by default, no whitelist or Site Engagement score, and some link hijacking for good measure when one is erroneously trying to install - the already installed but turned off - Flash Player.

PhistucK

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Sep 23, 2016, 3:28:59 PM9/23/16
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Which makes sense.


PhistucK

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Graham Phillips

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Oct 10, 2016, 10:14:19 AM10/10/16
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Hi, I'm a bit late to the party but hopefully someone here can throw some light on this.

I am trying to discover the impact of the Chrome 55 Flash changes to my employer, a gaming corporation that generates billions in revenue annually. While we have been in the process of migrating game content from Flash to HTML5 over several years, our portfolio is extensive and spread over many websites in various forms that we still have a considerable user base using Flash to generate revenue. Also in some cases (eg streaming video) Flash is arguably still the better option.

I have to determine what impact the change to Chrome 55 will have on our business in terms of disrupted user-journeys, and propose a solution. We may lose players if the content they are so used to playing no longer works as expected. One thing we have discovered in our industry is users dislike change- even if its to fix something that was 'broken'. So, to see what the impact will be I am trying to use the latest versions of the browsers that hopefully already contain the proposed change. 

With Chrome Canary (55) I am finding that with Flash set to Ask first, our Flash content just launches. No dialog, no broken plugin icon.

With Chrome 54 beta, I seem to get an inconsistent experience. On some of our sites it automatically loads the HTML5 version of our main web app, which may be an undesirable outcome for users who prefer the Flash version, while on other brands I get the broken plug-in icon and "Right-click to play Adobe Flash Player". What could be the reason for this inconsistency?

I have also been using Safari 10 in OS X Sierra in the (perhaps mistaken) belief that this will give a similar user journey to Chrome 55. On Safari 10 the user gets a Click to use Flash button, followed by a dialog to trust Flash, after which Flash content loads. This doesn't seem too bad a journey to me, but it doesn't seem to be the same as the proposal for Chrome.

I'm guessing navigator.plugins will no longer work as expected in Chrome, causing the standard flashVersionDetection.js to send the user to a message about the missing plugin and a link to download Flash. The short Google presentation that explains these changes mentioned that perhaps that link would be intercepted and the user returned to their Flash content.. is that the idea, or will it be more like the Safari experience? Is there something that we can do in terms of our server Flash embedding / detection code that could smooth the issue? It reminds me of the ActiveX filtering that MS introduced in IE9 - the industry responded with Javascript workarounds that meant users didn't have to jump through hoops to enable Flash. However I'm not even sure if there's anything we can do that will change the user journey in this case.

The site-engagement idea sounds better than a white-list, but what if the user accesses from a different computer than usual, or has cleared the cache?
 
If anyone could provide some suggestions on how I could approach the issue in terms of proposing work-arounds to my business, and investagating the impact, I'd be grateful, thanks

Octavian Naicu

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Oct 10, 2016, 12:43:39 PM10/10/16
to Graham Phillips, Chromium-dev
I'm going to address specific parts of your post. 

Our decision was to remove FP detection where we have no HTML alternative and go for the simpler "Click to run" experience by directly embedding using <object>. 

I've studied and written a lot on the subject since it will affect our product too

>I have to determine what impact the change to Chrome 55 will have on our business

Chrome has an auto update system. In a month from Chrome 55's release you can expect a large portion of the Chrome user base (think 90%+) to have version 55 and since Chrome has 55% market share then roughly 50% of any site's user base will run the latest version of Chrome within a month of it's release.


>On some of our sites it automatically loads the HTML5 version of our main web app, which may be an undesirable outcome for users who prefer the Flash version, while on other brands I get the broken plug-in icon and "Right-click to play Adobe Flash Player". What could be the reason for this inconsistency?

Those sites that serve the HTML5 version use Flash Player detection (swfobject or similar). Those that don't and embed the Flash content directly using <object> and/or <embed> will show the broken plug-in icon/area + "Right-click to play Adobe Flash Player".


> have also been using Safari 10 in OS X Sierra in the (perhaps mistaken) belief that this will give a similar user journey to Chrome 55.

I found the Safari experience similar to the one expected from Chrome 55 (before the site engagement announcement). When using FP detection it will take you to the alternate/HTML version. Safari will show the "Click to use Flash" if you embed Flash directly with <object>.

In most cases the alternate version is just a link to download Flash. Safari hijacks the click (only if you already have FP installed if I remember correctly) and allows the user to run the Flash content which is very similar to the way Google presented it. The experience is VERY confusing. That's why our decision was to remove FP detection where we have no HTML alternative and go for the simpler "Click to run" experience by directly embed using <object>.

>The site-engagement idea sounds better than a white-list, but what if the user accesses from a different computer than usual, or has cleared the cache?
Clearing the history resets the scores.  Maybe Chrome could sync the scores if the user is signed in to Chrome with his Google account.


Octavian Naicu

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Peter Kasting

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Oct 10, 2016, 9:04:12 PM10/10/16
to naicuo...@gmail.com, Graham Phillips, Chromium-dev
On Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 9:42 AM, Octavian Naicu <naicuo...@gmail.com> wrote:
>The site-engagement idea sounds better than a white-list, but what if the user accesses from a different computer than usual, or has cleared the cache?
Clearing the history resets the scores.  Maybe Chrome could sync the scores if the user is signed in to Chrome with his Google account.

If you clear history, it's probably not a good thing if the browser continues to sync data across that point that effectively shows how frequently you visit certain sites.  That would be a privacy concern.

PK 

Octavian Naicu

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Oct 11, 2016, 4:08:53 AM10/11/16
to Peter Kasting, Graham Phillips, Chromium-dev
>If you clear history, it's probably not a good thing if the browser continues to sync data across that point that effectively shows how frequently you visit certain sites.  That would be a privacy concern.

Haven't thought of that but you're right.

Octavian Naicu

Arthur Hulsman

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Oct 13, 2016, 3:45:34 AM10/13/16
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Question; Any idea if there is - or will be - a solution to "asking" the browser whether a user has already previously allowed or declined flash on the current site? I work on multiple gaming sites and it would be nice to educate our users on what is happening. A stupid example would be to display a bouncing arrow with some text saying that this new chrome message allows them to play their favourite games. We don't have a serious help desk, so something like this would help out our users a lot. Most of them rarely touch a computer and are on a level where they think the internet is the Chrome desktop icon... you know what i mean. 

So is there some kind of browser API to hook into?

Best regards,

Arthur

PhistucK

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Oct 13, 2016, 3:50:58 AM10/13/16
to a.hu...@orangegames.com, Chromium-dev
I am pretty sure there is none. Checking navigator.plugins will tell you whether it is currently enabled, but that is about it.
There might be an extension API (chrome.contentSettings), but if the user disabled Flash completely (not via content settings, but via about:plugins), that API will not tell you that.


PhistucK

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Arthur Hulsman

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Oct 13, 2016, 4:20:19 AM10/13/16
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mm yeah navigator.plugins won't suffice, cause flash will be enabled for our users 100%, otherwise they couldn't play their games beforehand anyway. You still wouldn't know if the user has actually "enabled" flash on the site. 

My colleague just came up with a possible solution: we just add a 1x1 flash object on all pages, which will call an event. If it doesn't then the user hasn't enabled flash for this site/page yet. That would work i think.


PhistucK

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Arthur Hulsman

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Oct 13, 2016, 4:23:22 AM10/13/16
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By the way, we really support the way how chrome is approaching flash and plugins in general. We've been preparing for over a year now, so we're ready for sure :P

PhistucK

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Oct 13, 2016, 4:25:25 AM10/13/16
to a.hu...@orangegames.com, Chromium-dev
But in case it is blocked, you will not see it in navigator.plugins, that is the kind of the point of this whole "HTML5 by default" plan.


PhistucK

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PhistucK

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Oct 13, 2016, 4:26:48 AM10/13/16
to Arthur Hulsman, Chromium-dev
Unless you are really referring to the "Run only important Flash by default" feature, which is off topic for this thread and unrelated.


PhistucK

Arthur Hulsman

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Oct 13, 2016, 4:50:21 AM10/13/16
to Chromium-dev, a.hu...@orangegames.com
I just want to display a message, creatives, dialog or whatever, when a user tries to play a flash game on one of our gaming portals after the chrome update. I also might want to refer them to proper HTML5 content when available. Hence why i needed a way to see if they've already made a decision within the prompt to allow/ disallow the Flash Player. Don't get me wrong, we really want our users to move to on to HTML5 and fully support the upcoming chrome solution and user experience. The problem for our audience lies more with their hesitation to allow "stuff". Our users don't know what Flash is for example. They just come to play their game. A game that might not yet be available in HTML5, or might not ever be. As we're dealing with 14k games here :P Our users get right out dangerous/ furious when their is something wrong with their particular game. So educating them on what this prompt is about, would be very helpful.


PhistucK



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PhistucK

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Oct 13, 2016, 6:42:18 AM10/13/16
to Arthur Hulsman, Chromium-dev
I am just not sure I see the good difference between checking navigator.plugins and placing a small Flash object. While neither works when it is blocked, navigator.plugins will work while the small Flash might not work (because it is not deemed important). I do not remember whether unimportant Flash objects are not initialized at all, though, but, again, it does not really matter since the navigator.plugins check will always work (the user has permitted Flash on the page).

I do not think you can tell whether the user has explicitly denied Flash, though.


PhistucK

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Arthur Hulsman

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Oct 13, 2016, 7:54:17 AM10/13/16
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Ah ok so how it will work is that the object field within navigator.plugins for flash will simply not be there when the user has not yet allowed flash to run on that specific site/ page? So it is correct to assume that flash as a plugin will be fully disabled coming with this chrome update?


PhistucK

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PhistucK

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Oct 13, 2016, 8:01:57 AM10/13/16
to Arthur Hulsman, Chromium-dev
It will indeed appear as "fully disabled" (or simply not installed) to websites.


PhistucK

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Arthur Hulsman

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Oct 13, 2016, 8:04:17 AM10/13/16
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Ah that is perfect! Thank you!


PhistucK

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Adam Chace

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Oct 21, 2016, 2:18:30 PM10/21/16
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Was there a version of this document created with the final experience?  It would be helpful to have.

Mohamed Bilal

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Oct 26, 2016, 7:13:29 AM10/26/16
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Please help me with following questions.

1) What is the minimum site engagement score, for which chrome will allows flash content? Is there any way for developers to access this for a particular site?
2) Can I test all the mentioned changes in a canary build? If it is not ready, do we have any ETA, please?

Graham Phillips

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Oct 26, 2016, 9:50:01 AM10/26/16
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An update. I wasn't aware until a couple of days ago that it is possible to turn HTML5 by default on in Chrome through flags, there is an entry for Prefer HTML over Flash.  So with that enabled I have been testing some of our client's sites, and the news is not good.

When launching the main Flash app, we get our "Please click here to download the Flash Player" page. I click the link to download the player and now Chrome displays a popup for Flash: Allow/Block, as expected. I choose Allow. Nothing happens. The window is still displaying the get Flash message. Clicking the link now takes the user to the Adobe download site. I have to manually close the window, then click a launch button on the original page, and now the Flash site loads without complaint. 

So this is different to the experience described in the original explanatory document, where the page should automatically reload with the Flash content once the user clicks Allow. And it is a much worse experience than Safari 10. Is this a known issue still and are the Chrome team working to fix it? Also is it possible to easily undo the choice the user makes on the allow Flash popup? I have tried clearing cookies and cache but the original choice persists. 

Worse still I have found cases of stand-alone Flash games simply failing to load with no explanation or popup, and other embedded Flash content also failing to display. I'm simply seeing an empty div where i'd expect the Flash to be. Bearing in mind the caveat about enabling a Chrome feature with Flags, that it might not be production-ready yet- Is it possible that this behavior is a result of the feature not being finished, or am I seeing what our users will see when this goes live in December?

Any advice from the Chrome team on how to address these issues would be appreciated, thanks

Mohamed Bilal

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Oct 26, 2016, 10:03:10 AM10/26/16
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Agreeing with Graham on this. For our sites, when I loaded the game, all I can see is empty white screen. I didn't get any popup too. That is really bad. It would be good if chrome team responds sooner on this.

Adam Chace

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Oct 26, 2016, 11:27:15 AM10/26/16
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Can someone confirm if setting #prefer-html-over-flash to Enabled in current Canary (Version 56.0.2901.0 canary) is tantamount to simulating how Chrome 55 will ship?

The communication around this feature and its implementation leave a great deal to be desired.

Anthony LaForge

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Oct 26, 2016, 1:12:16 PM10/26/16
to ach...@gmail.com, Chromium-dev
Yes, #prefer-html-over-flash is the correct flag to set to enable the HTML5 by Default behavior.  Currently we have the minimum Site Engagement score (SE) set to 30, which is higher than what we plan to ship in 55 where the target will be 1.  This is effectively so we can see and get feedback on the feature, while we are in active development, rather than deferring the discovery until next year when we start to ramp the score more aggressively.


Kind Regards,


Anthony Laforge
Technical Program Manager
Mountain View, CA

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Anthony LaForge

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Oct 26, 2016, 1:16:21 PM10/26/16
to grimep...@gmail.com, Chromium-dev
On Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 6:50 AM, Graham Phillips <grimep...@gmail.com> wrote:
An update. I wasn't aware until a couple of days ago that it is possible to turn HTML5 by default on in Chrome through flags, there is an entry for Prefer HTML over Flash.  So with that enabled I have been testing some of our client's sites, and the news is not good.

When launching the main Flash app, we get our "Please click here to download the Flash Player" page. I click the link to download the player and now Chrome displays a popup for Flash: Allow/Block, as expected. I choose Allow. Nothing happens. The window is still displaying the get Flash message. Clicking the link now takes the user to the Adobe download site. I have to manually close the window, then click a launch button on the original page, and now the Flash site loads without complaint. 

The page should reload once "Allow" has been selected.  Do you have a specific site that we can try?
 

So this is different to the experience described in the original explanatory document, where the page should automatically reload with the Flash content once the user clicks Allow. And it is a much worse experience than Safari 10. Is this a known issue still and are the Chrome team working to fix it? Also is it possible to easily undo the choice the user makes on the allow Flash popup? I have tried clearing cookies and cache but the original choice persists.

The user can configure the feature in two locations: 1.) From the site settings (lock icon) there is an option to control the Flash setting 2.) From chrome://settings/content - Flash.
 
 

Worse still I have found cases of stand-alone Flash games simply failing to load with no explanation or popup, and other embedded Flash content also failing to display. I'm simply seeing an empty div where i'd expect the Flash to be. Bearing in mind the caveat about enabling a Chrome feature with Flags, that it might not be production-ready yet- Is it possible that this behavior is a result of the feature not being finished, or am I seeing what our users will see when this goes live in December?

Example pages would be very helpful.
 

Any advice from the Chrome team on how to address these issues would be appreciated, thanks

Mohamed Bilal

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Oct 27, 2016, 3:14:26 AM10/27/16
to Chromium-dev, grimep...@gmail.com
Hi Anthony,

Flash is simply not loading without any explanation in Farmville2 game when site engagement is low. It is reproducible in zyngagames.com and farmville-2 facebook app. Please check.

Steps to reproduce: (zyngagames.com)

1) Enable "Prefer-html-over-flash"

Expected Result:

A popup asking to allow flash should be displayed and game should load after giving permissions

Actual:

A whitescreen or an empty div appears. Game doesn't load. No popup about flash appears in chrome.

Steps to reproduce: (facebook farmville 2 app)

1) Enable "Prefer-html-over-flash"
2) Make sure site engagement is low


Expected Result:

A popup asking to allow flash should be displayed and game should load

Actual:

A whitescreen or an empty div appears. Game doesn't load and no popup about flash appears in chrome.

Regards,
Bilal


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PhistucK

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Oct 27, 2016, 11:54:52 AM10/27/16
to bila...@gmail.com, Chromium-dev, Graham Phillips
Sorry, I do not have a user, so I cannot test it - but are you sure they even have a fallback option? Perhaps they just assume you have Flash and do not bother with a fallback or a download link.
You can try by simply disabling Flash in about:plugins.


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Roney Stein

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Oct 27, 2016, 4:28:17 PM10/27/16
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Anthony,

The UI implementation in Chrome 55 Beta is different from the original proposal. Now, if your Flash content is too small or invisible, the user won't note the need for Flash, it just isn't going to work.
The original proposal included a banner on top of the page alerting the user about the need of Flash plugin.
I was just reviewing the proposal and then, it started being updated to conform to the actual implementation.
That's too bad when you're using the design docs to plan for the future.

Anthony LaForge

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Oct 27, 2016, 5:26:40 PM10/27/16
to Chromium-dev
Updated the feature presentation to reflect the current state of HBD with the production screen captures (i.e. removed my old mocks), added a section on how to enable the experiment, and some misc. updates of the text to reflect the current behavior of the feature (including details about Site Engagement).

The two biggest differences between the original proposal and the current implementation:
  • The yellow infobar has been replaced w/ the now more standard "Site Settings" bubble.
  • (As reflected in this update) We are not shipping w/ any form of a whitelist and will instead be using Site Engagement to more gently phase in the feature to end users.
For posterity, we also made an archive of the original presentation/ proposal.


Kind Regards,

Anthony Laforge
Technical Program Manager
Mountain View, CA

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Graham Phillips

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Oct 28, 2016, 6:36:22 AM10/28/16
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It is probably not possible for us to provide URL's to test because you need an account (with credit card etc) to access all our content, and also I think you cannot access us from the States (online gambling issues). Mohamed's example sounds similar to ours though. 

Mohamed Bilal

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Oct 28, 2016, 6:56:55 AM10/28/16
to grimep...@gmail.com, Chromium-dev
BTW I followed latest presentation from Anthony and simulated HBD by resetting site-engagement values. It worked as expected in apps.facebook.com (Got a "click to enable flash", a further popup at top left to allow flash and game loaded fine after allowing flash). Anyway I'm seeing issue only at zyngagames.com and am cross checking if there are any issues at our end. 

@Phistuck - You could use facebook login and create a user at zyngagames.com


Regards,
Bilal





On Fri, Oct 28, 2016 at 4:06 PM, Graham Phillips <grimep...@gmail.com> wrote:
It is probably not possible for us to provide URL's to test because you need an account (with credit card etc) to access all our content, and also I think you cannot access us from the States (online gambling issues). Mohamed's example sounds similar to ours though. 

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Graham Phillips

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Oct 28, 2016, 7:32:29 AM10/28/16