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Adobe Founders On Flash and Internet Standards 515

Posted by kdawson
from the where-wizards-go-to-bed-early dept.
An anonymous reader points out an 18-month-old interview with the founders of Adobe (and creators of PostScript) Charles Geschke and John Warnock, and highlights three interesting quotes from the book Masterminds of Programming that seem very timely now. "'It is so frustrating that this many years later we're still in an environment where someone says if you really want this to work you have to use Firefox. The whole point of the universality of the Web would be to not have those kind of distinctions, but we're still living with them. It's always fascinating to see how long it takes for certain pieces of historical antiquity to die away. The more you put them in the browsers you've codified them as eternal, and that's stupid. ... With Flash what we're trying to do is both beef it up and make it robust enough so that at least you can get one language that's platform-independent and will move from platform to platform without hitting you every time you turn around with different semantics. ... You can see why, to a certain extent, Apple and Microsoft view that as a challenge because they would like you to buy into their implementation of how the seamless integration with the Web goes. What we're saying is it really shouldn't matter. That cloud ought to be accessible by anybody's computer and through any sort of information sitting out on the Web."
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Adobe Founders On Flash and Internet Standards

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  • by FyRE666 (263011) * on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @04:57AM (#32333596) Homepage

    As far as I'm aware, the swf file format is open and documented. Write your own authoring tool if you like - all the info is there. A lot of people seem to miss this fact.

  • by Molt (116343) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @05:19AM (#32333682)

    Have a look at the Flex SDK [adobe.com]. It's Adobe's open-source tool for creating content to run on the Flash player, and it runs fine for me on Linux. I don't use BSD or Solaris so can't comment on those.

    It's a command-line tool and doesn't have the visual bells and whistles of the Flash IDE but is a good way to produce Flash content. Whilst it's primarily aimed at producing application-style code it's more than capable of graphical/game content too, you just need to bring the graphics in from another application.

    In the past I had to write a Flash 'video player plus graphical metadata overlay' style application for work. I had a choice of what to write it in, Flash IDE and Flex SDK were both readily available, and I went for Flex because it fitted in with my standard workflow better- I was still using the same text editors, build systems, and version control that I'd use in any language and the GUI library in Flex was a lot nicer than the one Flash was shipping with at the time.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @05:24AM (#32333704) Homepage

    I share your views in regards to Flash, but FF/Gecko doesn't quite "work fine" on all platforms it runs on - mobile Mozilla is not a new effort, all the previous ones basically abandaned due to "oh well, we'll just wait until the hardware gest faster"; and even the current one runs only on one of the most powerful mobile phones. Meanwhile Webkit and Opera run happily on quite "underpowered" devices for a long time.
    OLPC XO-1 is also a curious example, having Gecko for some reason on what is essentially an overclocked 486...
    Likewise with standards - they're damn good in comparison to IE6, but "work on Webkit or Opera, run flawlessly on FF" works more often than the other way around. For some time we even had basically "best viewed in IE & FF".

  • by flnca (1022891) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @06:11AM (#32333934) Journal
    Interesting!! Last time I checked (which was more than 2 years ago), the format spec didn't allow it to be used to write authoring tools, plus the license was limited to 1 year. If they changed that, then the outlook for new free graphical authoring tools wouldn't be quite as dim.
  • by flnca (1022891) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @06:14AM (#32333956) Journal
    or was it players? can't remember, sorry.
  • Re:What about gnash? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Spewns (1599743) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @06:37AM (#32334078)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnash [wikipedia.org]

    http://www.gnu.org/software/gnash/ [gnu.org]

    Gnash is a GNU Flash movie player. Flash is an animation file format pioneered by Macromedia which continues to be supported by their successor company, Adobe. Flash has been extended to include audio and video content, and programs written in ActionScript, an ECMAScript-compatible language. Gnash is based on GameSWF, and supports most SWF v7 features and some SWF v8 and v9.

    But does it actually work now? I try Gnash once in awhile only to realize it still doesn't work whatsoever. The only foss flash player I'd ever had *any* luck with was swfdec, and development on that project appears dead now. I mean, don't get me wrong, swfdec worked like crap, but I could still watch videos on YouTube and Google Video with it at the very least.

  • by arielCo (995647) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @06:38AM (#32334084)
    Perhaps you [we] could donate to Gnash [gnashdev.org] ? You know, they might get there someday.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @06:47AM (#32334168)

    Adobe has a Flash player for Solaris:
    http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashplayer10/

  • Not yet. (Score:2, Informative)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @07:02AM (#32334274) Journal

    There's enough open for you to write flash authoring tools, but not enough to write an actual client. In particular, last I checked, the "open" parts forbid you from writing a client.

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @07:04AM (#32334294) Journal

    Last I checked, it could only be used for authoring tools, not for writing an actual client/plugin.

    it can still deliver applications or 3D gaming experiences or whatever

    Only very recently did it get actual hardware-accelerated 3D. I'm pretty sure Java doesn't, but JavaScript is getting 3D support soon (they're in the nightlies of the major open source browsers).

    the 30 year old Pacman clone on Google's homepage stutters like a bitch.

    Didn't stutter for me. What crappy browser are you running?

  • by LizardKing (5245) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @07:23AM (#32334444)

    Isn't the flash file format and programming language an open standard?

    It's not really open, nor is it a true standard as it's not been submitted to a recognised standards body. As recently noted on the Gnash developers mailing, Adobe's initial release of a "spec" was incorrect in many areas and incomplete. Then there was the dubious terms it was provided under, most notably that the spec couldn't be used as a reference to write an alternative implementation.

  • by Paul Jakma (2677) <paul+slashdot@jakma.org> on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @07:24AM (#32334456) Homepage Journal

    Do you realise that Flash != codec? Do you realise that any video in a Flash applet very likely will be encoded in H.263+, H.264 or VP6? Are you aware that at least two of these require MPEG-LA royalties to decode? Do you realise that Flash does not support Theora? Hence, despite your deep dislike of MPEG-LA, if you're advocating Flash then you are more or less or promoting MPEG-LA royalty bearing technology. The only modern web-video technology which does not require MPEG-LA royalties is HTML5 video with Theora (potentially Googles' VP8 might be added to this list in future).

    With all due respect, you appear to have a less than solid grasp of the facts of the matter, which renders your conclusions quite suspect.

  • by MistrBlank (1183469) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @08:08AM (#32334880)

    Uh. I'll agree with you when my 64-bit flash client comes out for ubuntu. My recently updated 10.04 system no longer has support.

    Better yet, how about some ARM processor support.

    Get over it, h.264 works in Linux and it's working a lot easier than flash does. If you're already willing to accept flash, you're already throwing out the proprietary vs. open source argument.

    In the meantime, Adobe would like to charge everyone to develop on their platform. They're content to making it so all web graphic design courses are centered around their tools and they're content to only support a small segment of the market despite trying to make these stupid claims of "uniform code for all platform" BS.

    This isn't an Apple issue. This is an Adobe is evil issue. I could care less about what Apple thinks, it's just fortunate they agree the web shouldn't be tied to a content creation baron like Adobe.

    Also, the h.264 and flash issue are TWO SEPARATE ISSUES. h.264 is a codec for video support, flash pushes their own craptacular codec through their flash video players, if they wanted they could write the players to support h.264 as well. Flash is a web technology that requires a plugin to decode various interactive multimedia content (not necessarily video). You may want to re-research your issues with h.264 and redirect them toward the evil MPEG-LA.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @08:15AM (#32334964) Journal
    In retrospect, my comma use there was a touch ambiguous. My understanding is that Adobe's implementation of h.263 in ".flv" is a bit weird and proprietary(though fully understood at this point). Their applications of VP6 and h.264 are orthodox, to the best of my knowledge.

    The scope of "proprietary variant" was supposed to extend only to the first comma, not to the entire list.
  • by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @08:57AM (#32335502) Homepage Journal

    As i don't need/like flash based games

    Flash games are useful if you want to play a video game on someone else's computer without needing to be an administrator on that computer. What would you recommend as an alternative? Java games? HTML5 Canvas games that don't work on IE 8?

    at the moment i got it installed just to watch embedded videos

    Though WebM and H.264 excel at live action and CGI, Flash is far more efficient than WebM or H.264 at encoding traditional animation created as vectors, such as Homestar Runner, Weebl and Bob, or most of what you see on Newgrounds.

  • Two-year-old info (Score:4, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @09:04AM (#32335628) Homepage Journal

    In particular, last I checked, the "open" parts forbid you from writing a client.

    You last checked more than two years ago. Please see a press release in which Adobe drops the restriction on players [adobe.com].

  • I can already have HTML5 video support in linux distros, for free, without having to wait for adobe thanks to ogg theora and webm...
    I can even have this support in linux/arm, 64bit windows, linux/mips, netbsd, freebsd, amigaos, solaris, irix, beos or a new platform of my own creation should i need to... With flash i am forced to use the very limited set of platforms which adobe supports.

    Incidentally, HTML5 video is new which is why you have a poor experience with it, nothing has really been optimized yet... I doubt it will be long before it outperforms flash, it already does on OSX with safari by quite a considerable margin.

  • Re:Emigration (Score:3, Informative)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @12:34PM (#32338412) Journal

    That would require moving myself and all my users out of USA, Germany, and South Korea.

    That, or civil disobedience.

    Which format? MPEG-LA claims that WebM infringes.

    They have yet to show that it does. That's a bit like Microsoft claiming they have dozens of patents Linux infringes on.

    There's also Dirac and Theora.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't look good for video codecs right now. Flash solves exactly none of that.

There is no opinion so absurd that some philosopher will not express it. -- Marcus Tullius Cicero, "Ad familiares"

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