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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 Rikiji7 (1182159) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @05:34AM (#32333500) Homepage
    I'm not against flash, but i would like to be able to opt it out without losing any feature of the website i'm browsing. As i don't need/like flash based games and bloated intros, at the moment i got it installed just to watch embedded videos. One feature to go.
    • Not everything flash is bad: http://www.homestarrunner.com/ [homestarrunner.com], although I suppose that site *could* theoretically be done with SVG...

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @07:14AM (#32333946)

      Vote with your feet. If a page does not offer you an option to skip their flashtastic crapfest, close the window, go elsewhere.

    • by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @09:48AM (#32335372)

      My problem with it is that it's hard to determine the difference between useful flash and useless flash.

      Most snazzy flash UI's on websites are just slow and bloated. ANY page with a "Skip Intro" button I can guarantee you should have never had the damned intro there in the first place. On the other hand, flash based video is very useful. Flash games can be amusing if you're into that sort of thing.

      I think Flash would simply be much better if it was used more sparingly. The old addage comes into play though ("When all you have is a hammer the whole world starts looking like a nail."). To too many web developers Flash is their hammer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tepples (727027)

      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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @05:34AM (#32333504)

    We'd like you to buy into OUR implementation. That cloud ought to be accessible to anyone's computer - as long as they're running Flash.

    Adobe wants a monopoly on content, and wants the OS to be commoditized. I want the whole platform to be commoditized - and that's why I support truly open standards.

    • Got it in one (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @05:59AM (#32333610) Journal

      Adobe wants web content to just run anywhere? When the plugin they sell doesn't run everywhere and in places it does run, it often runs poorly?

      Where is Flash for BSD? For AMD64? Oh, wait, when Adobe speaks about the net, they mean IE.

      Adobe, the reason Apple hates your guts is because you never ever supported their OS properly until you absolutely had to.

      Oh and I hate your guts too, just a little bit more then Steve Jobs in fact, so I hope he rapes your stinking rotting corpse and eats your babies. Sometimes the enemy of my enemy is worth cheering on.

      • Re:Got it in one (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mangu (126918) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @06:53AM (#32333848)

        Adobe, the reason Apple hates your guts is because you never ever supported their OS properly until you absolutely had to.

        Ironically, Adobe owes its existence to Apple adopting PostScript [wikipedia.org] as the standard for the Apple LaserWriter printer.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Skuld-Chan (302449)

          That's actually not true - their first really big customer was Digital Equipment Corp. I learned that from a "fireside chat" like thing I attended where John and Chuck talked about the early days of the company.

          Apple used Postscript for the Laserwriter driver simply because it was the only game in town and there business was pretty much writing printer drivers and selling them to OEM's like Apple. Keep in mind like several silicon valley startups Adobe was based off research done at Xerox Parc - some of the

      • Re:Got it in one (Score:4, Insightful)

        by A12m0v (1315511) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @07:04AM (#32333892) Journal

        It is amazing how much support Adobe gets online and how much hate Apple gets for badmouthing Flash, when Adobe itself has a shoddy history of supporting many OSes, Apple is not to blame for their attitude towards Flash. The web is meant to be universal, but with some OSes lacking Flash support, and there are thousands of Flash sites, it'll never be. Adobe never cared about any OS other than Windows and Mac, so I'm glad that Jobs made it his mission to kill Flash.

      • by jack2000 (1178961)
        Actually Flash works for AMD64. For XP64 and the rest of MS's 64bit oses. But i guess you meant linux based 64bit oses.
        • by HBoar (1642149)
          I've also been running 64 bit flash on linux for about a year.... I think it may still be called a beta, but I've never had any trouble with it and it runs very nicely.
      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        You're absolutely right about Adobe.
        Even back when Adobe product ran ONLY on Apple platform, Adobe should have supported Apple more.

      • by DJRumpy (1345787)

        That's my personal beef with it. Still no production x64 plugin. Adobe has sat on their ass for a decade while 64 bit computing marched on, they 'penalize' anyone wanting to run a 64 bit OS. Perhaps not directly because the site designers opt to use Flash, but when the platform becomes unavoidable, and the only place to get it is a single company, I take issue with that.

        There should be absolutely no excuse that they haven't had a 64 bit plugin for this YEARS ago. If they had no intention of keeping the tec

      • Gnash (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027)

        Where is Flash for BSD? For AMD64?

        Just about everything in Flash except for the legacy H.263 video codec is documented, and Adobe dropped the restriction against writing your own SWF player two years ago as part of the Open Screen Project. Have you donated to the Gnash project yet?

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

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

  • by flnca (1022891) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @05:35AM (#32333508) Journal
    If they really want to boost Flash adoption, they should make it open-source!! Or at the very least make cheap authoring tools that everyone can use. Flash isn't really all that multiplatform, b/c the authoring tools exist only for Windows and Mac ... where are the versions for Linux, BSD, Solaris?
    • by FyRE666 (263011) * on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @05:57AM (#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 @06:19AM (#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.

    • 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.

      • by flnca (1022891)
        That's true, I haven't thought of that. Gnash might be very useful as an authoring tool (as a player, it's not been very useful last time I checked).
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Spewns (1599743)

        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 Tei (520358) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @05:43AM (#32333532) Journal

    "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"

    You mean, like these pages that say "To watch that, you need Flash 10"?, I have found loot of these. Your propietary extension is not better than some people doing a XUL remote webapp. (full disclosure: I have released a few xul apps, look for Tei in sf)

    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @05:56AM (#32333588)

      He didn't mean:

      "It is so frustrating [...] where someone says if you really want this to work you have to use Firefox. [as opposed to this always working]"

      What he meant was:

      "It is so frustrating [...] where someone says if you really want this to work you have to use Firefox [as opposed to Flash]"

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by notrandomly (1242142)
        Maybe my brain is a bit tired today, but what are you saying? Surely not that the Adobe guy's statement wasn't amazingly hypocritical?
    • Pot ... kettle (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mangu (126918) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @06:27AM (#32333726)

      You mean, like these pages that say "To watch that, you need Flash 10"?

      In the Wikipedia article on Pot calling the kettle black [wikipedia.org] there's this alternative interpretation: "the pot is sooty (being placed on a fire), while the kettle is clean and shiny (being placed on coals only), and hence when the pot accuses the kettle of being black, it is the pots own sooty reflection that it sees"

      This is how I see Adobe's accusation against Firefox. I have yet to see *one* single site that requires Firefox, I have lost count of the sites that require Flash.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by elronxenu (117773)

      I thought the same thing. Clearly software incompatibility is a nuisance only when it's somebody else's software. If it's my flash crap, being asked to upgrade or install is a feature.

  • by dingen (958134) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @05:45AM (#32333538)

    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.

    *sigh* another company claiming that what they're doing is "platform independent" because they've created versions for a few platforms. Just like Microsoft with their Silverlight technology, Flash isn't platform independent at all. Sure Adobe has created Flash for a few different platforms, just like MS has created a Mac-version of Silverlight, but at the end of the day, Flash only works on the platforms Adobe have decided to create a binary for.

    What platform independence is all about, is that the platform is completely irrelevant. You know, like the web is supposed to be. Javascript doesn't care if it's running on an Intel chip or an ARM chip, it doesn't care if you're running it in Windows or Linux, it doesn't care which browser you are using. THAT is platform independence. Loading the approriate binary for your platform is not, especially if you can't create these binaries yourself in the case Adobe doesn't support your platform.

    This is why Flash is terrible for the web. When websites rely heavily on Flash, it basically turns the web into an Adobe-only platform. That's terrible for everyone, no matter how Adobe is trying to sell it to you.

    • by gpuk (712102)

      Very eloquently put. Wish I had some mod points left.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Correct. If Adobe had open sourced Flash right from the beginning and provided a free dev environment it may have been ubiquitous by now instead of being a glorified video codec. But the other reason Flash applications haven't taken off is simple - nobody whose opinion matters wants them to!

      Microsoft is terrified by anything that would let it's locked-in customer base easily migrate to another desktop OS. Apple doesn't care so much, but would much prefer applications be developed specifically for MacOSX (an

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This leads us to the root problem: Why is there no Flash binary for some relevant platforms (not talking about iP(hone|od|ad))? Flash is supposed to be a publicly available specification, isn't it? Well, it may be, but there is patented stuff in there and the spec is entirely under Adobe's control. Others have no say in it. Sun opened Java (after a long time of handling it much like Adobe still handles Flash), but Sun is no more, which might be a bit of a disincentive for Adobe following Sun's lead.

      That sai

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        not talking about iP(hone|od|ad)

        Apple prohibits any kind of code interpreter, not just Adobe's.

  • by jprupp (697660) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @05:48AM (#32333560)

    I'd rather be forced to use Firefox to view certain content, than Flash. At least Firefox is Open Source and WORKS FINE on all platforms it runs, and follow standards very closely without misinterpreting them. Neither can be said for Flash. Moreover, if it works with Firefox, it will work on pretty much all browsers that respect standards, unless you use XUL to develop the application, but then you're pretty much conscious you're doing a Gecko app, and not a standard web app.

    Flash sucks, let it die, spit on it's tomb, for it's the biggest oppressor of the open web.

    • by sznupi (719324) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @06:24AM (#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 drx (123393) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @05:56AM (#32333590) Homepage

    So i "need Firefox for this to work" and that's worse than needing Flash? Well, Firefox works on more platforms than Flash. Problem solved, not by Adobe tho.

    • Not really. Problem shrunk perhaps. The same issue is there - that you have to use one particular implementation in order to view the content - it's just that this particular implementation is easier to get and works in more places.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @05:58AM (#32333600)

    "I'm sorry, if you really want to read this post you have to use Flash."

  • Who donate their time for no other reason than that they wan to enrich everyone.

    And over there are Abode, who bill their time for no other reason than that they want to enrich themselves.

    How dare they compare themselves with FOSS developers? How dare they?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      The hippie OSS developer sold out about a decade ago, kid. OSS license choice is now mostly a pragmatic engineering choice for service delivery businesses, which are also by far the majority contributors to significant open source projects.

      It doesn't matter what you'd like it to be, only what it is.

      • by Alex Belits (437) * on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @06:43AM (#32333794) Homepage

        Choice by businesses != choice by engineers.

        My work on open source projects is not motivated by making my employer rich -- it just happens to do that anyway, so no one is complaining. Adobe, on the other hand, creates deliberately convoluted, nearly impossible to reimplement, products, plays favorites in OS support, promotes DRM, and does pretty almost everything a software company can do to make everyone's life harder.

        "Almost" because as far as I know, anti-open-source propaganda against their competitors ("Gimp does not support CMYK!" and the likes) originates from Microsoft marketing people, Adobe just gets windfall from it as Microsoft is too stupid to make a graphics editor.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          My work on open source projects is not motivated by making my employer rich -- it just happens to do that anyway,

          If it didn't make your employer rich, your employer would not have any money to pay you. So unless you're a volunteer, your work on open source projects is motivated by making your employer rich.

          Adobe, on the other hand, creates deliberately convoluted, nearly impossible to reimplement, products

          Like the W3C. I'm still looking forward to a browser which actually fully supports any of their mainstream standards produced over the past few years. Also good would be a standard written sufficiently well that two best-effort implementations are equally acceptable when provided with any standards-compliant HTML/CS

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by brillow (917507)
      Don't give me BS about OSS developers wanting to enrich anyone. They enrich themselves by pursuing a hobby. They only self-aggrandize by saying its about a cause. You act like these people are saints. An OSS developer is no more a saint than people who put their own apple-pie recipes online. OSS as it was can never really dominate, its impossible for less-organized, unpaid people to outperform highly-paid professionals at the same game. The only cases where I see OSS possibly moving into a dominant sy
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Sockatume (732728)

        its impossible for less-organized, unpaid people to outperform highly-paid professionals at the same game

        They're usually not playing the same game. They're usually doing things that companies like Adobe wouldn't touch with a barge pole because they're unprofitable. There are kinds of scientific research that you can't even do without OSS - the tools simply don't exist commercially, because there's no significant money to be made. That's the sort of work that Adobe is pretending to be a part of, and that pre

  • all this trying (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    His reasons are fine, but they've been "trying" for too long they need more doing!

    If he's serious about content being accessible on any platform then they need to start treating all platforms equally and with decent performance too.

    it's ridiculous that a stupid flash game takes as much resources as a full on game. using the same technology for advert banners is insane

  • Nearly... (Score:3, Funny)

    by benjfowler (239527) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @06:46AM (#32333810)

    read the title of the story as: "Adobe Flounders On Flash and Internet Standards"

  • What was it again?

    Oh right

    "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

    -GWB

  • "The Following Plug-In has crashed: Shockwave Flash"
  • This is hilarious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bartron (772079) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @07:12AM (#32333938)
    I love it how if it a story about flash when concerned with iPhone/iPad everyone is full of hate and woe and spit venom towards Apple for daring to exile the chosen one.

    However when you take Apple out of the picture (despite this being filed under Apple for some reason) no-one can think of a kind word for the Adobe wonder child. Oh how flash isn't open, only works on Adobe approved systems, Firefox runs on more systems etc etc....you can't have it both ways people.

    I'm no fanboy but at least I'm not a hypocrite...Flash sucks, always has, always will....regardless of who choses to support it and who doesn't. FFS people, one would think you'd be happy that a company (in this case Apple) is trying to champion an open standard (HTML5) to free you from the shackles of requiring a compiled binary made especially for your system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728)

      you can't have it both ways people

      You can and you must. The point of contention is closed versus open platforms. Condemning both Apple and Adobe is the only philosophically consistent, unhypocritical course of action. The decision only becomes hypocritical when you view the problem as "I must side with Adobe or Apple" which is precisely what the corporations want you to do.

      People might say they would like the option of avoiding Flash, or that the Flash omission is symptomatic of the larger issue people are

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      Its possible to believe that flash sucks while simultaneously believing that users have the right to choose to use it.

      In the case of Apple, it is very clear that Apple is not against Flash out of the goodness of their heart. They are against Flash because if it were on iPortables it would immediately screw over their media market control. iPortable users could run Hulu (for example) without Hulu having to make any deals ($$$) with Apple.
      HTML5 doesnt theaten this market control because the Hulu's of the
  • Book Burning? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Whether you like Flash or not, the fact remains that for a long time it was the only way to do all sorts of things that are only just becoming viable with other methods, as so was the de-facto standard.

    Things like Joe Cartoon, RatherGood.com and Fly Guy would never have existed without Flash, and there is all sorts of information stored in SWF files going back to the 90s. You may argue that this information is now in the wrong format, but there's lots of things that will never be updated to HTML5 or JavaScr

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Whether Flash is in use or not, whether Adobe continues to exist and produce new versions of Flash or not, there will come a time in the not too distant future when the only way to play old .swf files is by installing old Flash Player binaries on a real or virtual machine. Those binaries will not cease to exist just because we've rejected Flash on the web. Access will still be available. No burning will occur.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @07:42AM (#32334118)
    The headline has a nice double-meaning. It could be read as an interview with the founders of Adobe on Flash and Internet standards, or that Adobe is foundering [google.com] on Flash and Internet standards. The latter is what I first read it as.
  • Personally, as a development platform, with Android 2.2 around the corner, and Adobe releasing the iPhone packager for other mobile OS, I'm willing to give them breathing space to get on with what they are trying to achieve.

    The problem I find with /. is so many people seem to be doing the "well v6 was crap, v10.1 must be awful" routine. It's tedious. Please go and read this http://blogs.adobe.com/flashplayer/2010/05/engineering_flash_player.html [adobe.com] .

    Currently there is no other company out there trying to deliv

  • Founders... oh wait... it's a noun!

  • These guys just don't understand Apple's business goals. Apple long ago realized that they can't compete as "just another computer company". The paper-thin margins of the PC business preclude that. So to that end, Apple's goal is to reinvent why people want to buy its products. Sure there were tons of MP3 players out there when the iPod came out but iTunes changed the way you get your music. Then the iPhone threw out the gimped phone device business model crammed down our throats by the phone companies

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @07:57AM (#32334222) Journal

    I don't know why but for some strange reason every time someone talks about Flash the Queen Song Flash jumps into my head.

    Flash - ah - saviour of the universe
    Flash - ah - it'll save ev'ry one of us
    Flash - ah - it's a miracle
    Flash - ah - king of the impossible
    It's for ev'ry one of us
    Stands for ev'ry one of us
    It'll save with a mighty hand
    Ev'ry man ev'ry woman ev'ry child
    With a mighty flash
    Flash - ah
    Flash - ah - it'll save ev'ry one of us
  • Adobe stands to loose the only tube-based revenue stream they have, and it's a big one. They are on the verge of becoming irrelevant via html5. I'm glad. They've had so many security holes over the past few years I hated installing Flash or Reader on anything. There were times it took Adobe months to release critical security fixes and the only reason they didn't do it sooner was because they were too fat and lazy. Everything Adobe is doing now is just a result of slowly running out of oxygen.

    The only t

  • Utter Rubbish (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Puff_Of_Hot_Air (995689) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @08:30AM (#32334502)
    The only way to ensure cross-platform capabilities is open standards (unencumbered by patents). If we have learned anything from the age of the Internet, it's that building on an open standard, even if inferior in many ways, allows for an amazing array of applications that could never be imagined. Anyone can impliment a HTML browser for any piece of hardware (to a point). Flash's cross-platform capabilities are entirely dependent on one company. One public company who at anytime could choose to not port their "Internet viewer" to your platform (or just drag the chain, or do a poor job). Who in their right mind would want to be beholden to that? Adobe holds the Internet to ransom! Yes we need flash like capabilites, but we need them an an open format that anyone can impliment. I am not beholden to firefox, if I wanted to get off my arse, I could contribute to add whatever feature I so desired. If I had enough capital I could make a browser from scratch. No, flash is the antithesis of the open web, it must die, and the only way achieve this is to replace it with an open standard that can do as much (or close).

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