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Flash Is Not a Right 850

medcalf notes that game designer Ian Bogost enters the debate about Flash by saying "[A] large number of developers seem to think that they have the right to make software for the iPhone (or for anything else) in Flash, or in another high-level environment of their choosing. Literally, the right, not just the convenience or the opportunity. And many of them are quite churlish about the matter. This strikes me as a very strange sort of attitude to adopt. There's no question that Flash is useful and popular, and it has a large and committed user base. There's also no question that it's often convenient to be able to program for different platforms using environments one already knows. And likewise, there's a long history of creating OS stubs or wrappers or other sorts of gizmos to make it possible to run code 'alien' to a platform in a fashion that makes it feel more native. But what does it say about the state of programming practice writ large when so many developers believe that their 'rights' are trampled because they cannot write programs for a particular device in a particular language? Or that their 'freedom' as creators is squelched for the same reason?"
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Flash Is Not a Right

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  • by medcalf ( 68293 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @01:30PM (#32113542) Homepage
    is Ian's discussion of creativity in programming, and whether platform limitations enhance or retard that creativity, and in what ways.
  • Re:Provided... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2010 @01:32PM (#32113618)

    No. The Dev kit is free for download. Way to flame though.

  • Re:Provided... (Score:4, Informative)

    by WilyCoder ( 736280 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @01:40PM (#32113754)

    The devkit is free but you are limited to using the iPhone simulator. If you want to dump your code to an actual device then you need to pay the $99 fee.

  • Re:Provided... (Score:3, Informative)

    by tylersoze ( 789256 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @01:43PM (#32113818)

    Actually that's not a flame. The only way to download the SDK is if you pay to become an iPhone developer and even if you did acquire the SDK through other means, you'd still need a certificate from Apple to actually run it on your phone. The only other option is to jailbreak the phone.

  • Re:Provided... (Score:2, Informative)

    by bonez_net11 ( 472640 ) * <{moc.liamg} {ta} {00trahn}> on Thursday May 06, 2010 @01:44PM (#32113858) Homepage

    I believe the free dev kit doesn't enable installations. The paid version does. Which at this time would also get you the iPhone OS 4.

  • Re:Provided... (Score:4, Informative)

    by mrsteveman1 ( 1010381 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @01:47PM (#32113918)

    The SDK is free, but you have to buy a code signing certificate from Apple ($99) in order for software to be allowed to run and install on the device during development, but yes once you do that you can install whatever you want on your own device.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2010 @01:47PM (#32113922)
    You know there is this nifty function in iTunes that lets you sync your iPod Touch with you computer including pictures. So, you may wanna actually wanna learn how to you use your "iTouch" before you start bitching about its limitations.
  • Right To Read (Score:3, Informative)

    by the Atomic Rabbit ( 200041 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @01:59PM (#32114200)

    We're certainly on the road to the future spelled out here [].

  • Re:Provided... (Score:5, Informative)

    by geekboybt ( 866398 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @02:03PM (#32114344)
    You can download the SDK for free, legally, from [], and use the emulator all you want for $0.00. It costs you $99/year to get a certificate to put the code on your device.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2010 @02:08PM (#32114460)

    Um.... the Flex SDK (which outputs Flash files, aka RIAs) is open source and free. If by "development tools cost more" you mean they are free, then you're right.

    Thanks for playing.

  • by canajin56 ( 660655 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @02:10PM (#32114494)
    Yes, Nintendo and Sega both used to have rules for the NES and SMS. They were ruled illegal, and Game Genie and Accolade were allowed to make Nintendo and Sega games/peripherals without a license. A judge even threatened to take Sega's trademark away for flagrant abuse of the court. (The Sega would only boot games where the first bytes were "SEGA" and so third party games also needed that, and Sega sued for trademark and copyright violation for copying "SEGA") Of course, the DMCA did a full 180 on copyright and trademark law, and you're right, writing third party software, and making third party peripherals, is now one of the most illegal things in the USA. Of course, the DMCA has exceptions for reverse engineering for third-party compatibility. But good fucking luck finding a judge who will rule based on the law instead of based on the bribes Apple and Nintendo and Microsoft and Sony all give him.
  • Flash is Proprietary (Score:2, Informative)

    by SkimTony ( 245337 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @02:17PM (#32114628)

    Adobe publishes the specification for Flash, but the license stipulates that you may only use it to create authoring tools, and that Adobe remains the sole source of Flash playback software. Some may argue that this merely covers them against a Microsoft Embrace->Extend situation, but I'm pretty sure anyone who has tried to use Flash on x86 linux will remember how poor a job Adobe does in making the player. Adobe could barely make a version of Flash to run well on a 1.8 GHz Pentium 4 with 512 MB of RAM; you really think they can make it run on a cell phone?

  • by djheru ( 1252580 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @02:18PM (#32114630)
    You can develop flash using open source tools.
  • by John Whitley ( 6067 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @02:27PM (#32114836) Homepage

    It's not as if Apple's hidden the fact that Flash isn't supported. It's not like you USED to be able to use it and now you can't -- they've been VERY open about their dick-waving with Adobe.

    This also falls on Adobe -- it's not as if they've been able to run full-fledged Flash content at production quality on any mobile device yet either. I have to admit to a sense of teapot-tempest over "Apple sez you can't have what doesn't even exist yet!"

    And w.r.t. the closed/open meme-wars going on: I decidedly don't hear the sounds of these same developers chucking their {PS3,Wii,XBox}'es into the dumpster over their "ev1l closed platformedness." Console platforms have traditionally had heavy restrictions at both the business and development levels. Nor do I hear the feds knocking down Sony's or Nintendo's or Microsoft's doors over the antitrust ramifications of their respective consoles.

  • by DRJlaw ( 946416 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @02:59PM (#32115390)

    Just keep this in mind: Apple used Fairplay DRM to kill the use of WMA and DRM in the music industry. Apple's insanity isn't all bad.

    Apple also refused to license Fairplay DRM, which ment that the music that you puchased from iTunes could only realistically be played on Apple devices (Quicktime/Itunes on a PC is not a significant exception). WMA DRM locked you into certain devices, but not only Microsoft-marketed devices. That insanity is "all bad."

    BTW: Fairplay did not kill DRM in the music industry. Amazon [] killed DRM in the music industry.

  • by s73v3r ( 963317 ) <> on Thursday May 06, 2010 @03:21PM (#32115748)
    Actually, yes, you were. WMA DRM locked you into using Windows. So one could argue it was just as bad.
  • by Comboman ( 895500 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @03:23PM (#32115768)

    FALSE. They do have the right, so long as they tell you first and then leave it up to you to decide if you want to play by those rules. You CHOSE to buy Apple fully aware of the restrictions, then blame Apple when those restrictions finally affect you in a negative way.

    But that's the problem, they DIDN'T tell me first. They snuck this clause into the EULA of the most recent update. It's a little late in the game to be changing the rules, especially when Adobe invested a lot of time and money into creating an iPhone development tool which followed all of Apple's rules up to that point.

  • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @03:37PM (#32116000)

    Apple only killed off DRM when Amazon started selling music with no DRM at lower prices than Apple. It was a reactionary move.

  • by drcagn ( 715012 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @04:10PM (#32116508) Homepage
    No, Apple wanted to not use DRM from the beginning, but the record labels were too afraid to do that (the selling music online industry was in its infancy, especially for the mainstream). Once Apple got too big, it got to call the shots because it controlled the iTunes Music Store (and thus almost all of downloadable music) and the record labels resented that because they wanted to increase prices. The industry only gave way on the DRM issue because they needed to create a competitor to Apple, so they did so by giving Amazon permission for DRM-free distribution. Then Apple negotiated and had a trade-off: they got rights to higher quality files without DRM in exchange for giving the labels the variable pricing scheme that iTunes now has.
  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @05:01PM (#32117274) Journal

    Then install whatever the hell you want. Apple isn't *preventing* you from installing flash on your iPhone, it's merely making it difficult.

    Actually, they're making it illegal [].

  • by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @06:31PM (#32118478)

    Apple also refused to license Fairplay DRM, which ment that the music that you puchased from iTunes could only realistically be played on Apple devices

    And that is exactly why we eventually got DRM-free music from the major labels. The labels were getting uneasy about Apple's unanticipated power in the marketplace.

    WMA DRM locked you into certain devices, but not only Microsoft-marketed devices.

    Which is even worse in many ways. What Apple did with DRM only affected their own platform. Microsoft, on the other hand, could act as a market bully and affect third parties. And it did indeed pull the rug out from under those third parties with the abandonment of "Plays For Sure."

    BTW: Fairplay did not kill DRM in the music industry. Amazon [] killed DRM in the music industry.

    Incorrect. Jobs called from DRM to end, and actually had DRM-free music on iTunes before the Amazon store opened. However, EMI was the only label to do this initially. The other labels wanted to use DRM as a bargaining chip to get variable pricing from Apple. And they used Amazon to get it. It's not like if iTunes didn't exist, and the labels weren't engaged in a battle with Jobs they would have just gone to Amazon and said "here, sell our songs DRM free." It was a calculated move to get the changes they wanted in iTunes.

  • by ffreeloader ( 1105115 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @06:31PM (#32118488) Journal

    Put another way, Apple has no right to regulate the road developers take to arrive at a point, only the point that they arrive at. They are doing the former, not the latter.

    Really? You are the arbiter of Apple's rights? You have the "right" to arbitrarily decide how Apple runs their own business? According to your line of reasoning I have the right to tell you how to make and spend your money.

    So, from now on you cannot buy, or use, any products made by Apple, Microsoft, RedHat, Novell, Intel, AMD, NVidia, WD, Hitachi, Dell, Lenovo, Sony, Toshiba, any Linux distro, etc.... I've restricted your ability to use any of these products because I have arbitrarily decided that I don't like what you're doing. You now have to make your living by mowing lawns too.

    Do you like my decisions about how you make, and what you can do with, your money? Does it sound just-a-tad-arrogant on my part for me to tell you what you can and can't do with your money, your resources? If it sounds stupid to you, well, that's how you sound. Thinking you have the right to tell someone else how to run their business is just as stupid.

    You can object to what Apple does. You can decide not to support them in protest of how they do business. You can protest as much as you want. But, you can't decide what Apple's "rights" really are. You have neither the right, nor the authority, to make that proclamation. We live in a Republic, not a Soviet-style authoritarian Communist country, where we all have the ability, and the right, to choose how we live and do business, as long as it isn't illegal, and what Apple is doing isn't even close to being illegal, nor should it be. Unless, of course, you want other people to have that kind of power over your life too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2010 @09:55PM (#32120970)

    Bullshit. Adobe has got out a prerelease that uses the new Apple APIs that allow access for H.264 decoding, and its decoding performance still throats all the balls. At the same time, VLC has had excellent H.264 decoding performance on Mac OS X for years and years. Adobe was simply too damn lazy to bother doing efficient coding for the Mac.

    And it was never only video performance of Flash that caused CPU usage to rise to 100% and fans to turn on. You always got (and still get under the new prerelease) the same miserable performance from random H.264-free Flash ads when browsing the web.

    Flash on Mac OS X SUCKS and it has nothing to do with access to the APIs.

  • Not revisionism (Score:3, Informative)

    by mbessey ( 304651 ) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @10:18PM (#32121138) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, have you ever talked to anybody in the media player business? We *all* hate DRM - it's a pain in the neck to do well, there's absolutely no benefit to the end user (our customer), and you have to make ridiculous commitments to the content providers - about physical security of the keys, procedures for managing the inevitable discovery of workarounds, etc.

    I worked on the iPod team, and later for a company using Windows Media DRM. You might remember that the original version of the iPod had no DRM at all - we just put a "don't steal music" sticker on it, and stored the songs in a "hidden" folder.

    The record labels insisted on Apple imposing a DRM scheme for the iTunes store. They would have preferred that Apple license Windows Media, but as you might imagine, that idea really didn't fly for Apple.

    Instead, Apple created Fairplay, which was enormously less restrictive and annoying to end-users, most of whom were never aware that it existed at all. At the time "unlimited play on up to 5 computers and an unlimited number of iPods" was an incredible step forward compared to the mess that was WM-DRM.

    Without the success of Apple's much-less restrictive scheme, the record companies would never have considered allowing Amazon to sell DRM-free songs.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban