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Nov 17

The Flash Platform: How Adobe could join the Open Web to take on…

Adobe, Tech Add comments

With Adobe MAX kicking off today, on the back of PDC, we get side by side comparisons.

We have heard talk of the new positioning of the Flash platform for Flash, AIR, and Flex. These have always been in the platform business unit, so nothing is really new there.

Adobe (via Macromedia) has traditionally been a Web designer company, but developers haven’t jumped in to the same degree (note: not to say they haven’t been wildly successful!). I think that the perception is something like this:

Flash Perception

With Silverlight making a huge charge I worry about a world where you have “Best viewed in Silverlight and IE” (which in fact is “only viewed in…”) and people often ask: “But isn’t Flash just as bad?”

Adobe has an opportunity here. They can move to the right and Flash could become strongly in the Open Web camp. Then we would all be stronger as we come up against Silverlight :)

The conversation tends to end up with opensourcing Flash, which I think will happen at some point through necessity, and the sooner the better (for everyones sake). Flex has a loyal base and has some open source help, but hasn’t gotten the love that it could get because it sits on top of something that isn’t open source itself. It is hard to get excited about an open source tech that sits on top of the same vendors proprietary platform!

There is much more that Adobe can do other than open sourcing Flash though. There is a chance to offer tools to help the Open Web. What if Flex could render to the HTML platform?

I hope to see a glimmer of this vision in the keynote and more at MAX. I have a huge respect for everyone I have worked with at Adobe, and I hope that the Open camp wins through, although it will take time.

I really hope that the real Flash Catalyst will be helping the Open Web developers too :)

7 Responses to “The Flash Platform: How Adobe could join the Open Web to take on…”

  1. Brad Neuberg Says:

    Great blog post Dion! I just wrote up a reply on it here:

  2. Rodrigo Kumpera Says:

    In fact you are a bit uninformed on this subject. Silverlight is available for Firefox on windows, mac and with a beta of 1.0 for linux [1].

    Moonlight is already open source and had a 64 bits port available from the very beginning. Adobe only now announced the availability for 64 bits linux.

    Interestingly enough, parts of the Silverlight 2.0 such as the CLR not only have good open source implementations but are under a standard (ECMA 335 FYI).


  3. James Says:

    You are right, flash is not “Just as bad” as silverlight, it is worse. I would much rather see silverlight be made open source and flash go to the wasteland, but that is not likely.

  4. Chris Says:

    Great post. If Flash became open – imagine the avalanche of uptake and open community engagement that would happen almost overnight. I think you’d see tons of new open source projects based on Flex/Flash. Imagine if even a small percentage of the effort going into some of these AJAX toolkits instead went into helping Flex/Flash.

    Look at the Java ecosystem as an example (even though it took long to get Java completely open). Struts, Spring, Eclipse, OSGi, Ant, etc, etc. These are the kinds of things that grow when you are embraced by the open community.

    IMO – overnight Adobe’s market would increase an order of magnitude. They’ll be able to compete better with Microsoft. Because on a purely technical level – Silverlight is much more exciting than Flash.

  5. Tom Starks Says:

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  6. Banned in Boston Says:

    @Brad: you said (in _your_ blog article): “What I’m asking for is for Flash to integrate natively into the browser environment better, including having bookmarking and history support baked into its core across most apps, rather than an add-in.”


    Why? What you’re asking for doesn’t actually make much sense, when one thinks carefully about the differences between applications and documents. And also keep in mind that this is not just a ‘Flash thing’, it is true for any other type of Web-hosted application (AJAX, Silverlight, JavaFX, etc.)

    Why not?

    1) Browser history support is a combination of: UNDO mechanism and NAVIGATION. Let’s discuss UNDO first. There are plenty of examples of traditional (i.e., non-Web, such as: client-server, mainframe, native Windows …) applications that do not implement an UNDO mechanism. Sure, UNDO is a superb idea–but it is not a requirement. So, how about the navigational aspect? What it effectively gives you is a linear (non-branching) context stack (with backwards and forwards traversal). You could find that same UI concept in 1970s vintage mainframe applications, so this is NOT an innovation in interaction design. More to the point, if an application developer wants to support it, it can be easily enough added to that application. (But I think that GUI widgets like tabs and breadcrumb trails are a better idea, in general.) The one thing that the browser history support gives you is a standardized way of traversing the context stack. That is, indeed, worth something; in particular it improves usability for new or infrequent users. But not worth enough to make it a requirement, IMO.

    2)Bookmarking is a conflated term. If you’re talking about bookmarking the splash screen/login form/’home page’ of an application, then you can do that today and it works fine. So, the only thing I see as being in dispute is deep linking. What does deep-linking mean, semantically and technically? It means being able to tag and persist the current state of the application and then to restore that state on demand. Hey, that sounds really cool, let’s demand that . . . Just one problem: its wicked hard to do (at least for non-trivial applications). The only general examples I’ve seen of technology that does that are Operating Systems (i.e., Hibernate, or Suspend/Resume), and general purpose Virtual Machine technology (VM snapshotting and machine migration). I’m actually moderately optimistic that, with some progress in VM technology and maybe faster hardware, this type of technology may become more feasible _at the level of browser platforms and even applications_. But we’re not there yet (IMO), so I don’t think it is realistic (or fair) to have deep-linking as a requirement.

    Thanks for reading my ramblings,
    Banned in Boston

  7. Alyysa Says:

    Thanks for the great post, I started my career in nursing after finishing a associate degree in nursing from associate degree nursing schools

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