"Challenges that bring great opportunities" is how I'd summarize what I've seen of the Flex summit so far. Adobe has invited some key Flex community members and enterprise partners to discuss the open source strategy around Flex and shed light on its commitment to the Flash Platform runtimes.
Here is some of the more interesting news that came out of the discussions:
 

  • Adobe has legal clearance to submit Flex to the Apache Software Foundation, the incubation proposal will be submitted in the coming weeks

  • Adobe will not be offering any commercial support contracts for Flex 4.6 and higher, though will honor existing contracts and continue offering support for the foreseeable future.
     
  • Flash Builder is continuing to be developed, the next version will not have Design View
     
  • Flash Catalyst is being discontinued
     
  • Adobe is investigating HTML5 but doesn't have a framework in the pipeline that would allow migrating enterprise Flex functionality.
     
  • Danny Winokur acknowledges Adobe's communication blunder and resulting trust deficit
     
  • Adobe wants to continue to innovate with the Flash Platform, gaming and premium video are features that will drive it - but will not be limited to just those areas.
     
  • There is a firm commitment to AIR on Android, iOS and BlackBerry PlayBook.
     
  • Discussion with Microsoft is ongoing about AIR application support in Windows 8 Metro.
     
  • Falcon compiler is under development, current timeline is early second half 2012 for AS3 support, late 2012 for MXML. Based on the discussions at the summit, there is a keen interest to get Falcon contributed as open source and have the community help work on it.
     
  • Falcon JS is a research project and Adobe seems very reluctant in making any promises that this will turn into a viable product to cross compile real world applications to HTML/CSS/SVG/JS.
     

If the news about Flex going open source came at any other time, I believe just about everyone in the community would be jumping for joy. The fact that it was announced in the wake of a general sense that Adobe is starting to abandon its Flash Platform technology is what made it problematic. That said, there are certainly valid concerns - especially for the enterprise market that makes huge long term investments and Adobe wil have a tough time reclaiming trust with them.

I was skeptical about what this summit was supposed to achieve but have to say the open discussion has been great and Adobe is clearly looking to find ways to recover from the horrible communication disaster of this last month.

I'd like to thank those attending, Mike Labriola and Leif Wells in particular for being so vocal in representing community frustrations and getting Adobe to acknowledge them.

There's more news coming out today (here is a live stream and you can ask questions through twitter using the #flexsummit hashtag), I might follow up on developments in a later blog post. In the meanwhile there are recordings available that you can watch of yesterdays discussions.
 
- Discussion, Q&A with Danny Winokur - Flash Platform and Flex updates - Falcon and Falcon JS
 

Posted
AuthorPeter
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I've been meaning to attend gotoAndSki for several years now, but it never seemed to work out - until now. If you don't know about this unique event you should definitely check it out! In summer it takes place in Norway, in winter in Switzerland.

This coming January 2012 I'll join a fantastic lineup of speakers (Mario Klingemann, Mihai Corlan, Bhakti Pingale, Michael Plank, Steven Peeters, Dominic Graefen, Hugo Fernandes, Eugene Zatepyakin) in the beautiful town of Stechelberg. Its a relatively small scale conference, giving you excellent opportunity for networking and general "geeking out".

During the day you can get out and see the Swiss Alps, ski or do other fun activities. The evening is conference time with several sessions over a period of three days.
 
My session is called "Simple P2P with Flash & Flex for the common mortal" and I'll be showing the latest developments of the CocoonP2P framework. I'll show how to set up device discovery, messaging, file sharing, video streaming (and hopefully some other cool surprises) between various devices *all without a server*.

The goal is to make it so easy your grandmother could do it - and I think we've pretty much accomplished that.
 
I hope to see you there, if you want to make it out - be sure to grab your ticket now - its without a doubt the best conference deal around (not to mention it includes accommodation and all your meals).
 

Posted
AuthorPeter

[update] There is now some more solid information on the future direction of Flex available here.
 
We're a week after Adobe's shocking announcements around its future vision of the Flash Platform - time to get some perspective and see what exactly has happened.

Unfortunately on a number of topics we're no closer to having real answers but this is my personal take and summary of what is publicly announced:
 
Flash Player for mobile (e.g. on Android) will not be further developed nor receive any further updates after version 11.1 (which was made available earlier this week) apart from critical bug fixes and security updates.

The Flash Player is still available for download and existing SWF content is supported, at some point in the future SWF content targeting new features will likely no longer work on mobile browsers. There has been talk about Adobe allowing OEMs to license Flash Player and do their own implementation, something which RIM reportedly wants to do for their PlayBook and upcoming QNX based devices (lets hope for more willing OEM partners to do their own Flash Player porting).

Adobe will invest further in AIR to package applications to mobile across devices, the recent acquisition of Nitobi and the involvement in the PhoneGap project also fits into this picture.

Unclear to me is if Flash Player 11.1+ content will be supported in AIR for Android and other devices. I don't see how that would work if they don't want to continue to port newer versions of the Flash Player - unless they take a strategy like on iOS where the runtime gets cross compiled to native binaries for each platform.
 
The Flash Professional engineering team has had a number of layoffs, though the product is still under development.

Product management is located in the US but the development is being outsourced to India. The next release of Flash Professional will have a feature to export to HTML5. If its anything like Wallaby or Google's Swiffy project, ActionScript support - if any at all - will be very limited.

My own personal take on this is that its only a feasible proposition if Javascript support is introduced as a scripting "dialect".

http://www.mikechambers.com/blog/2011/11/10/flash-professional-and-the-future/

 
The Flex SDK is going to get donated to an open source foundation and the Spoon project and Adobe (unclear how active and to what extent) will be involved in shaping its future.

The blog post announcing this however goes on to mention that HTML5 and web standards will be the best long term strategy - which undermines their case for continued support of the framework.
 
Flash Builder will still be developed and reportedly some Flash Catalyst features will merge into that product. The Falcon compiler project is still being worked on.

That seems like a pretty sensible move to me, imagine that at some point soon HTML5 will also become an export format here too.
 
LiveCycle and Acrobat Connect are being "wound down" - best guidance I've found on it is that they're cutting investment on it, though continue to support it for existing clients in the government and the enterprise financial services market.

http://www.underprise.com/2011/11/11/the-future-of-adobe-livecycle/

 
I am still baffled at what Adobe was thinking in the way they communicated these changes. Clearly serious mistakes were made and I'm already seeing consequences everywhere.

Flash Player on desktop technically has a bright future ahead for gaming in particular, the issue here is if the actions of last week have not undermined Adobe's credibility to such a point that nobody is willing to invest. After all, they've now proven that the very thing you've been working on for months or years can be pulled out from under you at any point in time.

Most shockingly is still how MAX attendees were misled - thousands of people paying thousands of dollars to make it out to an event that claims to give them insight into the roadmap at Adobe. It is now also clear that Adobe employees did not know about these upcoming changes until the day itself, so this is no criticism on their part.

 
I still strongly stand behind my call for a leadership change at Adobe. Spending billions of dollars over the years on developing a mobile platform to then abandon it without any advance guidance or clear transition path to your user base is inexcusable. The enterprise Flex market is one few that actually prefers proprietary solutions, they want a strong company backing the technology they use and a roadmap they can trust on.

We'll see how these decisions play out, the move towards web standards can proof to be a good one in the long run but the more critical problem is restoring confidence in Adobe.
 

Posted
AuthorPeter

I'm disgusted at Adobe today. It has now well and truly become tradition to have the post-MAX November layoffs. This year reportedly 750 employees got dismissed across North America and Europe (worse than the previous record after MAX Milan 2008). I wish them all the very best.

If you start to see a recurring theme like that, anyone would realize something is going terribly terribly wrong. The hard economic reality hits all of us you say? Adobe backs it up by a press release stating "We expect to report record revenue within the fourth quarter [...]", eliminating hundreds of full-time jobs gets classified under the thinly veiled euphemism of "restructuring".

By now Adobe has reorganized their internal house keeping so many times, Martha Stewart should come take master classes.
 
Things get worse. News starts to trickle out about Adobe abandoning Flash Player on mobile. Not an unusual rumor to see pop up in your twitter stream if you've been around our community for the last year or two. This time it was different and slowly - judging by the roles of people who got dismissed and reading between the lines - it became apparent there was more to the story.

Just 18 months ago at Google I/O 2010, Vic Gundotra bailed out Adobe and the idea of having Flash Player on mobile with the words "It turns out on the internet, people use Flash" and announced Flash Player support on Android. This after Steve Jobs gave it a near fatal blow with his infamous "Thoughts on Flash" letter.

We're refocusing on developing applications through AIR across mobile devices while continuing to innovate on the web. From Flash Player 11 onwards we will not be getting updates on mobile devices apart from bug fixes and security updates.

This whole move seems to me like cutting off the leg of a perfectly healthy patient to save money on shoes, only to realize you have to buy them in pairs. The web doesn't stop where mobile begins.
 
Supporting a runtime across a wide range of devices is difficult and expensive - if it wasn't Flash would not nearly have been so successful. Arguably we came closer to this as a reality than ever before.
 
What bothers me most is the utter disregard Adobe has for its developer community in the way this is communicated. This is not the company I've grown to know and love, this is not how you treat your most loyal customers and passionate evangelists.

Just weeks ago thousands of people came to the annual MAX conference in Los Angeles to hear about Adobe's plans and roadmap. Not a word was mentioned about abandoning development on Flash Player for mobile, is this how confident Adobe is about its decisions it can't defend them in front of their user base?

I'm part of the community programs since the Macromedia days, certified instructor, author, participated in countless prerelease programs - can barely keep track of how many NDAs I've signed with Adobe over the years. I've promoted the technology through good and bad times and this is how they chose to break the news.
 
Bad communication doesn't just piss off your developers - it cuts budgets, causes projects, jobs and livelihoods to be lost. And boy, has there been some bad communication. I've lost all confidence in Adobe as a company through the recklessness they've demonstrated in the last two days.
 

[note] views expressed are mine alone and may not reflect those of my employer.

Posted
AuthorPeter
CategoriesFlash, Rants
29 CommentsPost a comment

I realize I haven't been blogging a lot about what I've been up to in the last few months so thought I'd better get a post out and share some of those things with you.

Cocoon P2P

The open source Cocoon P2P library has been released and got Dirk Eismann on board as a contributor after speaking at FFK11 in April. With his help we were able to take it from more of a proof of concept to a solid solution for doing local IP multicast with the Flash Player (no server required).

We have great support for device discovery, messaging and object-replication. Reworking the video streaming and fixing some bugs on the accelerometer support is still on my todo list for the very near future.

HTML5 Solutions

I've had the pleasure to work on a book called "HTML5 Solutions: Essential Techniques for HTML5 Developers" with fellow authors Marco Casario, Charles Brown, Nathalie Wormser and Cyril Hanquez.

My contribution to the book is on using the Geolocation API - which, if you haven't already tried it - is one of the most exciting features that is starting to become widely available with HTML5.

It turned out - in my humble opinion - to be a very good publication and should be shipping soon. I can't wait to get hold of my author copies and hear reader feedback when it hits the stores.

Mobile Development with Flash video training

Together with Joseph Labrecque I've recorded a video training title for Peachpit called "Mobile Development with Adobe Flash Professional CS5.5 and Flash Builder 4.5: Learn by Video" that is now available for pre-order.

We cover developing for Google Android and Apple iOS with Adobe AIR, ActionScript and the Flex framework from the very start of setting up your application, to using various APIs, debugging and finally submitting it to the marketplace and app store.

I had a great time recording this title in Graz, Austria with the nice folks at video2brain.

Mobile application development

I've been playing around with different mobile platforms - releasing a couple of applications for Window Phone 7, Google Android and Apple iOS as well as the BlackBerry PlayBook.

VAT validator on WP7 and Android

A while back I was giving the opportunity to do some development on Windows Phone 7 and have to admit it was a very nice experience and a solid development platform. Most of all the app submission and approval process was incredible, consistently taking only 2 days and getting detailed feedback on any problems they find - the best I've seen on any curated marketplace so far.

I decided to port the VAT validator app I had built some years back for iPhone in Objective-C in C#/Silverlight and did the same on Android through the Adobe AIR runtime. Also took the opportunity to test ad integration on mobile and made paid and free ad-supported versions to compare how well they do. I hope to share some statistics soon on how that goes and what model is most suitable for developers that do utility apps.

Sanskrit Clock iPad app

I thought it was high time to explore native development on Apple iOS again and see what the app store experience is like since I last tried it in 2008. Approval time has certainly improved and in less than a week after submitted, my Sanskrit Clock iPad app made it on the store.

Not sure how many people are interested in an app like this (aside from the handful of geeky Sanskrit enthusiasts like myself) but it includes optional romanized transliteration of the numerals, a couple of different color themes and a setting to disable the screen lock so you can use it as a clock on your desk or nightstand.

TWiT Live for PlayBook

TWiT Live is my second PlayBook app that lets you watch the live stream of Leo Laporte's TWiT network shows. I plan to add support for play/pause, volume control and switching between high and low quality streams some time soon.

It doesn't look like things are slowing down for me any time soon, end of next week I'm moving to London to start my new job at Google as a Rich Media Flash Developer. If I manage to find the time I'll be delving deeper into native Android development to do some experiments with widget development and other fun stuff.

Onwards and upwards!

 

Up until recently I wouldn't have bet on BlackBerry becoming one of the most developer friendly and innovative platforms around, but recent announcements around their upcoming PlayBook tablet are very promising indeed. It remains to be seen how things will work out but - based on the hardware specs and apparent renewed effort in terms of UI design and user interaction - there is every chance they will become a serious contender.

Those of us interested in Flash Platform development get full Flash Player 10.1 support and it appears most of the UI of the tablet is built on top of Adobe AIR, so we can expect some solid integration there.

In terms of specs, a 7" screen with a dual-core 1GHz processor, 1GB RAM, front and back facing camera and HDMI out weighing around 400 grams is impressive. What I'm hoping for is equally impressive battery life.

Developers interested can already start writing apps for the BlackBerry PlayBook and test it in their simulator. Even better, RIM has announced if you write an app that gets accepted to BlackBerry App World before the product launch you'll be given a free device. More information about this offer will soon be available.

There is also a weekly webcast series to help you get started, recordings of previous weeks are up on the site.

http://us.blackberry.com/developers/tablet/ http://us.blackberry.com/developers/tablet/devresources.jsp http://devblog.blackberry.com/2010/10/blackberry-playbook-developer-promotion-information/

 
Exciting times ahead for Flash Platform development on tablets!

Posted
AuthorPeter
2 CommentsPost a comment

This years Adobe MAX conference is fast approaching, end of next week myself and Nathalie Wormser of the Project Cocoon team will be traveling to Los Angeles. Its been a long time since I've been this excited about the topic I'll be talking about. If you haven't tried P2P with Flash Player 10.1 yet, this is your chance to learn how to use it. In our session we'll talk about how to do device discovery on the local network, send data between mobile to desktop applications, use mobile specific APIs like the accelerometer etc. to have those control desktop applications, games -- all this without requiring a connection to a server.

After the conference I'll be blogging about this a lot more, but if you're there feel free to register for our session.

Looking at the MAX session schedule there are some themes that jump out: Flash Player and AIR for mobile and television, new 3D features for Flash Player and HTML5 with Dreamweaver. Of those things the one I didn't expect to break through was Flash Player for television (presumably we're talking Google TV to start with). I'm sure Adobe has a couple of other surprises up their sleeves as they usually do.

Here is a look at the sessions I registered for:

Monday, October 25, 2010

9:30 am - 11:30 am General Session: Welcome to the Revolution Nokia Theatre, L.A. Live 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm Deep Dive into Flash Player Rendering 512 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm Flash Platform for TV: A New Ecosystem 513 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm How to Build Adobe AIR Apps for the iPhone and Android 514 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm Meet the Teams Los Angeles Convention Center

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

8:30 am - 9:30 am Developer Tips for Building Great Games using AIR for Android 515B 10:00 am - 12:00 pm General Session: User Experience: The Next Generation Nokia Theatre, L.A. Live 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm jQuery: A Web Designer's Secret Sauce 515B 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm Building P2P Multiplayer Games 515B 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm Flash Player 3D Future 511A 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm Sneak Peeks Nokia Theatre, L.A. Live

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

9:30 am - 10:30 am Mobile Devices as Application Controllers 504 11:00 am - 12:00 pm Programming HTML5 Canvas 510 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm Developing Your First AIR for TV Application 409B

 
On the 24th we'll also have our Community Summit event with all the Adobe User Group Managers and Adobe Community Professionals. Thats always a great day and nice to meet up with everyone again.

Hope to see you in LA!

Posted
AuthorPeter

There is a bit of a change of plan - rather than give an overview talk on open source projects in the community - I'll be doing my session at Flash on the Beach on Flash Player 10.1 development and the litl webbook. Ever since Flash and the City earlier this year I've been playing around with this somewhat unusual device and am sold on its potential. It is quite unlike the typical hackable geeky gadget I'm usually interested in but opens up opportunities for web enabled content feeds around the house and of course uses my favorite development platform.

I'll be talking about how you can get started developing channels for this device using the developer SDK and test your work in the simulator or on the device itself. We'll walk through various examples of channels and look at some creative use cases. I'll also be covering best practices for Flash Player 10.1 on devices in general.

It's going to be a fun session and will hopefully inspire you to start experimenting with Flash Player 10.1 content on the litl or a variety of other devices and form factors that are hitting the market.

Hope to see you there!

Posted
AuthorPeter

Embrace your inner geek! I'm happy to announce together with Luca Mezzalira we're starting a new community initiative called "Flash Platform Geeks". In the next few weeks and at upcoming conferences you'll learn a lot more about what we're up to and how you can get involved. In the meanwhile why don't you follow our twitter account or join the Facebook group.

www.flashplatformgeeks.com
 
Be sure to stay tuned!
 

Posted
AuthorPeter

Last night I started writing a plugin to easily embed the Flash Media Playback video component on WordPress blogs and its now ready for you all to use! Flash Media Playback is a free media player based on the Open Source Media Framework and hosted by Adobe so its ideal for bloggers to use. You don't need to install the video player yourself and can very easily just point to a video file, set up some optional configuration settings and you're done.

Thanks to some very helpful beta testers I've got an update ready and a stable release is hosted on the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Using the plugin couldn't be simpler, in a post you just use the following syntax:

[FMP] path to your video file [/FMP]

[FMP]http://adobe.edgeboss.net/download/adobe/adobetv/platform_evangelism/believe.mp4[/FMP]
 
The path to the video file is the only required argument, in which case the video will be shown with the default width and height you set up in the plugin options page.

Optional arguments include: width, height, poster, autohide, controlbar, playbutton, autoplay, loop,...

Example:

[FMP width="320" height="240" controlbar="none" autoplay="true"] http://mydomain.com/video.mp4 [/FMP]

On the plugin options page you can set up whether or not to embed SWFObject 2.2, the text to be displayed if Flash Player isn't installed and the default width and height for the video if not specified.

Using SWFObject ensures cleaner embed code than the raw object / embed tags generated with the Flash Media Playback Configurator.

I plan to support setting up more default values in the plugin options page (controlbar style, autoplay,...) in a next release as well as possibly some of the more advanced features supported.

[update] version 0.8 now adds support for HTML5 video fallback (useful for iPhone, iPad) and default values for all optional arguments.
 
You can download the component here or install it through your WordPress admin interface. I look forward to seeing people use it on their blogs. Websites developed using WordPress will run both on Windows hosting and Linux hosting
 

Posted
AuthorPeter
7 CommentsPost a comment

I was happy to hear Adobe is organizing a huge two day conference in Bangalore, India on August 25th and 26th. The Adobe Flash Platform Summit will no doubt be the place to be if you want to learn about their latest technologies and network with other industry professionals. The first day will cover mostly development and the second day is targeted at designers. I've been lucky enough to speak at both the Adobe DevSummit and Flex@Beach in Chennai and I look forward to being at this event as well representing our small web agency, Project Cocoon.

Now for the even better news, I have some discount codes I can give away to people interested to attend that give you almost 70% off on the ticket price. If you are interested and want to get one, just leave a comment on this post with your thoughts on the future of the Flash Platform. What features would you like to see supported? How do you see the technology being adopted in India? Are there any obstacles to overcome?

The three most creative entries also get a book of their choice thanks to Friends of ED. Winners will be contacted on Thursday evening IST, so please leave a valid email address. If there are more entries than I have available discount codes the winners will be randomly chosen.

 
Hope to see you in Bangalore this August!

Posted
AuthorPeter
8 CommentsPost a comment

Earlier this week I got inspired seeing this presentation on HTML5. I'm a strong advocate of moving towards this standard and with browsers increasingly supporting it, makes it very attractive to start to learn and implement where possible. Contrary to what I'm seeing various tech blogs claim, HTML5 is in my opinion not a replacement to Flash. It will no doubt take over some features for which we used to have to rely on the Flash Player to implement -- and that is a good thing -- but there are still a lot of uses cases where it makes sense to use Flash. Not just that, we can leverage both technologies for what they do best (just as we do now).

After Serge Jespers' blog post this morning and a brief discussion on Twitter I thought I'd blog what I think would be a good move for the Flash Player, adding HTML5 support through an embedded webkit engine.

Adobe AIR has this feature and allows rendered HTML to be integrated completely in the DisplayList and treated as any other visual element including filters, transformations etc. Script bridging allows Javascript to call ActionScript and vice versa.

 
Why would you do this?

  • Flash Player has limited HTML support
  • Certain popular and legacy browsers do not support HTML5
  • It would give a consistent set of HTML5 supported features across browsers
  • Deep integration of HTML5 content within the Flash DisplayList
  • Flash Player would become a catalyst for HTML5

 
What are the difficulties?

  • Flash Player filesize
     
    The Flash Player team is always very concious about download size of the player -- an embedded HTML engine would obviously add significant file size. To address this I'd propose an approach similar to the cross-domain Flex framework caching, where they would only download and cache when first needed.
  • Plugins shouldn't render HTML
     
    I certainly agree with that in principle and that would also be what you would typically do. In certain situations though it is a pragmatic solution and no different to what Google does with Google Chrome Frame. If you have an HTML5 capable browser and do not need to deep integration with Flash features this wouldn't be used.

 
Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting the Flash Player to become the standard delivery mechanism for HTML5 content. I see it used in one two situations:

  1. As a reliable fallback mechanism for browsers that don't support HTML5
  2. In situations where you want to integrate HTML5 content in the Flash DisplayList (visual effects etc.)

Taking this even further you could potentially even see Alchemy C/C++ code cross-compiled and applied to HTML5 content hosted through the Flash Player.
 
Whether or not this is technically feasible or likely to happen, I think it is something worth looking at.
 

Posted
AuthorPeter
20 CommentsPost a comment

Recently James Ward, Technical Evangelist at Adobe, did a video showing performance of Flex running on the Google Nexus One in Flash Player 10.1.

Consider that myth about Flash Player performance not being up to scratch for use on a certain mobile device well and truly busted!

Posted
AuthorPeter
CategoriesFlash, Video

I did a little experiment this morning, disabling plug-ins in my browser aka "the iPad experience". See where things start to break down? The Apple iPad web browsing experience, not quite what you expect. Yes, there are native apps for a number of these sites (social gaming on Facebook anyone?) I'm specifically talking about the web browsing which Steve yesterday called "the best web experience you’ve ever had".

The message here seems to be, if you have an interesting site that we don't support create an app for it.

Posted
AuthorPeter
31 CommentsPost a comment

Just hours after the product got announced, a lot has already been said and written about the Apple iPad and I don't particularly feel I have a lot to add except for that "one more thing". I've been working almost exclusively on Mac for about five years now and its a decision I've never regretted. One thing I've always admired is how polished the user experience is and the attention for details makes Apple products a real joy to work with.

Today, Steve Jobs proudly proclaimed "It's the best web experience you've ever had." -- while I would love to believe him on that, this is what we saw.

iPad - no Flash Player support

No Flash Player support. Surprising? Not really. Disappointing? Yes.

Think of Flash what you will, thats a different discussion, and I've shared my views in an earlier post. Flash content is an integral and important part of the web experience, there's a full decade of SWF material out on the Internet that is essentially out of bounds for your users.

On a mobile device with limited specs we could see some reasoning behind it, although just about every other mobile manufacturer didn't find it a problem to partner in the Open Screen Project and roll out Flash Player 10.1 support on their devices.

With the iPad we're talking about a different device, a processor that clearly is capable of high performance rendering and a user base with different expectations when they sit down in their sofa to browse the web, play games, watch video and cartoons,...

This is your chance to really go for the best web browsing experience possible. With an iPad specific SDK reportedly coming out, work with Adobe and allow them to roll out a Flash Player for your new device. It will allow your users to opt-in to what a lot of us believe is a better experience on this ground breaking device.

To those of you that agree that Flash support is essential for a device like the iPad, I urge you to speak up as many have already done.
 

Posted
AuthorPeter
46 CommentsPost a comment

This morning I read an interesting blog post by John Dowdell highlighting some things that bothered me in the last week or so (and talked about on twitter). We've been seeing some sensationalist headlines on tech blogs like "Open Source JavaScript to Replace Flash?" without seemingly any understanding of the (all be it incredibly cool) project in question.

Gordon is Javascript code that parses SWF files, loops through the frames and outputs SVG that can be played back in modern browsers without the need for the Flash Player plugin -- that means it works on browsers like the one on the iPhone. A fantastic proof of concept and it works really well considering the amount of heavy lifting it needs to do.

The problem here is, this is not a Javascript based Flash runtime as it gets advertised. Its parsing an SWF file and outputting SVG graphics. If you look at the list of supported SWF tags you'll notice these are all SWF version 1 and 2 -- meaning very basic functionality. Search for some tutorials on Flash 1 or 2 if you can still find them and see what that limits you to.

Not to diminish this great project, at this time its practically only useful for very simple banners or animations without any sound or user interaction. It is also - understandably so - heavy on the CPU. Now you get the kicker with uninformed comments like this:

"While the open source Gordon is available to all, it still doesn't solve one of Flash's biggest problems. These SWF files still hog the CPU. One demo, a simple vector graphic of a tiger, throws my desktop browser up to around 100% CPU usage"

 
To be very clear: it is *not* running the SWF file -- its parsing it, converting it using Javascript and outputting SVG. Running that same SWF file on a native Flash Player, even on a smartphone would be a fraction of that in terms of CPU usage.

Then you get people saying projects like this highlight how the Flash Player has become obsolete and its proprietary format is harming the "open web". Somebody hasn't been paying attention since 1998. The SWF format is open and freely available (as are many other formats and protocols used in the Flash Player), that is in fact what makes projects like Gordon possible without resorting to reverse engineering.

There is literally nothing stopping anyone from developing an open source Flash Player, Adobe's implementation isn't fully open source mostly due to some technologies it licenses and can't release (video codecs and text rendering). Saying the Flash Player is a black box or its future is in jeopardy because of its proprietary format is just factually wrong.

I do hope to see more people take up the challenge and start developing code that plays back SWF content, we can only benefit from that.
 

Posted
AuthorPeter
7 CommentsPost a comment

I think many will agree that 2010 is going to be the year of mobile and devices. With Android becoming a serious contender and Apple reportedly coming out with some innovative new hardware its no surprise to me that there's a lot of buzz around the Flash Player and whether or not Adobe will be able to deliver a good experience on mobile platforms. Enter Flash Player 10.1 - a few years in the making, the engineers are specifically targeting this release for mobile consumption and added critical features like hardware video decoding, GPU graphic acceleration and serious CPU and memory optimizations.

Its fundamentally flawed to compare this Flash Player release with previous versions which were primarily built for use on personal computers with very different constraints in terms of CPU and memory usage. We're finally seeing the first results of the Open Screen Project -- call it a marketing effort if you must -- but partners like Google, HTC, Intel, Nokia, Palm, Sony Ericsson and many others have no incentive to support and invest in a sub par technology.

Will it be perfect? Probably not, but we're getting a hell of a lot closer to a full web experience on the majority of mobile devices.

Enter Flash CS5 - with Apple not playing nice with supporting a Flash Player initiative (or any other plugins for that matter) on the iPhone browser, we'll now get the next best thing. Exporting native applications from Flash CS5 is going to be an easy way to port Flash content (including accelerometer, geolocation and other new APIs introduced for mobile) to iPhone ARM binaries for distribution on the iTunes store.
 

 
My prediction is this will be good as a way to port typical Flash content to the iPhone, not necessarily an IDE you would want to use for developing iPhone application where you need fine grained access to the underlying code. Objective-C will still be a good choice for your iPhone development, though Flash CS5 will now open up a very approachable development environment for the iPhone to Windows users.

Moving beyond just mobile phones, the Flash Platform is reaching out and the Flash Player is being used on set top boxes, digital television, on board computers on cars and boats, even user interfaces for refrigerators and microwaves.

 
What bothers me is how all sense of pragmatism seems to be lost on some bloggers. Wanting the Flash Player to die because of the unfounded believe that its not supportive of an "open web", not SEO friendly or claiming that its been made obsolete by HTML5 (which will incidently take at least half a decade to come even close to being supported on the percentage of web users that the Flash Player can target now). A full decade of Flash content out on the web and 90% of video is not going to go away.

I am not an Adobe employee (though I am involved in their community programs), call me biased but I'm incredibly excited about what is in store for Flash support on mobile and what it promises for user experience. But more importantly I'm not ready to dismiss new technology before getting a chance to play around with it, a view I wish more people would share.
 

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AuthorPeter
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With just a few days left in 2009, I wanted to post some moments this year that stuck with me:

 
The annual tradition of complaining about Adobe MAX not paying speaker expenses of non-Adobe employees can now be put to rest, flight and hotel accommodation were covered and it turned out to be a fantastic event. Looking forward to heading to Los Angeles again next year for more Adobe goodness (and no doubt another trip to Universal Studios Hollywood).

Its been a difficult year for many, another 600 layoffs at Adobe this November - we've sadly lost the wonderful Stacy Sison of the community programs, evangelist extraordinaire Rufus Deuchler and several others.

For me personally I spent half a year teaching first year Devine students at the Technical University College of West-Flanders, was invited to speak at 5 conferences, presented 3 Flex/ActionScript workshops, did technical review on 2 books, attended a TED conference and have set up Project Cocoon Multimedia in Pondicherry, India with two good friends and fellow freelancers.

This next year I'm planning to spend both in India and back home in Belgium. I'll be focusing on training and consultancy and building out our activities with Project Cocoon. You'll no doubt still see me around at various conferences but plan on cutting down on my speaking engagements.
 
Wishing you all a fantastic 2010!
 

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AuthorPeter
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Definitely one of the biggest announcements at todays Adobe MAX keynote was the ability to compile Flash applications to native iPhone ARM binaries. Just to be clear, this doesn't mean Flash Player runs on the iPhone or SWF files get interpreted at runtime. I'm happy to see Adobe push things forward for mobile and not having Apple restrict innovation. One of the interesting consequences of being able to export to native iPhone code from Flash CS5 is that developers are no longer required to develop on a Mac, opening up a whole new developer ecosystem.

There are more signs Adobe is putting additional pressure on Apple, whether this will be successful or not is another issue. At least it makes it perfectly clear that Adobe is committed to supporting the iPhone as a platform, whatever it takes.

An example of this is the page iPhone users get to see when they try to install Flash Player.

Flash Player on iPhone

Lots more interesting information coming out, especially around Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2.0 -- I'll blog more about that as I find out.

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AuthorPeter
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I've been lucky enough to attend all four editions of Flash on the Beach since it started in 2006, three of them as a speaker and hope to get invited to do many more. Looking back I can honestly say this year was the best one yet -- it had something for everyone and think John got the mix between creative and technical sessions just right.

My personal highlights of the conference were Joa Ebert's mind-blowing display of Flash Player optimization and Craig Swann's inspirational session that went on to cover some unexpected topics. I'd say those two were definitely the buzz of the conference and rightly so.

Flashmagazine has excellent write ups of all three days of the conference. Here are a couple of interesting things that get announced:

  • Flash CS5 will have code hinting for custom classes and integration with Flash Builder as a code editor
  • AIR 2.0 will allow you to bundle native code and execute it, has a new FileMonitor, VolumeMonitor and StorageVolume API for accessing USB connected drives
  • Joa Ebert wrote a C# and Java to SWF compiler
  • Ralph Hauwert is leaving the Papervision3D team

I'm yet to hear anyone say he was disappointed attending Flash on the Beach in these four years. I can't wait for the fifth edition -- go John go! best. conference. ever.

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AuthorPeter
CategoriesEvents, Flash
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