Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

How Flash Can Join The Open Web

Category: Editorial, Flash, HTML

As it is Adobe MAX this week, there is a lot of talk about the Flash platform. How does this relate to the Open Web? Well, it turns out that Dion and I have been discussing how Flash can join and become a part of the Open Web.

Dion kicks things off with his blog post “The Flash Platform: How Adobe could join the Open Web to take on…”. He first talks about how developers see Flash today versus other options:

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:

Dion discusses how Adobe has an opportunity to position themselves relative to Silverlight much more strongly in the Open Web camp:

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 next logical question related to this is open sourcing Flash:

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!

I agree with Dion that open sourcing Flash and having it join the Open Web camp is a very compelling idea. Open source would just be the first step, though, so following up on Dion’s post I put together an editorial titled “How Flash Can Integrate With The Open Web”:

As Dion points out open sourcing Flash is one big part of making this happen, but another huge aspect would be to have Flash and Flex integrate better into the web stack and be less of a ‘black box’ on the screen…The important point is to integrate Flash and Flex more deeply into how the Open Web works:

  1. Cross-Platform Standards
  2. No Vendor Lock-in
  3. Anyone Can Innovate
  4. Powerful, Universal Clients
  5. Open Source Implementations
  6. Mashable, Searchable, and Integrated

I give a list of suggested ways to do this; the important thing is to have Flash integrate more deeply — these are just some suggestions to kick things off. Here are some of them; click on them to read more in-depth how this might work:

I wrap up with a conclusion:

At the end of the day Adobe is a tools company, a really damn good tools company actually. Doing the above should allow Adobe to continue creating powerful tools that help authors and content creators while expanding the size of the market they can target.

The above list was just a suggestion to kick things off. The real focus is on having Flash integrate into the web stack better itself (and evolving both Flash and the web stack themselves into the future).

How do you see this happening?

Posted by Brad Neuberg at 6:00 am

3.7 rating from 22 votes


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The only foreseeable way that will happen is if there is a profit motivation to do so, or lack thereof for them to care. I see it following the path that Tamarin did honestly

Comment by TNO — November 19, 2008

The problem is that every single piece of incentives goes out the window for them if they do this – except for that they get to piss of MSFT though that is … ;)
And I am not sure if “pissing of MSFT” is a strong enough incentive, even for Adobe. But it would be cool. I too actually agree on this. FOSSing Flash would be a really good start. And I would permanently stop bashing Adobe for being “ActiveX2.0” if they did … ;)
Fact is I would even start creating components for it in Ra-Ajax :))
(Note though that I am NOT talking about some shim operation here then, I am talking about the *real* (and full) thing – FOSS the whole thing…!)
There is *one* incentive for it too I guess which is to “give MSFT a blow” which they could need since MSFT have been eating their domains for quite some time now (Photoshop, PDF etc)
As in; damaging_MSFT == helping_Adobe…
Why on earth do Google support Silverlight BTW? (Chrome)
I mean obviously you’re VERY scared of Silverlight (and you should be) but then why one Earth are you supporting it in Chrome…?
Ditch it! That would be a message! And with your new V8 engine, why don’t you rewrite the “Chess Silverlight(JavaScript match” to make IE use Silverlight to combat Chrome in JavaScript and then get Chrome beat the hell out of them! THAT would be newsworthy….!!

Comment by ThomasHansen — November 19, 2008

I’m suprised that there is no metion of Sun’s project to create a flash-like language, namely JavaFX

Some info:


When I say it’s flash-like, I mean it in the sense that both languages are used to create Rich Internet Applications

Comment by Vordreller — November 19, 2008

I don’t believe Flash can ever join the Open Web. It simply wasn’t engineered that way, and opening up the spec for other implementations would fracture the one advantage Flash does have — a single runtime.

As JS interpreters and browser renderers get faster, I think Flash will just be superseded by Canvas and other HTML elements.

Comment by fortybillion — November 19, 2008

fortybillion mentions opening up the spec. It’s important to note that SWF and a couple other formats used by Flash Player are open. There used to be a restrictive license on the spec, but Adobe removed that earlier this year. They branded it as the Open Screen Project, and anyone can build a competing Flash Player implementation using Adobe’s spec.

Comment by joshtynjala — November 19, 2008

Interesting, I had missed that announcement.

Comment by fortybillion — November 19, 2008

Open source is going to be the predominate business model of the future, so I think Adobe should move to take advantage of that sooner rather than later, before someone like Microsoft (I know, as if) see the opportunity first and move to drastically increase the community and developer base. I know I’d be much more inclined to work with something like Silverlight if it was open and able to integrate with the open web as opposed to Flash as it stands now.

Comment by moodie — November 19, 2008

Imagine if you could embed Flex markup directly in HTML and have it rendered, sort of like you can do with XUL in Mozilla browsers.

Comment by zaach — November 20, 2008

@Zaach: +1.

>> 6. Mashable, Searchable, and Integrated

Searchable <– first
So it needs Data, View separation (i know it sounds very stale ;) , so apologies)

Mashable <– next

— my $0.02

Comment by davesrc — November 20, 2008

You’re right on with this post. From the Internet marketer’s point of view, and I don’t mean enterprise, rather the entrepreneurs out there working in companies with <50- employees, the lack of open Flash is becoming a deal breaker. The cutting edge of marketing doesn’t include much Flash at all, which is crazy given that integrated video is right here now. The reason is that Flash doesn’t fit with the fundamental building blocks of the internet: hyperlinking, text and mark-up (tags). Until it does, we’re gonna stick with YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to get our message out there. Web developers are kludging, rather than hacking, to get their animations into their sites. This is ultimately a dead end street, or worse, a path to some sort of shell that allows crawlers to peek around, rather than scrape directly from, the content. Mashing is the shiny ball of Web 2.0 and it requires content -not placeholders.

Comment by Tommy2Hats — November 22, 2008

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