Adobe CTO: HTML Video Won’t Supplant Flash

| News

Citing the widespread use of Flash on the Internet, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch recently published a blog post in which he cited “an important crux for the future of Flash” and dismissed support for video in HTML 5 as a serious threat to Flash, saying: “I don't see this as one replacing the other, certainly not today nor even in the foreseeable future.”

Mr. Lynch was apparently inspired to write his piece after the iPad’s launch: he leads off with this line: “Some have been surprised at the lack of inclusion of Flash Player on a recent magical device.” He goes on to point out that “we are now on the verge of delivering Flash Player 10.1 for smartphones with all but one of the top manufacturers.”

That holdout, of course, is Apple, which doesn’t seem likely to work with Adobe on Flash support in the iPhone OS any time soon. During a recent internal town hall meeting, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was quoted as saying: “No one will be using Flash. The world is moving to HTML5."

Mr. Lynch does go on to directly address Apple, writing: “We have shown that Flash technology is starting to work on [Apple] devices today by enabling standalone applications for the iPhone to be built on Flash. In fact, some of these apps are already available in the Apple App Store such as FickleBlox and Chroma Circuit. This same solution will work on the iPad as well.”

He adds: “We are ready to enable Flash in the browser on these devices if and when Apple chooses to allow that for its users, but to date we have not had the required cooperation from Apple to make this happen.”

A few days after Mr. Lynch’s public statements, The San Francisco Chronicle’s Ryan Kim posted a piece in which he said that Adobe told him iPhone and iPod touch users want Flash “a lot.” The company pointed to the more than seven million Flash download attempts from iPhones and iPod touches during December, up from three million last June, as evidence that users are hitting Flash-enabled content online and trying to download the plug-in.

Mr. Kim also cited a Strategy Analytics report that sees 53 percent of smartphones supporting Flash by 2012, or an install base of more than 250 million devices.

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Comments

FlipFriddle

Seems like YouTube doesn’t agree with him. They have a bit of an interest in web video…

daemon

and dismissed support for video in HTML 5,

Brad that’s an untrue statement (aka a lie). Kevin Lynch clearly stated that Adobe fully supports the standard known as HTML5 but that the features introduced in HTML5 are not the same as the features in Flash.

Brad Cook

Daemon, you’re right, and that wasn’t my intent. I meant that he was dismissing HTML 5’s video support as a threat to Flash. I will edit accordingly. Thanks.

Lee Dronick

Video is one thing, but Flash based navigation is another.

helge

I’m not missing Flash in any way on my iPhone. I recently even installed ClickToFlash on my notebook to extend battery power. ATM flash is mainly used for video and annoying ad banners. If HTML5 replaces flash for video (it does a far better job, see the HTML5 Beta on Youtube), about 90% of the flash applications are gone.
I think as long as Adobe Flash is proprietary (and I don’t think they will release an open source Flash anytime soon), they will stand no chance in the long term. So I am glad in a way that Apple shows a “flashless” browsing is possible and better in a way.

macbones

Want to see how much you need flash?
1. Charge your notebook computer fully. Now use it to surf the web. Record battery life.
2. Download “click to flash.” Disable flash. Run your battery test again.

I noticed about 1/3 increase in battery life. Decided I really don’t need flash much at all.

Montresor

Here’s an example of why no Flash on the iPhone or iPad:

http://blogs.pcmag.com/securitywatch/2010/02/16-month_old_flash_bug_still_u.php

dlstarr7

Of course Adobe will say this.  It would be news if they didn’t.

BlueDjinn

Unfortunately, the Flash player plug-in (latest version) keeps locking up Safari on me (latest version) on OS X 10.5 (latest version). Clearing the cache, fixing permissions, etc, only serve to resolve the issue for a few days at a time.

SO, I deleted the Flash plug-in completely and installed ClickToFlash.

So far, I’m not missing Flash too much—and I’m a web developer.

JulesLt

Actually, Adobe have been steadily opening up the Flash standards since acquiring from Macromedia, and I’m trying to understand what the Open Screen licences mean - at the very least they imply members of the Open Screen Consortium can implement their own Flash player with no license fee.

The question that needs to be asked is whether we want it to become an open standard.

The downside of HTML 5 is that Click-to-Flash will no longer work - those battery hogs will be standard content (and my benchmarking suggests Canvas/CSS based animation uses as much CPU as Flash).

I’d also recommend installing Flash 10.1 - it’s the version they’ve optimised for mobiles, but has the positive side effect of bringing the Mac version in line with Windows in terms of performance.

daemon

helge, macbones, Montresor, and BlueDjinn:

I don’t believe any of you. If you really didn’t care about Flash you wouldn’t be running Click-to-Flash, you wouldn’t even have a Flash player at all. All you’ve done is turn your web browsing experience from Flash all the time to Flash on Demand, not Flashless.

Lee Dronick

All you?ve done is turn your web browsing experience from Flash all the time to Flash on Demand, not Flashless.

Sometimes I want to see that Flash video and Click-To-Flash is easier than installing/deinstalling the Flash player.

I just saw this story on MacWorld about a new Flash control plugin. http://www.macworld.com/article/146286/2010/02/bashflash.html

Jamie

Brad that?s an untrue statement (aka a lie). Kevin Lynch clearly stated that Adobe fully supports the standard known as HTML5 but that the features introduced in HTML5 are not the same as the features in Flash.

Agreed, he clearly didn’t read all of Kevin’s posts, and the followups from him

Montresor

Daemon:

You’re confusing Flash itself with the content locked up in the Flash format. I could care less about Flash itself - if fact, I’d be happy to see it completely gone form the face of the earth. The content locked up in Flash however - that I do very much want. Unfortunately, that means I need Flash installed. Click-to-Flash means I control what Flash crap I see, and what doesn’t get through. That way I don’t have to deal with innumerable crap ads blinking and pulsing all over websites, all vying to see which can suck the most laptop battery power or cause a browser crash first.

Face it - Flash sucks. Adobe programmers pretty much suck now, and that’s not limited to Flash. Want to see a huge list of examples? Go here:

http://adobegripes.tumblr.com/

And that’s just the UI - never mind the ludicrous instability and senseless errors in their “suite”. And don’t get me started on their pathetic excuse for an installer. I used to rely on Adobe/Macromedia products all the time. About 4 years ago, I removed almost every Adobe application I owned and switched to alternatives: I still run Adobe Illustrator when I absolutely have to and I have a still-servicable copy of Macromedia FireWorks 8 which I use regularly. Everything else is removed just like Microsoft Office, and for many of the same reasons. Developers who expect you to allow their products to take over your entire computer, and yet don’t even take the time to write serviceable, reliable software disgust me.

Brad Cook

As I said in my initial response, I made an error when writing the first sentence. I corrected it after Daemon’s post. I did indeed read all of Kevin’s comments.

daemon said:Brad that?s an untrue statement (aka a lie). Kevin Lynch clearly stated that Adobe fully supports the standard known as HTML5 but that the features introduced in HTML5 are not the same as the features in Flash.
Agreed, he clearly didn?t read all of Kevin?s posts, and the followups from him

JulesLt

Don’t quite get the last one. Is the problem the Flash plugin, or the Flash content?

If the problem is content (banner ads, etc) then it’s just going to migrate to SVG, animated images, Canvas, etc - in fact, right now I can see an animated GIF advert on this very page.

If it’s the plugin - take a look at 10.1 and what Adobe have done with it - there’s some good information on the website, and the focus has been exactly on the areas people have complained about (performance, stability, resource consumption) - it’s the end result of the major rewrite of the core that has probably been required since Adobe bought it from Macromedia.

Montresor

OK, let me see if I can make this crystal clear: Flash as a technology is miserable. On the Mac, it is a substandard product: it drives up memory usage (often dramatically), it radically increases overall processor usage, and it significantly increases page rendering times. Those are the problems I personally see with Flash, but they have been widely backed up with subjective and objective measurements on every platform other than Windows (but let me spell those out, as some on this board are so prone to confusion: Mac, Linux, and *every single* mobile platform).

Now given the obvious problems with Flash as a technology, the question was asked why I didn’t completely disable Flash, the implication being that I somehow harbored a deep, inadmissible Flash fetish. The answer is that while I despise Flash, there is some content on the web that I want but is *only available as Flash*. The reasonable solution is to install a tool that allows me to select - on a case-by-case basis - only those Flash items I really want to see, while avoiding all that content (eg: ads) that both use Flash and yet are utterly extraneous to the content I want to see. This tool is called click-to-flash, and it is a lovely solution.

The fact that it has the side benefit of hiding much of the distracting, unnecessary content is a bonus.

And BTW - that animated gif you’re seeing? I probably wouldn’t see it, because I have also installed an ad blocker and modified my hosts file to hide much of that content.

As for Flash 10.1 - I’m sure Adobe has made some improvements. However, my problems with Flash began back in 98-99 when it started gaining widespread use. It breaks browser conventions (back button anyone?) It makes content difficult or impossible to search, thereby doing damage to the idea of the semantic web. It disregards user’s security settings (disabling browser cookies does not disable flash cookies). And it attempts to replace the well-established standards of HTML and CSS. I’m sure there are workarounds for all these issues. But the problem is: Flash devs don’t use these workarounds.

Flash is every day less relevant. It’s time for it to die.

daemon

The answer is that while I despise Flash, there is some content on the web that I want but is *only available as Flash*.

Wow. And yet you can’t understand why people would want to have that very same content on a device designed specifically for internet browsing?

Montresor

Wow. And yet you can?t understand why people would want to have that very same content on a device designed specifically for internet browsing?

Good god. Are people really this clueless that they can’t understand the difference between a format and the content stored in that format? I’m starting to seriously believe that if it were up to you people, we’d all have CD players attached to our phones because “OMG, that’s the only way I can listen to my Freedom Rock album!”

If you could only watch movies by having red-hot needles poked into your eyes to directly stimulate your optic nerves, would you not think “Gee, I wonder if there’s a way to get the whole movie-watching experience *without* having these darned red-hot needles poked into my eyes?” or would you just say “I demand red-hot needle pokers in my home, in my car, and in my mobile phone!”

daemon

Are people really this clueless that they can?t understand the difference between a format and the content stored in that format?

Montresor, I know the difference between a file format and a content delivery system. What’s so hard to understand about my desire to have access to the content available through flash?

Montresor

Montresor, I know the difference between a file format and a content delivery system. What?s so hard to understand about my desire to have access to the content available through flash?

Nothing at all, and there are plenty of solutions for doing so. But it’s simply not a feature of the iPhone/iPad os, and for what Apple believes to be very good reasons. What’s so hard about accepting that and either dealing with that limitation or moving on to a platform that does in fact support the Flash you so desperately want? It’s simply not a feature of the iPhone/iPad os, has not been since it’s inception, and Apple has stated repeatedly that it won’t be.

You may not agree with that decision, or like it, but my understanding is that this is one of the features of a free market.

Lee Dronick

Not being a programmer per se, I have to ask if a non-Adobe Flash plugin could be used? Something that works better under OSX than what Adobe provides.

JulesLt

A few points - to me, 10.1 shows a company that has listened to it’s critics, and delivered, so it seems churlish to complain about past performance - particularly the years when it was a Macromedia product.

Secondly - my experience of any Flash-equivalent web content - as in CSS 3 transitions, canvas or SVG based animation, is that this also increases processor usage, to a similar degree i.e. some of this is a category problem - any page that animates or plays video after loading will use more CPU than a static page.

>And BTW - that animated gif you?re seeing? I probably wouldn?t see it, because I >have also installed an ad blocker and modified my hosts file to hide much of >content

My general point is that standards based content can be equally annoying - it’s the content, not the tool that is annoying in this case.

As for your other points - on browser conventions, search, security and web standards - I agree utterly. I’d throw in accessibility too (I find myself often boosting the text size in the browser by a couple of sizes when my eyes are tired).

However, I’m not convinced Flash is widely used to hide useful content in this way (i.e. instead of using HTML/CSS where it could be done in HTML and CSS).

Besides advertising, the areas it is used - video, animated graphics (vector and bitmap) and casual gaming are the ones where standards, or their implementation have lagged behind. Unfortunately we’re stuck moving at the pace of IE - although, ironically enough, we can use Flash to display SVG graphics.

>Flash is every day less relevant. It?s time for it to die.
Hopefully. But in the mean time, I’ll take a better implementation.

Lee Dronick

It disregards user?s security settings (disabling browser cookies does not disable flash cookies).

You can tell Flash not to save cookies by going to a page on Adobe.com and change your settings.

daemon

Not being a programmer per se, I have to ask if a non-Adobe Flash plugin could be used? Something that works better under OSX than what Adobe provides.

The problem is with the way Safari handles 2D drawing with Quartz 2D. Any drawing calls done with Quartz 2D requires redrawing the entire browser instead of the animated section only. This becomes incredibly resource intensive as it requires atleast 30 draws a second to offer smooth animation.
http://www.kaourantin.net/2010/02/core-animation.html

Core Animation apprantly will fix all of that, and it’s being utilized by Flash for the first time in 10.1.

Lee Dronick

Thanks for the info Daemon

JulesLt

> I have to ask if a non-Adobe Flash plugin could be used

In addition, the Flash licence forbids third parties from developing an alternative Flash player - although Adobe have never had a problem with / even seemed interested in Gnash (Open Source Flash for Gnu/Linux).

These restrictions are slowly being lifted as Adobe open up more and more of the Flash spec, but I would presume they still have some control (i.e. can stop the creation of ‘Microsoft Flash’ with Windows-only features).

Lee Dronick

In addition, the Flash licence forbids third parties from developing an alternative Flash player - although Adobe have never had a problem with / even seemed interested in Gnash (Open Source Flash for Gnu/Linux).

That is interesting and I wonder if it would hold up in court. I can understand a restriction on creating Flash content, but not a player/reader. Does Apple pay a license to Adobe for letting Preview open .PSD files?

Sidebar - Adobe just released a Flash player update to fix a security problem.

JulesLt

Interestingly, it’s the reverse - you’re free to create tools that produce Flash content. I think it’s a similar thing to Sun’s control of Java - i.e. the main appeal of Flash is that it is ubiquitous and cross-platform.

You could probably do it if you could prove it was reverse engineered - i.e. that you didn’t use any NDA’d documentation.

As far as I recall, PSD is an open spec too. Adobe is actually fairly good at open formats (i.e. they have opened up a significant number of Flash’s proprietary formats and protocols since taking it over) but as with Sun and open sourcing Java, I think there’s third party copyright involved (On2 codecs, etc).

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