Open letter from a Mac-head

DISCLAIMER: I work for Adobe on the platform evangelism team. I’ve been a Flash designer/developer for the last 12 years. The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.
Dear Steve,
After working on Windows PCs for over 15 years, I switched to Mac about 6 years ago. […]

Adobe at Mobile World Congress

Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is just around the corner and you can already feel the excitement building.
2010 is going to be an amazing year for Flash developers who want to create mobile applications. Not only did we announce the Flash CS5 iPhone compiler but we’ve already demoed Flash Player 10.1 on a variety of […]

Flash Platform 2009: Year in Review – Part 2

The partner ecosystem of the Flash Platform has grown tremendously over the past year and led to some great advancements for Flash designers and developers. Our partners have helped us bring Flash to 98% of internet-connected desktops, netbooks, smartphones, cable boxes, game systems, TVs, and other consumer devices which has broadened the reach of the platform. One of the strengths of the Flash Platform has always been a consistent experience for both developers and end users. Without our partners it wouldn’t be possible to create that consistent experience across the various chipsets, processors, architectures, and operating systems on all of those different devices. One of the biggest of those partner initiatives is the Open Screen Project which is bringing Flash content to web browsers as well as standalone applications across all of those devices.

The Open Screen Project started the year with momentum at CES. We announced partnerships with Broadcom and Intel that will bring Flash to the 3rd screen, televisions. We followed that up with an announcement at Mobile World Congress that in conjunction with Nokia we would create a $10 million dollar fund to foster the creation of content for multiple screens using the Flash Platform. In 2009 we received over 700 proposals and have funded more than 50 multi-screen applications. At NAB in the spring we moved further into the living room by delivering technology to our OEM partners that extended the Flash Platform to devices in the digital home such as set-top boxes and Blu-ray players. This included optimizations for using Flash technology for HD video and rich applications on those devices. During the summer we announced that we were working with NVIDIA to optimize Flash content and applications for netbooks, smartphones, and smartbooks that make use of NVIDIA GPUs. Finally, to cap it off, at MAX Qualcomm came and showed that their Snapdragon chipset was ready to support Flash Player 10.1 on smartphone and smartbook devices from companies like Toshiba. At MAX Google and RIM also announced they would be joining the Open Screen Project.

A big part of the Open Screen Project is making more moves to open up the Flash Platform. This year we took another big step forward by publishing the RTMP specification and releasing open source media and text frameworks for the Flash Platform.

The Open Screen Project now has almost 50 industry leaders that are working together to create a consistent platform for developers and users to create and consume cutting edge applications and high quality media. The members of the Open Screen project come from a wide section of industry and include companies. Some major companies announced their support for the Open Screen Project this year including Disney Interactive Media Group, Fox Mobile Group,Google, HTC,NVIDIA, Palm, Paramount, RIM, Texas Instruments, and The New York Times. This video provides a great summary of the goals and partnerships around the Open Screen Project.

Our partners allowed us to greatly expand the reach of the Flash Platform and take it to screens big and small as well as the next generation of computing devices. But the platform itself is just one part of the equation. We’ve also been working on enhancing the tools and workflows that let designers and developers create Flash content. In Part 3 tomorrow I’ll finish the series with the tools, services, and other platform technologies that we were working on in 2009.

Why the Open Screen Project is so important

There has been a lot of talk about openness lately as well as our mobile strategy so I want to explain some things that I think are being misrepresented. As many of you know, we established the Open Screen Project as way for us to work together with the leaders in the mobile, desktop, and device industries in part, so we can deliver the highest quality Flash runtime across all these devices. As you can see by looking at the partners we are working with, they represent essentially every mobile company on the planet besides Apple.

In an earlier post I talked about Apple’s arrogance as being both a strength and a liability. This led some to cleverly quip that it was Adobe who was the real source of arrogance. But that is simply not the case if you look at the facts. It would be arrogant for us to say something like “our player is the shit so if it doesn’t run well on your device, that is your problem.” The truth is that we are doing just the opposite with the OSP. We realize that we have to work closely with companies that use our runtime so that it performs as fast as possible. We are essentially saying that we need help to make our runtime all that it can be. Hardly an arrogant attitude.

Many people bring up the fact the Flash Player runs poorly on Macs and that is why it will never be on the iPhone. While I will admit that the player is not 100% on par with Windows, it is definitely getting close. One commenter mentioned, and I am quoting here, “CPU usage goes up and over 100%, fans kick in and the whole machine still gets too hot, all for the most trivial of websites. This is why it’s not welcome on Mac, and just imagine how badly it would run on the iPhone.” This kind of misinformation is unfortunately very common. Either this person is using a very old Mac or hasn’t upgraded their Flash Player in a long time. Create a simple Flash file, update your Flash Player, and run it in Safari and you will quickly realize that this is not the case.

But let’s talk more about the Flash Player on the Mac. If it is not 100% on par with the Windows player people assume that it is all our fault. The facts show that this is simply not the case. Let’s take for example the question of hardware acceleration for H.264 video that we released with Flash Player 10.1. Here you can see some published results for how much the situation has improved on Windows. Unfortunately we could not add this acceleration to the Mac player because Apple does not provide a public API to make this happen. You can easily verify that by asking Apple. I’m happy to say that we still made some improvements for the Mac player when it comes to video playback, but we simply could not implement the hardware acceleration. This is but one example of stumbling blocks we face when it comes to Apple.

Let me also reiterate that Adobe is a company of Mac users. You are hard-pressed to find someone at Adobe who doesn’t use a Mac or that is without an iPhone. We love Apple products so obviously we want our player to be top notch on that platform. But anyone will freely admit that openness is something that Apple just isn’t known for. Sure Adobe makes plenty of closed-source products, including the Flash Player. The key difference is that we are willing to be open and transparent with industry partners through initiatives like the OSP. Even Microsoft, who actually has a competing runtime, realizes that it is in their best interest to help us get the Flash Player running as fast as possible on their operating system and devices. So to sum up my point, it is easy to point the finger at Adobe when it comes to performance on the Mac, but there is only so much we can do if we don’t get the help we need.

I also wanted to mention something else about the iPhone. If we simply slapped Flash Player 10.1 into the iPhone browser today it might not perform very well. That is why the Open Screen Project is so important. Take Palm for example. We now have the Flash Player running very well on the Palm Pre because, as part of the OSP, they worked with us closely to make sure that it did. The same will be true for Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and every other partner that is willing to work with us. I fail to see the arrogance in this open approach.

Lee

Under the Hood with Adobe: Instance Management in Flash Player 10.1

If you want to learn more about some of the most exciting new features in Flash Player 10.1, check out the series of “Under the Hood with Adobe” videos on Adobe TV featuring the Flash Player engineering team. In this episode, Jim Corbett discusses Flash Player 10.1 optimizations in SWF loading and playback to address mobile CPU and memory limitations on smartphones.

Here is a video that demonstrates this instance management feature in action on a Palm Pre:

RIM and Adobe to Simplify Delivery of Rich Content and Applications for BlackBerry Smartphones

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for rim_logo_blue.jpgToday, at RIM’s annual Blackberry Developer Conference in San Francisco, Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen were there to jointly announce the upcoming support in Creative Suite 5 for the BlackBerry platform.  As part of the announcement, Adobe and RIM will also be working together to optimize Adobe AIR for the BlackBerry platform, making RIM the first OEM to announce support for Adobe AIR. This alliance between two companies builds on the momentum we started in early October when RIM joined the Open Screen Project and committed to bringing Flash Player to BlackBerry.

You can read more about the tools support for the Blackberry platform on Ryan Stewart’s blog and see a preview of the tools’ workflows in action on Adobe Developer Center. In addition, Adobe platform evangelist, Mark Doherty posted some great insights to the latest stats on the BlackBerry market and what it means to Adobe designers and developers who are interested in taking advantage of this new opportunity. 

10 leading CEOs discuss the Open Screen Project and Flash

CEOs from ARM, Broadcom, DoCoMo, Google, HTC, Motorola, NVIDIA, Palm, QUALCOMM, and RIM talk about how they’re bringing Flash Platform technologies to their devices and platforms as part of the Open Screen Project and why they think it’s important to have Flash on their devices and platforms.

RIM joins the Open Screen Project

At Adobe MAX 2009 RIM has become the 19th of the top 20 OEMs to begin work on integrating the Flash Player on their mobile platform.  This is a landmark collaboration announcement in our drive to bring the full Internet to mobile phones and devices.

Over the past few years we have seen RIM devices expand out of the business user category to become a consumer platform.  Many of my friends now use the Curve for Facebook, messaging and surfing the web and they really love their phones.

That’s my guage on success:

  1. Do my friends own them?
  2. Does my mum know what a Blackberry is?

For developers the Blackberry platform currently provides a Java API and framework for easy application development.  There’s no arguing that the Java runtime has enabled some great applications, and as the App World expands we’ve seen some nice content start to come in.

Our OEM engagements seem much more rounded with RIM joining, a more complete story if you will.

Google joins the Open Screen Project

Recently you probably noticed that I’ve been working on Android a little, and for good reason of course.  Though it would be easy to focus this post on Android, let’s just look at some of the places where Google use Flash today.

  • Youtube
  • Google Maps
  • Site Search
  • Web Search
  • Chrome / OS

So you see Flash is everywhere at Google and we’ve been working together for years to build upon this relationship.  Google joining the Open Screen Project may seem like a matter of course given our demo’s last year and given their investments in the Flash Platform.

In the past few months we’ve seen stellar device launches from HTC and Motorola using Android.  Those of you with beady eyes will also have spotted others from Sony Ericsson and “others” coming down the pipe soon.

I want ALL of them, but might stick to the Hero for now.

Oh, in case they’re watching.  Dear HTC, please fix the SSL certificates for Exchange email eh?

Google Team, welcome to the Open Screen Project

Flash on Mobile and Headlines from MAX

Today at Adobe MAX we previewed the next version of Adobe Flash Player, 10.1, that runs on mobile devices, netbooks and PCs. This is the full version of the Flash Player, with the same set of the features as the desktop based Flash Player. That same Flash Player was also shown running on a variety of netbooks as well. With the release of Flash Player 10.1, you’ll be able to create contextual applications that provide a customized experience – applications that are aware of the device that they’re being run on, and modify their UI accordingly. While it’s not available in a public beta just yet, it will be available before the end of this year for Windows, Mac and Linux, along with Windows Mobile and Palm Web OS.

At MAX we also showed off a new feature of Adobe Flash Professional CS5 that allows designers and developers using ActionScript 3 to create applications for the Apple iPhone. Flash developers will soon be able to submit applications to the Apple App Store — and there are already a bunch of applications available in the store now including: Red Hood, Chroma Circuit, Trading Stuff, Fickleblox, That Roach Game, and Just Letters. While, unfortunately, this isn’t Flash Player for the iPhone, it’s going to open up a lot of opportunities for developers to be able to build applications for the iPhone using Flash. There’s more information about applications for the iPhone available on

We also announced the 2nd betas of Flash Builder 4 (formerly Flex Builder), Flash Catalyst and ColdFusion Builder beta 2. Available for download today, Flash Builder 4 adds refinements to many new features from beta 1, and will help you become more successful using the new Flex 4 framework, providing more clarity between the use of Flex 3 and Flex 4 throughout the IDE. The new data-centric development features have also evolved and expanded based on beta 1 user feedback, providing improved UI and workflow for common tasks.

(Note that the Flash Builder 4 beta 2 release expires after 60 days. See below on how to extend it.)

The easiest way to change the look and feel of those applications is to have your designer design the application using Adobe Flash Catalyst beta 2. It lets designers create rich user interfaces easily using designs from Photoshop, Illustrator and Fireworks and then lets developers open those projects up directly in Flash Builder 4 to add other code (things like database connections etc…). The new Flash Catalyst beta 2 adds support for video and enhanced interaction options.

Today and tomorrow’s keynote will be streamed live at max.adobe.com. It will include demos of applications from many leading brands, showcasing how they’re improving the user experience of their websites with the Adobe Flash Platform. We’ve also made 3 sessions per day from MAX available online. All the sessions from Adobe MAX will be available on the MAX website in the next few weeks.

** To extend Flash Builder 4 Beta 2 **

To continue using Flash Builder 4 beta 2 after 60 days you need to own a copy of Flex Builder 3 and use that serial number to get a serial number to remove the timeout in Flash Builder 4. If you don’t yet own Flex Builder 3, you can buy it with maintenance, which will provide you with a free upgrade to Flash Builder 4 when its released. Yyou can purchase that by calling a Flex sales rep. Email Eardley Walker or phone 206-275-2831 for more details. Flex Builder 3 maintenance cannot be purchased through the online store.