Article: Open Source Flash Player

Internet News has an article on a new project to build an Open Source Flash Player.

the article itself is fairly high level, and contains a number vague, and seemingly incorrect quotes from the founder maintainer of the project.

“Gnash has been developed only using freely available documentation and tools, so it can be a free implementation of a closed proprietary format,” Savoye explained.

SWF may be proprietary (seems likely, but to be completely honest, i’m not even entirely sure on that point); however it is most definitely not closed, as the SWF file format SDK is freely available on the web.

JD has touched on some of the issues surrounding an open source Flash Player (here and here)

the rationale expressed by the lead developer on this project doesn’t ease any of my concerns over preserving predictability on “Other People’s Machines”

“Most Flash movies on the Net are older Flash formats, which is why that’s the current focus for the near term,” Savoye said.

I understand the argument that these folks are building a player for FreeBSD becuase Macromedia had declined to. Part of the reason for the significant cost associated with building a Flash Player for a new platform is that Macromedia has traditionally taken great pains to ensure backwards and forwards compatibility within the Flash Player – I’m concerned creating a player branch that has unpredictable experiences could have some ugly side effects.

It sounds like people using this player may not have access to certain types of content, and that the content that can be accessed will be determined by the Gnash group’s schedule and timeline. Or, you could just “roll your own”. I’m not sure how that is a clear improvement over the current status quo, though I guess it could be argued that it gives *some* support to Free BSD. But at what cost to the larger community? Am I missing something? Feel free to comment in the, er, comments section.