Adobe on “HTML5”

The current WhatWG proposals called “HTML 5” have been stirring up a lot of polarizing speech lately… articles with Flash-killer headlines lead to street-level fracases.

It’s hard for Adobe to have an official opinion on whatever this consortium of minority browser vendors chooses to do… seeing what the final agreement turns out to be, and how it is eventually manifested in the world, both are prerequisites for practical tool-making.

Still, I’m glad that an analyst asked a question about it at the quarterly financial call. Here’s what Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen had to say, from the transcript at Seeking Alpha:

David Hilal – Friedman, Billings, Ramsey

Okay, and then Shantanu, maybe a bigger picture question but as we read and learn more and more about HTML 5, I wanted to understand in your view both the opportunity and threat that that may present to Adobe.

Shantanu Narayen

Sure. So I mean, to the extent that an improved HTML standard accelerates innovation and consistent reach for web content, we’re very supportive and clearly from the perspective of our tools, we will support the creation and management of HTML content to the level that they want.

I think it speaks increasingly to the realization that rich Internet applications and delivering engaging experiences is increasingly important to all of our customers. I think the challenge for HTLM 5 will continue to be how do you get a consistent display of HTML 5 across browsers. And when you think about when the rollout plans that are currently being talked about, they feel like it might be a decade before HTML 5 sees standardization across the number of browsers that are going to be out there.

So clearly supportive in terms of making sure as HTML 5 is evolving that we will support it in our web authoring tools but from the perspective of continuing to drive Flash and innovation around Flash and rich Internet applications, we still think that actually the fragmentation of browsers makes Flash even more important rather than less important.

David Hilal – Friedman, Billings, Ramsey

Great. Thank you.

Adobe’s about communicating your ideas — publishing to various channels — not just about Flash. Dreamweaver, ColdFusion and the imaging tools all benefit from an increase in HTML. Flash is a strong bet for emerging platforms — we really do need the ability to predictably deploy advanced capability across a range of device brands and browser brands — but Adobe profits from easing communication in general.

I’m increasingly uncomfortable with calling the WhatWG proposals “HTML 5” though, and particularly when it’s used in opposition to successful realworld capabilities of today. When ECMAScript 4 was in discussion there weren’t magazine headlines about how untyped variables were now evil. What counts is not a press release, but a realworld deliverable. De jure is nice, and potential de jure is also interesting, but de facto capability determines what you can actually do for real audiences.

But Shantanu’s last point in there really resonates with me… this whole “HTML5” campaign will likely benefit Flash, because few remain who oppose the idea that “experience matters”. Things are quite a bit different than five years ago. Silverlight’s launch helped boost the popularity of Flash… iPhone helped to radically increase the number of phones with Flash support… the “HTML5” publicity helps marginalize those few who still argue that images, animation, audio/video and rich interactivity have no place on the web. Flash will be able to deliver on those heightened expectations, regardless of what each separate browser engine does.

Update Tue June 23: I’m closing off comments on this entry, for two reasons: (a) latter comments are repetitious and off-topic, with people seeking any reason to reject the neutral info presented above; and (b) one Mac-oriented blogger who attracts an abusive crowd has pointed this link out, and I’m not keen on hosting drive-by ranters.

57 Responses to Adobe on “HTML5”

  1. Will says:

    My thoughts exactly. As a Flash Developer I am certainly not closing up shop anytime soon in fear HTML5 will put me out of work.
    (FYI, spelling mistake in the second last paragraph of the transcript “HTLM 5”).

  2. Fallon Massey says:

    A specification, especially one with an unknown finish date, and an even further out implementation date, allows some people to postulate God like qualities upon it.
    Nothing is as good as they dream it to be, so the prophets of doom should be ignored until they can produce some evidence(or maybe a product?)

  3. TJ Downes says:

    John, great post and also defines a lot of how I feel about HTML5.
    While HTML5 is going to be a critical leap ahead in terms of providing a standardized authoring language, especially now that most browser vendors are on board with standards compliance, it’s still going to be a while. During that wait, Flash becomes more and more powerful, and it’s capabilities are ever expanding. Hard to say what Flash will be capable of before HTML5 becomes the standard for web page authoring.

  4. TJ Downes says:

    One thing I forgot to mention: I’ve seen the “3D” demos provided by Google in HTML5. They remind me of VRML (remember VRML?). Choppy, slow, inconsistent and horribly degraded compared to the 3D experience people expect today.
    Sure, this may get better, but the Flash 3D experience, still in it’s infancy, is leaps and bounds above what HTML5 is capable of. This is especially true since Flash can take advantage of the GPU, whereas HTML5 will likely not have this capability.

  5. You wrote:
    “iPhone helped to radically increase the number of phones with Flash support…”
    How did it do that?

  6. Rimantas says:

    Whoever wrote this crap piece did not even bother to find out what HTML5 is about and what the curent state of it is.
    “Minority of browsers”? Hello, Webkit based browsers, Mozilla and Opera already have pretty good chunks of it available TODAY. Only IE is lacking. Sure, it is the most used browser, but that won’t be for long.
    Let’s not forget that number of smart-phones is increasing, and guess what – pretty much any decent browser in them is using WebKit engine.
    “Phone helped to radically increase the number of phones with Flash support”
    WHAT? Numbers please?
    iPhone shows and will continue to show, that we can do without any flash on the phone, than you very much.
    ” During that wait, Flash becomes more and more powerful”
    Hello, did you already manage to get flash running at least decently on anything else but Windows?
    BTW, guys, have you seen Google Wave? Did you see what browsers it runs on just fine?

  7. Allan says:

    OK, so, in all seriousness: does Adobe really consider WhatWG a “consortium of minority browser vendors”? That *really* seems to me like an awful slap in the face. What major browser maker is missing from WhatWG? Granted MS apparently hasn’t pledged full support, but they’re on the committee. I’ve not seen much reference to Opera, but can you really consider Mozilla, Apple, and Google “minority” browser makers?
    Anyhow, I got good laugh out of this assertion, so thanks for making it.

  8. Rob says:

    “It’s hard for Adobe to have an official opinion on whatever this consortium of minority browser vendors chooses to do”
    Minority browsers? Microsoft chairs the HTML5 group so minority? At around 35% market share and more, all these other browser vendors are a minority?
    What most people ignore is the fact that standards committees generally do not invent anything. Implementation first, then that becomes a standard. That’s why it may take a decade to be finalized while proven implementations come on board.
    So while some may wait that decade, we developers will be writing pages with HTML5 markup and implement those things that work in the modern browsers. Whether IE plays along is to their own detriment.

  9. Jach says:

    Good article, I agree Flash isn’t going anywhere. I was exposed not too long ago to Flex and love it compared to (what feels like) hacking crap in XHTML/CSS/JS. And while browsers are getting faster at rendering JS and so forth, I have an older laptop that still just struggles whenever I come across them. Flash keeps up.

  10. John Dowdell says:

    “Allan”, “Rob”:
    “does Adobe really consider WhatWG a “consortium of minority browser vendors”? That *really* seems to me like an awful slap in the face.”
    Those were my words, not Adobe’s, but WhatWG is indeed a consortium, originally Apple, Mozilla, Opera. The majority of people out there use Microsoft browsers. Seems far less a “slap in the face” than some of the things I read about Flash…. πŸ˜‰
    jd/adobe

  11. Jonas says:

    In essence your argument is that the ability of browsers to natively provide the the same or better functionality than Flash somehow increases the value of Flash. Hmmmmm…. interesting.

  12. Kontra says:

    This is an excellent piece by Adobe to lay bare their open standards animosity. I’d love to revisit this page in about 3 years.

  13. Matt says:

    When you say “iPhone helped to radically increase the number of phones with Flash support”, what are you referring to? That’s a pretty strong statement, so please back it up with some kind of references (ones outside adobe.com would be ideal).

  14. John Dowdell says:

    re: iPhone having a positive effect on Flash Lite…
    Open Screen Project was announced May 2008, aiming to deliver no-cost licensing of desktop-style Flash Player for mobile & embedded. Flash Lite licensing revenues were expected to decline. Instead they increased, as manufacturers reacted to iPhone entering the ecology, raising expectations for user experience. There are better links, but here’s one:
    http://blogs.adobe.com/jd/2008/12/adobe_earning_call_f4q08.html

  15. Rob says:

    jd,
    You ignored what I said about Microsoft chairing the HTML5 working group and still claim it’s “minority browser vendors”. [jd sez: Chris Wilson and Sam Ruby are on the W3C’s HTML group, and the WhatWG effort is a different set of players. Go check it out.]
    You also proudly state Microsoft is a major browser as if it runs on almost everyone’s computer, or 80% as you claim on your other page. You obviously don’t read much outside of Adobe and Microsoft web pages and are unaware of what’s going on around you or only wish to deny it.
    Four years ago I stated I thought IE would become just one in the crowd of browsers available and so far it’s come true. If all Adobe thinks along your lines, I lay claim that Flash will lose half its usage in five years, too.

  16. Huh? says:

    This is some serious ridiculousness right here.

  17. Ian Hickson says:

    The main WHATWG list has participants from much more than just the browser vendors — we have over 1000 subscribers today, including, in fact, at least four from Adobe.
    …and the WHATWG hasn’t released a press-release in years. All the media attention we’ve been getting has been organic. πŸ™‚

  18. scott says:

    Thanks for a dose of nostalgic FUD. Even Microsoft appears to have given up on this tactic. I guess Adobe feels that everyone would be better off if HTML was deprecated in favor of SWF. [jd sez: psst, read it again. πŸ˜‰ ] Good luck with that!

  19. J says:

    See Hacker News posters tear this post apart: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=662620

  20. Ian Hickson says:

    HTML5 is a W3C-WHATWG joint effort, btw. In fact it was the W3C group that asked to rename it from “Web Apps 1.0” (the original name) to “HTML5”.
    Do your comments apply equally to the (identical) W3C proposal?

  21. stelt says:

    iPhone runs SVG not Flash.
    Google showed demo versions of YouTube using HTML5 video tag instead of Flash.
    Examples like these don’t kill Flash, but they do significantly hurt it.

  22. seo wales says:

    “Adobe’s about communicating your ideas …”
    If Adobe is about communicating then perhaps you could explain why this page is in Trebuchet MS at 12px – practically unreadable.
    Widen your page and increase font-size. Offer a “graphic designers” alternative stylesheet if you like, graphic designers seem to like unreadable text for some reason.
    [jd sez: Thanks for the request, but I hesitate to modify the multiple shared/individual templates in this blogging infrastructure. The Adobe system will be updating soon, and I hope for a better presentation then. In the meantime, most browsers offer a control to increase fontsize.]

  23. Nick says:

    So while some may wait that decade, we developers will be writing pages with HTML5 markup and implement those things that work in the modern browsers. Whether IE plays along is to their own detriment.
    “We developers” – I don’t think so. If you would be creating applications that are to be of any use to people outside your closest circle of friends you would see how ridiculous that statement is. This is the type of comment that is so common in these discussions – made by people without the basic understanding that it is the users experience of the application that matters, not what technology you use to create it.

  24. Tim Inman says:

    Adobe should offer a good multi-purpose flash creation tool for $99.00 and get the masses into flash creation.

  25. Devilshly Handsome says:

    Whilst I don’t think HTML 5 is a threat to Flash in the short term esp. with all the flash tooling, this will gradually erode the market share. In the last two years my use of flash has reduced considerably with the improvements in browser javascript parsing. The hold up will be as always with Microsoft with their inability to produce a Standards compliant browser. Competition will (as it has since mozilla started force) Microsoft to play catch up. What this article does display is incredible ignorance on the part of the writer! dev_
    [jd sez: In what way, O Anonymous One? πŸ˜‰ ]

  26. Devilshly Handsome says:

    “this consortium of minority browser vendors” == ignorance
    dev_

  27. Darren says:

    @Jonas, “In essence your argument is that the ability of browsers to natively provide the the same or better functionality than Flash somehow increases the value of Flash”
    Do you really believe that HTML5 will ever provide the same or better functionality as Flash across all browsers (including IE)? This is ridiculous – they can’t even get CSS2 right. I understood JD to mean that giving browsers the ability to deliver a limited version of the rich user experience that Flash can provide helps users appreciate (and to some extent expect) the full-fledged rich experience that Flash can provide now and even moreso into the future. Ironically, I think it will be Microsoft’s hostility to open standards that will help Flash the most but in reality Adobe has the ability to innovate at far greater a pace than any standards committee can ever hope to (as has always been the case).

  28. Darren says:

    @ Devilishly Handsome, the phrase “this consortium of minority browser vendors” is accurate. Not only is it literally correct – Apple, Mozilla and Opera have combined about 25% of the market which is obviously a minority – but it is functionally correct as well, ie. without the majority player, Microsoft, their influence is limited. Of course, you can point to the fact that Firefox’s market share is growing but it remains to be seen whether IE8 will be “good enough” – which in the real world is all people really want from a broswer – to stop Windows users at least making the effort to switch. There’s a good chance it might be because it is actually a big improvement in standards and security over its predecessors. Personally, I’ll be sticking with FF though.

  29. Matt says:

    You say the “iPhone helped to radically increase the number of phones with Flash support”. But when asked to provide evidence, you point to some post about Flash *LITE* which doesn’t include any specific data.
    I’m happy for Adobe that they are making more money from licensing Flash (Lite) to handset manufacturers. But please, back up your statement or correct it. It would radically increase your credibility.
    [jd sez: This credibility tip comes to you from an anonymous commenter…. πŸ˜‰ If you like, you may ignore that minor part of the argument about manufacturer demand for Flash increasing after iPhone, and instead focus on the main question of how this “HTML5” stuff will actually work for audiences and creators out there in the world. You don’t need to be persuaded that “HTML5” helps raise expectations which Flash alone can fulfill, but you do need to address the basic questions about how to make “HTML5” practical for use. ]

  30. Matt says:

    That Flash alone can fulfill? How well does it fulfill user expectations for the 40 million iPhone OS users? …or for Android users?
    [jd sez: Greater exclusion applies to “HTML5”, which needs to answer “the IE question”. I’d like to see iPhone open up the real web to their purchasers. Android’s already working towards Flash. Try adding value to your words by posting openly, not anonymously.]
    The only mobile device I’ve used Flash on was a Nokia web tablet, and it was a terrible experience. The device got hot and the video was choppy (only the battery indicator slid smoothly towards zero).

  31. Asa Dotzler says:

    jd/adobe, how about responding to Ian?

    HTML5 is a W3C-WHATWG joint effort, btw. In fact it was the W3C group that asked to rename it from “Web Apps 1.0” (the original name) to “HTML5”.
    Do your comments apply equally to the (identical) W3C proposal?

    [jd sez: Seemed a rhetorical digression to me, particularly as he didn’t cite any particular line for clarification.]

  32. Asa Dotzler says:

    jd/adobe, you were suggesting that Microsoft was not involved with HTML 5 because they were not a part of the WHATWG.
    “Those were my words, not Adobe’s, but WhatWG is indeed a consortium, originally Apple, Mozilla, Opera. The majority of people out there use Microsoft browsers.”
    Ian pointed out that HTML 5 was a joint effort between the WC3 and the WHATWG. You didn’t respond to that and still haven’t.
    [jd sez: ? If you’ve got Microsoft links with statements-of-intention, you’re welcome to aggregate them somewhere… still seems like a missing part of the plan. W3C/WhatWG agreements are out of my jurisdiction, and I didn’t attempt to interpret them for others here, but big WhatWG members do seem to be driving the proposals. But back to the main points of this essay: Adobe’s open to tooling, and “Kill Flash” sentiment seems like it won’t be fulfilled. If you’ve got questions on that we can talk, otherwise it’s argumentation-by-digression.]

  33. Michael Kussmaul says:

    [jd sez: Following doesn’t have much to do with the title topic either. Argument seems to be “Flash won’t be popular”.]
    Flash is mainly a Windows-centric desktop product – it only runs great on a PC-desktop. (On my Mac-laptop even just reading a single page with flash ads, will kick in the fan…)
    And that is the problem: Unless Adobe gets it’s act together and produces a compelling product, which is giving great experience to Mac, Linux and most important mobile users (I’m not speaking of Flash-Lite, which is incompatible with most flash content) – it will get faded out in the future.
    HTML5 had to react on that, if Adobe does not move fast, there are others which might overtake them – it’s just the normal rule of innovation…

  34. Joe Stevens says:

    [jd sez: Another op/ed on the general subject, rather than the specifics discussed in the blogpost.]
    I think you Flash does have something to worry about. HTML 5 support is going to catch on faster then you think given the speed at which browsers are being updated now, and as a developer those rich application tools look tasty, cheaper and easier to implement then Flash. I’m not saying Flash is dead, but I do think that it will be used less and less.

  35. Ward Chanley says:

    Translation: “We’re more worried in the short term about Silverlight as a threat to our investment in Flash than HTML5 because we’re only really interested in what’s happening on the Windows desktop, and we have no working model for what we’re going to do in response to the emergence of the post-PC web, in which Explorer – and Microsoft and the Windows desktop – are of decreasing relevance.”
    [jd sez: I don’t buy that rewrite either. We said what we said.]
    Adobe has been able to buy its way out of a similar lack of forward-thinking in the past (buying Macromedia *for Flash* was just such a move), and they’ll probably have the financial resources to keep on doing that for a number of years to come, but that’s not really a tenable long-term strategy.

  36. Dave Reynolds says:

    Flash Player’s advantage has always been it’s ubiquity and it’s ability to display content consistently across different browsers and platforms. HTML5 changes none of this.
    The fact that there is some overlap in functionality between HTML5 and Flash is besides the point. When you are stuck developing for the lowest common denominator you don’t get to tap into a lot of these nice features (Shantanu Narayen touches on this).

  37. Wait, in ten years, will Adobe have a version of Flash that runs well on something BESIDES Windows? [jd sez: No reason to think non-Windows will go away during the decade, so “Probably, yes”. πŸ˜‰ ]
    Because that would be beautiful. No more watching browsers spinlock because of flash. No more browser crashes because of Flash. Just a smooth experience, because one.single.plugin cannot be written in a way that does not make you think you’re using dialup on a Mac Plus. [jd sez: Got too many tabs from pushy sites on a weaker browser? Try a Flash blocker, control your load. Will still crash, but slower cycle.]
    So, what will come first: HTML 5 release and acceptance, or a non-windows Flash implementation that isn’t utter garbage?
    Taking bets now. I lean towards HTML 5, given the lack of caring by Adobe to Flash performance issues on !Windows to date.

  38. Mircea Botez says:

    jd/adobe, how about responding to Ian?

    HTML5 is a W3C-WHATWG joint effort, btw. In fact it was the W3C group that asked to rename it from “Web Apps 1.0” (the original name) to “HTML5”.
    Do your comments apply equally to the (identical) W3C proposal?

    [jd sez: Seemed a rhetorical digression to me, particularly as he didn’t cite any particular line for clarification.]

    When the co-editor to the CSS 2.1 spec, author of Acid2, 3 and notable member of the WhatWG group asks you a question directly relevant to your blog topic and you dismiss it as “rhetorical digression” you have lost just about all credibility on this subject.
    [jd sez: Like I said, “your comments” leaves this potential digression unclear and unanswerable. The “digression pressure” here is remarkable…. πŸ˜‰ ]

  39. Mircea Botez says:

    What’s even funnier, that he was paid by Adobe for doing work on the HTML5 spec
    [jd sez: Sounds like you’re confusing Google employee and WhatWG editor Ian Hickson with Dan Connolly of the W3C.]

  40. Tom Dibble says:

    “jd sez: Got too many tabs from pushy sites on a weaker browser? Try a Flash blocker, control your load. Will still crash, but slower cycle.”
    So, Flash is so great we should use a flash blocker? Interesting.
    [jd sez: Another digression. πŸ˜‰ I’m often on low-bandwidth, and cannot leave myself to a high-bandwidth designer’s whims, and so have used Flashblock for many years. I also block out many of the web beacons on webpages too. This doesn’t have much to do with the post’s main points: (a) Adobe CEO confirming openness to “HTML5” tooling; (b) the “Flash Killer!” talk is more than a little unrealistic.]
    If flash blocking is such a necessary tool for browser stability (and, yes, I use a flash blocker on every computer I own because frankly Flash is a horrible performance drain on any OS besides Windows) why doesn’t Adobe include flash blocking preferences in Flash itself?
    Seems oddly dissonant to proclaim that Flash is a great and necessary force in the overall web experience on the one hand and then recommend that anyone not on Windows disable Flash using third-party hacks so our computers crash less than once every hour while browsing the web.
    Anyway, back to the topic at hand, “few remain who oppose the idea that “experience matters”.” … this seems a strawman argument. I don’t know how many Flash-haters out there have been arguing that experience doesn’t matter. Quite the opposite. The point is, and remains, that gaining a smoother experience on a web site is not worth locking your content in a closed, proprietary, non-interoperable black box which degrades completely without grace on non-Windows/IE environments. HTML 5 brings that “experience” (or, rather, an admittedly incomplete subset of it) to an open and interoperable system.
    IMHO, the mid-term future of Flash is as the “graceful degradation” for the folks who can’t upgrade their Windows IE browser to something modern until HTML 5 itself gets a strong enough foothold that it gains support even in IE.
    Eventually, like all good technologies, Flash will fall away from use.
    Again, predicated on the ascendancy of HTML 5 (or an open standard to do the same as Flash), IMHO the main advantage Adobe holds is in its developer tools. If they can embrace the open standard instead of fight it, they can secure a spot in the post-Flash world.
    Or, of course, perhaps Adobe is successful in fighting off the open standard as well as Silverlight and the world lives happily ever after using Flash. Maybe that’s what Adobe is banking on, but I sure as heck won’t be cheering them on!

  41. Jeff says:

    Your last sentence doesn’t make much sense. Flash is more popular because Silverlight exists taking some of your market share? Flash has greater mobile phone penetration because of the popularity of a phone without flash support? An industry standard that obviates much of the need for Flash will help make flash more popular? Good is bad, up is down!
    [jd sez: Wasn’t hard to understand. Silverlight was posed as opposition and ended up solidifying Flash. The iPhone splash did increase Flash Lite sales. Paradoxical, but straightforward.]
    Did this posting come from Marketing? The logic seems… flawed. I don’t personally think Flash is any danger in the short term, but in the long run, an open standard that supports most of the interactivity that something like Flash is currently needed for can’t possibly help Flash’s long-term standing n the market. I hope this is just spin, and not what you guys believe internally, because being smug and thus complacent about Flash’s dominacne would pose a far greater threat to Flash’s long-term survival than HTML5.

  42. jL says:

    There are two mainstream use-cases for Adobe Flash at this time:
    1. animated UIs, and
    2. embedding videos
    [jd sez: That assertion is unsubstantiated.]
    The capabilities of current-generation browsers already undermines Flash’s value proposition for #1, and HTML threatens Flash’s value proposition for #2.
    It’s not that HTML 5 itself is directly a threat to Flash, but rather that the truly compelling reasons, historically speaking, for using Flash are vanishing, and methodologies such as Progressive Enhancements are providing very reasonable (and pragmatically-grounded) incentives to move away from Flash.
    AIR may be where adobe needs to focus w/r/t offering a unique value proposition at this point, but I’m increasingly confident the browsers (and HTML) are winning back the Web.

  43. kellyp says:

    I don’t think you’re saying a world with HTML5 is a world without Flash. You guys make your money on tools, not browser plugins. So what if browser vendors create a situation where traditional plugins are irrelevant? Developers/Designers still need tools to create and publish content, I think Adobe may be the best in that space currently. You just may need to embrace standards and openness a little better.

  44. JulesLt says:

    JD – I’m sure Adobe have nothing to worry about, provided they remain a leading provider of development tools – the Canvas tag needs it’s timeline based tool for content creation.
    However, on the argument of actual implementation right now, I’d say that in the mobile space, HTML 5 as implemented by WebKit is actually ahead – it’s here now. (And lest we forget, Adobe contributed to getting WebKit into cross-platform shape – and selected it for use in AIR).
    I’d also concur with Jeff’s comment – the NEED to use Flash is steadily being reduced – as opposed to the choice to use Flash. This is very similar to the arguments over developing RIA in the first place (desktop technology is richer, but Flash has become a good enough replacement in many cases).

  45. Hamranhansenhansen says:

    > It’s hard for Adobe to have an
    > official opinion on whatever this
    > consortium of minority browser
    > vendors chooses to do
    I think that’s a poor attitude for Adobe to take. I expect Adobe to be a leader in publishing. Instead, Adobe is on the fence, wishing for the old days when it was OK to run your 10 year old version on mobiles. Pining for the protection of the Microsoft monopoly with PC vendors.
    [jd sez: No, you’re projecting dreadfully there…. πŸ˜‰ (Note to readers: the next few paragraphs are also off-base off-topic; can skip. I added exclamation points at the cuter lines.)]
    Paper is going away fast and mobiles are replacing it and Adobe has no presence there. [ ! ] Apple is going to save the New York Times all by itself with a bigger iPod and no thanks to Adobe. [ ! ] You should be adding your JavaScript and MPEG-4 mojo to HTML 5 so Flash remains relevant, so that we Flash developers remain relevant. [Do the words “ECMAScript 4” and “Tamarin” ring a familiar bell? ] In a few years, the Flash IDE [not Dreamweaver?] should be able to publish the app as either the latest Flash or as HTML 5 or both, whichever the developer chooses. Adobe can make this easy on themselves if HTML 5 contains stuff from Flash. [ ! ] [ ! ]
    At my studio, we are already making hybrid HTML 5 and Flash 9 apps. In IE you see Flash 9, but everywhere else you see HTML 5. This is spectacularly easy to do because you can use all the same media, even the same movies. [ ! ] Our sites look the same in IE 5.5 (Flash) as they do on iPhone (HTML 5). Even the HTML developer has been fooled into going View Source in IE and he sees an object tag instead of his code and goes “duh.” It costs us about half what it used to cost to do one HTML 4 site for all browsers, yet now we have rich interactivity and integrated movies and audio everywhere. We don’t even care what renderer IE 8 uses on our sites … it only has to show 1 object tag. We are completely post-Microsoft already, yet we don’t have to annoy users with “IE6 not allowed” messages, we run in IE 5.5 also. Our clients love it. We charge them less, we give them more.
    In the EU, Windows 7 PC’s are going to ship with whatever browser the PC vendor chooses. If you are selling an X brand PC, you can put Chrome 2 or Safari 4 on there in place of IE 8 and browsing will be 2x faster than the Y brand PC, and Google and other websites gain extra features, like local storage. Especially on a small device with say an Atom CPU, that is very significant. If browsing is the main purpose of the device, it’s very significant to swap out IE for what Google calls “a modern browser,” which is HTML 5.
    So I don’t think there is any reason for Adobe to feel protected by IE’s status as “majority” browser. That is yesterday’s news. If there were a mobile version of IE or Flash that belonged to this century, possibly that would be a different story. But for the past 2 years, my clients have stopped asking for IE compatibility and now it is all iPhone that they want to run on. During 2009 we will see about 50 new smart phone models ship, and all have WebKit browsers and no Flash. Android is going to bring WebKit to feature phones and then the desktop Web will truly be a memory.
    For Adobe, such a leader in publishing, to not take part in all this is just amazing to me. [ ! ] Why did you guys even add MPEG-4 H.264/AAC support? Why not just license Windows Media if you are going to be Microsoft’s media player for all time and that’s all? [ I hope the Silverlight folks are getting a chuckle out of this…. πŸ˜‰ ]

  46. Wait, in ten years, will Adobe have a version of Flash that runs well on something BESIDES Windows? [jd sez: No reason to think non-Windows will go away during the decade, so “Probably, yes”. πŸ˜‰ ]

    Based on the last 3-4 versions of flash, I think I have a better chance of having Microsoft deliver SQL Server for Mac OS X to me, IN PERSON, on a Unicorn than see Adobe come out with a version of Flash for non-windows platforms that isn’t garbage. What was the excuse for 10? [jd sez: Thanks for not cussin’ though, John, I do appreciate it. πŸ™‚ ]
    You guys should come up with one that is as non-specific as possible, so you can use it for Flash 11, 12, and so on. It’ll be easier on you in the end.

    Because that would be beautiful. No more watching browsers spinlock because of flash. No more browser crashes because of Flash. Just a smooth experience, because one.single.plugin cannot be written in a way that does not make you think you’re using dialup on a Mac Plus. [jd sez: Got too many tabs from pushy sites on a weaker browser? Try a Flash blocker, control your load. Will still crash, but slower cycle.]
    Um, that reply makes me seriously question if you maybe need to think a bit before replying.
    How about *one* tab. I don’t have gobs of tabs open as a rule. One tab dude, but if there’s flash…Boggggggggggg.
    And seriously? A FLASH BLOCKER?
    [jd sez: If your browser consistently fails in a fresh session with a single page, that’s a problem. First do the some-or-all-content test: if it fails on any page, that’s different than if it only fails on one particular page. Assuming *no* SWF plays normally in that installation, then odds are it’s damaged code — use the uninstaller to clean out any weirdness, do a fresh install. If this does not change things, then escalate to the some-or-all-browser test, then diagnose the system. (I use ad- and Flash-blockers because I like influencing what’s sent to me. But the point there was obviously that browsers have issues even with no Flash.)]
    “We can’t be bothered to do a non-Windows implementation of Flash that isn’t completely pants, so if you *must* use something that isn’t Windows, just block it.”
    It’s nice to know that Adobe takes the problems with one of its flagship products so seriously. [jd sez: And it’s nice to know you’re so nice, too. πŸ™‚ ]

  47. Damien says:

    Wow, what an awful article – how exactly did iPhone (which doesnt support flash) ‘radically increase the number of phones with flash support’? and seriously ‘consortium of minor browser vendors’. If these truly are the views of Adobe, they are more out of touch than I first thought… [jd sez: I should delete this because he commented before reading the previous comments, but I’m such a softie…. πŸ˜‰ ]

  48. Asa Dotzler says:

    “[jd sez: I should delete this because he commented before reading the previous comments, but I’m such a softie…. πŸ˜‰ ]”
    Or maybe you should delete it because he’s not “adding value to his words by posting openly” but instead relying on a single name, probably a pseudonym, with no surname and no proof of identity.
    How can you tolerate this anonymity? It’s insulting. it’s barbaric. It’s downright mischievous.
    [jd sez: Asa, people say that knitting as a hobby improves concentration, aids tranquility.]

  49. grrr says:

    What I am missing here is that nobody mentions google here if google supports html5 microsoft has to follow. All the other browsers are free downloads. Imagine what will happen if youtube works better and has more functionality on the html5 browsers than it does on ie. Microsofts position on the web is not that all powerfull anymore.

  50. Allan Donald says:

    [jd sez: A digression atop a digression… if you’re interested in the blogpost’s topic, you can skip this comment.]
    Assuming *no* SWF plays normally in that installation, then odds are it’s damaged code
    Yes! I haven’t heard a better description for Flash yet than “damaged code”. The point John is making, on my reading, and that you are wilfully missing, both times, is that under precisely the same conditions, the Flash plugin on Windows is far more efficient and performs massively better than in the same page on Macintosh. [jd sez: I haven’t tested that, but it’s reasonable — 3D and video tools are often claimed to work better on Windows too.]
    As you can see in these Ars Technica benchmarks, playing a single YouTube video in Flash on the Mac runs up to 70% CPU usage. On Windows? Just 7%. [jd sez: Bum benchmark… system CPU% is measured differently on Win, Mac.]
    Need more proof? Just Google for “Youtube cpu usage” and find page after page of complaints from Mac users sick of the fan-spinning battery-killing performance from Flash. Flash block is no answer here, because to watch the video, you’ve gotta unblock. [jd sez: One of the things I like about recent Ogg Theora examples is that people say it pegs their performance even more… compares like to like]
    Given this, is it at all strange to you that both vendors and users would be desperate to escape from Flash? HTML5 may or may not be the answer, but if it allows us to avoid a company who clearly couldn’t care less about their platforms, it’s worth trying. [jd sez: Poor mindreading. How to help such people?]
    Adobe claims to want to build Flash for the iPhone. There’s no way Apple’s ever going to let it do to iPhone users what it has done to Mac users for so many years.

  51. Allan Donald says:

    [jd sez: Reprise of main theme — when asked by analyst about the “HTML5 Kill Flash” talk, Adobe CEO confirms that we’re open to tooling that serves a need, and that Flash will continue to deliver what smaller browser manufacturers want to duplicate and replace. This comment diverges upon previous digressions…. πŸ˜‰ ]
    I haven’t tested that, but it’s reasonable — 3D and video tools are often claimed to work better on Windows too.
    I’ve heard other people beat their wives, so it’s OK for me to do it too? Come on: that other people poorly optimise for Mac is no excuse for Adobe to do it, is it?
    (Also, for someone who knocks unsubstantiated assertions quite often, a cite on those would be good. Are there any “video tools” that perform poorly on Mac vs Windows, except, er, Adobe’s? Given the Mac’s marketshare in video shops, that’s quite a claim)
    It’s certainly not anything inherent in the platform, after all: Adobe engineers were claiming a huge speed boost from Flash 9 to Flash 10 purely because they removed a glaring inefficency from their own code.
    One of the things I like about recent Ogg Theora examples is that people say it pegs their performance even more… compares like to like
    Would you like me to bring up comparisons of Flash video to H.264 playing via Quicktime? That’d be like to like, and even more embarrassing.
    Poor mindreading. How to help such people?
    I think the best way to help them is to be clearer about what’s on your own mind.
    You talk about “experience matters”. If it matters so much, why is the Flash experience on Mac so woeful? You’ve tried so far to blame the browser and the operating system, deny one set of benchmarks and claim that because others are worse you’re OK, really. Anything else?
    You’d better hope those “minority vendors” stay minority, because otherwise you’re going to find yourself having to toady to people you’ve spent the past few years alienating. Good luck betting against the combination of Google and Apple!

  52. What, in the name of my non-existant great aunt Tillie, does *Ogg’s* performance blowing have to do with Flash’s performance? [jd sez: That promises don’t always bear out, that in-browser video is subject to various constraints. Say non-Hi to Tillie for me.]
    What, because something else also sucks, it’s okay for Flash to suck too? That’s what I call “7 year old logic”. Just because Jimmy kicks a puppy every morning doesn’t make it okay for Bobby to punch a baby, even if Jimmy’s the one narc’ing him out.
    Ogg’s performance, or lack thereof, has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on Flash’s issues on !Windows. Unless Flash 11 will be entirely based around Ogg, that’s not even a valid datapoint, and it’s almost insulting that you’d bring it up at all.
    As far as system CPU is concerned, no, you cannot *directly* compare Windows and Mac OS X cpu usage, however, such a large disparity does show there’s something in the Mac player code that is doing something really wrong.
    When IE 8 with flash handles sites effortlessly that Safari 4 completely bogs down on, yet when pointed at non-flash sites, both behave comparably, while it wouldn’t be scientifically valid, it’s a good sign that SOMETHING in the Flash player code on Mac OS X is not doing things correctly.
    When I get better Flash performance on windows in a Virtual Machine that I do running native code, something is not right with Flash on Mac OS X.
    But i’m sure that none of it is Flash’s fault. After all, if I really cared, I’d not use a “weaker” browser.

  53. Simeon Flume says:

    Look, jd, I know you moderate all comments and it’s your blog and all, but your sarcasm towards anyone who disagrees with you is simply off the chart. [jd sez: Disagreement is fine, even desirable, but more when it’s informed disagreement. Anonymous ad-hominems just clutter things though.]
    As for inserting advice to your readers to skip certain comments, well, that’s just plain rude.
    Treat your audience like adults, why don’t you?

  54. heavyboots says:

    I think a lot of the glee about killing Flash comes from the fact that bad flash files are a frequent cause of browser crashes. (I know the last thing I see before losing 10 tabs is usually some new ad loading, lol…)
    BUT, a few bad eggs don’t necessarily make the whole product bad. And the fact that browsers let a single plug-in pull them down isn’t great behavior either (and soon to be programmed out).
    I think sites like YouTube may switch to HTML 5 if all the browsers do support at least one popular video standard. But I doubt the interactive Flash stuff will follow as quickly just because there isn’t a drop-in replacement for the Flash development environment.

  55. Michael Houghton says:

    ” (Note to readers: the next few paragraphs are also off-base off-topic; can skip. I added exclamation points at the cuter lines.) ”
    Jeez. Way to treat your readers with respect, John. The occasional inline reply to a comment is cool but taking pot-shots at comment is distinctly unprofessional. It’s not cool and you’ve cost yourself a reader, which even the rather misleading claim surrounding iPhone and Flash Lite would not have achieved on its own.
    [jd sez: One tactic to spread confusion online is to overwhelm ideas with words. Reading costs are a significant barrier to gaining knowledge. When someone is not as respectful of the reader’s time, I have no qualms about advising about it upfront.]

  56. Emily says:

    Anonymous ad-hominems just clutter things though.
    And your “clever” insertions into the comments instead of a thought-out reply … does what, exactly? Is it supposed to be the opposite of clutter?

  57. Matt says:

    I HOPE HTML5 kills Flash, because it SUCKS on the Mac. It plain sucks- you can’t get around that. It uses far too many CPU cycles. Why do you think ClickToFlash is so popular? Because Mac users hate flash because it brings down the browser. ClickToFlash actually made using the web so much better, and for youtube I can now watch it in H264 in QuickTime. [jd sez: Wish you had taken the time to read the above before adding to it.]
    When there are many people taking pains to block your product, that means you need to reevalute your priorities. Stop worrying about HTML5 and start fixing Flash on the Mac. End of Story.