December 15, 2010

Flash video gets dramatically more efficient

Flash Player didn’t start out trying to become the world’s most popular video player, but life takes some interesting turns.  Instead of just playing linear media files, Flash makes video part of a flexible rendering pipeline. Engineer Mike Melanson posted an excellent summary earlier this year:

In addition to decoding the data, [Flash] has to convert YUV data to the RGB colorspace and combine the image with other Flash elements. Then it has to cooperate with another application (web browser) to present the video to the user… It plays linear media files from start to finish while combining the video with a wide array of graphical and interactive elements (buttons, bitmaps, vector graphics, filters), as well as providing network, webcam, and microphone facilities, all programmable via a full-featured scripting language.

Good news, though: the new Flash Player 10.2 (download the beta) offers a new, video-playback-optimized mode called Stage Video.  Building on top of the GPU acceleration added earlier this year, Stage Video can

leverage complete hardware acceleration of the video rendering pipeline, from video decoding to scaling/blitting, enabling best-in-class playback performance. Stage Video can dramatically decrease processor usage and enables higher frame rates, reduced memory usage, and greater pixel fidelity and quality.

Here’s a demo* showing a 10X reduction (!) in CPU usage:

Stage Video requires Flash developers to update the code in video players, so simply updating to the new player won’t automatically improve CPU usage on all sites, but YouTube has already updates its player & others will follow. If you’re a Flash developer and want to start experimenting, check out this tutorial from Lee Brimelow.

* For some reason the audio/video sync in the footage is slightly screwed up. That’s a problem with the source video file, not with Flash Player.

Posted by John Nack at 8:16 AM on December 15, 2010

Comments

  • MDD — 9:20 AM on December 15, 2010

    For some reason the audio/video sync in the footage is slightly screwed up. That’s a problem with the source video file, not with Flash Player.

    Oh right, Flash is soo over!

    [What are you talking about? –J.]

  • Shashi P — 9:29 AM on December 15, 2010

    Why does it take years on end, a public scolding and a mortal threat to bring improvement to widely used, widely complained about, and bad software.

    [Yes, I’m sure that’s it. It has nothing to do with the OS & browser vendors not having enabled plug-in access to hardware acceleration until this year (a point I omitted from the post above, incidentally, so as not to be accused of passing the buck, fanning flames, etc.). –J.]

    Something is wrong with the developers, managers and management. In a word ‘bad company’ that does not really care about customer experience- why because it is free? I think it may be too late- flash has been fatally wounded while its masters sat on the sidelines.

    [Don’t stop believin’. –J.]

    • Matthew Fabb — 10:01 AM on December 15, 2010

      Every version of the Flash Player has had some sort of speed increase in one area or another. This is not the result “public scolding and a mortal threat” but improving performance, often responding to the needs and demands of Flash developers and users. Using the GPU for the Mac was only made available earlier this year in 10.6.3, and was only made available on Windows last year. With 10.1 the speed of video improved with GPU access and Adobe then moved onto the next bottleneck. Which is if the video is on the Flash Player’s display list (Flash’s DOM, how items appear on top of each other and how this ordered) the CPU is still being used. Making the video as the root element meant less CPU, and removing a big bottleneck in using the GPU. This is just the next step in making video more efficient, but couldn’t have happened without the steps made in 10.1.

      [Sssh, dude, you’re deviating from the ordained narrative!! Let’s not go bringing reason, pragmatism, and a working knowledge of history into it. ;-) –J.]

    • Joe — 3:10 PM on December 15, 2010

      @J:
      “It has nothing to do with the OS & browser vendors not having enabled plug-in access to hardware acceleration until this year ”

      You’re right – it has nothing to do with that because it’s a red herring that Adobe has created.

      Software vendors ALWAYS had access to video hardware on Mac OS X. They simply had to use the frameworks available on the OS. That wasn’t good enough for Adobe – they insisted on direct access to the hardware – with all the security and stability issues that creates. You could have used hardware acceleration at any time (heck, Adobe Photoshop was able to use hardware acceleration, so why not Adobe Flash?) but you insisted on direct access to the hardware.

      [So, if this access has always been possible in a browser plug-in, why did Apple feel the need to add support in 10.6.3? Perhaps you have deeper knowledge than I do. –J.]

      Sorry, but Adobe’s lies on Flash have become intolerable. I’m still waiting for you to explain why it’s Apple’s fault that you never released a version of Flash that would run on the iPhone. Jailbroken phones could use it – if it were available. Not to mention that 99% of ALL mobile devices don’t have any version of Flash available. I guess it’s Apple’s fault that Windows Mobile 7 doesn’t run Flash, too, right?

      If Adobe would just stop all the blatant lies and whining justifications and FIX THE SOFTWARE, they’d get a lot more respect.

      [Working with Apple, Microsoft, and others to make Flash video playback much more efficient doesn’t constitute “FIXING THE SOFTWARE”? Only when Adobe gets into endorsing the jailbreaking of iPhones, in explicit opposition to Apple’s wishes, then you’ll be happy? –J.]

      • Joe — 5:45 PM on December 15, 2010

        I guess I do have deeper knowledge than you do. Apple gave in to Adobe by allowing you to have direct access to the hardware – presumably because your programmers were too incompetent, too stubborn, or too lazy to use the same tools that everyone else does.

        [All the other browser plug-ins with pre-10.6.3 access to hardware decoding? Which ones would those be? –J.]

        Again, please explain how Photoshop (and 1,000 other apps) could use hardware acceleration and Flash couldn’t? Are you arguing that browser plugins don’t have access to the same APIs as other apps?

        [That’s my understanding, yes. The plug-in runs inside a host, and the two need to cooperate. It’s different than for a standalone app like Photoshop. I’d have thought that difference would be pretty obvious. In any case, in response to your earlier accusations, I’ve asked more directly knowledgeable people for more info. I’ll pass along what I find out. –J.]

        As for jailbroken phones, I’m not endorsing anything. Adobe claimed that Flash was available for the iPhone.

        [Really? Where and when? –J.]

        If it was, there’s no reason for it not to have been released publicly so that at least jailbroken phones could use it. The fact that it wasn’t (along with the fact that 99+% of other mobile phones don’t have Flash) suggests pretty strongly that Adobe’s blaming Apple for not having Flash on the iPhone is a disingenous argument – if not an outright lie.

        [Whether or not Flash exists on a different handset has no bearing on whether Apple–and only Apple–controls what goes onto iOS devices. –J.]

        • Matt_Fabb@yahoo.com — 11:02 PM on December 15, 2010

          Plugins do not have direct access to the OS. They are sandboxed in the browser and can only access the APIs that the browser makes available. Notice another feature in Flash Player 10.2 is more hardware acceleration in IE9, because Microsoft just added all sorts of new APIs for plugins to access this. Flash or any other plugins can’t take advantage of this in IE8, because those APIs are new in IE9 only.

          As for Flash on jailbroken iPhones, it’s available just not from Adobe. It’s called Frash and it’s a port that someone made from the Android version of the Flash Player. Adobe obviously can’t start supporting jailbroken products, with it being a legal grey area.

          As for Windows Mobile 7, a version of Flash Player 10.1 is coming. Microsoft rush out that phone OS so that it didn’t even have copy and paste working. Obviously they wouldn’t have any extra time to integrate Flash.

    • bobby — 9:53 PM on December 15, 2010

      @j: phew. Good thing you refrained from passing the buck and fanning the flames, by putting your poorly sourced information in the first comment, instead of the post itself.

      [How is it I’m fanning the flames? By daring to mention that Flash is improving–which is ostensibly what Mac partisans wanted to see–instead of simply keeling over or running away? (And by the way, if you’re going to cite someone’s perceived sloppiness, you might do a little better than citing the wrong comment.) –J.]

      Okay so stevey and his Mac didn’t let you get access to the gpu until this year, but you used the plural. So what about other platforms? Flash has always had access to the gpu on windows. What’s the excuse there?

      [I did a little research, and it turns out that as of Windows XP, plug-ins could access hardware decoding for H.264 video. Flash Player added H.264 support in 2007, so it would indeed have been good for Flash to have added GPU decoding support sooner. (Of course, that would only have heightened the screaming from Mac zealots. Whenever Flash runs faster on Windows, that’s taken as proof of Adobe’s incompetence/evil, and whenever it runs faster on Macs, that’s taken as proof of Apple’s genius.) –J.]

  • Rich Morey — 9:56 AM on December 15, 2010

    I am a Flash/Flex developer so I’m sure I won’t be thought of as objective but I have never had a problem with Flash player itself. Granted, video playback has never been great, but for other stuff I love Flash. The issues I have always seen with Flash content is the person who created it. In prior jobs at an advertising agency I added functionality to numerous Flash projects after an animator or designer created the content and the files were bloated unstable messes because of the content creator. As much as I could I cleaned up these projects. In one of my best efforts I took a project that originally created a 600k SWF and trimmed it down to roughly 200k. So as easy as it is to blame Adobe I think the real issue is with people who don’t understand how to optimize content.

  • D9 — 10:02 AM on December 15, 2010

    “* For some reason the audio/video sync in the footage is slightly screwed up. That’s a problem with the source video file, not with Flash Player.”

    —–

    And do you really think or expect the general public will concern itself with the culprit for this?! These “excuses” for Flash have gotten very old after x-number of years.

    [Again, it’s not an “excuse for Flash,” it’s a remark about a specific problem in a specific video file. What’s gotten very old, frankly, is guys like you proving so desperate to scold that you won’t let the facts get in the way. –J.]

    I agree w/ Shashi P. in that Jobs did everyone a favor by calling out Flash’s faults and Adobe’s apathetic development efforts. Now we’ll see if Adobe is capable of delivering…something that so far has not happened nearly fast enough!

    /

  • Dan G — 10:03 AM on December 15, 2010

    Too little, too late. They were once an amazing company, now it seems all were hear are excuses. Their software is now very bloated and buggy. I used to love Adobe, now they are simply the de-facto choice for graphic artists (thats not a compliment). They better start innovating and refining there code otherwise it is just a matter of time before they are dethroned.

    • Joel — 11:25 AM on December 15, 2010

      Dan, I suggest that you are mistaking “de-facto choice” for “industry standard”. The fact that we are considering Adobe to be a default choice at their price point says a lot. It shows how reliant the entire design industry is on their tools. It shows that there is no real competition for the majority of their applications, even though there is plenty of room to undercut the applications in terms of pricing. If Adobe is doing so poorly, why are there not a hoard of competitors jumping up and taking market share?

      CS5 may be “bloated and buggy” to you, but I see it as “feature-packed” and (knock wood) has been the most improved and reliable release to date. I just don’t see Adobe getting lapped in terms of innovation or refinement at all.

      • Kawaii Gardiner — 7:19 AM on December 16, 2010

        The big problem I have is CS4 was released October 15 2008, slightly over 2 years ago and yet Adobe has completely ignored it since releasing CS5. I don’t know about you but it annoys me that as a student I paid a relatively large amount (compared to the income coming in) for a copy of CS4 ‘Web Premium’ only to find that as a customer within 2 years I’m left high and dry. The issue just isn’t about a few bugs and being feature heavy but this cavalier attitude of not supporting customers for the long term. Take Illustrator CS4 – it has been out for 2 years and has not received a single update.

        Then add insult to injury there is this fabulous new feature being added to Flash – but are CS4 owners going to be able to take advantage? will Flash CS4 receive an update to support ‘Stage Video’? all evidence shows based on the current support policy one is going to be SOL when it comes to expecting it being back ported.

        • Joel — 1:23 PM on December 16, 2010

          Not to get off topic of a great new feature of FlashPlayer 10.2, but I don’t see how this is different from Autodesk or anyone else. You have to have the latest version or be on subscription to receive service packs or updates. As for costs, once you have paid for a full version of the software, the biannual upgrades are relatively affordable, assuming you have enough work to support the license.

          From Adobe’s standpoint, all of their developers are working on improving CS5 and building CS6, so why should they do anything but the most critical of fixes for CS4? If Adobe offered some kind of CS4 service plan, how much would you pay to have have access to it and wouldn’t that cost be better spent on a CS5 upgrade? CS4 is the past and for some applications (ahem, Flash) that past is best put behind us. I myself want John and company moving forward and thinking about the next big thing!

  • Troy B — 10:21 AM on December 15, 2010

    John,

    Thanks for the update! Sorry something so simple as a post about updated features has to be flamed so bad.

    Keep up the good work!

    Troy

    [Thanks, Troy–always nice to hear a voice of reason & encouragement. I maintain that people flame because they get off on picking sides in what are ultimately pretty trivial conflicts (relative to, say, war, poverty, etc.). I’d so much rather focus on positive progress. –J.]

  • Johnny Hamster — 10:44 AM on December 15, 2010

    I find it very interesting that even with all of the grief that Adobe gets over Flash and other products. Complaints from their customers, developers, etc. that Adobe still can’t see the fact that they have obviously done something very wrong in order to have so many people complaining about the same things over and over and over again.

    For some reason Adobe just can’t admit that they have done something wrong and then try to fix it. Instead to have their pets call people clueless, stupid and tell them they don’t know what they are talking about.

    What Adobe doesn’t seem to realize is that even if they are stupid and clueless the fact remains these are the very people Adobe needs to stay alive and make money. One would think that given the number of complaints and all of the negative coming from user’s that Adobe would take the time to see if they missed something and to address that.

    But, instead it would appear that the stupid and clueless is Adobe because they apparently can’t see how very unhappy people are with Flash and some of their other things. There is a word for people and companies that can’t see or admit the truth oh that that would be unemployed and irrelevant.

    Johnny

  • Thomas — 11:08 AM on December 15, 2010

    [I’d so much rather focus on positive progress. –J.]

    I escort any road Adobe is taking, only IF I would see ANY progress in the right direction. I believe you know clearly what I’m talking about.

    And one more time for clarification: I’m not coming here to your blog picking on you as a individual person. I’m picking on Adobe and it’s roads. I’m only attempting to get myself heard to iron out some serious issues, speaking for many users.
    Beeing succesful doesn’t mean instantly you’re right.

  • Damian — 11:16 AM on December 15, 2010

    John,

    I thought only support for PowerPC G3 will be removed from Flash Player > 10.1. Is support for PowerPC G4 and G5 missing only from beta release or is support for PowerPC architecture completely removed?

    It will be a pity if it is removed, as any performance improvement would be more than welcome on those platforms.

    I admit I am somewhat biased. As a long time Mac user, I have 4 PowerPCs at home. Quad G5 is still my working horse, the other three (iMac G5, Powerbooks) are used by family members more or less for browsing the web. Thus current Flash Player support is important also on the older computers.

    I do hope that PowerPC architecture is just temporarily removed from the beta (e.g. like SPARC). Anyway, regardless of the PowerPC support, I would like to thank you Adobe for a really devoted support of Mac platform and its users in good and bad times.

    You were first to ‘hack’ multi-CPU and Altivec support on Mac OS in Photoshop (was it 5.5?), first to port major applications to Cocoa and 64-bit, the new Lightroom from the start and CS5 not much later, which I can imagine it must have been a huge task considering the amount of code (We can see how slow Apple is with its Pro applications), immediately take advantage of GPU decoding API after it became public, CoreAnimation in Safari, etc, etc, etc, and yet, you are one of the last ones to switch off PowerPC. Thank you.

  • notlofty — 11:47 AM on December 15, 2010

    looks great! Can’t wait to try it out. I’m using 10.2 on Linux now and I don’t see how people complain about flash on Linux, it actually has worked better for me on Linux than on Windows.

  • fredo — 12:11 PM on December 15, 2010

    Since when did these blog comments get infested with trolls? Since Gruber linked to it?

    [There tends to be a correlation, but not as bad as with certain other sites (e.g. MacRumors). –J.]

    • John Dowdell — 1:23 PM on December 15, 2010

      It was linked at macsurfer.com. QED.

      jd/adobe

    • Joe — 7:52 PM on December 15, 2010

      Where ‘trolls’ is defined as ‘people who don’t buy Adobe’s self-gratifying swill without question’?

      [No, it’s “relentlessly negative ideologues who care more about provocation & ax-grinding than about any sincere exchange of ideas.” –J.]

      • Allen — 11:14 AM on December 28, 2010

        Wow. What a great definition of Troll! That goes into my personal lexicon. -ac

  • Chuc — 12:17 PM on December 15, 2010

    Is the cpu usage reduced 10X on Macs? If so, I’d like to see the evidence.

    [Did you watch the video? –J.]

    • Tom Dibble — 9:56 PM on December 15, 2010

      It’s only one video, but on the “1080p” video he was playing the performance improvement was about 5x for “raw” video (is, no overlays, 50% CPU usage to 9-10%), and >10x for video with overlays (125+ to 9-10).

      Of course, there is likely a commensurate increase in the video card usage, so the power savings aren’t as significant as it would sound, but still, 10x CPU use reduction is clearly demonstrated in the video.

  • Chuck — 12:23 PM on December 15, 2010

    Sorry, hadn’t watched whole thing. Works for Macs too. Pardon my skepticism but given the rather sorry record of Flash in efficiency I won’t really believe it until I test it myself.

  • Steve — 12:57 PM on December 15, 2010

    While it’s fair to note that Apple only recently added hardware support for video, using a Flash plug-in to play video still isn’t the right tool for the job.

    [Well, Hulu disagrees, but what do they know? –J.]

    HTML 5 is the future direction here and even Microsoft is getting behind this as it moves away from Silverlight on the web. Once IE 9 becomes common, Flash will start to become marginalized. DRM solutions need to be refined, but if you can get Netflix streaming to an AppleTV (iOS based device), then Flash clearly isn’t needed there either.

    This isn’t an anti-Adobe rant. Rather, I would much rather see Adobe focus more on tools for authoring HTML 5 rather than trying to breathe new life into Flash.

    [Yeah, we sure aren’t doing anything for HTML5. (Not that you’d know as Gruber and others seldom acknowledge this side of the story.) –J.]

    Flash will be around for a long while yet, but the writing is clearly on the wall regarding future of this technology. I know Adobe is already moving in this direction to some degree, but the people who still care about Flash development will find their skillsets outdated before they know it.

    [See “Adobe Isn’t In the Flash Business.” –J.]

    • Matthew Fabb — 3:45 PM on December 15, 2010

      Steve: “DRM solutions need to be refined, but if you can get Netflix streaming to an AppleTV (iOS based device), then Flash clearly isn’t needed there either.”

      There aren’t any DRM solutions for HTML5. You can encrypt the video stream to stop users from accessing it, but once a user has access it, they have the potential to download the source file. NetFlix can use AppleTV, because there’s no traditional browser or any tools for AppleTV users to save the video file, but that is not the case for HTML5 video in a desktop browser. Even Google/YouTube who is a big HTML5 video proponent have written in detail why they have no plans on using HTML5 video as their main video player, but will continue to use Flash, as it doesn’t meet their needs on a variety of areas (not just DRM for YouTube rentals).

      [For reference, here’s what YouTube said this summer about HTML5 vs. Flash. (“Adobe Flash provides the best platform for YouTube’s video distribution requirements.”) –J.]

  • Wilhelm Reuch — 12:58 PM on December 15, 2010

    Until this is a open tech and even Apple can write its own player without Adobe hanging around it is just not useful on a free and open web. No matter what you do. Now – when are you going to fix the evil international pricing on the Adobe tools?

    • John Dowdell — 1:45 PM on December 15, 2010

      Trivia point: Macromedia did provide Apple with Flash Player source code, and it was compiled into QuickTime for a few years. Then QuickTime 7.1.3 disabled it, breaking many iTunes apps, and Radio Silence from Cupertino about what developers might do. (Rephrased, the potential for cooperation exists.)

      jd/adobe

      • Eric — 1:50 PM on December 16, 2010

        Count me as one of the unhappy Apple customers when I discovered that after upgrading Quicktime, I was no longer able to export Keynote (Apple’s answer to Powerpoint for any PC folk out there) projects as flash files.

  • Scott Selikoff — 1:33 PM on December 15, 2010

    I saw the beta of 10.2 Flash player on Adobe’s website. Will there be an equivalent beta Adobe Air release that incorporates the same enhancements?

  • Harry West — 2:12 PM on December 15, 2010

    I used to like Adobe, but with there bloatware and wonderful installers plus their crap about declaring themselves ‘open’ they seem to have forgotten that they are in fact software developers. To little too late I’m afraid. With the popularity of iOS continuing – looks like the market has spoken.

  • reto h — 2:19 PM on December 15, 2010

    well, i’m glad that flash is progressing, and congrats for all that, but i’ll add that the sarcastic comments of mr nack to people who are critical about flash are really uncalled for. i mean there are some trolls around, but a lot of the complaints are valid (i’ve seen too many problems with flash myself).

    [“Let’s be clear: It’s fine to say that Flash is flawed; it is. (You know who’d agree? The Flash team.)…” –J.]

    if you can’t restrain from a snarky reply on every critical comment that doesnt really make it look as if you would listen, does it?
    rh

    [I guess I hoped that spending my day responding to dozens of comments would demonstrate that I’m listening. –J.]

  • Angela — 3:00 PM on December 15, 2010

    For converting Flash videos to Avi I use this software: http://www.flvtoaviconverter.com. It’s very easy to use and makes quality video.

  • James — 3:28 PM on December 15, 2010

    I’m actually a bit surprised that Adobe hadn’t done this sooner. Technically, this is what GPUs are designed for, and this seems like one of the few things where HTML5 video will be even with Flash. Mozilla talked about their work versus Stage Video at http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/roc/archives/2010/12/gpuaccelerated.html and IE9 has something in a similar class. I would have thought Adobe would have led instead of followed on this, given as you say it is the most popular video player.

  • Tom Dibble — 9:43 PM on December 15, 2010

    I’ve been rather critical of Flash video in the past, but I have to say that this is an impressive improvement. Keep it up!

    I do note that in the video the Windows Flash player went from 40% to 20% without the overlays, and the “underpowered” MacBook Air went from 50% to 10%. It’s refreshing to see Flash improve MORE on the Mac side than Windows for once!

    Looking forward to Flash sites playing as well as (perhaps better than?) HTML5 videos do on my MacBook Pro.

  • Walt French — 9:52 PM on December 15, 2010

    @J. — Every Mac user should be appreciative of this step forward. (I am.) But I am also concerned about the software management model and this announcement does NOT encourage me.

    Of your many internal metrics, I imagine that “stability,” “correctness” and “availability” all figure prominently, in addition to the “performance” that you highlight here.

    Let me tackle stability first: it has been common to have closed all Safari windows that had Flash, but to still see the Flash plugin chugging away in the Activity Monitor. The small CPU requirement hardly mattered, but its RAM allocation dependably rose with each open/close. It was not uncommon to see 150MB of RAM used by the plug-in, which is about the point where Safari often crashed. While I have heard how difficult it has been to write plug-ins given the uhhh, “dynamic” Safari environment over time, this announcement does not encourage me that Adobe has dealt with what appears to be awful memory leaks. (Please forgive any out-of-date programming notions.)

    “Availability” is still challenged by the fact that something like 90% of smartphones used today do not have Flash, maybe never will get upgraded. In some cases, the resources of a mid- or low-price phone appear utterly inadequate. (A BlackBerry Bold I’ve used has less RAM than the amount cited above.) How could Flash EVER run on a popular phone such as that? And I’m sure you’re aware that smartphones are now selling in roughly equal numbers to PCs, likely soon to become billions of people’s only computer.

    You haven’t yet gotten Flash even many of the Androids that Consumer Reports recommends today. And that appears to be the most Flash-friendly platform. If the world depends on Adobe to get Flash on dozens, maybe hundreds of combinations of OS, screen-type, CPU, GPU, memory, screen size, how can we possibly expect the ubiquity that you enjoyed when you could target sufficient resources to the Windows/X86-32 platform, and then do less-than-perfect versions for Mac and a couple of others? We have NOT seen independent efforts bear fruit and Adobe seems to be farther behind the eight ball than ever. How will you deal with this explosion of entropy?

    Finally, a concern about “correctness.” I found it very valuable to watch one of the Nobel acceptance speeches in my field, which I did in Chrome because I have removed the Flash plugins from Safari. But the that was only on about my fourth try and the only one of the three speeches that I got to work. Most times, although the entire video downloaded, the playback would stop a couple of minutes in, or I would pause it and be unable to re-start, then have to re-download. This was incredibly frustrating and I must have consumed gigabytes of data to watch 30 minutes, which would have been a horrible waste of money on many data plans.

    Your post mentions some glitch in the encoding of the video that YOU attach, which I have also commonly seen in Flash. My frustrating experience and frequent glitches in videos scream out that Flash is NOT meeting our expectations. Since Adobe apparently cannot define a stable ecosystem in which video can reliably be viewed, it is unsurprising that others have given up on it and are calling for alternatives.

    I really appreciate the reasonable tone you’ve expressed here and the forum for intelligent discussion that it encourages. But I still miss a clear roadmap for Flash in the Mobile Era. I miss hearing what Adobe will commit to ensuring that Flash will achieve a stability, usability and capability. And I want to hear that if I take another chance on the latest Flash/Safari plugin, I won’t just destabilize my laptop for days until I give up in disgust again.

  • Samo — 10:53 PM on December 15, 2010

    I’m really happy to see the improvements added to 10.2. But a tenfold increase in performance rather proves mr. Jobs right in his assertions that Flash sucks (sucked?), doesn’t it?

    [To me it demonstrated what I said: that Flash wasn’t architected to be a dedicated video player, but that as customer priorities have evolved, the tech is evolving to better serve them. Yes, we all wish these evolutions could go faster, but it’s hard when you’re trying to update 98% of the world’s internet-connected PCs. –J.]

    I’m under no illusion that Flash is not needed anymore—it is, and it would take a couple of years of _no_ improvement for it to disappear.

    Now, how about making Flash/Flex App development less of a pain in the ass? Surely Adobe could take a close look at Cocoa or Ruby for inspiration, instead of going with the unholy XML-like-but-not-really mess…

  • Samo — 3:09 AM on December 16, 2010

    @J: Sure, in a perfect world it would go faster. But from what I’ve seen of Flash in the past years (stopped developing with it in 2008), it seems that it’s also problematic that it tries to be too much (both, a multimedia plugin _and_ a web app runtime).

    Still, it’s good to see that Adobe is aware of some of the problems and is fixing them. It just really looks like the iPhone (and now iPad) had to happen for that to start.

  • Gareth — 4:29 AM on December 16, 2010

    I have an HTML5 video plug-in for Safari. It defaults to the HTML5 video for YouTube and Vimeo. It’s fantastic. Much better than the default players.

    I have a new 17″ MacBook Pro, with a Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM. Some Flash videos, and Flash sites, still kill my processor. It’s ridiculous.

    Making Flash less crap isn’t really going to help when there are better alternatives available.

  • Kawaii Gardiner — 6:56 AM on December 16, 2010

    Thank you for the heads up on the improvements – I am looking forward to seeing them. Lightspark open source project seems to be doing some pretty cool stuff which involves using LLVM and GLSL which should mean in principle having the whole thing GPU accelerated.

    As for the haters and trolls; its amazing how so few of them have been bothered to research NPAPI and the fact that Pepper extensions for MacOS X weren’t added until recently – these pepper extensions which allow Adobe to take advantage of Core Animation, Core Audio and lots of other features. If cars could run on ignorance the number of replies I’ve read so far could power my car for at least 2-3 decades.

    [Heh. Reading some of the comments, the insincerity of many who say “make Flash better” is laid bare. They don’t want Flash made better. They want, fundamentally, to feel like part of The Winning Team. Apple is cool, Apple’s making a lot of money, therefore whatever Apple says is right, and anyone who says otherwise is “fanning the flames,” stirring up “nontroversy,” etc. –J.]

  • Steve — 9:31 AM on December 16, 2010

    “[Well, Hulu disagrees, but what do they know? –J.]”

    Obviously, they know less than NetFlix.

    [How do you figure? Where is it you see Netflix delivering streaming video via HTML5? They use Silverlight (instead of Flash or HTML5) in browsers; Reed Hastings being on the board of MSFT being purely coincidental, I’m sure. Saying that Netflix doesn’t need to use Flash to make native iOS apps has nothing to do with Flash “vs.” HTML5, as neither one is used in that context. (Did you think that anyone ever argued that using Flash Player is the *only* way to stream video? Really?) –J.]

    But, what do they know? In any case, if pointing to existing customers is going to be the basis of your argument against a trend away from Flash, what is there to say? Sure, Flash is entrenched now. It’s the default. But, anyone without the blinders on can see that it’s days are numbered.

    [I’ve said that “Flash will innovate or die.” If it sits still and fails to maintain a lead over standards like HTML5, then it will indeed be marginalized, as it should be. That’s not the bet I’d make, but I don’t say that it can’t happen. –J.]

    “[Yeah, we sure aren’t doing anything for HTML5. (Not that you’d know as Gruber and others seldom acknowledge this side of the story.) –J.]”

    Wow, someone surely has a chip on their shoulder…

    [No shit. If you sat here and took a bunch of one-sided crap all day from ill-informed pedants, while guys like Gruber kept telling a distorted story, you’d be pissed off, too. –J.]

    I clearly acknowledged Adobe was heading in that direction. Also, who said anything about Gruber? Is your assumption that anyone who doesn’t see a long term future in Flash simply a follower of Gruber? Funny…

    [Funny, if that were my assumption–but I’m not the one making assumptions. –J.]

    “[I guess I hoped that spending my day responding to dozens of comments would demonstrate that I’m listening. –J.]”

    Cheerleading perhaps… listening? Based on the tone of your responses, I don’t think there’s much listening going on. But, your right, tow the company line… Flash rules… Flash forever! ;-)

    [The amazing thing is that given your unwillingness to actually read what I’ve already written *on this page*, I’m actually bothering to try to explain myself to you. But I do care. –J.]

  • WM — 12:45 PM on December 16, 2010

    Nice improvement, but no longer needed. Had they cared about it a little bit earlier — let’s say back then, when there was no other way to display videos and high-end graphics – this might just be what they’d needed to survive. Now they’re dead, I don’t give a damn about their Video-Impovements, they are no longer needed. Video has become a Standard with the Video-Tag .

    Plugins need to increase the functionality or comfort for both the user and the developer, Flash doesn’t anymore. It may go away and leave the web in peace.

  • Phil Brown — 2:52 PM on December 16, 2010

    The irony is, John, that if you weren’t such a big and long term fan of Apple products, your life would be so much easier!

    I also wonder if all these people complaining have checked their credit cards or bank accounts or a copy of the invoice to see how much they paid for their Flash players?

    Clearly Adobe makes money from Flash, but for end users – content consumers – it’s a free ride and that ride just became a whole lot quicker and smoother (it’s mostly been pretty good – in all my Windows time I’ve never found Flash to be a problem).

    I also have to laugh at the HTML5 “Standard” monkeys. Which standard would that be, my misguided simian friends?

    • Kawaii Gardiner — 1:08 AM on December 17, 2010

      If a website that they rely on uses Flash, and the experience is horrible, then that consumer might be forced to go to another website or move to another company to get a particular service catered for. If the web developer is getting feedback from his or her customer that customers are leaving because of the horrible web experience then the web developer may look at alternative means to achieving the end goal. In the end it comes back to Adobe and it being in the best interests to deliver a good experience for the end user or otherwise like a chain reaction from the customer to the business to the web developer market share can be lost.

      As end users ‘right’ to complain – they do have a right to complain, it isn’t as though there is Flash from Adobe, Flash from Apple and Flash from Widget Inc if they’re unhappy with the status quo – there are no choices as so far as Flash players on offer so yes end user so do have a ‘right’ to complain. Adobe has listened to those complaints but it doesn’t help when there isn’t the sort of communication required to undermine Steve Jobs arguments. It is clearly obvious that Stage Video hasn’t been something made up in the last couple of months so why wasn’t it spoken about after 10.1 was released – communicating to the user base and developers that they’re addressing some of the issues incrementally. Communication demonstrates that yes, Adobe is actually listening – lack of communication says Adobe doesn’t care.

      • imajez — 4:43 AM on December 17, 2010

        I find it odd that Flash always gets the blame if a website is horrible/badly designed. Kawaii [and all the others] I’ll let you into a little secret, bad designers i.e. humans are the reason a website experience may be poor, not Flash. I come across awful HTML sites all the time, yet none of these naive web critics ever blame HTML……..it’s like blaming the crockery for badly cooked food.

        My Macs do however run like utter crap at times and the Flash player is certainly the cause some of the time and some of the time it’s crappy Apple software. Interestingly, I’ve never had any problems with Flash on Windows machines and as Apple software is generally quite buggy I think Apple should shoulder some of the blame.
        And if anyone is daft enough to think Apple software is not buggy, how come the OS and various programmes are constantly updated with a stream of bug and security fixes which sometimes cause more problems than they solve. I’ve never had to uninstall an MS service patch, like I had to with OSX 10.6.4 recently.

  • Allen — 11:26 AM on December 28, 2010

    What a blast of noise on this post! Flash is evolving, Adobe is evolving, the whole bloody industry is evolving, and I’m very glad that JN is helping me keep up to date with PS and Flash, etc. This is a useful blog, in spite of all the useless vitriol and name-calling. Winning isn’t the point, and it isn’t even possible when the noise exceeds the signal. Deep in the noise, I find JN very helpful, and sometimes rather inspiring, and I thank you for your service. Sheesh.

  • Steven Fisher — 4:33 PM on January 11, 2011

    Looking good. I’ll probably reinstall Flash when that ships.

    I’m especially glad the vast conspiracy keeping Flash down by falsely claiming video decoding was horribly inefficient didn’t prevent you from fixing that inefficiency.

  • Tom Ward — 6:25 PM on January 11, 2011

    What’s with the sync of the audio/video? Is that what Flash is like? It looks fine, but that audio sync is a dealbreaker no?

    [My God, did you actually read the post, including the part where I specifically said the AV sync issue has nothing to do with Flash–that it’s a problem with the source recording? I wonder what percentage of people comment without reading first; it’s staggering. –J.]

  • Joey — 7:55 PM on January 11, 2011

    It’s Apple fault if Safari didn’t allow flash to access hardware acceleration ? Ok. Did you ask them for that before ?
    Did you tried to change webkit and firefox source code ? Because these are REAL open-source projects. Unlike Flash.

    I also like the “recent new behaviors” argument. Come on, people use video on the web everyday for 5 years.

    Btw, another big reason for Mac users complaints was the tons of crashes they experienced. It still crashes but it’s not really important anymore, thanks to safari’s separate process for flash. And i must say that the stability of flash greatly increased with the last releases.

    I can’t try 10.2 right now but i surely will tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

  • haleonearth — 9:10 PM on January 11, 2011

    I picture John pinching the bridge of his nose and taking a deep breath as he prepares to hit the Return key just prior to posting anything about Flash.

    [Heh–that, or donning flame-retardant gear. –J.]

  • Josh — 5:23 AM on January 12, 2011

    Flash is dead. Give it up! How come on my NEW, top of the line MacBook Pro, Flash freezes for 5+ seconds when going full screen? Just let it die already and concede to H.264!

    [Okay genius. Good thing Flash doesn’t support H.264 or anything… –J.]

    • Steven Fisher — 12:38 PM on January 12, 2011

      John: Maybe you’d be better served by getting engineers to fix that bug, rather than insult your customers?

      It’s a crazy idea, I know.

      [You’re right–I shouldn’t have let myself get antagonized. I’m just susceptible to frustration at continued, monumental, willful ignorance. As for the behavior described, I don’t know whether the problem exists in Flash, the OS, or the browser, but I do hope that the various groups and work together and resolved it. (FWIW I rarely see it on my system these days.) –J.]

  • Willie Abrams — 12:05 PM on January 12, 2011

    My only question: is Flash going to crash less?

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