Flash Wars: Adobe in the History and Future of Flash [Part 1 of 3]

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
Pitted against Microsoft's efforts to crush Flash using its own copycat Silverlight platform, open source projects seeking to duplicate Flash for free, and Apple's efforts to create a mobile platform wholly free of any trace of Flash, Adobe has scrambled to announce efforts to make Flash a public specification in the Open Screen Project.



Will it help get Flash on the iPhone? Here's the first segment of a three part series with a historical overview of the wars between Flash and Adobe, Microsoft, Sun, Apple, Google, and the open source community, the problems Flash faces today, and what future Flash can hope for as an open specification.



A Brief History of Flash



Flash originated at FutureWave Software as SmartSketch, an innovative drawing tool. In 1995, the software was repositioned as FutureSplash Animator, with support for cell based animation. It was pitched as a way to quickly draw and animate vector-based graphics for efficient delivery over the web, as a direct challenge to Macromedia's heavier and more complex Authorware and its Director-created Shockwave content.



FutureWave pitched the product to Adobe, but it was Macromedia that bought it in 1996, hoping to integrate it as an approachable, entry level member of its content production tools as the company's business was rapidly pushed from CD-ROM oriented products to the web. Macromedia abbreviated the name from FutureSplash to Flash.



It turned out that the easy to use Flash rapidly sidelined Macromedia's existing Authorware and Shockwave. Flash made it easy for designers to create interactive content with only minimal development knowledge. The real break for Flash came when Macromedia lined up a bundling agreement with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5, which resulted in the Flash player software being widely distributed.



While Microsoft embraced Flash, it actively worked in parallel to stop Sun's Java and Netscape's web browser as threats to Windows. Microsoft's efforts to sideline Java into a Windows programming language and its strategy to embrace and extend standards-based, platform agnostic HTML into web pages that only worked in Internet Explorer gave Macromedia's Flash fertile ground to grow as a quick and simple alternative to the more complex and resource intensive Java as a way to create simple, interactive applets on the web.



Adobe Hates, Then Buys Flash



Adobe purchased Macromedia in 2005 largely to obtain Flash, the crown jewel of Macromedia's web development tool assets. Prior to owning it, Adobe unsuccessfully worked hard to kill it as a competing product.



In 1998, when Macromedia and Microsoft submitted VML to the W3C as a potential web standard for vector graphics (based on Microsoft's RTF), Adobe teamed up with Sun to push the rival PGML specification (based on Adobe's PostScript). The W3C developed a new standard that drew from both, called SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics).



Adobe pushed SVG as a competitor to Flash right up until it bought Flash, distributing the Adobe SVG Player as a free web plugin. Microsoft continued to push its own VML, which it built into Internet Explorer. This prevented either VML or SVG from making much progress, as other browsers didn't support VML, while the SVG open standard saw little adoption given Adobe's weak presence in web development tools. That let Flash easily win out over both as the way to develop and present animated vector graphics on the web.



Flash continued to develop at Macromedia, gaining a scripting language based on JavaScript and other features that turned it into a full presentation development tool rather than just a way to distribute small interactive graphics. Macromedia even took swipes back at Adobe, introducing FlashPaper as an alternative to Adobe's PDF as a way to distribute electronic documents in the Flash format.



After buying Flash, Adobe gave up support for its own weak SVG Player rival and has apparently discarded FlashPaper as a PDF competitor. However, the rest of the industry has plenty of reasons to still hate Flash, as will be presented in part two: The Many Enemies and Obstacles of Flash.
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 70
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    1st comment w00t. Wow, 1995? Jeeez... I'm going to be 30 in September... THIRTY!



    Anyways, I hope the article talks more about Adobe AIR. Because what we'll have going into the next five years predominantly duking it out for the end-user side is AIR/Flash, Silverlight, Java, and Cocoa.



    Who will be left standing by 2012?
  • Reply 2 of 70
    trobertstroberts Posts: 701member
    I am sure there are some sites that use Flash appropriately, but more often than not, it is an annoyance, usually in a banner ad. Either the banner strobes or you hear a sound, usually a fly buzzing until you mute it which requires you to look at the banner to find the button.
  • Reply 3 of 70
    commentercommenter Posts: 3member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by troberts View Post


    I am sure there are some sites that use Flash appropriately ....



    I'm not sure if you will have heard of it but there's a small site called YouTube that uses Flash quite sucessfully

  • Reply 4 of 70
    zandroszandros Posts: 537member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by commenter View Post


    I'm not sure if you will have heard of it but there's a small site called YouTube that uses Flash quite sucessfully





    But he said appropriately. Flash is not a good video delivery tool.



    /Adrian
  • Reply 5 of 70
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Zandros View Post


    But he said appropriately. Flash is not a good video delivery tool.



    /Adrian



    I have to respectfully disagree. Flash is a plug-in that pretty much every computer has. Not everyone has QuickTime, RealPlayer, or Windows Media Player. In order to reach the largest audience possible, Flash is the way to go.
  • Reply 6 of 70
    I loved FlashPaper. Macromedia Studio 8 included it as an extra or Contribute. It is a great concept. Allow developers to embed a document formatted in Flash. You can embed a PDF file but it just doesn't look as good.
  • Reply 7 of 70
    mgkwhomgkwho Posts: 167member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dabrace1984 View Post


    I have to respectfully disagree. Flash is a plug-in that pretty much every computer has. Not everyone has QuickTime, RealPlayer, or Windows Media Player. In order to reach the largest audience possible, Flash is the way to go.



    Actually, not everyone has flash. It's not "pretty much everyone."



    -=|Mgkwho
  • Reply 8 of 70
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mgkwho View Post


    Actually, not everyone has flash. It's not "pretty much everyone."



    -=|Mgkwho



    Then I guess those people don't like browsing the Internet.
  • Reply 9 of 70
    zandroszandros Posts: 537member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dabrace1984 View Post


    I have to respectfully disagree. Flash is a plug-in that pretty much every computer has. Not everyone has QuickTime, RealPlayer, or Windows Media Player. In order to reach the largest audience possible, Flash is the way to go.



    True indeed, but that doesn't make it good, merely ubiquitous.



    /Adrian
  • Reply 10 of 70
    dontlookleftdontlookleft Posts: 158member
    you guys spend your time arguing over the pettiest shit.

    makes me laugh.



    also makes me come back to the comments portion again and again.
  • Reply 11 of 70
    w00masterw00master Posts: 101member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mgkwho View Post


    Actually, not everyone has flash. It's not "pretty much everyone."



    -=|Mgkwho





    Just an FYI, Flash is on 99% of all desktop browsers.



    w00master
  • Reply 12 of 70
    noodleguynoodleguy Posts: 2member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mgkwho View Post


    Actually, not everyone has flash. It's not "pretty much everyone."



    -=|Mgkwho



    Actually, it is 'pretty much everyone'.



    http://www.adobe.com/products/player...netration.html



    I don't understand why people get so mad about Flash. Javascript opens pop ups .. GIFs can animate. If you don't like Flash .. uninstall the player in your browser and see how much you enjoy the interweb.



    Flash is good because it is lightweight, widely supported, doesn't break in certain browsers, offers the best video deployment on the web, it's safe for the end user .. the list can go on and on. I think people who don't really know what Flash is are the people that hate it the most. In my opinion, poorly implemented Javascript is way worse than poorly implemented Flash.



    noooodles!
  • Reply 13 of 70
    successsuccess Posts: 1,039member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dabrace1984 View Post


    Then I guess those people don't like browsing the Internet.



    lol



    ->Flash can thank porn for delivery to the masses. Flash started getting a workout the minute designers started using Flash to create the billions of banners.
  • Reply 14 of 70
    slewisslewis Posts: 2,080member
    Null.
  • Reply 15 of 70
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Are you tired of using Flash to watch YouTube videos? Do you want to be able to watch YouTube videos in higher resolution? Do you want to be able to save YouTube videos locally?



    Now you can with QTYouTube. Once saved you only need to access the bookmark when on a YouTube video page to get it to play in QT (Does not work for every video).
  • Reply 16 of 70
    gustavgustav Posts: 820member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Noodleguy View Post


    I don't understand why people get so mad about Flash. Javascript opens pop ups .. GIFs can animate. If you don't like Flash .. uninstall the player in your browser and see how much you enjoy the interweb.



    Javascript and GIFs don't send your CPU utilization to 100%.

    Javascript and GIFs aren't huge memory hogs.

    Javascript and GIFs work perfectly well on slower machines.

    Quote:

    Flash is good because it is lightweight, widely supported, doesn't break in certain browsers, offers the best video deployment on the web, it's safe for the end user .. the list can go on and on.



    HA HA HA HA! That's funny. Flash may be widely supported, but it is unstable, bloated, a memory and CPU pig. It's horribly inefficient. Safe for the end user huh? Like keeping a private history that isn't cleared when you remove your history or empty your cache?



    Flash is a multimedia authoring environment shoehorned into a web browser. If you need that fine, but very few sites require that - especially YouTube. Maybe QuickTime isn't as ubiquitous but so what - throw up MP4 files and let the user download their own plugin be it QuickTime or something else.
  • Reply 17 of 70
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,734member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Are you tired of using Flash to watch YouTube videos? Do you want to be able to watch YouTube videos in higher resolution? Do you want to be able to save YouTube videos locally?



    Now you can with QTYouTube. Once saved you only need to access the bookmark when on a YouTube video page to get it to play in QT (Does not work for every video).



    Thanks for link. I assume this is related to the ATV access too? I am hoping they go wide screen aspect ration too.
  • Reply 18 of 70
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    Thanks for link. I assume this is related to the ATV access too? I am hoping they go wide screen aspect ration too.



    AppleTV, iPhone and iPod Touch all use MP4 via QT. This clever JS script allows you too access it. I think it's the slightly higher-res AppleTV and iDevice over WiFi video that you are getting. While the video of some look better, most look about the same to me. Th real benefit to me is having the option of saving the video locally.
  • Reply 19 of 70
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dabrace1984 View Post


    I have to respectfully disagree. Flash is a plug-in that pretty much every computer has. Not everyone has QuickTime, RealPlayer, or Windows Media Player. In order to reach the largest audience possible, Flash is the way to go.



    Flash Player 7 may have 98% market penetration but Flash Player 9 certainly does not.



    Quicktime 7 now has 80% market penetration thanks to iTunes and iPhone.



    As far as video quality, Quicktime H264 beats Flash's VP6 hands done. Also VP6 is much more processor intensive than Quicktime. There is hope for Flash's use of H264. But currently you can only NetStream it with some playback issues.



    Microsoft and Balmer are idiots so I could care less about Silvercrap.



    For Video including banners I use Quicktime. It is the best. Quicktime plays on iPhone, Flash does not.



    Ed
  • Reply 20 of 70
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,734member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by HVMediaSolutions View Post


    Flash Player 7 may have 98% market penetration but Flash Player 9 certainly does not.



    Quicktime 7 now has 80% market penetration thanks to iTunes and iPhone.



    As far as video quality, Quicktime H264 beats Flash's VP6 hands done. Also VP6 is much more processor intensive than Quicktime. There is hope for Flash's use of H264. But currently you can only NetStream it with some playback issues.



    Microsoft and Balmer are idiots so I could care less about Silvercrap.



    For Video including banners I use Quicktime. It is the best. Quicktime plays on iPhone, Flash does not.



    Ed



    It would be nice if QT were the platform of choice by google for sure.
Sign In or Register to comment.