Adobe P P P Piss Off a Penguin
With Flash it was supposed to be build once play anywhere. But having lost the Flash Player on mobile it looks like Linux users are next in line – at least in terms of a comprehensive service.
I was at the London Flash Platform User Group’s event this week where Flash superheros Lee Brimelow and Mike Chambers were present to discuss the future of Flash. It was Mike’s unenviable task to introduce Adobe’s White Paper Roadmap for the Flash Player that was announced the previous day (22 February 2012).
Now I have been to my fair share of Adobe events over the years, doing right back to the Macromedia days, but this was something different. Gone were the whoops and continual references to awesomeness, in was a humble recognition, at least in the context of the mobile announcement, that in the words of Mike Chambers, ‘Adobe f**ked up’.
So what of the Flash Player Roadmap? Adobe have been working with Google on a project called “PPAPI” or “Pepper” a new API for hosting plugins. The bottom line is that this will be included in Chrome later this year and for Linux users will become the only way to get the Flash PLayer as a Linux Flash Player will no longer be available as a direct download from Adobe.
There are caveats here, ie a debug player will still be available and the Linux version of Flash 11.2 will be supported for another 5 years, and I know there aren’t masses of Linux users out there, but this seems to follow a general backing away from the ‘play anywhere’ philosophy that once made Flash so … erm awesome.
Gaming and Premium Video
So Adobe are retrenching the Flash Player. It is now focused on Gaming and Premium Video.
Lee Brimelow spoke about some new features coming to the Flash Player, such as disabling the right-click context menu and thus allowing it to capture events and improves to Hardware-accelerated graphics, that are clearly useful to gamers.
There was little talk about what Adobe means by ‘Premium Video’ at the event although the white paper does talk about benefits Flash has for DRM and analytics.
Gaming with Flash is still certainly streaks ahead of HTML5 technologies and I would have to say that my experience with HTML5 video has so far been less that thrilling – at least on the desktop (great on mobile!).
Mobile – The Third Way
That leads us to mobile. So the Flash Player has gone from mobile. Not going to lose to much sleep over that as it wasn’t a very satisfactory experience and of course never going to be on the iOS. The message coming from both the event and the white paper seemed to be that retreating, retrenching, refocussing, however you want to term it, allows Adobe to “actively invest in enabling developers to create and deploy Flash based content as mobile (and desktop) applications via Adobe AIR”.
That is the crumb of consolation I take away from all of this. If I am to keep using Flash Professional, and also teaching ActionScript, then I have to know where and what kind of content should be published. Games and Video for the desktop (not Linux) fine but I also want to package up native mobile apps for Android and iOS. For me this is a killer feature of Flash Professional. Who wants to learn Objective-C right? So why doesn’t it appear as the ‘third way’ along side Gaming and Premium Video. Well, as the whole ‘Thoughts on Flash‘ saga proved the problem for Adobe is that they are hostages to Apple, and indeed Google/Android, with this killer feature. It is outside their control and could all come horribly tumbling down as I am sure they all remember it did with the launch of Flash Professional CS5. My fingers however remained tightly crossed.