back to article Adobe cites bad blood for closed Flash

Everyone loves open source - well, everyone apart from Microsoft, that is. The only problem with open source is deciding how much code control you're willing to relinquish, especially when open source puts your precious bits and bytes - and ultimately your own product plans - into the hands of your competitors. Adobe Systems' …


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  1. Del Merritt

    And now: free downloads!

    Order before midnight tonight, and get a free ice-crusher:

    No more holier-than-though attitudes, please.

    Mine's the one with the Unexpected Access Ways...

  2. Steven Knox

    Fair Enough

    "...the only open source principle that doesn't get communicated is the actual source code."

    And for that the only part of grudging respect they'll get from me is the actual respect.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Give me a freakin' break Adobe!

    Audio & Video codecs licensing issues and their source code? thats's your problem?

    Have you heard about FFMPEG project? (for Windows users, that's FFDShow). it decodes VP3, VP6, Sorenson, you name it, and *faster* then Adobe's flash player!

    I still don't get how an important piece of a plugin is still not open sourced by Adobe, and the reasons pointed by the guy from Adobe are whole lots of *BS*. Remove the licensed code, give some remarks how to use other code and let the community handle it, thank you very much! we (Linux users) Don't have native Quicktime or Windows media, but there are many open source apps who can parse the data and play it nicely inside the browser without any help from either Apple or Microsoft.

    Adobe *should* wake up! Their player (since version 9) became a nightmare! if my Firefox 3 works really slow or that it grabs 80+% of my CPU, I know that it's the flash plugin fault and when I kill it, everything goes back to normal. Worse, on Linux (CentOS 5.2, Ubuntu Hardy) the plugin simply freezes many time or takes the entire CPU cycles to itself, and that has been tested on 8 machines!

    The latest JS engines (V8, Trace Monkey, latest webkit), along with the implementation of the Canvas element, will find many developers who are sick and tired of Adobe's behavior regarding flash and they will develop/use alternative methods, just like the times when developers were fed up with MS crap regarding Windows media, and Adobe should re-think about it.

  4. pondscum
    Thumb Down

    Adobe are up with the times...

    They have released a beta of Flash player 10, but there is still no support for 64bit systems, apart from the usual "use a 32bit browser". Adobe programs are nothing but bloatware now. Perhaps Foxit can make a flash alternative.

  5. Jeff F.

    Good work!

    If you really want to use PDF for work, you will use open sourceware rsther than Adobe. They think they are heros for giving away "players" . I ask for a compact, cost effective PDF creation package with features!. Lilke Microsorft, they think they are doing us a favor instead of increasing the knowledge base with innovations and opening up the codes for outside development.

  6. Bryan Sylvester

    @Anonymous Coward

    The FFMPEG project implements patent-encumbered codecs, so your point is moot. Just because there is an open-source implementation of a codec, does not mean it is legal to use it.

  7. BuckyFuller

    Flash --> JAVA? JAVA-FX?

    What does it say that Sun's Java is now considered open source and Flash is losing steam - one wonders what will happen when Sun finally ships JavaFX. I hear Google's starting to pick it up...

  8. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Multi Dimensional Multi Tasking

    "Everyone loves open source - well, everyone apart from Microsoft, that is. The only problem with open source is deciding how much code control you're willing to relinquish, especially when open source puts your precious bits and bytes - and ultimately your own product plans - into the hands of your competitors."

    That would be one of those WOW POwwwoW Lead Decisions, Mr Anderson?

    And AIdDevil of an Odd Job in HyperMania...... for White Knight Bright Light PsychoSIS ...... Permitting and Heralding a MetaPhysical Paradigm Control Shift in Temporal Power Matters.

    And is not this stumbling block ..." McAllister noted the SWF format for compiled Flash content is an open specification and that the Flex Software Development Kit (SDK) for building Flash content is open source, but said there is little prospect of open sourcing the player itself." .......not needed, when IT's Driver Source Coding is Shared?

    Revealing thus much more whilst also Adding Further Layers and Virtual Fields of Defensive dDepth to Quantum Core Source Sorcery. Binary Wizardy ...... and QuITe Majestic Magister MaJIC too.

    And thus do Global Operating Devices Create an Opportune Dilemma for Seasoned Jumpers and Quantum Leapers with ITs AI XXXX Roads in the Root and Router Roadmaps.

    Which would quite Logically Transmit and Transfer through to BT in this particular Case in the Public ISP Domain.

    As you can read, there is Much Ado about Everything Presently. :-)

  9. Neil Stansbury


    The SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) format is actually the real answer. The real shame about Adobe buying Macromedia was that it has no incentive to push SVG as the open standards alternative anymore.

    Adobe would be much wiser in the long run to allow native SVG exporting from Flash itself. Actionscript is based on ECMA so there really isn't much excuse for it not to be relatively trivial.

    No-one pays for the player, so it's not like it's a revenue stream anyway - it's the Flash authoring environment where the real value of Flash lies.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. lucmars

    the main problem with the web

    is that you don't have a control from A to Z. You have to target some browers and sometimes even an OS. Not sure that a Flash/Flex app behaves in the same way on a Mac and a Windows.

    The fragmentation arranges nothing, but in the first place you don't control the client and that's the problem.

    Adobe is giving for free the development side, that's very appealing but you're still dependant to his player plus how is it handled by the various browsers.

    If you want to cope with AJAX, you just have to take in account the browsers and the OS

    So, what do you choose ?

  12. beast666


    I have a friend just like you! He's not very stable and has been in the odd nuthouse or two, but seems ok now.... I hope your ok and that your rantings help you cope... you do say a lot of sense, but man! get an effing grip! We love you man, become amanfromEarth, speak plainly and I'm sure the future will be bright ! !

  13. Brian Tabone

    Shouldn't Google open source all of its server code?

    Google hasn't opened sourced their search code because it contains trade secrets. If they want Adobe to open source their flash code, let them first open source all of their server code and share it with the world. Seems fair.

  14. Henry Cobb

    Where's your value add?

    Is Adobe's value added going to be that they run a tollbooth for content delivery or that they deliver the best tools for content creation?

    One route sustains the company until somebody finds a way around their logjam and the other builds up a community around the company.

    Value Subtraction Companies are doomed.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Anyone else finding the hilarious joke that is amanfrommars not quite so hilarious any more ...?

  16. Kenny Swan

    Fair enough, almost...

    I guess it's Adobe's choice to keep flash closed source, but how about making the bloody technology work more efficiently then there's be little need for a community to get hold of it? When I gave Linux a try (Ubuntu) my browser would hang or quit every so often and every time it did, the flash plugin was doing something. A company that size full of talented developers and they can't get the flash plugin working smoothly? They deserve to have the code taken by community devs and be shown how well it could be working.

  17. Mark

    @Bryan Sylvester

    Patents on software (or maths) is not universal. Ergo there being patents does not make open sourcing flash a patent problem. It may in some jurisdictions but not all. Do what FFMPEG et al do: let the end user download as per allowance of law the codecs separately. Private use of a patent is allowed in the US.

    And how do Adobe do the free player in any case? They can't control sales (unless flash has spyware in it) and so cannot remit payment according to license use. If Adobe is already paying for everyone to use that codec then Adobe can keep paying (they have no loss in revenue because they already pay) and the patents become moot even in a paid-for distribution in the US.

  18. A J Stiles
    Thumb Down

    A Matter of Time

    Now that the full specifications are out in the open, it's surely just a matter of time before there is a decent, Free alternative to Adobe's Flash player.

    The question that everyone must surely be asking is: What have Adobe have got to lose by releasing the player Source Code? Licences such as the GPL or the old Pine licence would prevent anyone else caging up Adobe's code, and patents covering codecs are invalid in most sane jurisdictions.

    I think it's more the case that there's something in there that Adobe don't want people seeing, particularly given the conspicuous absence of a 64-bit version. Remember the (mis)use of ints as pointers in OpenOffice.Org 1.x? Maybe it's time a HDD "went missing" from someone who has paid to see the Flash Source Code .....

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Opera Browser on WII and Adobe...

    Opera have always insisted that API and code issues are the reason why later versions of Flash are not supported in the WII Internet Channel Browser.

    If Adobe were open with Flash then I could see more browsers (on the WII and on the oddest of devices such as certain phones) supported more Flash content.

  20. CTG

    A lesson for Microsoft

    Microsoft should take a lead from Adobe. They just need to say that Windows IS open source, apart from the actual source code, and voila! Goodbye pinko commie freetards!

  21. Gorby Gridlock
    Paris Hilton

    "Flash" is the ultimate misnomer

    The other side of poor Flash performance is the lousy video decoding. Flash video playback often pegs my CPU on standard def video and drops frames if CPU thermal throttling or battery throttling kicks in. Meanwhile Divx and even DVD decode handle the same resolution and higher bitrates without breaking a sweat.

    The wrong guys won the video format wars. (Of course Quicktime might have won if Apple hadn't f-ed up as usual.)

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Filthy guts exposed?

    There's another good argument for NOT open sourcing your code and that's the bad press that can arise when you expose devastatingly poor code design, no documentation (because no-one really knows what the code does) and just plain backward implementation.

  23. Jan Buys
    Paris Hilton

    I can understand... or not...


    I love open source and all it brought.


    I can understand that a company that invested strongly in patents will not give that away for free. They have to make a profit, don't they. Although I hate PDF. I am a dumb guy that would like to have some HTML standard that can do everything PDF does rather than having PDF. But ok...


    Guild wars: Java enabled people fighting the other sorts of people. My god... Why am I happy with Perl? Java stinks as much as .net does. They are both competitors in a world that needs one or two programming langs. I want to grab back my initial C and C++ books. Perl or PHP rules the world, dummies.

    Paris Hilton because she even knows how to behave cross-platform.

  24. Tom

    more noise, more bandwidth

    I think its a personal freedom to allow idiots to express in megabytes what can be written in ten words.* However dont waste my time, cpu and network with it.

    Thank the coding gods for firefox flashblocker.

    *ignoring the exta effor to make it accessible and then convert it to other languages....

  25. Doug Glass

    @ Good Work!

    Albeit a very simplistic solution, whenever I need, or prefer, a document in .pdf format, I simply print it to free PrimoPDF. Obviously this is not a .pdf creator but it works for my simplistic needs.

    PrimoPDF sets up as a printer, so any document that's printable can be sent to it and "printed" as a .pdf file in the folder of your choice. To edit you simply edit the source and reprint to PrimoPDF.

    I haven't used Adobe Reader in almost a year now in favor of Foxit Reader. Adobe is just way to bloated for my simple needs now.

  26. John

    don't forget google finance

    and google analytics.

    flash is a serious resource hog (2D portal put my macbook in leafblower mode), but I find it is only flash ads that make my opera crash nowadays.

  27. Peter Fairbrother

    codecs, open source

    So Adobe can't open-source Flash player because the codecs are proprietory - but many of these codecs are only in use because they are included in Flash. If they weren't included, no-one would use them.

    One option might be to partly open the source. For instance, the player might be open-sourced with a licence allowing derivative works, but derivative works from the codecs would not be allowed (for eg security vetting purposes we need to see the codec source, even if we can't modify it without permission).

    Alternatively, Adobe might reveal the code but only allow derivative works which they approve of. If someone found a few mistakes, or perhaps a security hole, they might submit a patch to Adobe, who could then include it or not. If Adobe are sensitive enough they'll get some free code and a lot of free code inspection out of it.

    As good as free-as-in-beer open source? No, but better than what we have now. Eventually we will move to fully open-source codecs as well, but that will take some time yet, and this might be a good step along the path.

  28. James Cleveland


    Surely this is getting to the point where it may be so widespread as to be considerd for an antitrust ruling ?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Will Google (Motto: "Be Evil") Open Source its Ads?

    Google is a big proponent of everybody else open sourcing their money making products, but not its own. Google itself only open sources codes that will drive users towards its ads.

  30. Solomon Grundy

    Make Their Own

    Instead of trying to get something for free, why don't they just make their own? According to the Open Saucers failure to give away your product spells doom for a company anyway so if Adobe doesn't want to play in the commune that shouldn't upset people...The the commune build it's own and then we'll watch and see if the OSS version kills Adobe.

    Debates like this sound fishy.... If you don't give us your product you're not being fair! What the hell is that?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Bryan (re: ffmpeg)

    Actually, there's "non official quite agreement" between the patent holders NOT to sue ffmpeg developers. I know because I was talking to Philips, Sony, Nokia legal teams about it few years ago. They all use FFMPEG internally and within some products, if you want to know (thats why I'm posting as AC), and they agreed not to sue *unless* someone adds DRM functionality.

    I didn't ask Adobe to incorporate FFMPEG into an open source version of flash player, I asked to remove the patented code regarding audio/video from the player's code and let the community link ffmpeg code to the audio/video parts in the open source flash player, so basically people will have 2 choices: download the closed source plugin, or compile flash with ffmpeg linked to provide audio/video playback.

    Today, if I want to run Linux (or any other unix variant) on non X86 machine, then I cannot use flash at all.

    Paris, as Adobe lately behaves just like her.

  32. Yfrwlf

    Would be nice

    Gnash is doing fairly well but is only compatible with I think Flash 8 standards is it? Regardless, I'm still shocked that SVG animation hasn't been made a standardized part of HTML, like, eons ago. You have ways of defining text and pictures, yet basic shapes and lines cannot be defined or animated? That's just silly and I wish an alternate system would come out that was true web standard, otherwise solutions like Gnash will always just be chasing Adobe's coattail.

    Oh, and there's nothing zelotty about wanting that, yes you can get Flash for free, yes it works (mostly), but having more competition with it will mean a better SVG web experience and will mean Adobe will try harder, that's one reason of many. IE didn't start being slightly better until Firefox.

    The excuse about codecs is lame though, it's one proprietary company pointing to an upstream proprietary company as the culprit, whereas if they unfuckified themselves by being more open, they wouldn't have the problems that proprietary software gives you. How about you start supporting open codecs for example, Adobe? Support dirac, theora, snow, and others. That'll teach those stupid patent sharks a thing or two.

  33. Joel Mansford
    Thumb Down

    Where's the x64 support?

    "peer participation, a visible roadmap, open bug bases, and open discussion between engineers and developers..."

    People have been requesting an x64 release (mainly Windows as there are some workarounds for Linux) for years now. Where's the roadmap that shows x64 support?

    For most people Flash is the only blocker for using a 64-bit browser. It's about time they started listening. - I'd love to know the original posting of this article, from memory it's at least 3years old now.

  34. Chris C

    @AC re: Give me a freakin' break Adobe

    How about YOU give US "a freakin' break"? Do us all a favor and keep your ignorance to yourself. Being an individual user of a non-popular operating system, things like ease-of-use, market share, and matters of law may not matter to you, but I can assure you they matter very much to software companies.

    Your suggestion of ripping out the licensed codecs would immediately break the player. I can imagine the discussion now: "Hey, let's release a player that won't actually play anything. Play something? Heck, it won't even compile!' " Most people DON'T want to download additional software and/or compile in order to use a utility. You obviously don't mind, and that's fine, that's your choice. But the majority of people DO mind. Issues like codecs and compiling are far over the heads of the average user. Most users can't even tell you what software they use (such as when users say "I'm using Windows 2007", confusing it with Office 2007). Can you really blame Adobe for wanting to keep it simple for them?

    And it should go without saying, but just because a piece of software exists does not mean it's legal or that it's legal to use it. Look at all the MP3 encoders (standalone or as part of a larger product). I would venture a guess that 90% are not legal, since the MP3 format is patent-encumbered, and encoding MP3s requires a patent license.

  35. Geoffrey Swenson

    It is not just that Flash isn't open enough

    Flash has problems way beyond not being "open" software. A Flash application becomes a black hole of content. Stuff can go inside and animate, perform actions, and so on, but nothing comes out. A flash application has to make do with very cumbersome metheods to hook up any internal elements to outsitde elements such as the browser DOM or other flash applications on the same page..

    And then, generating the Flash content is an exercise in patience since the interfaces are hostile and limiting in the extreme. It is still based on a very dysfunctional timeline-based animation metaphor, where as new tools such as SVG and Silverlight are not. While Sliverlight may also be proprietary software, it has external interfaces that can be used by a wide range of external objects and code, making it far, far more flexible. Silverlight can be designed in a modern object-oriented way. It was written for programmers, unlike Flash which appears to be built for graphic designers, with programming metaphors just tacked on.

    While an open standard SVG has the problem that Adobe has abandoned it, and Microsoft has moved onto Silverlight because they wanted to add a more robust programming model, So SVG doesn't run consistently on any modern browsers, and unlike SIlverlight it is a display / animation language, and nothing more. Any SVG application functionality has to be provided by external scripting, which is still better than Flash, since you can use browser Javascript and you have full access to all of the objects inside a SVG graphic rather than the buggy, slow ActionScript used by Flash.

    So there are no really great solutions yet. Silverlight is robust and flexible, and modern with really elegant programming metaphors, but proprietary and not quite ready yet. Flash is proprietary, poorly conceived, closed, yet ubiquitous, and SVG is open, very easy to work with, but not implemented very widely and reliably on modern browsers.

    So we still are waiting for a decent web graphical interface. HTML ain't it. My bet is on Silverlight even though it isn't open, it just blows the others away with capability. The programmers that get over religious objections to closed software are going to find it a rich and productive environment for robust distributed applications.

  36. Mark

    re: Shouldn't Google open source all of its server code?

    It already IS open source.

    If you don't like the way Google have obeyed the GPL then your code should be released under the AGPLv3. Lots of people don't like that license because it has "more restrictions" but they fit with what you want Google to do, so you should like it.

    PS the adverts ARE open: you can display adverts from the same people Google do and get paid the same rate of clickthrough.

  37. Mark

    re: the main problem with the web

    And with Flash that makes five.

    But one of them is not like the others. One of those solutions is not quite the same. One of those things is doing its own thing.

    Now it's time to play our game.

    Flash is the only one where you must be approved to create interoperable programs. Flash is the only one that will not work on x64. Flash is the only one that will not run on any CPU with the power to decode fast enough.

  38. Aaron Jacobs

    Switch to a open source alternative

    Swfdec or Gnash. Only option for Flash playback in 64bit browsers.

  39. Anonymous Coward


    What is the big deal w/ people whining about 64-bit plugins? Does your browser REALLY need that much RAM or the extra CPU registers? GEEZ!

    The interesting part of the Flash Player (the VM) is already making its way into the Mozilla Tamarin Project. So what's the big deal?

  40. A J Stiles

    @AC Re: x64

    Yes, it's a big deal.

    Browser plugins are implemented as shared libraries. Now, 64-bit GNU/Linux uses 64-bit shared libraries which are incompatible with the 32-bit shared libraries used by 32-bit GNU/Linux. So a 64-bit browser cannot call up a 32-bit plugin.

    Ordinarily, that wouldn't be a problem; since all you have to do is compile your application against your system's 64-bit libraries (or, if available, download an application already compiled against 64-bit libraries by the maintainers of your preferred distribution); and, unless the author made some really egregious schoolboy error such as assuming an addressing space 32 bits wide and using integers to store pointers (early versions of Mozilla and OpenOffice.Org were full of this), it will Just Work. Such errors tend to be rare, by virtue of most people not liking the thought of strangers pointing at their Source Code and laughing at what lousy programmers they are.

    The difficulty comes when you haven't got the Source Code; in which case, you have to have both 32-bit and 64-bit shared libraries installed on your system. And ordinarily, since by convention shared libraries are kept for neatness' sake in folders called "/lib" (for the really important ones that you need in order for the system to boot up at all) and "/usr/lib" (for the ones you could in theory manage without as long as you don't mind certain programs being broken), they would want to overwrite one another; so you have to have separate "/lib32", "/lib64", "/usr/lib32" and "/usr/lib64" folders.

    (A second potential difficulty comes from the fact that once a 64-bit processor is actually running in 64-bit mode, some more esoteric 32-bit instructions cease to be available. So far, TTBOMK, this one hasn't actually reared its ugly head.)

  41. Bryan Sylvester

    @mark and everyone else that say codec patents are invalid in your country

    Patents on software (math) may be not universal, but it is valid in United States, thus if your country is a signatory of the Berne Convention, WTO, TRIPS and GATTS, those USA patents that cover codecs is valid in your country. Your country may ban software patents, but I bet it only bans people from registering software patents on your country. Your country will have to recognize those software patents from USA (and other signatory countries that also recognize software patents) or else if the problem is big enough, USA trade representatives may make a complaint to WTO and retaliate in many ways, such as imposing tariffs barriers or worse, not recognizing your country non-software patents.

  42. Mark

    @Bryan Sylvester

    No, you're wrong.

    US patents are considered "prior art" for UK patents, but that is as far as WTO goes.

    They aren't even legal in the US if expressed as mathematical formulae.

    And patents do not stop (in the US) ***personal*** use of a patent. So you can download the patented code from some other area that doesn't recognise that patent (much as the holywood industry ignored Edison's patents) and use it yourself. You can't export it to someone in a business relationship, however.

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