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How Adobe Flash Lost Its Way

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the wrong-turn dept.

Programming 354

snydeq writes "Despite early successes on the Web, the latter years of Flash have been a tale of missed opportunities, writes Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister. 'The bigger picture — which I've touched on before — is that major platform vendors are increasingly encouraging developers to create rich applications not to be delivered via the browser, but as native, platform-based apps. That's long been the case on iOS and other smartphone platforms, and now it's starting to be the norm on Windows. Each step of the way, Adobe is getting left behind,' McAllister writes. 'Perhaps Adobe's biggest problem, however, is that it's something of a relic as developer-oriented vendors go. How many people have access to the Flash runtime is almost a moot point, because Adobe doesn't make any money from the runtime directly; it gives it away for free. Adobe makes its money from selling developer tools. Given the rich supply of free, open source developer tools available today, vendors like that are few and far between. Remember Borland? Or Watcom?'"

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354 comments

Native Apps? (5, Funny)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565386)

major platform vendors are increasingly encouraging developers to create rich applications not to be delivered via the browser, but as native, platform-based apps.

Really? Who? Where? and will it run on the cloud?

Re:Native Apps? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565448)

Aside from discussions on workstation software, the term "native app" has now become moron speak for "embeded webkit".

Re:Native Apps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565652)

Aside from discussions on workstation software, the term "native app" has now become moron speak for "embeded webkit".

Someone mod this guy up! It's now common practice to take something that would work perfectly fine as a mobile-optimized standards-based webpage, but make it only accessible via a proprietary app wrapper.

Offline use (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565890)

A proprietary app wrapper works even when the device is not connected to the Internet because the HTML and JavaScript files are stored on the device, not transmitted on demand from the Internet. Or can users of popular devices force specific web applications to be cached?

Re:Offline use (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37566316)

In modern browsers, any web site can cache application data and logic on a device so no internet access is needed. Google does this for their mobile gmail site and it works quite well.

Re:Native Apps? (0, Troll)

gig (78408) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566508)

Well, iOS proves you totally and completely wrong. Although your bigoted ignorant tone is somewhat entertaining to other slashdotters, I'm sure.

There are plenty of apps on iOS that cannot be done as Web apps. There are many apps from the Mac like Keynote and iMovie. There are many music and audio apps that do multitrack audio, send MIDI over Wi-Fi, all kinds of things that Web apps are not even dreaming of yet. There are console games, there are hardware accelerated graphics and animations everywhere. There are limited resources that make it an advantage to code in native C/C++ for speed and responsiveness. There is a massive object-oriented framework that does the work of 10 additional coders for you as you work alone. I worked for a company whose Web app cost 10 times as much to make as their iPhone app.

An iOS is running on a workstation class core

Re:Native Apps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565726)

I'd think the author was referring to apps for smartphones and such.

What sort of surprises me, is the apparent oscillation in the "preferred" model for apps, between web-based apps and native apps. Why does the industry seem to move back and forth between the two? Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but I'd think the line would be more blurred by now. Browser-based apps can be stored on the device, and native apps can use network communication (especially when the device is always online anyway).

I don't really see what this cloud stuff is supposed to be, besides a really big hype. Todays devices have plenty of resources to run most apps locally anyway. The only real need I see for connecting to subscription serverfarms is for data backup and synchronisation. Why on earth would you run an app on a server half way around the world, when the device could easily do the work itself, and the network connection is the bottleneck most of the time?

Tablets aren't always online (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565954)

Browser-based apps can be stored on the device

Until the application runs into severe limits that a device imposes on the size of the HTML5 application cache and HTML5 local storage.

and native apps can use network communication (especially when the device is always online anyway)

Phones are always online. Tablets aren't. The iPod touch, for instance, is a 3.5" tablet, and it's offline whenever the user isn't within the range of a Wi-Fi AP with a known password.

Why on earth would you run an app on a server half way around the world, when the device could easily do the work itself

There are applications for which one would need to synchronize with each transaction, such as anything related to order fulfillment. (But then I'm biased because order fulfillment web apps are my job.)

Re:Tablets aren't always online (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566206)

and native apps can use network communication (especially when the device is always online anyway)

Phones are always online. Tablets aren't. The iPod touch, for instance, is a 3.5" tablet, and it's offline whenever the user isn't within the range of a Wi-Fi AP with a known password.

...also, Flash can use "network communication" now via sockets. Java has had it for years. I don't consider Flash/Java "native".

Re:Tablets aren't always online (3, Informative)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566430)

Phones are always online

No, they are not. Many, many people turn off GPRS/3G/$CELLTECHNOLOGY_OF_THE_DAY by default to save on charges. Not everyone has a "flat" plan. I'd wager to say, most don't. Also, if you leave your country of origin (I realize that's not a problem in the US), then you have insane roaming charges. People are careful whether they use their phones for online activities. Even those stupid "wheather" applications that come by default on some HTC Phones rack up considerable charges if not turned off.

Re:Native Apps? (2)

grub (11606) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565770)


The real question is "Will it run on an HTML5 Beowulf cluster of virtualized CSS3 clouds with AJAX, microblogging and crowdsourcing support?"

Re:Native Apps? (4, Insightful)

martijnd (148684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565796)

There will be a very big opportunity for something that ties all these platforms together in the near future.

My iPhone has its own development platform
My wife's Android phone the same
My LG TV has its own App API
My Philips Blue ray player has its own App API
Samsung just announced its going to develop yet another OS for mobile phones...

The market is fragmenting so fast its with all these "App" platforms, that there will be a great incentive for the first to create the "write once" , "run everywhere" tool chain. This will of course take a few years, but so many different platforms cannot be sustained.

Re:Native Apps? (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566146)

The market is fragmenting so fast its with all these "App" platforms, that there will be a great incentive for the first to create the "write once" , "run everywhere" tool chain. This will of course take a few years, but so many different platforms cannot be sustained.

To start, they should create a distribution like that for Windows. There's more than enough libraries that should make it possible.

The problem is that we already have splintering caused by attempts to create one. As of now, the crossplatform stuff includes Allegro, OpenGL, QT, SDL, SFML, wxWidgets as well as many other libraries. It's quite bad if you want to use Mingw to develop, which is too minimalistic to include even headers to fully use your system (requiring the user to download a w32api package, by then you'd wonder why it isn't in the stock download).

Re:Native Apps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37566196)

>To start, they should create a distribution like that for Windows. There's more than enough libraries that should make it possible.

It's called Java

Re:Native Apps? (1)

hot soldering iron (800102) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566164)

The market is fragmenting so fast its with all these "App" platforms, that there will be a great incentive for the first to create the "write once" , "run everywhere" tool chain. This will of course take a few years, but so many different platforms cannot be sustained.

You mean something like Java, or Python?

Re:Native Apps? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566228)

It was/is being tried... Java (of which I believe three of your devices use or use slight variants thereof...)

Android? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565400)

Well, Android is free, but they charge you a developer pass...

Re:Android? (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565502)

Well, Android is free, but they charge you a developer pass...

Of a few bucks.

XCode for IPhone development is free. But you need a developer license to publish which is a bit more expensive.

Re:Android? (2)

adolf (21054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565604)

XCode for IPhone development is free ...as long as you already have a Mac running a sufficiently-recent release of OS X.

Otherwise, not free.

Re:Android? (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566502)

Yes, if you have an older version of OS X, the current version of Xcode will cost you $4.99.

Re:Android? (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565616)

$99 / yr. Not terribly expensive.

$99 per year for students and hobbyists (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565976)

$99 / yr. Not terribly expensive.

That's $99 per year per platform. Want to work on Windows Phone 7? That's another $99 per year. And even if you stick to one platform, it's not inexpensive if you're a student, hobbyist, or anyone else who doesn't make money from his work. Notice the existence of a larger fraction of free apps on Android because developers don't feel they have to recover the $99 per year ante.

Re:$99 per year for students and hobbyists (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566192)

Android is a Linux. XCode is free, and there is a much larger fraction of free apps on Linux than on OSX, especially excluding darwinports/fink apps. iPhone started the whole app store concept, Apple created a huge market for small application vendors.

I just don't see the $99 as much of a disincentive. If I'm willing to donate days / weeks / months of my time why would $100 even be a question?

Re:Android? (1)

danish94 (2427678) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565692)

No they don't, they charge to publish on the marketplace. You don't HAVE to publish through the marketplace. The tools are free.

Flash sucks, and was just waiting to be replaced (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565406)

Closed, proprietary, full of security holes, resource hungry, used by marketers to deliver enhanced annoyance to users.

The Internet was waiting for a replacement to come along.

Flash was living on borrowed time because of those who had an opinion most saw it as a necessary evil instead of a wonderful platform.

The replacement(s) will be shitty, too. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565530)

Any replacement(s) will be shitty, too. It won't matter who creates them, or how they're implemented. They will be shitty. That's just the nature of any attempt to have the browser host remotely complex applications. The browser is merely a document viewer and navigator; it is not an operating system of some sort. It will always fail as an operating system or an application host.

Go back to when this idea of having the browser host applications first took off. JavaScript is one of the biggest blunders of all time. It wasn't just shitty when it was introduced in the mid-1990s, it was seen as absolutely abysmal and unacceptable by basically all developers at the time. These were developers who had used real languages like C, C++, Smalltalk, and Perl. They knew shitty when they saw it, and they refused to use it. That's why JavaScript went basically untouched for a decade, until those developers had retired or moved on to other endeavors. It's only been deemed "acceptable" by a much younger and more inexperienced generation of programmers, many of which haven't used any other programming language (with the exception of perhaps PHP, the next worst language ever implemented and widely used), and thus don't realize how horrible JavaScript is.

The other technologies that followed the initial JavaScript attempt have been shitty, too. Java applets, ActiveX controls, Flash, and now JavaScript again with the latest and ever-changing-not-to-be-standardized-until-2022-or-later HTML5 nonsense, have all offered horrible experiences and nothing but problems for users, system administrators and network administrators alike. Google's Native Client effort will likely be just as horrid in the long run, although their work does seem marginally more competent than, say, all of the JavaScript work ever done.

The end result is that the browser should not be used for anything more than displaying and linking documents. Real functionality should be implemented via a native application. If more than one platform needs to be targeted, use a truly portable programming language like Python, or do the right thing and create separate implementations for each platform.

Re:The replacement(s) will be shitty, too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565598)

Any replacement(s) will be shitty, too. It won't matter who creates them, or how they're implemented. They will be shitty. That's just the nature of any attempt to have the browser host remotely complex applications. The browser is merely a document viewer and navigator; it is not an operating system of some sort. It will always fail as an operating system or an application host.

Go back to when this idea of having the browser host applications first took off. JavaScript is one of the biggest blunders of all time. It wasn't just shitty when it was introduced in the mid-1990s, it was seen as absolutely abysmal and unacceptable by basically all developers at the time. These were developers who had used real languages like C, C++, Smalltalk, and Perl. They knew shitty when they saw it, and they refused to use it. That's why JavaScript went basically untouched for a decade, until those developers had retired or moved on to other endeavors. It's only been deemed "acceptable" by a much younger and more inexperienced generation of programmers, many of which haven't used any other programming language (with the exception of perhaps PHP, the next worst language ever implemented and widely used), and thus don't realize how horrible JavaScript is.

The other technologies that followed the initial JavaScript attempt have been shitty, too. Java applets, ActiveX controls, Flash, and now JavaScript again with the latest and ever-changing-not-to-be-standardized-until-2022-or-later HTML5 nonsense, have all offered horrible experiences and nothing but problems for users, system administrators and network administrators alike. Google's Native Client effort will likely be just as horrid in the long run, although their work does seem marginally more competent than, say, all of the JavaScript work ever done.

The end result is that the browser should not be used for anything more than displaying and linking documents. Real functionality should be implemented via a native application. If more than one platform needs to be targeted, use a truly portable programming language like Python, or do the right thing and create separate implementations for each platform.

Just throwing this out there, are you a native app developer? This is a very close minded post.

Re:The replacement(s) will be shitty, too. (4, Informative)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565674)

Just mentioning here the time line line is all wrong. ActiveX controls came very early in the web, 1996 as a way of exporting COM. It was an alternative to Java applets not JavaScript. Microsoft was fine with JavaScript though their main alternative was VBScript.

Over the last 8 years there have been huge improvements in JavaScript engines. It is the faster engines that made JS as an app platform possible.

Re:The replacement(s) will be shitty, too. (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565690)

If more than one platform needs to be targeted, use a truly portable programming language like Python, or do the right thing and create separate implementations for each platform.

If you seriously advocate creating separate implementations for each platform, then you and I have very different definitions of "the right thing."

Re:The replacement(s) will be shitty, too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565876)

So your definition of "the right thing" is forcing mobile-style, small-screen, touch-oriented apps on desktop users? Or is your definition of "the right thing" trying to force your lousy lowest-common-denominator web app on everybody? Or is your definition of "the right thing" trying to cram a desktop application onto mobile devices?

Vastly different environments running on vastly different devices require vastly different interfaces. This is just the nature of the game, and the GP is right, it's best done by having separate implementations. That doesn't mean that you can't reuse much of the core functionality. That's exactly what any sensible and competent developer or development team would do. But to provide a good user experience, you need unique UIs for each device type.

Re:The replacement(s) will be shitty, too. (1)

YttriumOxide (837412) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566284)

That doesn't mean that you can't reuse much of the core functionality. That's exactly what any sensible and competent developer or development team would do. But to provide a good user experience, you need unique UIs for each device type.

Indeed. In my day job, I write code "mostly" for Windows. Most of these apps have a fairly GUI rich front end. Quite often however, someone comes along and says, "ooh, can I get this on my Mac/Linux box/iPad/Android device?". Now, I could just write something with a generic front end that will work on any of those, but then my apps would be suboptimal. They'd be targetting something (or nothing) and not play to the strengths of each operating system and user interface.

I much prefer to spend the time to make sure my back-end code is as flexible as possible and doesn't "assume" any particular front end, and then just spend the time to write the correct front end for the device. I've even written a couple of different front ends for Windows for some apps based purely on the intended target customer (highly techie customer A that wants to see/use everything gets a tabbed UI with lots of stuff in it; less techie customer B gets a simple Wizard with most of the options only available by clicking "advanced" buttons at various stages).

Re:The replacement(s) will be shitty, too. (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566218)

This argument has been going on for a long time. I tend to see both sides of it. Different platforms have different features and expectations. One size doesn't fit all.

Re:The replacement(s) will be shitty, too. (4, Interesting)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566094)

Any replacement(s) will be shitty, too. It won't matter who creates them, or how they're implemented. They will be shitty. That's just the nature of any attempt to have the browser host remotely complex applications. The browser is merely a document viewer and navigator; it is not an operating system of some sort. It will always fail as an operating system or an application host.

This is a debate with a long and storied history going back to Andreessen [wired.com], and probably beyond. Browsers have taken over much of the work done by native apps on many operating systems, and whether you like it or not, that's a trend which is accelerating, notwithstanding the recent trend for mobile binaries. There are a good reasons for the way the web has taken over our computing lives, and also good reasons why binary solutions like Flash are gradually being deprecated - they break one of the main advantages of the web, which is that it works everywhere - even on devices which haven't been invented yet. That is also why various companies have attempted to introduce binary solutions to web problems - in order to gain a stranglehold on the market again, as they can easily do with binary apps (all the solutions you list were attempts to do this, from applets, to ActiveX to Flash).

It's interesting that you focus on javascript as a roadblock and blunder, as javascript is not actually the language the vast majority of the code in web apps is written in - it's used as a simple way to add interactivity and animation to documents, and occasionally to allow requests for page fragments. I suppose it makes a good rant if you can focus on javascript which, if you know nothing about it, seems an easy punch-bag. It's actually quite an interesting language, though I wouldn't try to create something large in it. The javascript involved in creating a modern web application is typically pretty minimal, and often reliant on libraries like query which smooth out a lot of the inconsistencies between browsers, so javascript is not really the question when comparing flash to html development to native binaries. It's not the technology in which the vast majority of time is spent for web app development - on the contrary, it is strictly optional. The languages used for actual web development vary wildly from C variants, perl, PHP (ugh), ruby, python, smalltalk etc etc. You can use whichever language or framework you like when developing web apps, and the beauty of it is, your users won't care, whether they are viewing it on a mac desktop from 2005 or a Windows phone from 2011.

The end result is that the browser should not be used for anything more than displaying and linking documents.

The vast majority of the work many people do all day includes displaying, editing and linking documents - for that the web is a perfect fit - a far better fit than binary apps like MS Word. For something like photoshop editing huge image files, a binary is still the answer, but it does have downsides. The real question is what trade-offs does your app face, and do the advantages of a web app (faster deployment, cross-platform, document based, stateless, collaborative) outweigh the disadvantages compared to binaries (slower performance, non-local, network dependent, limited file access etc). That's not an equation which has the same answer for all apps or all people, but it's clearly one which has worked out in favour of web technology for huge numbers of apps.

Re:The replacement(s) will be shitty, too. (2)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566450)

There are certain other factors at play here that I think are worth mentioning.

1) The dominant platform (COM windows apps) had a huge transitioning problem to .NET. Nothing else has really stepped forward as an application library. Cocoa / IOS is arguably the first major platform and the penetration is nowhere near what COM's was. So except in gaming there has been a tremendous lag in terms of desktop applications showing their advantages.

2) Corporate desktops, who purchase the vast majority of non entertainment software, are very reluctant to allow software installation. However they have been unable to control web applications. So end users are essentially bring in "rogue software" via. the web. This is very similar to how windows desktops replaced minis and mainframes late 80s to mid 90s. Corporate IT is unresponsive to customer wants and the web provides a means of bypassing their controls.
This goes into "cheap deployment" but I thought it was worth focusing on.

3) There has been a major shift down in power in terms of desktops. Moving from mid priced desktops to cheap desktops to laptops. This has prevented desktop applications from upping system requirements as easily as servers have upped their requirements. This may pause.

4) The dominant desktop platform has been expensive while the web platforms have been cheap. This is starting to reverse with high monthly per user fees.

Re:The replacement(s) will be shitty, too. (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566194)

Bullshit. Nobody touched JS because it had no proper APIs and it was slow as molasses. Being a shitty language or not is irrelevant, as proven by plenty of other shitty languages that have been heavily adopted before JS was created.

Re:The replacement(s) will be shitty, too. (2)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566198)

The other technologies that followed the initial JavaScript attempt have been shitty, too. Java applets

Java came out at almost the exact same time as JavaScript (1995). Remember JavaScript was originally called "ActionScript", and Netscape licensed the name from Sun in (what I assume was) an attempt to capitalise on the hype bandwagon that surrounded Java- or more specifically, client-side Java Applets- at its mid-90s launch.

(They must have paid Sun a lot of money; I can't see any other reason why Sun would have let someone dilute and confuse the Java trademark with something that really had nothing to do with it).

FWIW, Java Applets may have been crap, but they were never a major success- in fact they were a major failure if you judge their actual success vs. the hype and publicity they got in their early years. They were never a major factor.

I also find it odd that few people notice that Flash essentially ended up fulfilling almost the exact same role that Java Applets were originally meant to meet- plugin-based apps running on the client via the Internet. I wouldn't say that Flash killed Applets though- by the time the latter had started to evolve beyond being a simple multimedia tool, the latter had already been out for years and clearly failed to have taken off *without* any major competition.

Maintaining native applications is too expensive (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566362)

Do you have any idea how much support it requires to maintain multiple OS installers for a python runtime, the binary libraries, and everything else? Don't you think users will complain that the python app has a totally different UI than their native one such as if you use WxWidgets, Qt, etc? Have you thought about what happens when you need to synchronize an application update between your front end and back end? And step users through downloading, disabling anti-virus, and reinstalling your application when its local files get corrupt because their disk filled up or they get a virus or they decide to clean the delete key on their keyboard (yes, this happens). If you target small businesses without their own in house IT staff (or an incompetent IT staff as is often the case), you need a full time support staff, a QA team stocked up with virtual machine instances of every PC and Mac OS released in the last 5-7 years, and all releases better undergo a few weeks of QA.

Your best bet in this situation is to deploy a VM image because then at least you only have to worry about bugs in a single package. Alternately, you can have them use remote desktop to a whole bunch of client interface servers, which is going to cost you quite a bit extra in hardware.

Or you can target a web browser using html and javascript. And as long as they've updated their browser some time in the last 5 years, your application has a high probability of just working. The browser has been well tested against the OS they're running because its used by lots of other people.

Also, I have never seen perl code give good performance, as its type model basically prevents useful compilation.

Re:Flash sucks, and was just waiting to be replace (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566522)

lol and you think the marketers wont use the replacement to "used by marketers to deliver enhanced annoyance to users" And those who hate flash are blocking it as they will the next replacement.

Nothing new under the sun... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565410)

...but a variation on this: http://catb.org/jargon/html/W/wheel-of-reincarnation.html

Let's build native apps! Nah, it sucks, let's make it multiplatform! Nah, it sucks, let's create platform-specific extensions! Nah, those suck, let's build it on the Web! Nah, it sucks, let's lock the functionality into the browser! Nah, let's make a rich content platform of HTML5! Nah, it sucks, let's go back to native apps!

Well...no. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565412)

Flash failed because it was proprietary. End of story. The web is no place for closed technologies.

Re:Well...no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565600)

Android isn't doing badly for a closed technology.

Re:Well...no. (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566020)

Nah, it failed because at the end of the say it was only good for video playback and flash games - nothing that isn't disposable.

For the last five years or so it's been obvious to everybody that there's a better way of doing both those things. It's been set back because the usual suspects spent a couple of years trying to lock everybody into some proprietary, patented system but the light is starting to break through now.

Flash will be a relic in a couple more years and nobody will be sad to see it go.

Re:Well...no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37566144)

And how do you explain iOS' success then?

Re:Well...no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37566240)

Well that's if you believe that all the web should be completely 100% open and easily accessible.

HTML5 games are an issue as obviously it's a lot easier to just copy all the JS source and duplicate it for your own purposes. Where does this protect the interests of the developers. It most certainly doesn't.

Re:Well...no. (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566536)

Copying HTML 5 minified Javascript is likely to be about as useful as downloading and reverse engineering the SWF of a Flash game; which is to say, you can use it to duplicate the functionality, but it'll be damn hard to edit or understand.

Re:Well...no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37566446)

Like IOS/Apple/Objective C? How much was your developer license?

Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565414)

is that major platform vendors are increasingly encouraging developers to create rich applications not to be delivered via the browser, but as native, platform-based apps.

Excuse me, but wtf? You have heard about Web 2.0 and HTML5 right? For whatever reason we've been trying to shove everything into SaaS and the browser for years away from native platform apps. The whole software ecosystem doesn't revolve around phone apps. I think the biggest reason Flash isn't as popular is because of the high quality (some argue easier) Web 2.0/JavaScript libraries available which replaced the need for flash in certain applications.

Lost it's way? (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565422)

Assumes that it knew it's way at some point.

Re:Lost it's way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565830)

As a professional web developer I have to second that.
Flash was only there for the bling that HTML couldn't offer.
And for people with the DRM delusion, when playing videos.
Until it got the capabilities to let you make simple games in it.
But with (X)HTML5, HTML has caught up and way surpassed it.

So goodbye Flash.

Now if only we could ditch the browser VM for a real VM (with pre-cached OS [which includes all the legacy interfaces too]).
Then the difference between applications and webapps would go away, everyone could code in his own language, using all available libs, and one could even run those apps directly on the CPU if trustworthy, just like normal applications... because that's what they would be. :)
___
* You can tell if somebody is a pro, if he's using the XML variant. Everyone else just thinks he's pro because he read a HTML book in the last .com bubble era.

Adobe dev tools cost too much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565430)

I'm not going to write in Flash if I have to pay $1000 for the privilege. In comparison, I can start on C#/ASP.net or LAMP for free.

Platform apps huh? (3, Interesting)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565434)

So wait, now we're NOT writing rich applications to be delivered by the browser and instead focusing on native, platform-based apps? I thought that was EXACTLY what we were getting away from. The only 'platform' apps are iPhone and Android mobile apps due to the screen real estate available, even a tablet has the size and responsiveness to work fine with web based apps. Oh wait, a Windows 8 article, that explains it... this is just Microsoft PR being propped up on the backs of mobile interfaces.

OP should update his vocabulary (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565452)

It's "Adobe Crash" or "Adobe Crashplayer" now.

Also: The article is boring.

I believe WebM is more than good enough to replace Adobe Crash for playback of videos.

Everything else is so unimportant it doesn't matter if it is done in Adobe Crash, a Java Applet or not at all.

Watcom compilers were the best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565490)

Those Watcom compilers were the best. The only reason they're not still around is that they got bought up by a database company that wanted some technology they had.

Re:Watcom compilers were the best (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565716)

They are still around: OpenWatcom [openwatcom.org].

Adobe killed flash (1)

GeneralTurgidson (2464452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565524)

They should've focused more on the security and less on the marketing of flash. Who knows what might've happened if they jumped on the browser bus and created their own...

Youtube / Online Videos saved Flash (2)

TheMoonRat (937781) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565544)

The early years of the internet were plagued with issues on how Flash was used: long Flash intro's to websites, and Flash menu's that would take ages to animate each and every time you clicked on it to name but a couple. But it was also plagued with a vast number of file formats fighting to be the internet streaming app of choice; Media Player, Real Player, Quicktime etc. Some of which were on some platforms but not others; all of which sucked up resources just to play a video on a website. Flash solved this online video problem; a single method for which to deliver streaming media content. A single app that was super easy to install for even the most casual of users. The success of YouTube meant Flash has it's lifeline, and became useful (for me). It's not the perfect solution, and moving into HTML 5 era it will become redundant once more; but it did fill a much needed gap.

Re:Youtube / Online Videos saved Flash (1)

cpghost (719344) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566174)

The early years of the internet were plagued with issues on how Flash was used: long Flash intro's to websites,

The early years of the internet were plagued with slow 300 kbps modems, and admins struggling with UUCP-to-SMTP gateways. And the early years of the web were plagued by horribly designed amateurish websites on Geocities.

Re:Youtube / Online Videos saved Flash (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566440)

slow 300 bps modems

FTFY. I only ever experienced as low as 1200 bps, myself. 300 kbps was either a fractional T1, or came far later with DOCSIS and ADSL.

That is not the only problem. (5, Informative)

Musically_ut (1054312) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565548)

Flash does not in particular have a very good history with respect to its own development either. Everybody on *nix has observed this so much that this has become a cult phenomenon [xkcd.com].

Moreover, the problem does not lie completely with *nix developers themselves. Case in point, it takes them months to fix their broken calls to memcpy which were:

traced to Adobe Flash by maintainers of glibc at Red Hat, Linus Torvalds and others.

Full story here [lwn.net].

Relevant part of the conversation:

> Subject: Re: FP-5739 "Strange sound on mp3 flash website with Fedora 14 x86_64"
>
> Hi Shu,
>
> That's is great to hear. Would you guess it's a matter of days, weeks or
> months before this can get fixed?
> If it will take a long time for you to fix this, Fedora may need to look
> at some way to work around this bug.
>
> Best regards,
> Magnus
>

> Hi Magnus,
>
> Maybe months. Thanks.
>
> Best regards.

Re:That is not the only problem. (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565928)

I didn't have a problem with Flash, until I moved to Ubuntu. Now I can see the attraction of an open standard where stuff works out of the box (yes, even on a 64 bit OS - imagine that, I have more than 3 gigs of ram) rather than dealing with pain, glitches and crashes.

Re:That is not the only problem. (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566204)

I didn't have a problem with Flash, until I moved to Ubuntu. Now I can see the attraction of an open standard where stuff works out of the box (yes, even on a 64 bit OS - imagine that, I have more than 3 gigs of ram) rather than dealing with pain, glitches and crashes.

Actually, I'm, finding that Flash (10.3, at least) is finally running acceptably well on Ubuntu. In the last 3 weeks, I've had Flash crash on me (in the browser) once, and Firefox had it sandboxed, so the rest of the system continued on fine.

Frankly, Compiz is a much bigger problem these days.

Re:That is not the only problem. (0)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565940)

When you say *NIX, you mean GNU/Linux. Flash on OS X has been fine (although a massive resource hog because Adobe insists on doing things the silly way, like implementing their own compositing stuff in software when OS X has simple APIs for doing it in hardware) and Adobe does not provide Flash on any *NIX platforms except Linux and OS X. The glibc bug was caused by Drepper being an idiot, but everyone knows Drepper is an idiot and so using his code is something sane people avoid.

And, really, you mean x86/Linux. Interestingly, Flash runs pretty well on my TouchPad (ARM/Linux). Watching a 45 minute TV show on iPlayer used about 11% of the battery. I just tried playing Kingdom Rush, and it was slightly slow but worked okay and playing it for 10 minutes used less than 1% of my battery.

Re:That is not the only problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37566066)

Did you read the story or did you filter you just filter out all fact and reason because you are an anal glibc developer and the enemy semt to be Adobe?

Linus himself nailed glibc as the error without hesitation and pointed out that even the kernel relied on specific behaviour of their optimized memcopy.
https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=638477#c46

Later comments goes further in stating the new memcopy to be no faster, having uglier code and being ignorant in not checking overlapping areas used commonly.

The problem here seems to be that parts of the open source community don't like Adobe.

20/20 rosy view? (4, Insightful)

MrMickS (568778) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565588)

IIRC Apple explicitly didn't want native apps when it released the iPhone. Their original idea was to have everything web based and accessed through Safari. A lot of time and effort was put into making this work. Native apps, and the app store, only surfaced with the 2nd revision of iOS and after people had been jail-breaking their phones to be able to install native apps. Android had to allow native apps because iOS did. This drive to native apps was from the users not from the manufacturers. The whole summary is a massive rewrite of history to fit the author's viewpoint.

Re:20/20 rosy view? (0)

AC-x (735297) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565810)

Android had to allow native apps because iOS did

[Citation needed], Windows Mobile, JME, and Symbian had native apps long before iOS, so I'd be very surprised if Google wouldn't have offered native apps if Apple hadn't.

Re:20/20 rosy view? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565914)

Google was also developing the Chromebook ate the time. If Apple had managed to make the "Web apps only" idea fly Google would have have run with it.

So Google didn't follow Apple, then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37566088)

You've now changed it to "Google WOULD have followed Apple if Apple had managed to make a sensible 'Web apps only' idea fly".

Re:20/20 rosy view? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566398)

massive rewrite of history to fit the author's viewpoint.

Isn't that something like 80% of Slashdot articles and comments?

Re:20/20 rosy view? (2)

Ex Machina (10710) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566402)

I think that Apple's expressed lack of interest in native apps in the first iteration of the iPhone OS were to discourage people from waiting for a feature and to maintain a competitive edge via secrecy.

Security? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565594)

I think that the public soured on Adobe when users have had to deal with one security issue (either an exploit or a patch) after another with flash (and acrobat for that matter).

Not working (1)

frisket (149522) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565610)

Add to all that the fact that Flash is only marginally functional on Linux desktops, either demanding reinstallation every time or claiming that it is not installed when it is. I long since lost interest in what is basically a dead platform.

Ummm... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565624)

"Given the rich supply of free, open source developer tools available today, vendors like that are few and far between. Remember Borland? Or Watcom?'"

This part of the argument seems a little questionable. Yes, the OSS tools scene has grown and improved by considerable measure, which probably did help to murder some of the more indie and niche players(OSS has a somewhat mixed record in toppling incumbents; but it tends to sharply reduce the demand for '2nd best; but cheaper' and 'scrappy underdog with rough edges but only $99!' players...); but it seems to both ignore the elephant in the room and miss the point:

Those vendors who make their money on selling their platforms generally decided(for some mixture of direct profit, the desire to increase the value of their platform by making targeting it easier, or desire to increase their control of the platform by being able to change it radically and get away with it by changing the dev tools to compensate) to get into the market for dev tools for their platform. That really didn't do the 3rd parties any favors.

As for missing the point, Adobe is actually a powerhouse in the world of designers-of-tools-for-platforms-they-don't-also-sell: it's just in the area of even being a competent deliverer-of-platform that they've pretty consistently sucked. Their design tools continue to move pretty briskly; but everybody loathes the issues of flash player(especially once you get beyond win32 with a beefy processor), acrobat reader, etc.

Re:Ummm... (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566024)

I did not have installed on my computer until the mid 2000s. The only place that it was widely used up until that point were some entertainment websites and advertising. 90% of the content flash I saw, IMHO, was advertising. Flash was slow, unstable, and resource hog on the computers that were affordable.

Flash blockers made flash tolerable and allowed me to install the Flash client. Technology also caught up with a the requirements of flash. A few non-entertainment sites also began to use Flash, like Google Stock.

When we talk about the decline of Flash using open source tools, we are not talking from the late 1990's Macromedia days,, we are talking about the six years that Adobe has had Flash and the rise of HTML 5. We are talking about Google releasing Docs not in Flash, but in HTML. We are talking about Youtube encoding videos so they can be packed in HTML and not flash. We are talking much content coded in Java and not Flash.

Adobe is the king of high price development tools. They bought flash so they could include this powerful tool in their catalog. The problem is they continued to target Flash to advertisers, not developers or consumers. Flash has one and only one advantage over OSS. The lack of an off switch.

Adobes core business is not flash. (2)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565678)

I think flash was bought by adobe to keep control until the ris of flash could not harm them any more. Adobes core business are WYSIWYG Document systems, pdf creation, management and form server tools. There is no other integrated product suite like Adobes. You can design an excellent looking printable document which integrates well with online services.

IMHO Adobe buying flash was good for nothing else but preventing flash from becoming relevant in managing online form data.

Video (5, Informative)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565686)

IMHO, Flash lost its way when they added video support to it (around the time that Adobe bought Macromedia, as I recall). Before that, Flash was all about the vectors. (You could import bitmaps into it too, but they wouldn't scale well, so those were best used just for static background elements.) It was a way to do animation without pushing full pre-rendered frames down to the client: just describe the shapes then tell the player how to manipulate them. It provided a toolset to produce rich user interfaces that you couldn't even hope to dream of doing with (incompatible implementations of) HTML3 and Javascript, and even HTML4 with CSS can't pull off the same stuff today. The Flash plugin was a lean and efficient client, and close enough to being ubiquitous. Then they tacked video support onto it (which was all about pushing pre-rendered frames down to the client), and it became a video-player plugin (with vector support). The fact that people talk today about replacing Flash with a video codec shows how completely that added feature usurped the original functionality.

Re:Video (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565912)

If I could mod this comment up, I really would. I wrote the Flash3 player for the Sega Dreamcast, and it was (at that time) a decent lean & mean format. Macromedia's player wasn't suitable for embedded use, but the format itself was fine (they'd got too many C++ dependencies and system level dependencies for embedded systems of the time). The last version I actually implemented was Flash4, and at that point the format itself was all still relatively sane and manageable.

Re:Video (2)

rastilin (752802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566376)

So what you're saying is that their decision to add video support was a good call that cemented Flash's dominance for a number of years and enabled all kinds of new ideas to hit the market? Would that be a fair summary of your opinion? ;)

This is just terrible journalism (2)

dreamingwell (2472422) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565750)

Wow, this article is so full of misinformation...

"major platform vendors are increasingly encouraging developers to create rich applications not to be delivered via the browser, but as native, platform-based apps"

Adobe Flash can build both native iOS and Android apps today. Many of the top games in both the iTunes App store and Android Market are made with Flash.

"Perhaps Adobe's biggest problem, however, is that it's something of a relic as developer-oriented vendors go. How many people have access to the Flash runtime is almost a moot point, because Adobe doesn't make any money from the runtime directly; it gives it away for free. Adobe makes its money from selling developer tools. Given the rich supply of free, open source developer tools available today, vendors like that are few and far between. Remember Borland? Or Watcom?'"

Adobe Flash Builder is a plug-in to Eclipse! And Adobe's implementation of Flash Builder in Eclipse is one of the best plug-ins I've ever used. It's well featured, has lots of support and documentation, and works well on multiple platforms.

Re:This is just terrible journalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565998)

It's well featured, has lots of support and documentation, and works well on multiple platforms.

Then I guess you have never tried to build anything substantial with it. IMHO the Flash Builder Eclipse plugin has teething problems.
I often get temperamental compile problems with "ghost" like issues when building large projects.

Also, I have always found the component sets of flex to be a bloated pile of dog poo.

But hey.. dog turds pay my bills and always have.
If someone can make a dollar out of it someone will.

As long as the need exists... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37565776)

Flash hasn't lost its way. There is more reason now than ever before to have a cross-platform development tool. Flash hasn't quite gotten there yet on mobile, but its closer than anything else to that goal. If Adobe delivers that, Flash will be in good shape.

Re:As long as the need exists... (1)

djheru (1252580) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566324)

Right now, you can create a cross-platform app that runs on Windows, Mac, browser, iOS, Android, and the Blackberry Playbook using the Flex 4.5 sdk. They recently added the ability to use native extensions for Android and IOS. http://www.adobe.com/products/flex.html [adobe.com]

Couldnt help it, sorry (2)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 2 years ago | (#37565982)

Adobe lost its way when it decided to do stuff other then photoshop.

Adobe lost its way when they took a great new file format (pdf) and tried to add
so much more execution (javascript for one) inside, when all it needed to be was
a copyright protected document with no way to normally alter it.....

Adobe lost its way when ti came out with flash.

Adobe lost its way when they tried to deny their apps were faulty, and that
it was normal to find a 10 zero day exploits a week in your product.

Adobe's flop: obsession w/ inclusion at all costs (1)

JonathanF (532591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566010)

Part of why Adobe is struggling with Flash is its sense of entitlement.

The company believes not just that Flash is a good idea, but that you *must* adopt Flash. As-is. Without question. No matter how much it slows down your device, how it hurts battery life, how it affects the stability of whatever browser you're using (I know it's not nightmarish, but it's far from perfect). Oh, if you're making an Android phone, could you please make Flash a core part of any marketing you do, no matter how much it actually matters? Thanks!

And if you dare to omit Flash like Apple (and now Microsoft, partly), then you're an evil commie dictator who hates freedom and life itself. Just look at how John Dowdell and others from Adobe react to Apple, or how Android phone and tablet makers are practically forced to parrot Adobe's line of how you're not getting the "full web" unless you use their third-party plugin. Never mind that HTML5 lets me AirPlay a video to my TV where you can't do that with a Flash video on any other platform.

This wouldn't be a problem except that Adobe hasn't really addressed many of the underlying problems, and I'm not sure if it entirely can. Hardware acceleration is good, but when a Galaxy S II or an Optimus Pad (both dual-core devices) can still choke on a moderately sized piece of Flash, that's a problem. It's also still very common to hear of Flash crashing things or of security holes specific to it... when Apple, Google, and Mozilla design sandboxing code specifically because of the problems your plugin creates, that should tell you that you're doing something wrong.

Please stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37566118)

Stop posting Neil McAllister stories, he is a fuckin idiot. I'm sure he submit his own stories himself to generate traffic on his stupid site. Please stop!

Its just the industry moving on... (2)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566122)

"Despite early successes on the Web, the latter years of Flash have been a tale of missed opportunities,

Not surprising, when the Next Big Things are smartphones and tablets, and - of the two leading platforms - iOS refuses to support Flash at all, and Android has very patchy support (I recently did an unscientific test in Best Buy and although several of the Android tablets claimed to support Flash, only the Xoom actually opened my Flash applet).

One of the key lessons from failure of the original windows "tablet" PCs, the failure of the original EEE PC "Netbook" concept (subsequent "netbooks" have been more and more like entry-level laptops) and the rise of the iDevices has been that phones and tablets need custom-designed software that matches the native UI. That's why Microsoft hasn't been able to Borg the mobile market: the killer apps (Office/Outlook) which help it to dominate the desktop (on PC and Mac) are worthless on mobiles without a ground-up rewrite. Flash has a similar problem: even if your tablet does run Flash, many "legacy" Flash apps just won't work with a touch interface or, if they do, are too fiddly to operate on a tiny screen.

However, "HTML5" (i.e. all, some or fewer of HTML5/CSS3/ECMAScript/DOM/SVG/WebGL/whatever) is only just approaching maturity - so there could be a move back from native Apps to webapps (given they can be made almost indistinguishable from Native on iOS/Android). Amazon have already produced a webapp version of the Kindle reader (to get around Apple's rules on in-app sales).

Flash player itself is probably on the way out - for better or worse "HTML5" will probably take over, especially with Microsoft taking that road with Win 8. However, Adobe has a great opportunity: there's a great gap in the market for something like Flash Professional which can "publish" to HTML5, or even iOS/Android native code. It may not be the programmer's choice, but for certain types of app (e.g. relatively simple educational applets, or casual games) its a killer. Flash player dying doesn't have to hurt Adobe much.

Not that I'm a huge fan of Adobe's current bloatware offerings, but I don't currently see anything like Flash for HTML5 applet authoring...

Re:Its just the industry moving on... (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566332)

but I don't currently see anything like Flash for HTML5 applet authoring

ISTR hearing about Adobe having HTML5 export options.

Remember Borland.... (1)

Gramie2 (411713) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566234)

Actually, Borland's tools (Delphi, C++ Builder, etc.) are still there and they have just released a new version [embarcadero.com] that allows development for Windows (32- and 64-bit, finally), OSX, and iOS. Called Firemonkey, it looks pretty exciting. Android targetting is promised soon.

Is /. Now Owned by the Corps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37566260)

In the last few months - this article included - it seems like most of the main articles on /. seem to be sneaky PR ways of pushing ideas from the corps themselves. Was /. ever pure?

Netcraft now confirms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37566264)

Flash is dying.

Adobe had their chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37566366)

They sat on PDF, Displaypostcript, Shockwave and flash... they couldn't see how to do business with their technologies outside of the traditional model the were originally devised for.

In particular, Adobe had almost 10 years to propose flash as a universal standard for the future of HTML and did nothing.

Say what you want about Apple, but Steve Jobs was right on the mark when he said that flash is/was the problem for the next generation devices...
the cost ( cpu& electricity ) for what you get was simply not worth it for the emerging mobile world.

Just think what they could have done with DisplayPS and DisplayPDF if it had been fully implemented for Windows ( beyond what exists in OS X )
An actual Display driver based on the fundamentals of PDF. Completely scaleable, unfixed resolution diaplys.

People used to laugh at me back in the day ( 1998 I think it was ) when I said that I thought eventually a format like PDF would take over what HTML does today... it's just so much more advanced and the only issue was bandwidth.

Now imagine a beast that is a combination of all the best elements of PS/PDF, Flash, and html. Adobe could have done this. If they had, they'd be riding high right now.

Steve Jobs's Fault (0)

alcmaeon (684971) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566424)

Clearly, the premises of the article are wrong.

P1: Flash sucks.

P2: Adobe has an outdated business model.

P3: Developers are abandoning Flash.

------

C: It's all Steve Jobs's fault.

Having been a long time /. reader, I know that the conclusion is supposed to be that it's all Steve Job's fault, but I'm having a hard time reaching that conclusion from the stated premises. Therefore, I conclude that the premises are wrong.

Flash Professional is $700 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37566530)

All you need to develop in HTML5 with JavaScript is a text editor and a browser.

Yes, I'm aware that your $700 buys you a slick dev environment, and that for some people, the $700 pays for itself.

But to a small shop or a kid in his bedroom playing around, that's a serious barrier to entry. The next generation of cool web stuff will be done without Flash.

Im tired of hate-flash stories in Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37566566)

Flash never failed. Check the f&&&& web - its full of flash banners.
Its full of flash games. Its full of flash video.

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