Flash — Aha — Savior of the Universe


Adobe Drops Licensing Fees, Gives Away Flash For Devices | Compiler from Wired.com

Well, maybe Queen was overstating it a bit. It’s not even Savior of the Web3D just yet. But Adobe is making some very important moves this month. First was the news that Flash — the format — will be opened to anyone, royalty free. Adobe will make its money off the development tools, not servers and license fees. The code may or may not be opened as well. There was some talk of donating the JIT compiler code to the Mozilla foundation.

Second, they’ve put out a pre-release version of Flash 10, which contains native 3D rendering. Download and try out the demos.

What this means is that companies who already put their eggs in the Flash basket for delivering 3D to the web have been fairly well vindicated, vs. the ones that painfully went with their own proprietary ActiveX controls and whatnot.

Will Flash 10 be as fast as compiled C++ code? Not a chance. But for pushing lots of polygons, it won’t matter as much anymore, as long as we can send big vertex arrays in one call (let’s not ask about physics and simulation though) — the card does all the work. I’ll be curious to see if they allow shaders and therefore GPGPU code, but that’s a side point right now.

The key thing is, if you want to deliver a 3D app to the most number of customers without a new download and install, Flash is certainly an attractive option, especially compared to Java and Silverlight. If it becomes part of the browser, as I expect in the next few years, even more so.

  1. #1 by Yu-kai Chou on May 26, 2008 - 9:34 am

    Thanks for the informative post! Is this move by Adobe a direct response to Microsoft’s Silverlight? From what I heard, people who tried to program with Silverlight enjoy the process much thoroughly than flash, but flash’s advantage is the market penetration. Adobe possibly wants to continue to hone in on this market penetration rate by making it free for everyone. What do you think?

  2. #2 by avi on May 26, 2008 - 10:20 am

    I think that’s probably true, Yu-Kai. Flash’s appeal is its ubiquity. Microsft’s issue, as always. is lock-in, regardless of whatever else they offer. I don’t know why they don’t seem to understand that they’d be stronger if they were truly cross platform and simply had the better OS and apps to keep people loyal. The lock-in argument is one of weakness, not strength.

    But I think you also have to consider the iPhone’s lack of Flash as a reason for Adobe to open up a bit. It’s a huge world, and computers are now fast enough to suffer the extra layers of indirection to start realizing a network OS on top of the device OS — and Flash wants to be that layer.

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