Category Archives: RIA

Adobe Flash – Brave Fold

In poker, a brave fold would be a case where you have a strong hand and you are already committed to the pot (you’ve already put in some substantial amount of money), even so, you sense that your opponent might have a stronger hand and you fold – losing your strong hand and the pot. Staying in the game would have required you to danger even more money, maybe too much.

Adobe was in similar situation, it has a very strong hand – Adobe Flash, and has already committed a lot of money on this loss leader. But staying in the game would have required them to put even much more money/resources on it. They would have to be fully committed, they would have to be “all-in”, borrowing from poker again. They could have end up winning the hand but if they will lose they can be out of the game completely.

We should have all known that the iOS will never run Flash. It’s almost like Steve Jobs last words were “exterminate the Flash” – similar to the hate Genghis Khan had for the Tatars when he ordered  “the extermination of the Tata Mongols

In retrospect, seems like wasting all that resources on porting Flash for the mobile was good only for Adobe and us in the Flash crowed to be able to give Steve and the other mongers the finger, telling them – see, Flash runs well on the mobile! It was supposed to be obvious that Flash will never rich similar ubiquity on the mobile as on the desktop. Than again, everything is easier in retrospect.

There are many reasons why Flash succeeded where 1,000 other plugins failed. And it’s also amazing how a relatively small corporate like Adobe managed to be in front of much bigger competitors, Microsoft with it’s buckets of money and Sun with it’s Java Java Proxy Proxy, to name only two.

I’m just sick of layman’s that are quoting laymen’s that are quoting a reporter that quotes another reporter that quote “someone who knows” that quote anther one that “really knows” – it’s like that game, what’s is name?! The other day I’ve heard from someone who should have known better that – “lake of multithreading killed Flash” – you’ve probably heard that BS before, yep it’s total BS. Add that to the many other miss-consumptions people make regarding this issue and it piles to a big pile of sh<bip>it. I wonder how many of these laymen’s knows the hassle of cross browser HTML development?!

So, congrats on the brave fold Adobe, with the right hand I solute you. On the other hand I’d say f*ck you big proprietary beast, how dare you stab so many people in the back.

Flash vs HTML5 vs Adobe vs Apple

Disclaimer: I’ve written this post a few days weeks ago when I was a bit pissed, so it has some ranting-ness in it. I do have a soft side for Flash, but, as I said before – technologies never cry, and I will use whatever is the best for the job.

The last buzz about “Flash is dead” really came out of proposition. All of these blind followers, blood-thirsty, warmongers that never seen an HTML tag or know what each these technologies can do, worshiping their new king HTML5, and are just shouting “we conquer video”, “kill kill”…

The fact that the colorful-kindle /slash/ enlarged-and-disabled-iPhone doesn’t have Flash, is important, but the reactions are completely exaggerated. I think Adobe should have stayed nonchalant about it which could might have lowered the flames. Anyhow, it’s easier to say in retrospect.

(Flash) Power to the people:

If you look at the short history. Flash enabled utterly amazing things on the web in times when static-ness and ugliness ruled. The problem is that it was too easy to create. All of a sudden un-capable people could have created “amazing” things. The fact that Flash could be abused so easily is part of what make some people hate it.

You can expect for HTML5 to be abused if it’ll be as accessible as Flash. That means, if tools like the Flash IDE and others will enable publishing to HTML5. Than again you can expect it to abuse either way.

RT @iainlobb “Flash developers of the world: unite and make terrible HTML5 banner ads that grind CPUs and crash, just to show that the grass isn’t greener”

The fact that things can be done differently doesn’t necessary mean it will. Most of what Flash can do, can be done long ago using Javascript and HTML (old buzzwords omitted). Actually Flash and Javascript developers can relatively easy switch, since the languages were almost the same on the older versions of Actionscript. Even the glitches were copied from JS. And anyway the main thing that matter is thinking interactively, like a Flasher do. With HTML5, the capabilities of the two technologies are even closer. But, the challenges of developing complex Javascript application are sill far greater, It’s still  the same old language, more error prone and more difficult to architect. I don’t see how an online game developer, for example, will want to develop her games using HTML5. In fact I’ve yet seen a decent, non experimental, online game written in Javascript.

To think that all of a sudden Flash will disappear, is nonsense.

RT @leebrimelow “You all better head immediately over to the FWA and check out your favorite Flash work. It may all be converted to HTML 5 by the morning.”

Even if we declare Flash as dead today, it’ll be a very lengthy process measured in years at best. And since, yet again, Flash isn’t dead yet. It has all this time to reinvent itself, Adobe should use this time wisely.

If you tell me you don’t use Flash, you’re basically telling me that you have never seen a video or played a game online?!
How about a nice colorful animation, or maybe neatly looking fonts done in sIFR, than you must install Flash and start experiencing the web.

Apple and the sealed garden:

There is something annoying about Apple arrogance, but, I have to say that what almost killed Apple in the past, is what making it so successful right now. More than 20 years ago when apple wanted to control everything on her PC (yeah right it’s called Mac) most users were savvy users who wanted full power. Usability, reliability and all of these great things Apple invented weren’t as important. Today is the grandpa era where consistent quality is a key.

Steve Jobs is so convincing that I almost believed him that he disallow Flash on the iPad to protect grandpa from a crashed browser – but I don’t. No one will deny that Flash has some issues, but it’s an integral part of the current web and wouldn’t be as such if it was just causing the browser to crash. Click-to-active could have been used to solve all of the real and unreal Flash issues.

Robert N. Lee “If somebody wants you to give up what you’ve got now in exchange for the promise of something way, way better later, you’re being screwed and not in a good way. This is pretty basic.”

Flash on the iPhone, for example, would enable full VOIP applications to run from the web-browser (i.e. ribbit). Google voice iPhone application , could have leverage it instead of just allowing cheap callbacks. Allowing this kind of freedom is unthinkable for Apple.

But Apple might be loosing it, again they want too much. Apple moved from making computers for a very small niche market of mainly tree huggers. To a very powerful and successful company reinventing the smart phone market completely. Again it might blow in her face, Google might come and bite you with her don’t be evil bullshit ;)

BTW, grandpa don’t want multitasking either, thumbs-up for that as well, Apple (no pun intended).

Adobe is evil too:

I still remember how many many years ago Adobe asked you to snitch on your friends that uses pirated software, and by doing so, to become Robin Hood. Yeah you heard it, this was their fight on pirated software. It’s OK to fight piracy but, how is that comply with the original story?! After reading the article about the old management I can see where it might came from.

RT @aral: “Remember that Adobe was on the edge of irrelevancy on the web and non-existent in mobile when they bought Macromedia.”

The question, “should we support Adobe and her proprietary Flash instead of the open standards?”, is somewhat misleading. Adobe is a big girl she should take care of her own. The question is – can they really make it? can they really reinvent Flash and the web yet again?

The idea that everything that is open is immediately good, is also misleading. There’re a lot of financial interests in openness. Many companies base their business model over open-source and openness. Preaching for open standards doesn’t immediately make you a saint.

Adobe might be an heavy/old corp, after our hard earn money. But, I can tell you, it does seems like they do have some nice, talented and community aware people when it comes to Flash. And compared to Apple, Adobe is like the Shangri-La of openness.

The last  bash against Flash might help to push Adobe to polish the player, if Adobe can afford putting even more resource on it. Either way it won’t be on the iStuff.

Yeah, but, HTML 5 is a standard and not a proprietary black box like Flash:

We all know users don’t care about the format, they just want the experience. Believe it or not, developers don’t care much either, they just want the power to get the best result, in our case power is IDE and runtime. The pain of delivering a truly cross-browser HTML is not something to be desired. Flash is still the best way to deliver rich interactive ubiquity.

And besides, HTML 5 may be a standard, but you’ll still be running it in a proprietary runtime, the browser.

The browser wasn’t chosen to be the ultimate way to deliver new and cool applications because of it’s wonderful capabilities. It became as such because it’s the lowest common denominator. Maybe it’s time for a better lowest common, Flash was a step in the right direction, maybe we’ll be better with something more powerful like Steam. Actually the browser was also “chosen” because it’s very easy to create content for it.

For the developers, I don’t think it really matter which technology to use. All these idiots developers who couldn’t handle Flash and are now gloating and think they will be able to easily create beautiful interactive content – all will be disappointed. (you know who you are, yeah I meant you personally ;) )

Thing are prone to change relatively quickly in our times. The only fact that I can squeeze out of this, is that Flash is still the prominent force of interactive-ness on the web and will remain as such in the foreseeable future for sure.

HTML 5 vs Flash vs SilverLight

This is by no mean a full technical comparison between these technologies, just a chat between 2 geeks. One is a skeptic backend dude ;) and the other one is yours truly, a GUI guy.

It started with an email from Eli (the backend dude)  titled “the Next big thing”?

Elihttp://www.chromeexperiments.com/ , RIP Flash. Long live HTML 5 + JavaScript.

Guy: This is old…  Let me know when Chrome will reach 99% of desktop computers.

Eli:  HTML 5 is old? LOL.  FYI, despite the fact that the spec is far from being finalized, browsers with sparks of HTML 5 support count among them ie8, ff3, opera and safari.

Guy:  Old news, that is.  HTML 5 is only started to get supported.   HTML 5 + Javascript has a small subset of what Flash 10 can offer.  By the time HTML 5 will be a standard Flash 12 will reach 90%

Eli:  Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard the same thing about java applets about a decade ago… ;)  Seems like the simplicity of markup languages makes them the long distance runners

Guy:  Exactly, Flash has succeeded where Java failed. Flash has a lot of issues, but currently (and in the few coming years for sure) it’s the most powerful and available runtime.  HTML + Javascript is far from simple and cause huge problems for complex applications.

Eli:  Flash is mostly used to fill gaps in HTML, not to solve the huge problems in the complex applications the web is made of, isn’t it?

Guy:  This is what Adobe aim to solve with Flash, to be the ultimate platform for creating and running RIA (Rich Internet Applications). Still, a lot of RIAs are written in AJAX (Javascript+HTML), which, with the aid of solid and powerful frameworks like jQuery become reasonable in some cases. Lately Google, which already have a lot of RIA tools, is trying to change the game with its Chrome browser and OS. The Chrome browser is equipped with a much faster JavaScript engine that enables what we can see in chromeexperiments.com. Microsoft is also trying to be a player in this space with its new SilverLight runtime.

Eli:  Yet, the idea of basing the web on some proprietary browser plug in is doubtable. Epic fall of java applets and endless annoying ActiveX bullshit are just a couple of examples. IMHO, the shortcoming of this approach is missing the idea that The Web is more than “screenfuls of text and graphics” ©. Layout engines, however, are here for more than a decade and markup languages – for ages, proving themselves in taking the web into the places no one was thinking then about.

P.S. The only thing Adobe aims is profit.

P.P.S. I love holy wars.

Guy:  The proprietary thing is indeed an issue, it prevents Flash from being accepted in some areas of the web and by some users. E.g. the Wikipedia video project uses HTML 5 video, they can’t use anything that is closed. What prevents Flash from being open-sourced is that it contain 3rd party patent not owned by Adobe. Adobe is already trying to appeal to the open source crowed with the opening of some of its IP http://opensource.adobe.com. IMHO they might completely open the Flash runtime if and when it’ll be pushed to the wall by Microsoft and its new SilveLight (talking about proprietary ;).

Java and Active-X are completely different stories, each had its own reason to fail. Partially and shortly, it is too difficult to create a Java applet and its far from appealing to a designer. Active-x has no sandbox, hence it has a lot of security issues, and also runs only in IE.

HTML was created to display text and images with basic layout, Javascript was added to enable simple interactivity, no one dreamt it can be used the way it’s done today. Only with the maturity of the browsers and with specialization of web developers, these king of RIAs could have been created. Yet it still pushes the tech to it limits.

The HTML 5 standard will be adopted relatively fast, but we’re still talking in years. Even with the Chrome JS engine (V8), Javascript can’t match the power of languages like Actionscript 3.0 and C#. Javascript 2 is somewhere in the very distant future. HTML 5 biggest improvement is the support for media (video/audio). But, it still can’t compete with Flash and SilverLight media abilities, in terms of playback and deployment.

HTML 5 is nice but the main holy war is between the reigning RIA world champion which is Adobe Flash and the challenger which is Microsoft SilverLight. There is much to be loved about this holy war, since it pushes the technologies forward and the biggest winners are us, the developers and the users.

(I’m talking about hard-core RIA, not some lightbox image gallery which is still preferably done in HTML)

P.S.  Adobe isn’t a saint, but, everyone want to make some profit, even google, even us as I recall ;) If you gain it morally and also use it to make something like the web better, than it’s fine with me. 

P.S.S aforementioned.

Mysteries Flash exploit is hijacking the clipboard?

Update: Adobe Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) has referred to this “Clipboard attack”

Update 2: Aviv Raff has updated me about the fact that it won’t be that easy to replicate this attack using Javascript on the latest browsers and with the default security settings. Thanx.

Lately there were some rumors about a mysteries Flash exploit that is hijacking the users clipboard and will always fill it with a URL to some malicious website, no matter what you’ll copy to the clipboard it’ll will always paste the same URL. This malicious website will ask you to download a fake anti-virus. It’s also been mentioned in some places that in order to clear this behavior you’ll have to restart your machine.

But is it really an exploit, a bug in the Flash player that let the attacker demolish the users clipboard until restart?! From what I’ve seen so far it’s not an exploit and no restart is needed, it’s just a bad use of a Flash and JavaScript feature. Both of these allow a valid script to write text to the user’s clipboard. I’m surprised that only now this questionable feature is starting to get abused. The abusing code is probably residing in some Flash AD, in one of the user tabs and consistently rewriting the clipboard.

Although this attack can be done using simple JavaScript, Flash it the right vessel for this kind of attacks. I think that, encapsulating attacks inside RIA code, mainly Flash and SilverLight, is just starting to gain attention and will become a major security issue. I have some other examples which I attend to write about soon.

Adobe to incorporate Voice-to-Text capabilities into Flash Video. SEO Video?

Update: via The Universal Desktop, it’s getting closer.

Before you’ll get too enthusiastic, it’s not like the next Flash Player will get a real-time Voice-to-Text engine. Instead, Adobe is working on tools to automatically transcribe the speech from a video and embed it into that video metadata when it’s published as FLV (Flash Video). Probably not something that you can’t already, painfully, do manually with the current FLV and it’s metadata. The key point here is simplicity.

This can be used, for example, to easily create subtitles for our videos. But, the main goal of this technology is to let search engines index video content and even deep link into a video relevant time.

Personally I’d prefer a native real-time engine inside the player that weights only 50kb, but, this is also nice :)

http://www.beet.tv/2008/07/huge-adobe-read.html

Adobe fight fire with fire

Recently Adobe has been needing to deal with a massive force attacking its main domain of dominance, we can call this domain – the highly interactive web or RIA. I don’t refer to Microsoft SilverLight which is supposed to compete with Adobe Flash on the same ground, but to the brutal MS marketing machine. This machine can make every boy and girl blindly recite fallacious facts and numbly say things like “Yeah, but, SilverLight is search engine optimized”.

It took Adobe some time to understand what it is dealing with, and I think I’ve noticed a change in their PR brutality lately, generating big PR out of small things.

This last SEO announcement from Adobe, which claim that Flash will be more searchable by search engines, might have some substance in it, as opposed to the similar one from Microsoft, but, it’s still mainly a marketing battle. I just hope it doesn’t take too many resources out of the real development of the products.

Google were probably working on their own humanoid crawler that has a broader vision then just the Flash Player and can work with any RIA applications even if its written in AJAX or SilverLight. Apparently searching and indexing RIA is not an easy thing to achieve, and it doesn’t seem that even google has managed to do it yet.

The main problem of indexing Flash websites or any other RIA website, is to understand the context of the data and then link to it directly, aka deep linking. The fact that google can now read the text from within Flash even better then it did before, don’t yet solve that problem.

Even so, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be optimistic, and there is a possibility that this will improved the indexing of Flash content. We’ll have to wait and see.