Flash Goes Open Screen
Erik Olson, Former Viget
Adobe made a surprisingly big but long speculated announcement about a new project called the Open Screen Project for Flash. This announcement is fairly significant and hopes to ensure the future of Flash and its new AIR apps.
What is this project all about?
Flash, right now, does not maintain a consistent runtime environment deployed across all devices. This means the Flash experience can vary across different devices or 'screens'. In other words, it may not look and act the same on your mobile device, TV, or PC (PC being the most consistently high-quality experience). Through the project, however, Adobe hopes to achieve a more consistent experience across all screens.
To do this, Adobe has taken a few major steps:
- The SWF/FLV format no longer requires license agreements. It will be free for companies to include in their devices, which makes it a much more attractive investment and will allow for a wider adoption across all devices.
- Adobe will openly publish a porting API for developers so the player can be brought to almost any device.
- They are removing restrictions on use of the SWF and FLV/F4V specifications so developers can now create their own third-party Flash players.
- They are asking for cooperation with companies across the web to allow automatic updates like they have in the PC environment to all devices. On most devices, especially mobile, the Flash player cannot be updated. With the rate of change in technology, the player on your device can be obsolete in a matter of months if it’s not capable of being upgraded.
I think Adobe is getting it right. By allowing open access, they are making it easier for companies to include Flash in pretty much anything: mobile devices, car dashboard displays, iPods (doubt it, but possible in the future) ... you name it.
Also, by following the open-source philosophy, they are encouraging rapid innovation of the player; hopefully ensuring the existence of Flash and its new AIR technology for a very long time.