On Flash Crash and Sublime HTML5 Video Clash

iPhone SDK: Smashing Flash Rumors

We all know by now there's no Flash on the iPhone or iPod touch, and it doesn't look like there'll be Flash on the iPad, which is probably why Adobe's Chief Technology Officer fired off an impassioned defense of the plugin, while a software engineer shows how a still-unfixed bug crashes it, and the first full on HTML5 video player concept makes its debut.

First up, Adobe CTO, Kevin Lynch has posted a full throated defense of Flash on his Adobe Blog and in a follow up comment notes:

Regarding crashing, I can tell you that we don't ship Flash with any known crash bugs, and if there was such a widespread problem historically Flash could not have achieved its wide use today.

How does this reconcile with Apple CEO, Steve Jobs saying something along the lines of "Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash"? TUAW draws our attention to Matthew Dempsky who found a bug that causes Flash to crash in Safari and Chrome, and Firefox to crash completely. And Adobe hasn't fixed it some 16 months later... Dempsky has created http://flashcrash.dempsky.org/ to demonstrate (remember, it will crash Firefox completely!), and says:

This page exploits a bug that I reported to Adobe in September 2008, and has affected every release of Flash on every platform since then. Despite numerous email exchanges with the Flash product manager about the bug, the bug report being hidden from the public for "security" reasons, and [although] Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch's claims otherwise, it continues to be an issue. [...] I'm just a software engineer who at one time had to deal with Adobe's sorry excuse for a development platform and made an earnest effort on several occasions at helping them improve it for everyone. (This issue is merely the tip of the iceberg of ridiculous bugs and random backwards and forwards incompatibilities known as Adobe's Flash Player plug-in.)

TUAW makes the case that Adobe's been resting on their de facto-standard laurels.

Daring Fireball, meanwhile links to SublimeVideo, the first (to our knowledge) full on HTML5 and JavaScript alternative video player. It's still early days, of course, but it works without a plugin, doesn't buffer until you tell it to, and lets you jump to any point in the video with fairly robust controls -- and more to come.

(And Gruber also notes that MPEG LA, owners of H.264, the proprietary codec used by Apple's gear and online in Safari, Chrome, and Flash -- but not in Firefox -- have announced it will remain without charge for free-to-end-user video through 2016)

Lynch, and former Macromedia Flash MX co-creator, Jeremy Allaire on TechCrunch, make valid points that HTML5 can't replace Flash and that Adobe works really hard on both.

In an ideal world, however, perhaps HTML5 can relieve Flash of some of the duties for which it's unsuited, give us back a lighter, cleaner, faster web overall, and let Flash and Adobe concentrate on those tasks for which there is no Flash alternative -- complex data visualizations, for example.

(And we'd also appreciate it if Flash stopped allowing websites to abuse local settings by storing "cookies" on our system -- okay Adobe?)

[via TUAW, Daring Fireball">Daring Fireball]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

On Flash Crash and Sublime HTML5 Video Clash


Well, I've defended Flash in various threads, but I've had problems. Flash runs on every desktop -- but runs the best on Windows. Mac support is useable but not as good as Windows, and Linux versions are simply dreadful.

Whether apple or TIPB likes it or not. Flash will be the market leader for years to come. Even with HTML 5 on the horizon.

Well concerning the Linux version, I've been running a full on 64bit version of flash (albeit alpha) that works great and as far as I know it's the only 64 bit os that has a native running app.

Infact, Flash will grow. Soon it will be o. Android, black Berry, and Webos handsets. A combined sum of over 100,000,000 phones. Apple can't stop that. Sorry guys! So if you want REAL internet. You need Flash. If you don't support flash, you do t support the internet.

I could be the only person in the world who was happy that the iPad doesn't have Flash. I realize that Flash won't be going away for a long time, but I'm hoping this makes more websites stop using it, or at least provide usable alternatives. In general, the more Flash-heavy a site is, the less time I spend there.

I have to agree with Muero...I'm glad there's no flash on the iPad...any site that uses flash for content (menus and stuff like that, I can live with) gets put in my blacklist to never be visited again.

Oh, and as far as "the internet"...flash not only the internet...it's a (crashy) part of the data delivery system called the web...which is not the internet either. So...people need to learn to use flash and not abuse it.

Updated to include MPEG LA announcement that H.264 will remain fee-less for free-to-end-user use through 2016, and with the link Fassy shared about why Mozilla is philosophically opposed to using H.264 in Firefox.

I doubt that will (or should) change Mozilla's mind. If you read the agreement, it applies only those those who serve internet video for free -- in other words, h264 will be free for you serving your own videos on the internet, but not if you distribute DVDs. Even on the internet, Major League Baseball has to purchase a license to encode, as will broadcasters, wedding video producers, and everybody else who charges for video. Ads are not mentioned one way or another, but it is hard to see content providers eager to jump on board that, especially if the fee structure may change in 2016.
More specifically from Mozilla's point of view, the original h264 license terms also held downstream viewers liable; if a provider encoded something without a license, and you viewed it, you could be required to purchase a license, as a viewer. That point was not addressed in the recent MPEG-LA license change at all, and I suspect that part is as big, if not bigger, a sticking point to the Mozilla foundation.

Firefox didn't crash for me.
Sure the Flash window quit, but Firefox soldiered on, without a problem.
Firefox 3.6, OpenSuse 11.2 64bit.

@Fassy, understood, that's why I included the link on why Firefox feels the way they do, which is a perfectly reasonable point of view to me.

I'm with the "no flash" side.
I don't want flash ads, flash menus are annoying as hell on any desktop, and Flash crashes my browsers ALL THE TIME! Adobe is full of chit.

I remember when Pocket PC (currently known as Windows Mobile) users started making noise about Flash back around 2003 before we even had smartphones and I couldn't understand why then. I personally don't care about Flash and only this past year or so is Flash even beginning to appear on mobile devices because it doesn't work right on them in the first place.
Flash is not the "real internet", it's just a vehicle for content delivery on the internet that uses to much CPU cycles, allows unauthorized cookies to be installed on a PC (any OS), is abused by web designers and takes to long to load in some cases. For those who want Flash on their mobile devices, understand that just because it will run Flash doesn't mean it will display the page. To this day there is still not a single smartphone that will display every web page properly. Anyway it seems that since many who don't know any better want Flash will get it and eventually find out that outside of being able to play a Flash-based games, seeing a few pretty animations and play some videos that they are not missing anything else or getting anything more worthwhile except for shortened battery like that those who don't use Flash won't get.
In any case Flash will be around for the foreseeable future as Adobe is not going to let it go lightly; but some of those ignorant statements by the CEO needs to stop along with the lashing out at Apple. If Adobe truly had a good product and everyone knew it, it would speak for itself but obviously Adobe feels threatened and rightfully so. The iPhone is the most popular phone since the Motorola RAZR, because people are willingly paying for it without it going on a buy 1 get 1 free sale like other phones do. Adobe sees this and realizes that the only way they can strengthen their hold in the internet space is to get on all Apple's iPhone OS-based devices. Since that appears to not be happening in the foreseeable future Adobe has chosen to simply make a lot of noise in hopes of scaring Apple into doing so. If Flash was actually an internet standard and worked really well and not just standard practice it might have made it onto the iPhone but since it's not Adobe should just take their loses and move along quietly. They have other products that that are truly important and necessary for many people.

So Matt R, that's a beta product which mainly focuses on x86 netbooks running MS Windows...
That's relevant to an ARM based devices running iPhoneOS ; how exactly?

Just on a factual basis , there is an alternative to Flash for complex visualization. It isn't widely used and the startup time is a killer, but JavaFX does work on lots of machines with no install and produces some pretty cool results.

The problem with HTML5 video tag it's that it doesn't support any kind of DRM or protecctions, it delivers clean video and you can download it so it's useless for providers like Hulu et al.

Adobe has ARM versions of flash in the works, and actually ARM is helping them with it. ( http://tinyurl.com/6ysv63 ) I would expect a decent ARM beta early to mid this year. Of course, not an iPhone one, but Adobe cannot (officially) move that way without Apple's blessing, which Apple will not give.

h264 has one undeniable advantage over theora -- h264 hardware decoders already exist in mobile devices, mainly the iPod/iPhone line. Apple is never going to change there.
Theora (the codec Mozilla currently favors) has one undeniable advantage for producers -- its license just says "use it, wherever you want, however you want, for free." In contrast, the h264 license is confusing, risky, costly, and totally at odds with web standards. Mozilla is never going to change there.
Interestingly, Apple's statement on those same principles is ( http://www.apple.com/about/w3c/ ):
"After careful consideration of the draft patent policy, Apple believes that it is essential to continued interoperability and development of the Web that fundamental W3C standards be available on a royalty-free basis. In line with the W3C’s mission to “lead the Web to its full potential,” Apple supports a W3C patent policy with an immutable commitment to royalty-free licensing for fundamental Web standards. Apple offers this statement in support of its position."
However, later in the same document they state that companies need exclusions for their own IP, which seems like Apple is trying to have it both ways. The solution is at the end of Apple's statement:
"While the current draft patent policy does state a “preference” for royalty-free standards, the ready availability of a RAND option presents too easy an alternative for owners of intellectual property who may seek to use the standardization process to control access to fundamental Web standards. A mandatory royalty-free requirement for all adopted standards will avoid this result."
The problem is that Apple, and the W3C, have punted on the issue of video codecs being a fundamental standard, which seems illogical -- without at least a codec is nonfunctional, so a fundamental baseline codec should be part of the standard. Without one, you can have W3C-standard browsers that cannot serve content in W3C-standard compliant pages -- a situation with black boxes that is little better than ActiveX or Flash. In other words, you have a worthless standard.
Apple holds all the cards here. They have the cash on hand, they have the clout both within MPEG-LA and within the W3C, and they have the investment in hardware to protect. With one stroke of the pen, they could start the process that would entrench h264 as the preferred video format for the internet for at least the next decade. Killing flash would be little more than a happy side effect for Apple.

Are these flash articles just to stir up the Anti Flash and Pro Flash commenters? I can't even read these comments anymore. It's just a rehash of old trash.
Flash isn't coming to the iPhone or iPad. Topic OVER...

P.S. I could click the Nexus One ad at the top of Tipb.com and get a Flash enabled phone, and at least Tipb would get some click through revenue...

the point "pro flash" people make is having the option. On the pre flash will be available for free through the app catalog. If you want it you download it if you don't then obviously don't download it. Why not give the consumer a choice.

Hi Rene, there's some more info the "crash" citation, posted late Saturday:http://blogs.adobe.com/emmy/archives/2010/02/flashbugrepor.html
If you're interested in the use of local storage (whether by sites you visit or the third-party content they host), then Adobe just filed a statement with the FTC on that, and there's also been progress on browser integration for privacy settings:http://www.brafton.com/industry-news/adobe-slams-use-flash-cookies-seo-t...$1357341.htmhttp://www.adobe.com/devnet/flashplayer/articles/privacymodefp10.1.html

I use HTML5 version of YOUTUBE .. and it has a hard time going to the exact spot on the video... at its current state HTML5 sucks..
but I"m sure in 3 years or so .. it'll be ready for prime time.. and probably taking over in 5 years..
the problem is in the meantime .. Apple Iphone and Ipad owners will have a horrible browsing experience..

@ Jerry
maybe it's just me but my iPhone browsing experience has been nothing near horrible. I guess I don't miss all the intrusive ads that bring the browser to a grinding halt......

No kidding! I actually prefer my phone for browsing over my desktop or laptop. Stable, secure, and no flash ads!
Maybe Jerry has never actually used an iPhone yet?
Poor guy.

@The real truth
Be careful what you wish for. Flash ads blow, but Flash, at least, is easily blocked...
What, you think advertisers are going to stop trying to intrude when one tool is taken away?

Yes advertisers use different methods...so far though none of them get in my way as much as the flash variety.....you are right though....flash is easily blocked, which is a good thing

saying that flash will remain the leader always, is like saying pre-iPhone launch in 2007 that Nokia will remain the largest phonemaker forever... :P

The problem I have with no flash on the iphone is there are certain websites you cannot visit because the main page is completely flash. No way around it unless you know its link address and then you have to hopw its not all flash too.
I dont need flash ads or games, but I do need to have access to any website on the net now, not later.