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Adobe Flashes open credentials for RIA

AIR on an iPhone

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AJAXWorld Adobe Systems' technology chief has made a play for open-source hearts and minds with Flash Player and AIR.

Chief technology officer Kevin Lynch cited moves this year to make Flash Player more palatable to open source while pointing to the imminent release of AIR 1.5 and HTML 5 tags to run Flash video consistently in different browsers as evidence Adobe is playing its in improving support for rich-internet applications (RIAs) in tools, frameworks, and browsers.

He said there was a lot more to be done in the industry to further RIAs, in terms of make them cheaper to build and delivering "better user experiences."

Lynch told AJAX developers Flash is "open" because it uses Tamarin, the ActionScript Virtual Machine that the company contributed to Mozilla in November 2006 and that came with Flash Player 9.

He also pointed to the lifting of licensing restrictions in May this year for Flash Player Shockwave Flash (SWF) and FLV/F4V that potential lets people build their own versions of Player.

Of course, Adobe's own Flash Player has not been open sourced, which has limited Google's use of the player outside of YouTube and has caused tensions.

"For a while there was a licensing agreement around the specification that said you could do what you wanted except build your own player," Lynch said. "There are [now] no conditions around using SWF." He said Adobe would try to differentiate by building a better Flash Player.

Adobe is continuing its focus on open source with AIR 1.5, expected in the next few weeks. Version 1.5, codenamed Cosmo, is expected to include updated support for WebKit, featuring the fast SquirrelFIsh JavaScript Engine compiler. "We will be the first to do a production-quality version of SquirrelFish," Lynch said.

Adobe is also "just about ready" to release video tags from HTML 5, which'll bring more consistently to the way video runs in different browsers. HTML 5 is not finished and Lynch said Adobe is working to advance the ability for browsers to support rich-web applications, pointing to its work on HTML 5 video tags as the "spirit of how we'll be helping HTML 5".

HTML 5 is still a work in progress and, for all Adobe's good intentions, some might see this as a classic case of a vendor implementing the portions of a forthcoming specification that suits their technology.

The World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C) stewarding HTML has, in the past, noted Adobe - with others vendors - have implemented proprietary user-interface languages and pushed rich internet application technologies that are platform-specific and proprietary. The group has also acknowledged that its standards process cannot keep pace with vendors pushing their technologies into the market.

Bootnotes

Lynch told The Reg the ability to run AIR on mobile devices will come in the "next major" release of its rich-internet runtime. Currently, that's looking like version 2.0, which doesn't have a date. Is there a chance of getting AIR on Apple's iPhone, too? Lynch said Adobe's focus is putting Flash on Apple's handset, adding Adobe is "working with Apple" on this.

He noted Flash Player 10 - released last week - is the version the player Adobe will update to run on smart phones. Currently, you get Flash Lite for mobile. Again, there's no date, but Lynch said the goal is to bring Flash 10 to mobile devices instead of offering a "small version" of Flash for such devices. ®

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

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