Flash: What were they thinking?

Okay. One major downside of linux is Flash. Or rather, one major downside of Flash is linux.

Adobe (Macromedia) are supposedly going to release the next version (9, formerly 8.5) for linux, after they release (“ship”) for Windows & OSX. Great. They have stranded linux on version 7 for far too long, are skipping support for 8 and going right to the next version. Wonderful. And they still won’t ship it at the same time. Spectacular.

It makes you wonder why they even bother to support it at all? But it also makes you wonder why so much of the web is enamored with this beast. Is it too much to ask for open standards? Aren’t we all better off? Rather than giving all our resources to a single company (which makes it a defacto monopoly), we could have many tools for online animation. We (windows and mac users included) would all be better off.

But the real bitch is that if Macromedia/Adobe opened the source for the linux plugin, or even invited some experienced developers to come help out for a bit and sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement, this entire post would be moot. It isn’t and shouldn’t be this hard for them to port to linux. The logical conclusion is that they are unwilling to fund proper development; it just isn’t a priority.

This is why we need competition. If they had to compete with another similar product, or similar implementation/toolset that did support linux they would want to. Because they’re the only dog in town they feel empowered to ignore linux. It’s sad and speaks poorly of a company that many consider to be wonderful for their tools that enable so much artistic expression.

Since there’s already a beta out for Flash 9 on Windows/OSX, we can probably expect a shipdate sometime late this year. That puts decent linux support for Flash in the late-spring 2007 range. I can only hope that between now and then SVG will see more implementations and Adobe will have something to worry about.