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Archive for the Category: Central-Apollo-AIR
On March 28, 2012, Adobe announced and introduced the anxiously awaited Flash Player Premium Features for Gaming, with Flash Player 11.2 and AIR 3.2. Also Roadmap for Flash Runtimes was updated. (BTW, the problem with the road-map is that it’s just some plans, ‘official gossip’ as I call it, it offers no commitment or legally binding promise from Adobe. And it can get updated anytime…).
What has the cat dragged in?
Good news is that using domain memory and (Alchemy introduced and officially documented) fast memory opcodes by themselves is not considered as premium use. Only using both domain memory and Stage 3D is considered as premium. So it seems Adobe listened to the community and did what it could. (‘a fair compromise‘ – Mike Chambers).
Licensing starts on August 1 -we have a grace period and any prior work will get to use the premium features royalty free-, there will be no charges for the first $50K of revenues (but 9% after that). AIR including for mobile applications for iOS and Android, will be royalty free. There’s a FAQ about all this.
Another good thing is that Adobe states ‘no intent‘ for making any existing feature premium in the future (but any new feature may come as premium). In any case, it’s up to the community and individuals to trust Adobe about any intentions…
In summary, it looks as if only big gaming studios, who would use Alchemy to convert their million dollar 3D games to Flash for the Web only (as AIR usage is royalty free), are the target (and $50K entry point will protect small studios). ‘These premium features will allow console developers to deliver unprecedented, AAA console quality games to over a billion computers’ says Tom Nguyen, Sr. Product Manager, Gaming at Adobe.
[in no particular order]
Nicolas Cannasse, creator of MTASC and Haxe, called this the Speed Tax for 3D games: ‘Adobe just made DECENT SPEED a “premium feature”‘.[caption id="attachment_366" align="aligncenter" width="128"] Nicolas Cannasse[/caption]
Joa Ebert, another name who needs no introduction to anyone in the Flash community, in his post titled ‘Collateral Damage‘, announced: ‘I am no longer committed to supporting any Flash related open-source projects‘. A sad development indeed.
[caption id="attachment_367" align="aligncenter" width="408"] Joa Ebert, Flash on the Beach 2009[/caption]Peter Elst, yet another name who should not be unfamiliar to any Flash platform developer, currently a Googler, tweeted: ‘I’m calling it… Flash Player time of death March 28th 2012, you’ll be missed – died at the hands of incompetent surgeons‘.
[caption id="attachment_359" align="aligncenter" width="495"] Tweet from Peter Elst[/caption]
Robert Penner, author of famous easing equations – if you remember them, good old times-, author, former Adobe Flash Team member, tweeted the following: ‘I thought Adobe was supposed to make money by building the best tools and services, not by cutting them & selling the platform. I’m not saying Adobe is wrong to change their Flash platform strategy. But I’d rather they be successful with great tools & free platform.‘.
[caption id="attachment_376" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Robert Penner in Flash CS4 About Box[/caption]Phillip Kerman, writer, teacher, programmer, tweeted: ‘man, can’t sleep… had a nightmare Adobe really did kill Flash. Wait, did I even go to sleep yet?‘.
Omar Gonzalez, Senior Software Architect @ Almer/Blank, tweeted: ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen a company destroy so much of their own intellectual property in such a short amount of time. #amazing #Adobe‘.[caption id="attachment_358" align="aligncenter" width="480"] .Net magazine covered the story[/caption]
There were also positive reactions, I think mostly because some people thought the $50K is big enough a barrier that will protect them, some are clueless newbies who just heard about Alchemy opcodes and decided they are not affected, some use AIR exclusively and didn’t care about anything else, some sincerely found initial conditions for licensing acceptable, and some, I believe, felt that that to contain the damage, they have to back the decision publicly… And then some, chose to remain silent…
Below are links to some discussions on Google+:
On March 31, Daniel Bunte had a blog post titled How we managed to get Alchemy1 working with FlashPlayer 11.2 Incubator and the secrets of SWF Tag 92. So it seems, Adobe will use a different method for enabling premium features. This is a technical detail, still I find it important to mention here.
Kurt Melander commented on my previous post and said: ‘…speaking from the e-learning development side and as a US DoD defense contractor, the digital signing may be due in large part to the downgrading of flash and Shockwave from the DoD CIO office in terms of risk for mobile code. Shockwave .dcr format is now no longer allowed on military networks and is classified “1x”, flash was downgraded from a “3″ to a “2″, lower numbers meaning higher risk to the network. One of the main reasons for this downgrade is the lack of Flash and Shockwave to recognize or validate digitally signed code.‘
Jethro Villegas, former Engineering Manager and Software Architect for Flash Professional, commented: ‘Digitally authenticated SWF files can be so useful in many ways.‘ I can’t agree more.
So, most probably, digital signatures in SWF files will stay for one reason or another.
Was premium features really necessary?[caption id="attachment_390" align="alignright" width="160"] Thibault Imbert[/caption]
Thibault Imbert, Sr. Product Manager for the Flash Runtime at Adobe, had the following comment at Nicolas’ post:
‘…because games could generate millions of revenue with maybe 200 copies of Flash Builder and Flash Pro sold. Is it a good business? Not really.‘
I also think Mike Chambers‘ (currently Director, Developer Advocacy for web platforms at Adobe) following comment there is important:
‘The model where Adobe invests all of the resources in developing the Flash Player, and then projects such as Haxe and Unity pull developers away from Adobe tooling is one that was not sustainable under the old model. Under the new model, it doesnt matter which tools and technologies you are using to develop Flash content, since revenue is generated based on the runtime and not tooling.‘[caption id="attachment_356" align="aligncenter" width="336"] So-called Alchemy opcodes are officially well-documented.[/caption]
So, it is clear that Adobe needed more money to support Flash Player development. But was the right answer Premium Features? Why wasn’t AIR developers targeted? Why wasn’t right click context menu introduced as a premium feature? Is $50K the optimal amount? Is 9% the optimal percentage? What will the nominal fee for Premium Features Developer Program be (which will be introduced after grace period ends on August 1, 2012)? Will it be be worth all this?…
As I stated in my previous post, IMO SWF format is now a closed format. As someone programming for SWF format since April 1998 and co-author of the first Flash decompiler (since May 2000, which we still update daily) and many SWF related tools, I am qualified to make that statement. Closing SWF format will have ‘dire consequences’. (Our reaction as Manitu Group will be increasing pricing for our commercial applications, as we think premium technologies, require premium tools that cost premium prices).
Some last minute improvements to premium feature set has been a good thing nevertheless, but my personal opinion is that it won’t be sufficient to save the SWF format, hence the Flash platform. But we may have gained some time. And who knows, maybe more…
So, has Flash really died this time with the introduction of premium features as I predicted?
‘I’ve heard of the death of Flash more times than I can count over the years. I think the difference this time is the claims are coming from the people that use it, and the ‘killer’ is the company that makes it. Time will tell I guess.
The quote that sums it up for me is:
“The model where Adobe invests all of the resources in developing the Flash Player, and then projects such as Haxe and Unity pull developers away from Adobe tooling is one that was not sustainable under the old model”
I’m sure that is true, but really it is saying Adobe can’t compete in spite of all the advantages inherent in making the platform. Look at FlashDevelop – made for free by two people (and no doubt some friendly help) and it blows away Adobe coding tools. Not because it is cheaper, because it is better.
So if you can’t compete, sure, business model two, try to wring money out of your platform standard as you slowly choke it to death. The real question though is why can’t they compete? If my money was tied up in there, I’d be asking that question a lot.’
And here is Mike Chambers’ reply: (I won’t be cloning the discussion, this is the last update I’ll have here, read more at its source).[caption id="attachment_389" align="alignright" width="180"] Mike Chambers[/caption]
‘I dont think it is a question of competing. Adobe could put in the resources to build a 3d authoring tool that competes with Unity, but why would it want to? Unity already is awesome, and can target Flash Player.
Why not create a model where Adobe doesn’t have to build every single tool that targets the Flash Player in order to ensure that there are resources to continue to invest in the Flash Player? Why not create a model that better reflects the core value of Flash, which is the reach and richness that the Flash Player provides?‘
Update2: Ray Cutro‘s G+ post titled Speed Tax for Speedy death of Flash Platform is a good read as he mentions certain points which I deliberately avoided, and illustrates sincere disappointment of a passionate developer.
Update3: [July 21, 2012] Tom Nguyen posted the following to the Adobe AIR and Adobe Flash Player Team blog: Update: Premium Features for Flash Player :
“We previously communicated that beginning August 1, new content using the Premium Features for Flash Player would require a commercial license from Adobe, and that we would share more details on how to obtain a license. We will be extending this deadline to give publishers more time to prepare and obtain a license. These Premium Features are designed primarily to enable publishers and commercial game developers to target the Flash Player with games developed using C/C++ (via the Project “Alchemy” compiler) and/or 3rd party tools such as Unity.
We expect to make available a website where you can obtain a license by the end of August, which will be available at adobe.com/go/fpl. And we are extending the free use of the Premium Features for new content publicly released prior to the availability of the licensing website. To obtain a license for grandfathered content that is released prior to the availability of the licensing website, please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To provide publishers with enough time to obtain a license to take advantage of Premium Features, Flash Player will not begin enforcing the license requirements for Premium Features until at least 8 weeks after the availability of the licensing website. Once Flash Player begins enforcing the Premium Features license requirement, unlicensed content requesting use of the Premium Features will continue to run, and will automatically use software rendering (for more information, please review the release notes for the beta release of Flash Player 11.4).”
Update4: [January 30, 2013] Adobe reclassified use of Alchemy fast-mem opcodes with Stage3D as nonpremium! This means currently there are no premium features (but there can be some in the future).
Here is relevant part of the FAQ from Adobe Premium Features for Flash Player page:
What are the XC APIs?
The XC APIs are the combination of domain memory APIs and Stage3D hardware acceleration APIs. These cross-compilation APIs allow a 3rd party ecosystem of game development tools to target Flash Player, including languages such as C/C++ and tools like Unity, as well as the Adobe Flash C++ Compiler (flascc) cross-compiler.
What is the status of the XC APIs?
As of January 2013, the XC APIs are no longer classified as a Premium Feature and access no longer requires a separate license from Adobe, nor royalties. The use of Stage 3D APIs in conjunction with the fast-memory opcodes via the domainMemory API will be available as a standard feature without requiring that content creators enter into a separate license agreement with Adobe. …
Why is Adobe changing the licensing requirements for the XC APIs?
Based on feedback from developers, Adobe has decided to change the licensing terms for the XC APIs and classify these capabilities as a standard feature. …
Current version of Adobe roadmap for the Flash runtimes states:
“As of January 2013, the XC APIs are no longer classified as a Premium Feature and access will no longer require a separate license from Adobe. Thus the use of Stage3D APIs in conjunction with the fast-memory opcodes via the domainMemory API will be available without requiring that content creators enter into a separate license agreement with Adobe. Developers and publishers that have published content using the XC APIs do not need to make any changes to their content to reflect the change of status for the XC APIs, nor submit royalty payments.
At this time, there are currently no APIs or features designated as Premium Features in the Flash runtimes. However, additional Premium Features may be added in the future.”
Also worth noting is that plans for Flash Player “Next” and ActionScript “Next” has changed:
“However, by its nature, this type of architectural innovation is disruptive and generally not backwards-compatible. As Adobe has learned in the past from transitions between generations of virtual machines (from ActionScript 2 to ActionScript 3), this places a high burden on developers who want to take advantage of features and APIs which may only be available via the new runtime, or which may require significant porting of content, frameworks, and libraries. Given this, as well as the growing importance of browser-based virtual machines, Adobe will focus its future Flash Player development on top of the existing Flash Player architecture and virtual machine, and not on a completely new virtual machine and architecture (Flash Player “Next”) as was previously planned. At the same time, Adobe plans to continue its next-generation virtual machine and language work as part of the larger web community doing such work on web-based virtual machines.”
This is consistent with Premium Feature reclassification, as earlier plans were making fast memory opcodes irrelevant:
New ActionScript 3 APIs to access the fast-memory opcodes are no longer being added to the “Dolores” release. The APIs are no longer relevant due to planned improvements for ActionScript execution and APIs in ActionScript “Next”.
Below are a couple of Twitter reactions to the news:
Good news everyone ! Flash Premium Features licensing is no more in effect for XC API’s. - Ralph Hauwert @UnitZeroOne
#wtf now #stage3d + #alchemy are no longer a premium feature. So wht purpse served that move lst year ? #as3 - Patrick Le Clec’h@pleclech
It says a lot about the stewardship of Flash that rolling back a bad idea is seen as the top new feature. - Robin Debreuil @debreuil
The #Flash speed tax is dead. Hope #adobe doesn’t replace it with something worse - Nicolas Cannasse @ncannasse
SWF file format, the format for Flash files, is proprietary. Flash has been criticized for this by many, including late Steven P. Jobs.
But SWF format has been open, since 1998 with the initial release of SWF specifications. And this is what we all said against proprietary format argument.
Openness of SWF format meant that any 3rd party can create SWF files without the need to get permission from Macromedia or use any Macromedia software (now Adobe). Then we saw 3rd party SWF related utilities flourish, from Claus Wahlers‘ JPEG to SWF converter to Swish text effects to animation packages like Toon Boom Studio. (We also made a living around SWF format).
This openness has been a very important ingredient of Flash’ success. Even with open SWF format, Adobe still has the upper hand, because they control the Player³ and hence the new features: 3rd party apps can only use existing features but Adobe software can make use of the latest features.
If some features of the Flash Player is to become premium, this means SWF format is no longer open, just documented (assuming Adobe continues releasing SWF specs).
As we all know, Flash suffered many blows in the last few years and declined. Flash could have become the software on every appliance in the world for ever; thanks to the competence of Adobe suits who couldn’t stand up against S. Jobs of Apple, Flash retreated to gaming world (and DRM infected video delivery)¹.
Now, with Flash Player 11.2, open SWF format is going away.
[Adobe introduced domain memory and some opcodes, that performed faster memory operations, for Alchemy project (C to AS3 conversion). AS3 was not fast enough, so many 3rd party developers made use of these opcodes to create Flash content and more importantly libraries. Flash Pro couldn't make use of the opcodes but Haxe did, our own Azoth did, Joa Ebert's tools did. That was the power of Flash and open SWF! (Soon will be history)].
I’m on no pre-release program so can speak freely (and ignorantly). Adobe decided to make money off -maybe what they saw as a dying platform- Flash by charging for what they call premium features. SWF files created for new 11.2 player won’t be able to use so-called Alchemy opcodes, unless they are signed².
[Old content, created for older players, older SWF versions will still be able to use the opcodes in the name of backward compatibility (But AFAIK, not the libraries/SWCs if they are loaded by a newer version SWF file). So this move is deliberate and has no technical justification - only greed for more money, I would say. Well, this is nothing surprising, Adobe seems to lay off more talent as they make more money...]
What is really pathetic is that they are promoting (demoting) an existing feature to premium. (If a totally new feature was introduced as premium, that would have been easier to digest).
This move will make the SWF format closed… So, a free version of Alchemy 2 is irrelevant here. Any Adobe software that creates SWF files is irrelevant.
“The ability to fully target the flash player has suddenly transformed from being free to being locked-in. That hurts the confidence of many developers (including me) which was already quite down with recent announcements”.
And if this happens (now seems inevitable with Player 11.2 release), I, hereby, predict Flash’s death.
Well, some say Flash is already dead. Release of premium runtime features will only be my personal recognition for the date of death. Flash will not suddenly go away or disappear, for sure. But it will be the point of no return.
With Player 11.2 release, we will welcome a dead Player with Premium features. I will not install it on any of my personal computers I actually use* – I heard web still exists without Flash…
¹ And Flex is abandoned to Apache. (You may say it is now better for Flex, but you see, Flex is now just a footnote. Sad.)
² Signing files against modification, or, as signaling approval are totally different subjects.
³ Adobe also controls the distribution of the player.
* I intend to keep latest 11.1 version and not update, as long as I can. Afterwards my computers will be Flash runtimes free.
Flash is stronger than ever, as proved by the recent Adobe MAX 2010, and another so called Flash Killer is now gone…
It all happened on October 1st and I kind of ignored them because of all cool news coming from Adobe MAX.
Flash Lite 3 is out and it supports FLV video along with most SWF 8 content. Flash Lite is Flash for mobile devices, phones etc. and video support means you’ll be able to enjoy YouTube with your cell phone (of course your phone has to have FL3).
AIR public beta 2 finally supports Windows 2000 and is overall improved. I’m yet to try it. There’s also Flash CS3 update for AIR.
Matt Chotin has the what’s new article for Flex 3, and also covers public beta 2. Ted Patrick announced price decrease for Flex Builder 3, SDK pricing won’t be changing because it’s already free. All I can say about pricing is this: Regional pricing sucks! Thank god ‘free’ doesn’t translate to a low price outside USA. As always, Ted’s blog is the place to find Flex news and info.
Adobe Media Player (AMP) is the long waited official Adobe FLV Player. It seems it’s more than that with catalogs, favorite shows etc. and offering content protection to content publishers. Requires latest AIR beta2 and I’m yet to install it. So I’ll post my impressions later.
There’s also Flex Builder for Linux alpha, released on October 2nd. It’s definitely good to see Linux support though I’m not actively using Linux but I do plan in the future, especially if Microsoft fails to deliver a decent version of Windows, something on par with XP, nothing like their latest big flop Vista.
And then there’s Adobe Inspire Experience design site alpha, you may want to check it out.
Peter Elst has a post titled Adobe MAX Chicago – Sneak Peeks and you can’t afford to miss the videos about next version of Flash and C/C++ to AS3 conversion.
Next version of Flash will have a better ‘stage’ where you can have your video live and you’ll need to test your movie less. You’ve got to see the new tweens, they will become very capable and easy to use. Lastly demonstrated is kinetics – bones built-in to Flash, too cool I won’t even attempt to describe here.
C/C++ to AS3 conversion is really cool too. Applications are endless. You can have Ruby or PHP interpreter converted AS3 and actually run PHP code then. You find a sample C++ code, and you can use it in your SWF easily, there won’t be language barriers. Demo is impressive with Quake code converted to AS3. This is really something that can change a lot when it arrives.
Thank you Peter for the videos.
Aral has the video of the astro preview from Adobe MAX 2007 keynote. A must see.
Astro is the codename for Flash Player 10. Revealed features are advanced text layout (with bidirectional languages support), 3D effects (very cool), and custom filters, blend modes and effects. All are impressive.
For custom filters, blend modes and effects, a new image processing language, codenamed Hydra, is announced. You can play with Hydra now, using Adobe Image Foundation (AIF) Toolkit Technology Preview. You’ll need hardware acceleration, as software based rendering is not supported yet. Chances are that your video card is one of the supported ones, unfortunately I still use an X550 based card (my CPU is E6600, quite sufficient. I didn’t get a better card because I never needed 3d acceleration, till today), so I was only able to read the documentation. Some features of Hydra will not be supported by Flash, hence it’s Adobe Image Foundation, not Flash. Don’t forget to check Kevin Goldsmith’s blog if you are interested in Hydra.
All in all, I see a very bright future for Adobe Flash Player and the Flash Platform. And thank you Aral for the video (BTW, SWX rocks)!
Release Candidate (RC) version of Flash Player 9 Update 3 (moviestar) is available for download at Adobe Labs. Probably the last chance to find any bug and report to Adobe before the release.
Tinic Uro has more details than most of us would want to know (If you have heard of Extended, High 4:2:2 or High 4:4:4 profiles and using them, Tinic has some bad news for you).
MAC OS X 10.1 version is not there yet. Real Player 11 beta is still causing problems. Version number is 188.8.131.52.
The manuscript has been available at O’Reilly Rough Cuts since May and Colin has posted many sample pages at his blog. Now it’s time to get the real thing! You can still purchase online access, but I will go for the print book, for this one.
(I have many authors in my favorites list, I’m not naming them here, as I’m sure I’ll miss some which wouldn’t be fair. For essential AS3, you can’t go wrong with Colin Moock).
Jesse Ezell proclaimed Flash dead on May 2, 2007. On May3, he blogged more details. That post is quite long, softer and may fool some people, he even ends it by saying ‘So, Flash is great. Silverlight just solves a lot of the major problems that I’ve run into with Flash’.
On June 12, Tinic Uro blogged about multi-core support in the upcoming Flash Player. Flash is to take advantage of multiple/multi-core CPUs, promising 25-33% performance enhancement…
Here’s what Jesse blogged: Flash: Now Slowing Down Your Multi-Core PC !
I had trouble believing my eyes. The Jesse I knew was a great guy I respected (though not always agreed with his opinions). After seeing that post, it feels sad but, he lost me.
That’s the same blinded mindset we saw with ‘RIA = Rich Interactive Applications’ supporters.
I’m beginning to seriously think that it’s not only money but Microsoft really makes use of brain implant chips which, as a side effect (or due to a bug), blinds ones judgment. If you are an MS fanboy, at least you can try to pretend to be fair, doesn’t that make sense?