John Nack has a bit up about Flash. Go read it, it's certainly better than the companion piece our ever-vigilant Flash fluffer Dowdell put up. but it's still standard Adobe whining about the eeeebul Flash haters.
John has a habit of basing most of his arguments around popularity or what other kids are doing wrong and how that makes it all okay, and this is no exception. The notable bits:
Let's be clear: It's fine to say that Flash is flawed; it is. (You know who'd agree? The Flash team.)
Bullshit. Show me the blog post where the head, or anyone, from the Flash team got up and apologized for not being able, to date, make a plugin that didn't fuck up your browser, make it more crash- or lockup-prone, and generally eat shit alive. Where is this public admission? What they say in private doesn't really count.
But let's also be honest and say that Flash is the reason we all have fast, reliable, ubiquitous online video today. It's the reason that YouTube took off & video consumption exploded four years ago. It's the reason we have Hulu, Vimeo, and all the rest--and the reason that people now watch billions of videos per day (and nearly 10 hours apiece per month) online. Without it, we'd all still be bumbling along.
That's true, and completely beside the point that people who hate Flash are making. The popularity of Flash does not change the fact that as it is currently designed, the Flash plugin makes the web interactive, and suck. It doesn't matter how cool the fucking site is, if my browser spinlocks waiting for yet another fucking Flash dialog about a script making my computer run slow. It is not a speed issue, it is not a feature issue.
The problem with Flash is that it makes your browser less stable than a drunken sailor with an inner ear infection on a pogo stick in a mud slide.
If Flash didn't lock up my browser, crash my browser, and all the rest, I'd have far fewer problems with it. But since it fucks up my browsing humpty times every goddamned day, it is on my shitlist. Change the stability facts of Flash for the better, and I'll change the opinion based on those facts. Barring that, stop pulling my leg, it's getting sore.
Macromedia was the only company that delivered truly ubiquitous (99% penetration) video playback. Apple didn't*. Microsoft didn't. Real didn't. (Remember how you used to see sites offering multiple streams, making the user pick a player, because the content creator couldn't rely on everyone being able to view one format? Good riddance to that crappy customer experience.) Content creators, whose income is proportional to their ability to reach customer eyeballs easily and reliably, have voted with their feet, moving to Flash. As a result, more than three quarters of online video now streams in Flash formats (up from 25% three years ago).
All true, and a complete strawman. People hate Flash because it fucks up their browser's stability. Get used to me saying that, because a) it's the fucking truth, and b) see a).
All these years later, we still don't have a standard, browser-native alternative, much less one that's achieved widespread viewership. (WebKit-based browsers remain in the single digits on the desktop. Firefox, which uses a different video format, is at 25%. Microsoft is off doing its own thing.) That sucks.
What sucks is that the most ubiquitous, widely-used plugin on the Internet is also one of the, if not the leading causes behind browser lockups and crashes. (for more data, see Gruber's latest article on this.) What sucks is that all the Flash horses and all the Flash men, can't make that fucking plugin not crash my browser again.
I don't doubt that some video standard will eventually emerge & make its way into most if not all browsers. In the meantime, Adobe spends millions of dollars a year building & giving away software--for which content viewers & even content creators don't have to pay a dime--to compensate for the rest of the world's failure to get the job done.
If I give you a gold star, will you give me a plugin that doesn't fuck up my browser, almost continuously?
Maybe that sounds harsh, but I find the Flash-bashing tedious and hollow. Flash has all kinds of shortcomings; helping address them is why I joined Adobe, for God's sake! But Flash, as Winston Churchill might say, is "the worst except for all the others ever tried." It will improve, as will competing implementations. In the meantime, how about we give the devil (if that's how you see it) his due, giving Flash credit for helping the world get this far?
I should give you credit for fucking up the stability of my browser, and creating one of the most fertile attack vectors since ActiveX?
How about "No". Does "No" work for you? Again, give us a stable plugin, and maybe hire a fucking security wonk for that team with some actual power, and then we'll talk about credit. If you want the Flash-bashing to stop, STOP FUCKING UP BROWSER STABILITY MORE THAN ANY OTHER SINGLE CAUSE.
Stepping a bit beyond video, I'm personally delighted to see Web standards like HTML5 emerge. Adobe makes nearly all its money selling authoring tools that target great runtimes. (Conversely, as I've mentioned, Adobe loses money building runtimes (Flash Player, Adobe Reader) that it gives away in order to sell authoring tools.) More great runtimes to target means more opportunities to build content for them. Adobe will naturally follow the money, building authoring tools that produce what customers demand, and that includes HTML5-based work. Don't believe me? Check out a demo of Illustrator, Flash, and Dreamweaver targeting the HTML Canvas tag.
You know what the best part of that was? The part where because I'm not using the Flash plugin to play that video, my browser was responsive and stable, and not eating my machine alive. Also, spare us the holystoning bullshit about how much money you lose. You make it up in selling Flash authoring environments, Flex 3 builder, LiveCycle, Flash Interactive Media Server, Flash Media Streaming Server, Flash Access, etc. Adobe ain't losing shit for money on Flash, and shame on you for thinking we're too stupid to see that.
Guess what, though? When I posted that story, almost no one paid attention. People want a certain "killer" narrative: Good guys vs. bad guys, open vs. proprietary, blah blah. That's simpleminded and lame.
Or maybe their browsers kept locking up and they stopped trying to watch it. I guess crashing browsers isn't lame, but complaining about Flash crashing browsers is lame. What a fun reality you live in!
I keep seeing the video standards discussion phrased as "H.264 vs. Flash video**" (e.g. John Gruber writing about Apple "replacing" Flash video with H.264). Apparently people are unaware that Flash has been playing H.264 for years. It's easily the most popular H.264 player in the world.
And the crashiest! and the most resource intensive! See, I can do this too! Also, when did Adobe do this? 2007. What else happened in 2007 that might spur Adobe to do this. Hmm...what announcements from Apple and YouTube that year might have pushed Adobe to support that standard in Flash. G. Eye Wunder.
You know what else I see when i play the same h.264 Video back in a different player? less slow, less crashy, less lockup. Good thing Flash is so excellent. That is when it's NOT CRASHING MY BROWSER.
Adobe's choice to embrace H.264 in Flash is what allows sites like Vimeo and YouTube to create HTML5/AVC (i.e., non-Flash) versions of their sites without gobbling up petabytes of storage and loads of CPU cycles creating and storing alternate versions of their videos. Instead of locking people into some proprietary solution it created, Adobe has spent millions of dollars to enable use of a more standard format.
First: AAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA. Adobe pointing the "locking people into a proprietary solution" finger. You're a funny guy Nack.
Second: Forcing playback of an open standard through an Adobe-controlled plugin is not what you want us to think it is, nor are we in fact that stupid.
It doesn't require you to target multiple runtimes (browsers, etc.) from multiple vendors. Instead, there's effectively one Flash Player with a predictable set of capabilities. Fonts, pixels, etc. render consistently across OSes, browsers, and devices. You don't need something like BrowserLab (a free Adobe service, by the way) for Flash.
All the while fucking up accessibility, radical things like selecting text, increasing your font size to read text easier, forcing everyone to rely on a single proprietary plugin and CRASHING MY FUCKING BROWSER. Every time Flash might give me a hardon, that crash thing kills it faster than Phyllis Diller's tits.
If Adobe develops a new technology (e.g. the Text Layout Framework, leveraging InDesign tech and enabling beautiful Web typography), it can be deployed quickly & reliably to all systems. That is, we don't have to say, "Yeah, we'd love to see better type on the Web, but first we have to convince these groups to add support, and then wait several years for updates to achieve broad adoption, and then hope it all works the same..." We can just do it, and support will hit critical mass quickly.
It will be beautiful right up until the Flash plugin crashes my fucking browser again. Then it will be a thing of hatred.
In a sense it's a more Apple-like approach: Control things yourself, so design-by-committee doesn't compromise your product. Open-sourcing Flash would lead to a fragmentation of the format & Flash runtimes, and that would destroy the predictability and agility that differentiate Flash from other standards.
It would also mean the Flash team might have some fucking competition other than Silverlight, and you can't have that. Why, THEIR plugin might not CRASH MY FUCKING BROWSER THE WAY ADOBE'S DOES.
And now the money shot to show that no one at Adobe understands the fucking problem, at all.
-- On Mac vs. Windows performance --
Finally, let's turn to a touchy subject.
If Flash runs faster on Windows than on Mac, that must be proof of Adobe's incompetence and/or anti-Mac malice, right? Of course, if Flash ran faster on Mac than on Windows, that would be taken as proof of OS X's modern awesomeness. Heads they win, tails we lose. (Come on, tell me I'm wrong.)
Despite the Flash Player team investing disproportionate resources in the Mac player (where the Mac has ~5% market share to 90+% for Windows), and despite them making big strides on the Mac, it's true that Flash performance on OS X has lagged behind Flash on Windows. That needs to change.
My understanding is that there's work that both Adobe & Apple could do to improve matters. Mac users*** complain about high CPU usage when playing video. The latest Flash Player uses many fewer CPU cycles for video, but the needed hardware decoding support isn't available on the Mac right now. I don't have any inside info here, but I've heard that the Safari team is a great group of folks, and I hope they're able to work with the Flash Player team to added the desired support.
It is not about speed you fucking nimrod. It is really not even about CPU cycles. It is about Stability. Stability, stability, stability. Let me explain. Right now, I don't ever, ever think that Flash doesn't play videos fast enough. Youtube can't seem to download shit fast enough ever since they started pushing HD, but that's a bandwidth, not a Flash issue. If the content is there, the performance of said content seems to work just fine.
It is also not about CPU cycles in and of themselves. If the Flash plugin is doing something hard, or intensive that requires CPU, then it should use it. That isn't a problem. It is when Flash needs 100% of a CPU to play a fucking 4" x 3" movie in my browser, even after I wait for the download, and QuickTime needs a quarter of that to play goddamned HD that we get a little annoyed. Also, Apple isn't Microsoft. If you're expecting Apple to allow you to diddle the hardware directly, then I hope Jobs personally takes a leak on your desk as he says no, no, a thousand times no. This is not DOS, you keep your fucking hands off the hardware.
The problem, the big problem, the one we want fixed more than imagined speed problems, or CPU usage that isn't inherently bad is this:
STOP CRASHING OUR FUCKING BROWSERS
STOP CRASHING OUR FUCKING BROWSERS
STOP CRASHING OUR FUCKING BROWSERS
-- In Conclusion --
Stop crashing my browser
I'm very optimistic about Flash, Web standards, and what Adobe can to help customers. In particular:
You'll stop crashing my browser.
The Flash Player team has been very hard at work leveraging the GPU to deliver great performance on mobile devices. I expect those optimizations to make their way into the desktop Flash Player.
I hope the "stops crashing the fucking browser" fixes make their way into the Flash player.
Developers are pushing standards like CSS 3D, WebGL, and Canvas to deliver interesting results. It's about time Web browsers got good at this stuff, for everyone's sake, and those enhancements roll right into Adobe AIR and the Creative Suite (both of which use WebKit). Adobe sells tools that can adapt to fit customers' needs. As new technologies open new possibilities, Adobe will deliver great authoring apps.
If they don't stop crashing my fucking browser, I could give a fuck less what Adobe is going to do.
There. Clear enough even for Nack.
Not for Dowdell though. That motherfucker is in some kind of VM.
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