Open Adobe: More than a Flash in the Pan?

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I've written before about my slightly cynical take on Adobe's moves to open up. Of course, on one level, it all helps, so I suppose I should welcome Adobe's latest announcement: the Open Screen Project.

The Open Screen Project is working to enable a consistent runtime environment – taking advantage of Adobe Flash Player and, in the future, Adobe AIR -- that will remove barriers for developers and designers as they publish content and applications across desktops and consumer devices, including phones, mobile internet devices (MIDs), and set top boxes. The Open Screen Project will address potential technology fragmentation by allowing the runtime technology to be updated seamlessly over the air on mobile devices. The consistent runtime environment will provide optimal performance across a variety of operating systems and devices, and ultimately provide the best experience to consumers.

Specifically, this work will include:

Removing restrictions on use of the SWF and FLV/F4V specifications

Publishing the device porting layer APIs for Adobe Flash Player

Publishing the Adobe Flash Cast protocol and the AMF protocol for robust data services

Removing licensing fees – making next major releases of Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR for devices free

Presumably there are still patent encumbrances on a lot of this stuff, so it's more free as in free beer, rather than free as in freedom. And I can't help feeling that Adobe was prodded into making this move by Microsoft's increasing activity in this area with its new Silverlight technology. Equally, it's good that Adobe has opened up a little more in this way, since at least the open source community now has a marginally better option than accepting the problematic Moonlight implementation of Silverlight.


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