Flash opens up

Pretty big news coming from Adobe today, as they opened up the specification for the SWF and the FLV / F4V formats.

This basically opens the door to play banner ads and intro's properly in alternative players, such as Gnash and it should also help development of flash video streaming projects such as red5.

Gnash actually has a fair support for the SWF format, but because of the legal restrictions around the spec they were never allowed to read the spec. Now they should be able to implement the full SWF format easily.

I've been following a lot of adobe/macromedia blogs over the years through MXNA (currently down) and attended some flash conferences, and about half of the flash developers always seem to use the argument 'if there's other flash players out there, incompatibilities will arise', basically favouring a closed spec. I always had a feeling this was strongly influenced by Adobe/MM propaganda, so it will be interesting to see if the majority of the community changes their opinion after this news.

As for my opinion, I'm biased. The news is great for end-users, for sure. Currently the flash player is said to be installed on 98% of all computers hooked up to the net, which is higher than the market share of IE, or Windows. This makes it the best possible platform to target for security holes. It also removes the vendor-lock in and it can improve competition and therefore innovation. I don't like it, because SWF is a messy binary format and I rather see a prettier text-based formats such as HTML 5, SVG and Javascript 2 finished and gain adoption.