Flash on the Pan

Macromedias Flash is at a crossroads. Microsofts Media Player and Avalon system are clearly designed to do what DirectX did to the early leaders in the 3D graphics market, like X-Windows and OpenGL=> Borg obliteration or assimilation/absorbtion.

In the world of Smart Clients and Rich Internet Applications Flash and SWF have big leads in three critical arenas: Flash SWF is available fairly uniformly cross platform on Mac, all versions of Windows, Linux and some versions of Unix. In the mobile phone and PDA markets Flash is more prevalent than anything else but Java. Second, from a technology delivery point of view the Macromedia tech wizards are able to compress audio, graphics vector and bitmap, fonts and text plus video better than any other plugin or media player in the business. Third, go to SWFtools and see the nearly two hundred third party tools in all areas of the graphics and multimedia software business that support Flash SWF.

But there are signs that Flash may be put into the frying pan by no less a player than Redmond. The drums for Windows MediaCenter are playing ever louder. MS Press Pass bulletins on Microsoft Researchs breakthroughs in video, audio and other multimedia technologies is on full bandwidth. And now that Avalon has been allowed to embrace the old WinAPI in Longhorn Redux, the UI development team , desperate to prove their designs worthiness, is starting to rumble with “we can do this” bravado.

At the sametime, Macromedia has spent so much time putting in the dataprocessing and distributed processing hooks into Flash, that they have taken their eye off the ball of graphic design enhancements to Flash. Opportunities to delineate 3D graphics, built-in kinematics, objects workflows on different timelines and other animation graphics have had to take a back seat to Flash Remoting, ActionScript 2 components and Web Services plus the Flash Communication Processor. These are necessary moves as the the whole preentation layer with its very difficult cross platform and ANY DEVICE requirements are now up for grabs. Users really want thin fast performing clients and thick, rich clients as well. They are telling UI vendors “supply me both with minimal fuss and I will decide which to use as appropriate.” Yes, these are very demanding requirements that Flash is still the leader at fulfilling. But despite excellent innovation in Flash, the vagaries of the market including Microsofts voracious need to grow on the desktop through multimedia breakthroughs and “innovations” – these forces are driving Flash and Macromedia in and onto a hotly competitive pan.

3 thoughts on “Flash on the Pan”

  1. MS Media Player, Macromedia Flash Player
    MS Media Player, Macromedia Flash Player: With this weeks Longhorn re-factoring its good to re-examine everything anew. Here, “jbsurv” at theopensourcery.com compares Microsofts Media Player, combined with Avalon, to what SWF technologies are h…

  2. So why Macromedia never came up with .NET Flash Player component? that could give them much bigger expousure on desktops (it could be cross platform with Mono). I guess its too late now with products like http://www.xamlon.com/ popping up around. Sad.

  3. Picking up on what Kooba is saying, it appears that not just I, Macromedia, many ISV but also Microsofts own developers have a lot of misgivings about .NET Framework. I remember at the post Office XP launch I had an opportunity to talk to the Office development team members and I asked how excited they were about getting to use .NET and managed code. No enthusiasm whatsoever. I attributed the reaction at the time to code completion fatique. But to my surprise, 2 months later I saw a press clip saying that like certain political figures, the Office team had obtained an exemption from using .NET for Office 2003. Ditto for Win XP and a whole slew of other development teams at Microsoft. Its only with Visual Studio 2005, BizTalk 2004, and SQL Server 2005 has .NET been used in a major way in Redmonds own development cycle. But look how problem plagued and delayed all of those projects have been – in the case of BizTalk they had to break off a major piece and delay it until 2005-2006.

    So I, like a lot of developers are not so enthusiastic about the .NET Framework. .NET was promised to eliminate a lot of MS development problems. Then these get deferred to Longhorn. But Longhorn is now in limbo … and those problems still linger.

    See my Longhorn Redux III for a list of the major problems around .NET and Microsoft development. The problem is that the myth of Windows and the WinAPI as one grand and unified solution is a facade, a myth. And the problem of so much rivalry and sometimes internecine warfare between internal Redmond development groups – is that outside ISVs and developers become part of the collateral damage.

    Just look at 5 different UI Frameworks, at least 5 scripting/macro languages, and the continuing wound of so many rival storage/database access systems … suddenly .NET is now part of the problem. Redmond really has to address this – Longhorn was to be the resolver. Now its anybodies guess how these tough and demanding issues get resolved.

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