Adobe holding back current HTML5 specification

The company Adobe, well-known for products such as Photoshop and Flash, has shown full support of the HTML5 specification in the past. Adobe also has a web development suite, Dreamweaver, in its arsenal of products, so there's a good reason for it to be supporting of future web technologies. Whilst there are the reasons for Adobe to support HTML5, there are also some which are the opposite – namely, the aforementioned Flash.

Flash, as you'll know, is the leader in providing Internet video and games, and is the technology that Steve Jobs aims to bring down a peg by essentially ignoring it on mobile devices. Jobs has been somewhat promoting lately HTML5 (a specification which can also provide easily embedded video) by apparently stating that it's the future of web video, and that Adobe is lazy with its Flash support, especially on the Mac. This is possibly worrying to Adobe, as Apple is a big player in the computing world, especially with the media market, so they would want to do what they can to keep Flash on top for as long as possible. In a private W3C mailing list, Adobe made an objection to the current specification being published, and has yet to make the objection public (despite promising to do so), according to Hixie's Natural Log. John Gruber of Daring Fireball noted that Adobe is attempting to block the API specification for the canvas element of HTML5 – an element which features 2D graphics, thus competing with Flash – as best as it can.

Larry Masinter of Adobe stated, "Do I need to repeat objections?", according to the minutes of a weekly phone status report. It will be interesting to see what comes of this, now that the objection is gaining attention, though hopefully it'll get cleared up soon.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Where do Microsoft's profits come from?

Next Story

Free Kindle for Amazon Prime subscribers?

63 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

How does flash make adobe any cash? I think they sell flash editor software, but is that it? Couldn't they develop a html5 video editor?

If flash became an open standard, adobe has to give up the exclusiveness and allow other companies that make there own version of the players (as long as it just confirms to the public standard).

Why HTML5 won't kill Flash for video playback:
There is currently not a single codec that works across all browsers. Mozilla doesn't want to use H.264, Apple doesn't want to use that other thing (Forgot the name, some kind of ogg codec?).

And even if they agree on one codec, there is still the pseudo streaming feature: you can jump to the end of video on youtube, although it hasn't loaded that far. It just starts downloading at the end only the part that is needed. I never saw mentioned that HTML5 video can support that, too.

So HTML5 video might be a nice fallback for some, but you will lose features.

dodgetigger said,
Why HTML5 won't kill Flash for video playback:
There is currently not a single codec that works across all browsers. Mozilla doesn't want to use H.264, Apple doesn't want to use that other thing (Forgot the name, some kind of ogg codec?).

And even if they agree on one codec, there is still the pseudo streaming feature: you can jump to the end of video on youtube, although it hasn't loaded that far. It just starts downloading at the end only the part that is needed. I never saw mentioned that HTML5 video can support that, too.

So HTML5 video might be a nice fallback for some, but you will lose features.

No worries, no fallback: http://wiki.dspace.org/index.php/Add_HTML5_pseudo_streaming_%28Manakin%29

You can pseudo stream with HTML5...

Tony. said,
Adobe needs to stfu.

Insightful.

Adobe have a point and uneducated hicks are like "OMG die Flash" when this has nothing to do with Flash.

noleafclover said,

Insightful.

Adobe have a point and uneducated hicks are like "OMG die Flash" when this has nothing to do with Flash.

The FO was about the <canvas> 2D context. Hard to see how it [i]isn't[/i] related to Flash :P

if js+canvas+svg wins then i bet it will be harder to kill ads because you cant just block it like you can flash. and this future dependancy on js makes it hard for people like me who want to avoid flash to do so.

melted98 said,
Just wish Adobe would release a 64-bit version of flash.

That would be great. Flash could then use more than 2 Gig of RAM! :D

A couple of problems with this article. First, Apple is NOT a major player in the computer industry. While their recent strengthening in the US market in noticeable they have completely failed to even dent the world's largest computer markets such as China, India, etc. Globally they are slightly above 2% market share, nearly 10% behind Acer and 20% behind HP and Dell. That makes them a minor player, not major.

Second, HTML5 requires that about 70% of the Internet will need to be rewritten. I certainly won't order the rewriting of any of my websites just to keep Steve Jobs happy. Will IE10 support Flash? Course it will. So why would anyone change just because some anaonymous standards agency tells us to? Maybe in 10 years. However, the iPad will be dead in 2-3 years and nobody will remeber it by 2020.

greatscot said,
A couple of problems with this article. First, Apple is NOT a major player in the computer industry. While their recent strengthening in the US market in noticeable they have completely failed to even dent the world's largest computer markets such as China, India, etc. Globally they are slightly above 2% market share, nearly 10% behind Acer and 20% behind HP and Dell. That makes them a minor player, not major.
In the US, their share is much larger - this counts for a lot.

greatscot said,
Second, HTML5 requires that about 70% of the Internet will need to be rewritten. I certainly won't order the rewriting of any of my websites just to keep Steve Jobs happy. Will IE10 support Flash? Course it will. So why would anyone change just because some anaonymous standards agency tells us to? Maybe in 10 years. However, the iPad will be dead in 2-3 years and nobody will remeber it by 2020.
Rubbish, HTML5 does not "require" such a thing. If you're talking about Flash design elements being replaced with HTML+JS, this is vaguely more appropriate - but in no way applies to all Flash (e.g. games).

W3C is not "an anonymous standards agency", they are THE standard agency for the web. The iPad is not the centre of this story, and it is in fact hardly even relevant.

Edited by Kirkburn, Feb 15 2010, 2:12am :

greatscot said,
First, Apple is NOT a major player in the computer industry. Globally they are slightly above 2% market share, nearly 10% behind Acer and 20% behind HP and Dell. That makes them a minor player, not major.

Market share is irrelevant. It's profit that matters most. Have a look at these links and you will see why Apple is a major player in the computer industry (even compared to Dell and HP)...

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=apple+vs+hp
http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=apple+vs+dell

Edited by Ace, Feb 15 2010, 6:44am :

As a web developer, I despise Flash and I refuse to work with it. It's time for Adobe to realize that no one needs or wants it anymore.

KaneHusky said,
As a web developer, I despise Flash and I refuse to work with it. It's time for Adobe to realize that no one needs or wants it anymore.

As a web developer, I realize there's nothing inherently wrong with Flash and that it can serve as a great tool when the time comes along.
What HTML 5 will do is make Flash technologies open, but in exchange flexibility will be lost. To think that an HTML canvas is not going to hog up as much CPU, animating the exact same thing is ridiculous. To think that an HTML canvas with stuff flying around will be anymore accessible than a proper Flash page is also ridiculous.
When HTML 5 matures, please knock again.

Edited by billyea, Feb 15 2010, 1:53am :

billyea said,

As a web developer, I realize there's nothing inherently wrong with Flash and that it can serve as a great tool when the time comes along.
What HTML 5 will do is make Flash technologies open, but in exchange flexibility will be lost. To think that an HTML canvas is not going to hog up as much CPU, animating the exact same thing is ridiculous. To think that an HTML canvas with stuff flying around will be anymore accessible than a proper Flash page is also ridiculous.
When HTML 5 matures, please knock again.

Historically, I think Flash has been a godsend to web content authors. I started working in 1999, and for a very long time there was just a lot of presentational and interaction stuff that you simply couldn't even dare thinking of doing without Flash. So thanks a lot Flash.
Now we have AJAX, better DOM, better CSS, loads of JS libraries, so there's much less need for flash for a lot of things. Every time I see simple widgets like a drop down menu, a newsticker, a slideshow, a slider box, an interactive form done in flash in 2010 I'm perplexed.
There's no need to employ a proprietary resource heavy plugin with usability and accessibility issues for that.

Same thing with video, when Flash made web video mainstream there was no other way to implement a decent video player in a browser.
Now html5 is finally addressing that so there will be no need to use Flash for that since it's a much worse optimized video decoder compared to the h264 and ogg decoders that the various OS offers.
So thanks a lot Flash again, and let's move on.

Then there are the core Flash use cases, interactive animated graphics and multimedia heavy rich internet presentation and applications. This is what Flash still excels at and this is were the standard browsers tool are still a mile behind, so thank you Flash for that too and please stay with us.

Simple as that.

http://www.osnews.com/story/22874/Teacup_Meet_Storm_pt_IV_Adobe_Blocking_HTML5_
"So, to get back to Hixie's original complaint, two aspects of it appear to be untrue. First, Adobe's complaint is not a secret at all - it's a procedural thing that was posted to a public mailing list February 5. Second, this complaint is not blocking HTML5."

Avi said,
http://www.osnews.com/story/22874/Teacup_Meet_Storm_pt_IV_Adobe_Blocking_HTML5_
"So, to get back to Hixie's original complaint, two aspects of it appear to be untrue. First, Adobe's complaint is not a secret at all - it's a procedural thing that was posted to a public mailing list February 5. Second, this complaint is not blocking HTML5."

I think Adobe are backtracking due to bad press.

Adobe said "we won't approve the FPWDs until the FO is resolved". "FO" meaning "Formal Objection" that they lodged against the Canvas 2D context.

I don't really care much about Flash. It's useless and obtrusive to me except for Flash games and YouTube pretty much. With YouTube supporting HTML5's video element, I'm more interested in the Theora v. H.264 issue. Is this single issue going to cause the browser wars of the 2010s? We had Internet Explorer v. Netscape Navigator in the 1990s and then Internet Explorer v. Firefox in the 2000s. The way things are going, the patent issue is going to cause a major rift. Since video files tend to take up a lot of room, I doubt people will be interested in providing their videos in both Theora AND H.264 formats. Flash will still have its place for a while longer because of that, and as nice as Mario Kart using the HTML5 canvas API was, I'm sure it could have been better in Flash. Why is Adobe worried anyway? Did they forget about Sun Java? Surely they should have been worried long ago because of that, not because of canvas and/or video...

adobe can go screw themselves! There's no reason to remove Canvas from HTML5, we could have canvas banner ads instead of crappy flash ads. Flash in terms of video streaming will pretty much be dead 1.5yrs from now as IE9 and all other browsers will support HTML5. Just like how realplayer died and how quicktime isn't far off from being dead.

Tekkerson said,
IMO realplayer is already dead. Quicktime is pretty much dead on the PC platform.

You're right about Quicktime - now it is just a framework for iTunes which raises the question when are we going to see Quicktime the application itself (not framework) removed from the download.

DARKFiB3R said,
I tried the HTML5 beta on youtube, videos looked like ****.

In what way? Smoothness of playback or video quality?

Video quality should be identical as chrome uses built-in h264 codec which is what flash also uses. I haven't tested performance yet but i played 720p fine on my quad core desktop and it played perfectly, perfectly smooth, no jerks.

DARKFiB3R said,
I tried the HTML5 beta on youtube, videos looked like ****.

Stop spreading FUD.

torrentthief said,

In what way? Smoothness of playback or video quality?

Video quality should be identical as chrome uses built-in h264 codec which is what flash also uses. I haven't tested performance yet but i played 720p fine on my quad core desktop and it played perfectly, perfectly smooth, no jerks.

+1

Tekkerson said,

Stop spreading FUD.
+1
Actually...
Flash: http://img705.imageshack.us/i/windowclipping9.png/
HTML5: http://img16.imageshack.us/i/windowclipping8.png/
Screenshots from Chrome. Firefox tells me the Video format is not supported.

Edited by Simon., Feb 15 2010, 12:30am :

Tekkerson said,

Stop spreading FUD.
You two should get a pair of glasses each. The html5 youtube player picks the lowest resolution video and play it, which make it look always horrible, you can't even select a better quality video!

I stopped using it because of that and I'm waiting until they add the option to select the video quality into the player.

Yes, I has nothing to do with html5, but the videos still look horribly pixelated.

Flash itself is a very rich programming language, there's no way, that HTML, which can not handle web animation as good as flash does can go anywhere.

The difference between these two, is that Flash is 75% used in the web to playback videos, HTML5 is far way better to do this. But, since Adobe has released 10.1 things may be different.

Jose_49 said,
Flash itself is a very rich programming language, there's no way, that HTML, which can not handle web animation as good as flash does can go anywhere.

The difference between these two, is that Flash is 75% used in the web to playback videos, HTML5 is far way better to do this. But, since Adobe has released 10.1 things may be different.

Sorry to say, don't expect too much from 10.1. We are running it with full GPU acceleration and the CPU usage is less, but not drastically, and sometimes not at all. It also doesn't fix the 'threading' issues that were introduced in Flash 9.x, so on HT enabled computers Flash performance is still crazy inconsistent.

Just offloading video decoding to the GPU is NOT going to help Flash in the long run unless they address the basic performance of the Flash client and general rendering.

It is really just this simple, any Browser doing HTML5 can in theory offload the decoding to support GPUs as well, just like Silverlight or anything else competing with Flash with regard to displaying Video. So Flash needs some core optimizations beyond just shoving cycles over to the GPU, as pretty much everyone can support shoving decoding to modern GPUs that are designed to inherently decode these codecs.

I think this is getting reported wrong in some places - the objection (AFAIK) is whether certain documents belong in the HTML5 spec, which will potentially hold up the final version. Adobe's objection serves to get HTML5 published quicker if certain documents aren't part of the spec. Yes, the 2D context stuff is part of that, but in all seriousness it will never "replace" Flash in it's current form - anyone who thinks otherwise is either not a developer or is deluded.

HTML5 ftw, screw Adobe. They need to abandon Flash for video and work on updating it for gaming. I doubt HTML5 will really become a standard for web gaming. They can at least remain top dog in that arena. If they stop trying to do everything they should be able to make something that does specific tasks, and does them well.

As long as Internet Explorer doesn't support HTML5 and all browsers start supporting all video codecs Flash/Silverlight is going nowhere anyway.

Ambroos said,
As long as Internet Explorer doesn't support HTML5 and all browsers start supporting all video codecs Flash/Silverlight is going nowhere anyway.

Open standards are best for consumers and devs.

Ambroos said,
As long as Internet Explorer doesn't support HTML5 and all browsers start supporting all video codecs Flash/Silverlight is going nowhere anyway.

IE8 supports a few basic parts of HTML5 already, and IE9 will support more. Flash aside, HTML5 video tag support doesn't mean Silverlight is dead. MS is turning silverlight into more than just a plug-in to stream videos with.

ofincorp said,
My CPU wouldn't know how to reach 100% without flash!

That is so true. Many say Flash 10.1 will improve on this, but we will have to wait and see.

ofincorp said,
My CPU wouldn't know how to reach 100% without flash!

100% CPU is not neccessairly a bad thing. If you are doing nothing else, and the task involved required considerable processing then 100% CPU usage simply means its doing it as fast as it can, if I was waiting for my CPU to calculate something and it was running at 50% I would be more annoyed.

Of course its unlikely any modern processor should be "used up" by anything being done in flash, but other tasks are perfectly reasonable to use it, if your CPU never gets close to 100% you simply have a CPU that is excessive and have wasted money.

Its the same with people commenting that RAM is being used up by a program... if that RAM is not needed elsewhere it is just making that program carry out its tasks quicker. The only issue is when its using more than it needs and another program needs it more so, but it wont release it.

lt8480 said,

100% CPU is not neccessairly a bad thing. If you are doing nothing else, and the task involved required considerable processing then 100% CPU usage simply means its doing it as fast as it can, if I was waiting for my CPU to calculate something and it was running at 50% I would be more annoyed.

Of course its unlikely any modern processor should be "used up" by anything being done in flash, but other tasks are perfectly reasonable to use it, if your CPU never gets close to 100% you simply have a CPU that is excessive and have wasted money.

Its the same with people commenting that RAM is being used up by a program... if that RAM is not needed elsewhere it is just making that program carry out its tasks quicker. The only issue is when its using more than it needs and another program needs it more so, but it wont release it.

LOL you're so funny... I am sorry to disappoint you but your logic is out of this world.

Jaxkesa said,

Why do you think that? The logic is quite straightforward and correct if, like he says, the CPU isn't doing anything else considerable. Why would you not want the CPU running at it's optimum rate and maximising efficiency?

*sigh* The idea is that Flash SHOULDN'T take up 100% of the cpu. Programs don't need to take up 100% cpu to run optimally.

ofincorp said,
My CPU wouldn't know how to reach 100% without flash!

never had a problem with flash... and right now a friends main complaint with the iphone is it doesn't support flash and since most websites use it in some form or another, most sites don't work on the iphone. I have had problems with this so called H.264. Runs really slow or not at all. If this is the future, some of us without big rigs are gonna be in a lot of trouble. Silverlight runs better than that.

lt8480 said,

100% CPU is not neccessairly a bad thing. If you are doing nothing else, and the task involved required considerable processing then 100% CPU usage simply means its doing it as fast as it can, if I was waiting for my CPU to calculate something and it was running at 50% I would be more annoyed.

man, most of the complaints about flash sucking up cpu usage come from people using it to watch video and display ads. It's not that they are doing renderings or scientific calculations with it.
Should I be grateful if my cpu goes 100% while doing flash video decoding? It's not that I'm getting 48 fps instead of 24...

My macbook pro invariably goes really hot while playing flash video. Cpu and gpu => 70° celsius.
This never happens while playing mpeg4, h264, OGG or whatever with VLC or Quicktime.

Since most of flash video is encoded in h264, it's not out of this world to ask for Flash to play it without organizing a barbecue.

Jaxkesa said,

Why do you think that? The logic is quite straightforward and correct if, like he says, the CPU isn't doing anything else considerable. Why would you not want the CPU running at it's optimum rate and maximising efficiency?

Wow...

Here is the point that seems to be missed:

No single process like Flash that is NOT doing very much should consume 100% of the CPU, or even a large chunk. Especially when you see Flash eating 50% of the CPU on a i7 Quad core computer.

If it was 'necessary' for the process to take 100% of the CPU then the logic is fine, however, what flash is doing can be done on computers from 10 years ago and not take 100% of the CPU, and to see it suck 100% of the CPU of the latest processors is just outright insane.

Flash has been doing animations and crap on computers for a long long time, back when people were seeing Flash content and games on a 200mhz Pentium even. The features that are in Flash today are NOT worthy of an exponential increase in CPU cycles that it is consuming.

Bottow line, Flash has issues and Adobe doesn't seem to care.

Just to illustrate how insane the difference is, take a simple scripted application in Flash running that is consuming 30% of a CPU and then in another Windows open up a similar Silverlight application and see that it sucks 5% of the CPU.

Or even open up a HD video in Silverlight and notice is it using less CPU cycles than Flash decoding a Standard Definition video (Both using CPU decoding only.)

Heck Silverlight can CPU decode SD and sometimes HD Video with less CPU cycles used than Flash uses displaying basic Ads that are just showing some silly scripted animation.

So sure the CPU is there to use, but using it for NOTHING is annoying and is also a drain on batteries. The extra CPU cycles are NOT benefiting anything, and just demonstrates how poorly written the Flash process is.

Jaxkesa said,

Why do you think that? The logic is quite straightforward and correct if, like he says, the CPU isn't doing anything else considerable. Why would you not want the CPU running at it's optimum rate and maximising efficiency?

Because running at 100% isn't very efficient for a number of reasons:
1. Slow user interface response
2. Excess heat generation
3. For laptops it means crappy battery

Jaxkesa said,

Why do you think that? The logic is quite straightforward and correct if, like he says, the CPU isn't doing anything else considerable. Why would you not want the CPU running at it's optimum rate and maximising efficiency?

its not that simple, '100%' cpu utilization is quite subjective when you think about all the different buffers and timings going on, not just in the cpu but in the overall system bus as well... like something could be tying up a certain pathway for execution and it slows down all other programs (including the OS) which need that pathway... or it could be taking up alot of your RAM bandwidth and that would not show up as cpu time, but it would slow everything down nonetheless

lt8480 said,

100% CPU is not neccessairly a bad thing. If you are doing nothing else, and the task involved required considerable processing then 100% CPU usage simply means its doing it as fast as it can, if I was waiting for my CPU to calculate something and it was running at 50% I would be more annoyed.

Of course its unlikely any modern processor should be "used up" by anything being done in flash, but other tasks are perfectly reasonable to use it, if your CPU never gets close to 100% you simply have a CPU that is excessive and have wasted money.

Its the same with people commenting that RAM is being used up by a program... if that RAM is not needed elsewhere it is just making that program carry out its tasks quicker. The only issue is when its using more than it needs and another program needs it more so, but it wont release it.

It is a bad thing when you try to make a video on your Mac laptop using Quicktime (video and audio uncompressed) and the fan fires up because the browser in the background is pushing up the clock rate and thus making it hotter thus making the fan go faster thus the sound of the fan comes through on the video. That is why 100% cpu sucks.

95% of the time flash runs on my computer is to play a video....if most video sites I go to switch to HTML5 I would consider removing flash from my computer

HalcyonX12 said,

Don't forget rendering annoying ads
I meant 95% of the time I voluntarily use it....which is why I'd love to get rid of it

Hell-In-A-Handbasket said,
id have to say 99% of flash on my computer is to render ads, as all the video i watch is using Silverlight


What Web do you go to? LOL