Macromedia to Open Flash Player Source

Thursday January 6th, 2000

Tekhir writes, "Well, Macromedia is open sourcing their Flash player and file format [according to this BeNews story]. It would be interesting to see if this could/should be intergrated into Mozilla. Can you imagine if people started making the UI out of Flash 4. Or better yet borrowing its alpha transparency layer. There are a lot of cool effects that one can do with Flash."

Should Flash be integrated into Mozilla? Or should their tasty, optimized vector-drawing code be cannibalized for the inevitable SVG implementation?

#1 UI out of flash4?

by cknoll

Thursday January 6th, 2000 8:59 AM

Sounds to me like that's the excact opposite direction of basing the UI on XUL. Am I missing something?

#4 Re: KABOOM!

by RvR

Thursday January 6th, 2000 10:28 AM

You can put animated GIFs in the actual UI, so why not Flash ?

The license problem is another story...

By the way, should Mozilla use PNGs first ?

#5 (sorry) Re: UI out of flash4?

by RvR

Thursday January 6th, 2000 10:32 AM

You can put animated GIFs in the actual UI, so why not Flash ?

The license problem is another story...

By the way, should Mozilla use PNGs first ?

#18 Should mozilla use PNGs first?

by gwalla

Thursday January 6th, 2000 4:37 PM

Heck yeah!

#25 PNGs in Mozilla

by thomasd

Friday January 7th, 2000 2:30 AM

I'd swear that someone within Netscape got this working a few months back, and had a usable all-PNG browser (pretty sure it was posted to MozillaZine). I think there may have been a few problems with the PNG rendering code then, but hopefully things are moving on -- it would be a good endorsement of PNG if this happened (burn the GIFs, burn the GIFs :).

#33 Re: PNGs in Mozilla

by Tanyel

Friday January 7th, 2000 10:59 AM

I like the GIF files...


by ywwg

Thursday January 6th, 2000 10:07 AM

That's the sound of a Pentium 100 trying to run Mozilla using Flash as its UI. This is a Bad Idea for two reasons: 1. The article makes no mention of what license they will be using. If they use some sort of restrictive license (Sun, Netscape-style), then we rely on them for an integral part of Mozilla. No thanks.

2. We want Mozilla finished within our lifetime. If people keep adding stuff it will never get done, and a change like the one mentioned above would require much much rewriting. Mozilla's UI is ok where it is.

As for native Flash support, that would be fine, as long as people can turn it off.

#3 Re: KABOOM!

by RvR

Thursday January 6th, 2000 10:23 AM

do you really think Flash is that heavy ? i've tried it a few times and i've found it to be much much lighter than Java...

#6 They probably would wait for Moz 2.0 n/t

by Kovu

Thursday January 6th, 2000 10:42 AM


#27 Re: KABOOM!

by geertn

Friday January 7th, 2000 5:54 AM

Yes, I have to agree with you. There is a lot of stuff I would like to see in mozilla, but it should all wait untill we have a finished, stable version.

#7 Let me elaborate

by Tekhir

Thursday January 6th, 2000 10:53 AM

I'm not saying a total rewrite of the UI, thats plain silly at this point and time. But Flash does offer the ability to read variables from files and I consider XUL to be a big old variable collection.

also consider that Flash uses many things that arent working right in Mozilla. Maybe MM's source can help fix transparencies in PNG files and be used as a base for SVG.

#8 Flash UI , Open source business, etc.

by robzilla

Thursday January 6th, 2000 12:22 PM

It was my understanding (which could be incorrect, but the developers I asked about it seemed to know what they were talking about), that since the toolbar was displayed using the Gecko engine that any graphic format that could be displayed in the content window, could be displayed in the UI. So, if you have the appropriate support (through plug-ins or native code) you could even display a mpeg movie in the UI. Of course, the fancier you get - the more powerful computer you would need, but is that really news to anyone?

I think the code should be optomized and integrated into Mozilla if possible, without excluding any other formats - letting designers have flexibility in what format they choose to create in.

Also, I don't think Macromedia would pull a restrictive license. There's more behind it. Macromedia owns - a major interactive entertainment hub, which has major potential. If they make the format ubiquitous - computers, webTV, etc - there isn't a single web user that couldn't visit their site and help generate revenue. Plus, with such an ubituous format, people would pay big bucks for the latest and best development tool for it - which happens to be owned by Macromedia. So, why would they want to hinder the adoption of this format? Down the road, it's not going to matter what they can charge, or what licensing they pull on it - those fees would pail in comparison to how much money they would make as a media entertainment company, and a software tool developer.

With Mozilla being open source itself, the developers can create support for any other competing format. If Macromedia should even pull such a move as to upset developers and content creators, a different format can be supported very quickly.

Atleast, that's how I see it.

#9 good point

by Kovu

Thursday January 6th, 2000 1:09 PM

I agree. It would be akin to how Linus Torvalds has benefited from his free OS -- aka immensely.

#19 Re: Flash UI , Open source business, etc.

by Dan6992

Thursday January 6th, 2000 6:46 PM

"Plus, with such an ubituous format, people would pay big bucks for the latest and best development tool for it - which happens to be owned by Macromedia."

No because when they release there file format they are opening the door to more prominent vector based graphics vendors like Corel and Adobe. Who will no doubt build flash file support into the next versions of CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator, and possibly eliminate the need for Macromedia's product all together. It will also open up the possibility of someone writing some hack software that can decode Flash files back in to an editable format eliminating one of the major benefits of using Flash in the first place, security of intellectual property.

One plus I do see though is that it will allow someone to possibly rewrite the Flash format in Java eliminating the need for a plug-in all together, and allowing Flash to be truly cross platform and cross browser.

#23 No....

by jedbro

Thursday January 6th, 2000 11:02 PM

No.. if you read the press release; If I understood everything, it seems the format has been open since 1998, allowing any 3rd party to Create software to creat and view the SWF format. Now, they are releaseing the VIEWER CODE.

Anyhow, I don't see how this affects Mozilla.. mabey for mozilla 2.0 it could be directly written in, but I see no reason why that would be needed due to the fact of the plugin very small, and netscape will be sure to include it anyhow.

Although I would love to see Flash win over the SVG crap. Flash is here, NOW, and stable. Why work with other crap? SVG, DHTML (DOM), FLASH, Javascript, JAVA, who needs more? SVG and FLASH would just compete.. don't see any reason for that... (except W3C has no control over flash.. which is good.. but not for them)

just my 2 cents

#24 Flash UI available now?

by jedbro

Thursday January 6th, 2000 11:05 PM

forgot to ask....

I've been using Flash 4 in Mozilla for weeks. Although detection of it doesn't work, everything else is fine, and damn stable..

Wouldn't it be possible to implement a flash based UI now?

thanks for the feedback --Jedbro

#10 They're still charging for it...

by Kovu

Thursday January 6th, 2000 1:45 PM

At they still are charging for Flash 4, and there isn't a mention of making it free. But I know that doesn't mean much.

#11 Re: They're still charging for it...

by Tekhir

Thursday January 6th, 2000 2:11 PM

Flash 4 isn't free but the Flash 4 player is and soon the player's source code will be free.

#12 Okay, I think I get it...

by Kovu

Thursday January 6th, 2000 2:44 PM

So it's kind of like they're making the player free so that everyone can see it, but charging for the program that lets you write stuff to play on the player?

#13 yes, exactly. And the actual file format n/t

by thelem

Thursday January 6th, 2000 2:58 PM

n/t = no text

#14 What can Flash do

by thelem

Thursday January 6th, 2000 3:00 PM

What all the HTML 4.0 and DHTML options that are avaliable in Mozilla and IE4/5, what is the advantage of using flash. I would say penetration of the viewer is probably about equal.

#15 Re: What can Flash do

by gerbilpower

Thursday January 6th, 2000 3:06 PM

Well the animation is more flexible and interactive in Flash, that's the first thing off the top of my head. Plus Flash is, to my knowledge and experience, currently more consistent across other platforms than DHTML.


#16 Re: What can Flash do

by wheezy

Thursday January 6th, 2000 3:10 PM

Flash does interactive animations, including sound and a streamlined vector-based graphics format. That's what it does. DHTML can do some of that, if you include SVG (which is of course not yet implemented) but Flash is a more mature and complete implementation of such a system these days. Of course, it's just a matter of time before the W3C goes and standardizes this sort of thing...

#17 its not opensource

by frb

Thursday January 6th, 2000 4:23 PM

If you check their faq, the spec for the file is free, but the source is only going to be Available for free, not under any of the useful free licenses. This faq has been around for at least a month now, and I'm surprised no one else noticed it.

#20 $.02

by Pyro

Thursday January 6th, 2000 7:40 PM

I agree with the the Kaboom. The sound of my P100 overclocked to 133 running Mozilla with Flash (or worse yet, the old 486DX/2 66 in the other room) just doesn't make me to enthusiastic. It's already slow enough on my computer (been speeded a tad in past weeks), but to put flash in the UI would just kill it. Oddly though, I do think it can't hurt as long as it doesn't increase the code base too much (or it can be available in a separate "complete" vs. "base" install), it can be disabled, and disabling it prevents that type of content from even being downloaded.

#26 Re: $.02

by danielhill

Friday January 7th, 2000 5:17 AM

Yes I agree with everything said above. Java and Flash have to be totally optional. Too many web designers go overboard with these, and users without a Pentium III really suffer.

Anyway, won't CSS and the DOM make Flash obsolete? Java has it's place, and it's not silly animations, or laziness. See for a prime example of Java related laziness.

#29 I don't think so

by Tekhir

Friday January 7th, 2000 7:54 AM

First of all Flash doesn't use that many system resources. I used it all the time on my 486DX2/66 until I got this computer.

Second, Flash is pretty much cross platform as long as you have player. It also has a pretty large install base. It is the most popular plugin.

While, CSS DOM can do the same thing as Flash, up to a point, they are only avaible to the latest and greatest browsers (IE 5 for Mac and Mozilla).

#32 optional, yes, but there

by Kovu

Friday January 7th, 2000 9:14 AM

Make it optional, but make it. We can't keep innovation back because of ancient machinery. Also, stop thinking Pentium and start thinking Transmeta's Crusoe. They're blowing the whistle on Jan 19th, and Pentium will forever pale in comparison, I'm afraid. The patents alone show that.

#21 On the subject of UI

by Mike_S

Thursday January 6th, 2000 9:18 PM

I know that Mozilla uses standard image files like Gifs, Jpegs and PNGs as the basis for it's UI but could one use a PDF?

I ask because the next Mac OS will use PDF as it's native windowing system so you'd think that a PDF mozilla would have a much quicker UI under Mac OS X if it were utilizing Quartz windowing.

Is this a bad assumption? Would it take a lot of work to make PDF a recognized Mozilla UI format?

#22 Re: On the subject of UI

by gerbilpower

Thursday January 6th, 2000 9:21 PM

I think the problem with that (although I am still drooling over the Quartz demonstration myself) is that PDF is owned by Adobe, and Apple is licensing PDF from them. This would be an oddity for an open source project (although GIF is also licensed, or something to that effect).


#28 Apple is NOT licensing PDF

by Luddite

Friday January 7th, 2000 6:30 AM

they reverse engineered it and added their own stuff. Adobe asked for too much money.

However, I would think Mozilla would need to license it unless the community wanted to repeat Apple's accomplishment.

#30 Re: Re: On the subject of UI

by sdm

Friday January 7th, 2000 8:10 AM

GIF is not licensed - you do not need a license for lzw decompression (display gifs), only for lzw compression (create gifs), and mozilla only creates them.

#31 GIF format is copyrighted/owned by Compuserve/AOL

by Kovu

Friday January 7th, 2000 9:08 AM

GIF format is copyrighted/owned by Compuserve (now AOL). They haven't messed with anybody about it, and honestly probably wouldn't, but PNG was developed specifically for this reason -- to wean the Internet from GIF.

#34 My mistake

by gerbilpower

Friday January 7th, 2000 11:07 AM

Okay, thank ALL of you guys above for clarifying me.


#35 Flash always crashes

by feldercarb

Saturday January 8th, 2000 1:39 AM

I have always refused to keep Flash installed for any long period of time, because on either Mac or Windows the browser will always crash within minutes of hitting a site that uses Flash.

Perhaps they're hoping the fabled (but illusory) bug-free-nature of open source software will give them free resources to clean up their mess.