posted by RichterKuato on Fri 14th May 2010 22:56 UTC
IconIt annoys me that Flash is required for most video sites. Especially when Flash isn't available on a lot of devices or at least not the latest, required version. Whenever I try to use my Internet Tablet to watch shows on sites like Hulu, Veoh, Crackle, Joost, etc., I can't, because they require a newer version of Flash, and I'm stuck with what I have. Thankfully not every site uses the latest version. At least not yet anyways.


Whenever I'm watching those shows on my computer, I have to turn the volume way up so that I can hear it over my internal fans. Flash causes them to sound like an airplane taking off, which I think is stupid because they don't do that when I play DVDs.

Also, it annoys me that Flash has its own separate controls and settings. I miss having the usual "Save Target As" and "Copy Target URL" options from the right-click menu. Plus, I miss being able to view the source, since often I want to find hidden links to targets (images, files etc.). I also don't like how Flash has its own separate cookies, since they're tricky to find, letting websites get away with doing really sneaky things (like resurrecting browser cookies).


The worst part is that there is no way for me, or anyone other than Adobe to fix it. Normally with problems relating to internet surfing there are a billion people that can fix them. That can't happen with Flash Player problems, because there is only one compatible, viable implementation of it, and no one other than Adobe can make changes to it. So what I think Adobe needs to do is make the Flash Player open source.

Isn't Flash Open Enough?

Adobe would probably claim that because they made their specifications more available that Flash is open enough, but vendor-specific specifications based off of complex, querky implimentations never yield any compatible alternative's. Just look at Java, it's been open spec for 15 years, and there still aren't any compatible alternatives.

A clue that this is a problem with the Flash specifications is Gnash, currently the only actively developed Flash Player alternative. The Gnash developers say they long ago reverse-engineered what's now in the official specifications. Still, you'll be hard pressed to find any video sites that work with it. So you're still dependent on one vendor (Adobe) to make changes to the only compatible Flash plug-in.


How Adobe could open source Flash Player.

Adobe has repeatedly given the same excuses for not open sourcing Flash: They don't own all of the code, and they're afraid everyone would split off a bunch of popular but incompatible Flash plug-ins. None of those excuses hold water because Sun open sourced Java, and successfully dealt with those very same concerns.


Basically all Adobe would have to do is repeat what Sun did when they open sourced Java:

  • Announce the Open Source Flash Player project.
  • Set up the repository, and a system for contributing to the project.
  • Start releasing the pieces of Flash they own under 2 licenses: copyleft and commercial.
  • Provide the encumbered parts as binary plugs until a substitute is ready.
  • Gradually eliminate the need for binary plugs until the whole project is open source.

Bingo! There you have it. Flash could then be improved on by everyone, and eventually not suck.

About the author:
RichterKuato is a internet surfer and amateur comic illustrator/writer, who regularly comes up with ways to fix things.

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