Just yesterday Mozilla Europe’s Tristan Nitot predicted that Adobe might open source Flash one day if competition from Microsoft’s Silverlight got too fierce. It seems as if he can look into the future, as today Adobe has announced the Open Screen Project. While not exactly an open source announcement, it does open the door a little bit more.The Open Screen Project, supported by Adobe and several “industry leaders” and announced today, is supposed to foster the creation of a “consistent runtime environment” that will “remove barriers for developers and designers as they publish content and applications across desktops and devices, including phones, mobile Internet devices, and set top boxes”. The idea is that such a runtime environment will provide the best performance across a wide range of operating systems.
As part of the Open Screen Project, Adobe announced several changes in their policies towards Flash, “to open access to Adobe Flash technology”:
- Removing restrictions on use of the SWF and FLV/F4V specifications
- Publishing the device porting layer APIs for Adobe Flash Player
- Publishing the Adobe Flash Cast protocol and the AMF protocol for robust data services
- Removing licensing fees – making next major releases of Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR for devices free
What this will effectively mean for alternative operating systems currently deprived of Flash, or for projects such as Gnash, remains to be seen. This initiative seems mostly aimed at non-desktop computers, so exactly how much the normal computing world will benefit from it remains to be seen.
Well, Adobe aren’t promising to open source their own code.
So what does it mean for FOSS software?
What this means is that priority #3 of the FSF:
… can now work to open, unencumbered specifications and APIs.
This could accelerate it considerably. There will be no longer any need to reverse engineer the specs and APIs … the programmers can just go ahead now and concentrate on coding the gansh implementation.
At the current version 0.8.2, gnash is really only beta quality software right now. It apparently supports flash v7 and pieces of v8 and v9.
Edited 2008-05-01 13:07 UTC