Adobe Flash

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For the application-maker, see Adobe Flash Professional.
For other uses, see Adobe Flash (disambiguation).
Adobe Flash
Adobe Flash Player v11 icon.png
Original author(s) Macromedia
Developer(s) Adobe Systems
Type Rich Internet application
Website www.adobe.com/products/flashruntimes.html

Adobe Flash (formerly called Macromedia Flash and Shockwave Flash) is a multimedia and software platform used for creating vector graphics, animation, games and rich Internet applications (RIAs) that can be viewed, played and executed in Adobe Flash Player. Flash is frequently used to add streamed video or audio players, advertisement and interactive multimedia content to web pages, although usage of Flash on websites is declining.[1]

Flash manipulates vector and raster graphics to provide animation of text, drawings, and still images. It allows bidirectional streaming of audio and video, and it can capture user input via mouse, keyboard, microphone and camera. Flash applications and animations can be programmed using the object-oriented language called ActionScript. Adobe Flash Professional is the most popular[original research?] authoring tool for creating the Flash content, which also allows automation via the JavaScript Flash language (JSFL). Adobe's attempt to foster open source Flash development appears to have been abandoned.

Adobe Flash Player makes the Flash content accessible on various operating systems such as Windows, OS X and Linux, and is available free of charge for common[which?] web browsers (as a plug-in) under a few of the major operating systems, some smartphones and tablets, and a few other electronic devices using Flash Lite.

History[edit]

Flash originated with the application SmartSketch, developed by Jonathan Gay. It was published by FutureWave Software, which was founded by Charlie Jackson. SmartSketch was a drawing application for pen computers running the PenPoint OS.[2][3] When PenPoint failed in the marketplace, SmartSketch was ported to Microsoft Windows and Mac OS. As the Internet became more popular, FutureWave added cell animation editing to the vector drawing capabilities of SmartSketch and released FutureSplash Animator on multiple platforms.[4] FutureWave approached Adobe Systems with an offer to sell them FutureSplash in 1995, but Adobe turned them down at that time. FutureSplash was used by Microsoft in its early work with the Internet (MSN), and also by Disney Online for their subscription-based service Disney's Daily Blast. In 1996, FutureSplash was acquired by Macromedia and released as Flash. Flash is currently developed and distributed by Adobe Systems, as the result of its 2005 purchase of Macromedia.

Adobe Flash Professional is one of the common animation programs for low-cost 2D television and commercial animation, in competition with Anime Studio and Toon Boom Animation. Notable users of the software include DHX Media Vancouver for productions including Pound Puppies and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Fresh TV for Total Drama, Nelvana for 6teen and Clone High, Williams Street for Metalocalypse and Squidbillies, and Nickelodeon Animation Studios for Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera, Danny Phantom and Happy Tree Friends. Flash is less commonly used for feature-length animated films; however, 2009's The Secret of Kells, an Irish film, was animated primarily in Adobe Flash, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 82nd Academy Awards.

Format[edit]

FLA[edit]

Flash source files are in the FLA format, and contain graphics, animation as well as embedded assets such as bitmap images, audio files and FLV video files. The Flash source file format is a proprietary format and Adobe Flash Professional is the only available authoring tool capable of editing such files. Flash source files (.fla) may be compiled into Flash movie files (.swf) using Flash Professional.

SWF[edit]

Main article: SWF

Flash movie files are in the SWF format, traditionally called "ShockWave Flash" movies, "Flash movies", or "Flash applications", usually have a .swf file extension, and may be used in the form of a web page plug-in, strictly "played" in a standalone Flash Player, or incorporated into a self-executing Projector movie (with the .exe extension in Microsoft Windows). Flash Video files[spec 1] have a .flv file extension and are either used from within .swf files or played through a flv-aware player, such as VLC, or QuickTime and Windows Media Player with external codecs added.

The use of vector graphics combined with program code allows Flash files to be smaller—and thus allows streams to use less bandwidth—than the corresponding bitmaps or video clips. For content in a single format (such as just text, video, or audio), other alternatives may provide better performance and consume less CPU power than the corresponding Flash movie, for example when using transparency or making large screen updates such as photographic or text fades.

In addition to a vector-rendering engine, the Flash Player includes a virtual machine called the ActionScript Virtual Machine (AVM) for scripting interactivity at run-time, with video, MP3-based audio, and bitmap graphics. As of Flash Player 8, it offers two video codecs: On2 Technologies VP6 and Sorenson Spark, and run-time JPEG, Progressive JPEG, PNG, and GIF capability. In the next version, Flash is slated to use a just-in-time compiler for the ActionScript engine.

3D[edit]

Main article: Stage3D

Flash Player 11 introduced a full 3D shader API, called Stage3D, which is fairly similar to WebGL.[5][6]

Flash Video[edit]

Main article: Flash Video

Virtually all browser plugins for video are free of charge and cross-platform, including Adobe's offering of Flash Video, which was first introduced with Flash version 6. Flash Video has been a popular choice for websites due to the large installed user base and programmability of Flash. In 2010, Apple publicly criticized Adobe Flash, including its implementation of video playback for not taking advantage of hardware acceleration, one reason Flash is not to be found on Apple's mobile devices. Soon after Apple's criticism, Adobe demoed and released a beta version of Flash 10.1, which takes advantage of GPU hardware acceleration even on a Mac. Flash 10.2 beta, released December 2010, adds hardware acceleration for the whole video rendering pipeline.

Flash Audio[edit]

Flash Audio is most commonly encoded in MP3 or AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) however it can also use ADPCM, Nellymoser (Nellymoser Asao Codec) and Speex audio codecs. Flash allows sample rates of 11, 22 and 44.1 kHz. It cannot have 48 kHz audio sample rate, which is the standard TV and DVD sample rate.

On August 20, 2007, Adobe announced on its blog that with Update 3 of Flash Player 9, Flash Video will also implement some parts of the MPEG-4 international standards.[7] Specifically, Flash Player will work with video compressed in H.264 (MPEG-4 Part 10), audio compressed using AAC (MPEG-4 Part 3), the F4V, MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14), M4V, M4A, 3GP and MOV multimedia container formats, 3GPP Timed Text specification (MPEG-4 Part 17), which is a standardized subtitle format and partial parsing capability for the 'ilst' atom, which is the ID3 equivalent iTunes uses to store metadata. MPEG-4 Part 2 and H.263 will not work in F4V file format. Adobe also announced that it will be gradually moving away from the FLV format to the standard ISO base media file format (MPEG-4 Part 12) owing to functional limits with the FLV structure when streaming H.264. The final release of the Flash Player implementing some parts of MPEG-4 standards had become available in Fall 2007.[8]

Adobe Flash Player 10.1 does not have acoustic echo cancellation, unlike the VoIP offerings of Skype and Google Voice, making this and earlier versions of Flash less suitable for group calling or meetings. Flash Player 10.3 Beta incorporates acoustic echo cancellation.

Scripting language[edit]

Further information: ActionScript

ActionScript is the programming language used by Flash. It is an enhanced superset of the ECMAScript programming language, with a classical Java-style class model, rather than JavaScript's prototype model.

Specifications[edit]

In October 1998, Macromedia disclosed the Flash Version 3 Specification on its website. It did this in response to many new and often semi-open formats competing with SWF, such as Xara's Flare and Sharp's Extended Vector Animation formats. Several developers quickly created a C library for producing SWF. In February 1999, MorphInk 99 was introduced, the first third-party program to create SWF files. Macromedia also hired Middlesoft to create a freely available developers' kit for the SWF file format versions 3 to 5.

Macromedia made the Flash Files specifications for versions 6 and later available only under a non-disclosure agreement, but they are widely available from various sites.

In April 2006, the Flash SWF file format specification was released with details on the then newest version format (Flash 8). Although still lacking specific information on the incorporated video compression formats (On2, Sorenson Spark, etc.), this new documentation covered all the new features offered in Flash v8 including new ActionScript commands, expressive filter controls, and so on. The file format specification document is offered only to developers who agree to a license agreement that permits them to use the specifications only to develop programs that can export to the Flash file format. The license forbids the use of the specifications to create programs that can be used for playback of Flash files. The Flash 9 specification was made available under similar restrictions.[9]

In June 2009, Adobe launched the Open Screen Project (Adobe link), which made the SWF specification available without restrictions. Previously, developers could not use the specification for making SWF-compatible players, but only for making SWF-exporting authoring software. The specification still omits information on codecs such as Sorenson Spark, however.[10]

Authoring tools[edit]

Official tools[edit]

The Adobe Flash Professional authoring program is primarily used to design graphics and animation and publish the same for websites, web applications, and video games. The program also offers limited support for audio and video embedding, and ActionScript scripting.

Adobe provides four ways of developing software applications for Flash:

Third-party tools[edit]

Open source projects like Ajax Animator aim to create a Flash development environment, complete with a graphical user environment. Alternatively, programs such as Vectorian Giotto, swfmill, SWFTools, and MTASC provide tools to create SWF files, but do so by compiling text, ActionScript or XML files into Flash animations. It is also possible to create SWF files programmatically using the Ming library, which has interfaces for C, PHP, C++, Perl, Python, and Ruby. Haxe is an open source, high-level object-oriented programming language geared towards web-content creation that can compile Flash files.

Many shareware developers produced Flash creation tools and sold them for under US$50 between 2000 and 2002. In 2003 competition and the emergence of free Flash creation tools had driven many third-party Flash-creation tool-makers out of the market, allowing the remaining developers to raise their prices, although many of the products still cost less than US$100 and work with ActionScript. As for open source tools, KToon can edit vectors and generate SWF, but its interface is very different from Macromedia's. Another, more recent example of a Flash creation tool is SWiSH Max made by an ex-employee of Macromedia. Toon Boom Technologies also sells a traditional animation tool, based on Flash.

In addition, several programs create .swf-compliant files as output from their programs. Among the best-known of these is Screencast, which leverages the ability to do lossless compression and playback of captured screen content to produce demos, tutorials, or software simulations of programs. These programs are typically designed for use by non-programmers, and create Flash content quickly and easily, but cannot actually edit the underlying Flash code (i.e. the tweening and transforms, etc.). Screencam is perhaps the oldest screencasting authoring tool to adopt Flash as the preferred output format, having been developed since the mid-90s. The fact that screencasting programs have adopted Flash as the preferred output is testament to Flash's presence as a ubiquitous cross-platform animation file format.

Other tools focus on creating specific types of Flash content. GoAnimate is a cloud-based platform for creating and distributing high-quality animated videos. Anime Studio is a 2D animation software package specialized for character animation that creates SWF files. Express Animator is similarly aimed specifically at animators. Question Writer publishes its quizzes to Flash file format.

Users who are not programmers or web designers will also find on-line tools that allow them to build full Flash-based websites. One of the oldest services available (1998) is FlashToGo. Such companies provide a wide variety of pre-built models (templates) associated to a Content Management System that empowers users to easily build, edit and publish their websites. Other sites, that allows greater customization and design flexibility are Wix.com and CirclePad.

Adobe wrote a software package called Adobe LiveMotion, designed to create interactive animation content and export it to a variety of formats, including SWF. LiveMotion went through two major releases, but failed to gain any notable user base.

In February 2003, Macromedia purchased Presedia, which had developed a Flash authoring tool that automatically converted PowerPoint files into Flash. Macromedia subsequently released the new product as Breeze, which included many new enhancements. In addition, (as of version 2) Apple's Keynote presentation software also allows users to create interactive presentations and export to SWF.

Since software applications can be built on Adobe Flash, third-party development tools have been created to assist developers in doing so. FlashDevelop is a free and open-source Flash ActionScript IDE, which includes a project manager and debugger for building applications on Flash Player and Adobe AIR. FDT by PowerFlasher Solutions is a commercial ActionScript IDE similar to FlashDevelop.

Players[edit]

Adobe Flash Player[edit]

Main article: Adobe Flash Player

Adobe Flash Player is a multimedia and application player originally developed by Macromedia and acquired by Adobe Systems. It plays SWF files, which can be created by Adobe Flash Professional, Apache Flex, or a number of other Adobe Systems and 3rd party tools. It has support for a scripting language called ActionScript, which can be used to display Flash Video from an SWF file.

SwfDec[edit]

Screenshot of the SwfDec version shipped with GNOME 2.28.0

Swfdec is an outdated free/open source replacement of Adobe Flash Player. It run on Linux and FreeBSD and is distributed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).[11] The last release was on December 21, 2008 (2008-12-21).

Shumway[edit]

Shumway is an open source Flash Player released by Mozilla in November 2012. It is built in JavaScript and is thus compatible with modern web-browsers.[12][13][14] In early October 2013, Shumway was included by default in the Firefox nightly branch,[15] and is planned to be initially included in a stable version of Firefox in the first half of 2014.

Gnash[edit]

Gnash is an active project that aims to create a software player and browser plugin replacement for the Adobe Flash Player. Despite potential patent worries because of the proprietary nature of the files involved, Gnash provides most SWFv7 features but does not fully support SWF v7, SWF v8-files, or the '9'th generation.[16][17] Gnash runs on Windows, Linux and other platforms for the 32-bit, 64-bit, and other operating systems.

Lightspark[edit]

Lightspark is a free and open source SWF player. It implements the latest ActionScript 3. Lightspark supports OpenGL-based rendering for 3D content. The player is compatible with H.264 Flash videos on YouTube.

ScaleForm[edit]

Scaleform GFx is a commercial alternative Flash player that features fully hardware-accelerated 2D graphics rendering using the GPU. Scaleform has high conformance with both Flash 10 ActionScript 3[18] and Flash 8 ActionScript 2. Scaleform GFx is a game development middleware solution that helps create graphical user interfaces or HUDs within 3D video games.

Criticisms[edit]

Vendor dependence[edit]

See also: Vendor lock-in

The reliance on Adobe for decoding Flash makes its use on the World Wide Web a concern for advocates of open standards and free software — the completeness of its public specifications are debated, and no complete implementation of Flash is publicly available in source code form with a license that permits reuse. Generally, public specifications are what makes a format re-implementable (see future proofing data storage), and reusable codebases can be ported to new platforms without the endorsement of the format creator.

Adobe's restrictions on the use of the SWF/FLV specifications were lifted in February 2009 (see Adobe's Open Screen Project). However, despite efforts of projects like Gnash, Swfdec and Lightspark, a complete free Flash player is yet to be seen, as of September 2011. For example, Gnash cannot use SWF v10 yet.[19] Notably, Gnash has been a long standing high priority project of the Free Software Foundation, since at least 2007 and it was ranked number one in September 2011.[20]

Notable advocates of free software, open standards, and the World Wide Web have warned against the use of Flash:

Founder of Mozilla Europe, Tristan Nitot stated in 2008:[21]

Companies building websites should beware of proprietary rich-media technologies like Adobe's Flash and Microsoft's Silverlight. (...) You're producing content for your users and there's someone in the middle deciding whether users should see your content.

Representing open standards, inventor of CSS and co-author of HTML5, Håkon Wium Lie explained in a Google tech talk of 2007, entitled "the <video> element", the proposal of Theora as the format for HTML5 video:[22]

I believe very strongly, that we need to agree on some kind of baseline video format if [the video element] is going to succeed. Flash is today the baseline format on the web. The problem with Flash is that it's not an open standard.

Representing the free software movement, Richard Stallman stated in a speech in 2004 that:[23] "The use of Flash in websites is a major problem for our community."

Availability on desktop operating systems[edit]

Adobe Flash Player exists for a variety of desktop operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.[24] In 2011, Adobe claimed that 99% of desktop PCs had Flash Player installed.[25]

As of May 2011, users of computers with the PowerPC processor are not able to view Flash content from some sites (e.g. Facebook) that requires the latest upgrade of Adobe Flash player, which is not compatible with this processor architecture.[26]

In February 2012, Adobe announced the discontinuation of its NPAPI Flash plugin for Linux from version 11.2. Newer versions will not be available from Adobe, but integrated with Google Chrome, using its PPAPI instead. Security updates for the NPAPI version will still be provided for 5 years.[27]

Since version 11 of Adobe Flash Player, released October 4, 2011, 64-bit and 32-bit builds for Windows, Mac and Linux have been released in sync.[28] Previously, Adobe offered experimental 64-bit builds of Flash Player for Linux, from November 11, 2008[29][30] to June 15, 2010.[31]

Availability on mobile operating systems[edit]

Adobe Flash Player exists for a variety of mobile operating systems, including Android (since version 2.2[32]), Pocket PC/Windows CE, QNX (e.g. on BlackBerry PlayBook), Symbian, Palm OS, and webOS (since version 2.0[33]).

Flash Player for smart phones was made available to handset manufacturers at the end of 2009.[34]

Adobe stops supporting Flash Player for mobile device browsers after the release of 11.1. It continues to support deploying Flash based content as mobile applications via Adobe AIR.[35]

In November 2011, however, Adobe announced the withdrawal of support for Flash on mobile devices. Adobe is reaffirming its commitment to "aggressively contribute" to HTML5.[36] In November 2011 there were also a number of announcements that demonstrated a possible decline in demand for rich Internet application architectures, and Flash in particular.[37] Adobe announced the end of Flash for mobile platforms or TV, instead focusing on HTML5 for browser content and Adobe AIR for the various mobile application stores.[38][39][40] Pundits questioned its continued relevance even on the desktop[41] and described it as "the beginning of the end".[42] BlackBerry LTD (formerly known as RIM) announced that it would continue to develop Flash for the PlayBook.[43]

There is no Adobe Flash Player for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch). The iPhone accounts for more than 60% of US and Canadian smartphone web traffic.[44] However, Flash content can be made to run on iOS devices in a variety of ways:

  • Flash content can be bundled inside an Adobe AIR app, which will then run on iOS devices. (Apple did not allow this for a while, but they relaxed those restrictions in September 2010.[45])
  • On March 8, 2011, Techradar reported that Adobe provides an experimental server side tool (Wallaby) to convert Flash programs (as far as possible) to HTML5 code, thus allowing iOS devices to display the content.[46]
  • If the content is Flash video being served by Adobe Flash Media Server 4.5, the server will translate and send the video as HTTP Dynamic Streaming or HTTP Live Streaming, both of which can be played by iOS devices.[47]
  • Some specialized mobile browsers manage to accommodate Flash via streaming content from the cloud directly to a user's device. Some examples are Photon Browser [48] and Puffin Web Browser.[49]

The mobile version of Internet Explorer 8 for Windows Phone cannot play Flash content.[50] The IE9 web browser on Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 ('Mango') cannot play Flash content either.[51]

Availability on other computing devices[edit]

Adobe Flash Lite is a lightweight version of Adobe Flash Player intended for mobile phones and other portable electronic devices like Chumby and iRiver.

On the emerging single-board enthusiast market, as substantially popularized by the Raspberry Pi, support from Adobe is lacking. However, Gnash have been ported and found useful.[52]

Accessibility[edit]

Using Flash tends to break conventions associated with normal HTML pages. Selecting text, scrolling,[53] form control and right-clicking act differently from with a regular HTML webpage. Many such interface unexpectancies are fixable by the designer. Usability expert Jakob Nielsen published an Alertbox in 2000 entitled, Flash: 99% Bad, which listed issues like these.[54] Some problems have been at least partially fixed since Nielsen's complaints:

  • Text size can be controlled using full page zoom, found in many modern browsers.
  • It has been possible for authors to include alternative text in Flash since Flash Player 6. This accessibility feature is compatible only with certain screen readers and only under Windows.[55]

Performance[edit]

Main article: Flash Video

Flash Player supports two distinct modes of video playback, and video decoding may not be used for older video content. Such content causes excessive CPU usage compared to comparable content played with other players.

  • Software Rendered Video : Flash Player supports software rendered video since version 6. Such video supports vector animations displayed above the video content. This obligation may, depending on graphic APIs exposed by the operating system, prohibit using a video overlay, like a traditional multimedia player would use, with the consequence that color space conversion and scaling must happen in software.[56]
  • Hardware Accelerated Video : Flash Player supports hardware accelerated video playback since version 10.2, for H.264, F4V, and FLV video formats. Such video is displayed above all Flash content, and takes advantage of video decoders chipsets installed on the user's device. Developers must specifically use the "StageVideo" technology within Flash Player in order for hardware decoding to be enabled. Flash Player internally uses technologies such as DirectX Video Acceleration and OpenGL to do so.

In tests done by Ars Technica in 2008 and 2009, Adobe Flash Player performed better on Windows than Mac OS X and Linux with the same hardware.[57][58] Performance has later improved for the latter two, on Mac OS X with Flash Player 10.1,[59] and on Linux with Flash Player 11.[60]

Flash blocking in web browsers[edit]

Some websites rely heavily on Flash and become unusable without Flash Player, or with Flash blocked

Flash content is usually embedded using the object or embed HTML element.[61] A web browser that does not fully implement one of these elements displays the replacement text, if supplied by the web page. Often, a plugin is required for the browser to fully implement these elements, though some users cannot or will not install it.

Since Flash can be used to produce content (such as advertisements) that some users find obnoxious or take a large amount of bandwidth to download, some web browsers default to not play Flash content before the user clicks on it, e.g. Konqueror, K-Meleon.

Most current browsers have a feature to block plugins, playing one only when the user clicks it. Opera versions since 10.5 feature native Flash blocking. Opera Turbo requires the user to click to play Flash content, and the browser also allows the user to enable this option permanently. Both Chrome[62] and Firefox[63] have an option to enable "click to play plugins". Equivalent "Flash blocker" extensions also exist for many popular browsers: Firefox has Flashblock and NoScript, Internet Explorer has Foxie, which contains a number of features, one of them named Flashblock. WebKit-based browsers under Mac OS X, such as Apple's Safari, have ClickToFlash.[64]

Security[edit]

Adobe Flash Player 10.3 introduced a Local Settings Manager that can be accessed from the Microsoft Windows Control Panel or the OS X System Preferences panel. This panel superseded the previous Global Online Settings Manager.[65] The Privacy Settings panel allows users to specify whether websites must ask their permission before using the web camera or microphone.[66] This was apparently part of a fix for vulnerabilities that enabled the use of Flash for spying via web camera.[67][68]

Intego's Year In Mac Security[69] report states that in 2011, the Flashback trojan surfaced targeting Mac OS X users, which first masqueraded as a Flash Player installer. Intego later recommended that Adobe users get trusted updates "only directly from the vendor that publishes them."[70]

Implementational vulnerabilities[edit]

Implementational vulnerabilities are flaws in the specific player software, rather than inherent to the Flash format or its usage. In particular, this section's listing of flaws in Adobe's Flash player can not be expected to apply to other players, and vice versa.

Adobe Flash Player's security record[71] has caused several security experts to recommend against installing the player, or to block Flash content:[72][73] the US-CERT recommends to block Flash using NoScript,[74] and Charlie Miller recommended "not to install Flash"[75] at the computer security conference CanSecWest. As of July 7, 2013, Adobe Flash Player has almost 300 CVE entries,[76] of which 234 were leading to arbitrary code execution. Security vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash Player account for a third of all vulnerabilities reported in Adobe products.[77]

Security experts have predicted that with the rise of HTML5, the Flash plugin may become obsolete. The Sophos Security Threat Report 2013 states that "fortunately, the need for browser plugins such as Flash is diminishing".[78] McAfee's report on 2013 Threats Predictions concurs and predicts that threats will shift towards browsers.[79]

Flash cookies[edit]

Main article: Local shared object

Like the HTTP cookie, a flash cookie (also known as a “Local Shared Object”) can be used to save application data. Flash cookies are not shared across domains. An August 2009 study by the Ashkan Soltani and a team of researchers at UC Berkeley found that 50% of websites using Flash were also employing flash cookies, yet privacy policies rarely disclosed them, and user controls for privacy preferences were lacking.[80] Most browsers' cache and history suppress or delete functions did not affect Flash Player's writing Local Shared Objects to its own cache in version 10.2 and earlier, at which point the user community was much less aware of the existence and function of Flash cookies than HTTP cookies.[81] Thus, users with those versions, having deleted HTTP cookies and purged browser history files and caches, may believe that they have purged all tracking data from their computers when in fact Flash browsing history remains. Adobe's own Flash Website Storage Settings panel, a submenu of Adobe's Flash Settings Manager web application, and other editors and toolkits can manage settings for and delete Flash Local Shared Objects.[82]

On Windows systems, LSOs are stored in the directory: "%appdata%\Macromedia\Flash Player" Deleting the contents of this directory should remove the LSOs (flash cookies) for the current user.

Alternatives[edit]

HTML5[edit]

HTML5 is often cited as an alternative to Adobe Flash technology usage on web pages. Adobe released a tool that converts Flash to HTML5,[83] and Google also released an experimental tool that does the same.[84]

Tools[edit]

Commercial software packages that can create SWF files include Toon Boom, Xara Photo & Graphic Designer, Vectorian Giotto, CelAction2D, Toufee, KoolMoves, Express Animator, Alligator Flash Designer, Amara Web and Anime Studio. These applications provide additional capabilities for creating cartoons, especially with tools more tailored to traditionally trained animators, as well as additional rigging for characters, which can speed up character animation considerably. Additionally, there are programs available which translate 3D information into 2D vectors for display in Flash Player.

Several third-party tools are able to use and generate SWF files, and some tools such as IrfanView are capable of rendering SWF files, through the use of Flash Player. Flash Player cannot ship as part of a pure open source, or completely free operating system, as its distribution is bound to the Macromedia Licensing Program and subject to proposition first from Adobe.[citation needed] There is no complete free and open source software replacement which offers all the functionality of the latest version of Adobe Flash Player,[85] and although commercial alternatives such as Scaleform GFx do exist, they cannot work within web browsers.

Open-source Flash content creation software includes Ajax Animator, Clash, OpenOffice Impress, KToon, Salasaga, and Synfig.

Compilers[edit]

Apache Flex is an open-source software development kit (SDK) for the development of Flash-based rich internet applications. The Apache Flex ActionScript 3.0 compiler generates SWF files from ActionScript 3 files. Flex was the primary ActionScript 3 compiler and was actively developed by Adobe before it was donated to Apache Software Foundation in 2011.

Haxe is a open-source programming language and compiler, that is able to generate SWF files from Haxe programs. As of 2012, Haxe can build programs for Flash Player that perform faster than the same application built with the Adobe Flex SDK compiler, due to additional compiler optimizations supported in Haxe.[86][unreliable source?]

swfc is an open-source ActionScript 3.0 compiler which generates SWF files from script files, which includes SVG tags. It is currently the most complete alternative for building Flash content in Linux, despite being entirely script-based and not having a GUI.

The Ming library is able to import and export graphics from XML into SWF. Ming has bindings for popular scripting languages such as PHP and Python.

Flash 4 Linux[edit]

The Flash 4 Linux project was an initiative to develop an open source Linux application as an alternative to Adobe Flash Professional. Development plans included authoring capacity for 2D animation, and tweening, as well as outputing SWF file formats. F4L evolved into an editor that was capable of authoring 2D animation and publishing of SWF files. Flash 4 Linux was renamed UIRA. UIRA intended to combine the resources and knowledge of the F4L project and the Qflash project, both of which were Open Source applications that aimed to provide an alternative to the proprietary Adobe Flash.

UIRA was free software, but was never truly completed. It reached a stage of being no more than a shell of a UI with limited functionality. Due in part to the adoption of the DADVSI law in France, the UIRA project was shut down in January 2008, according to the project's page in SourceForge.[citation needed]

Open Screen Project[edit]

On May 1, 2008, Adobe announced the Open Screen Project, with the intent of providing a consistent application interface across devices such as personal computers, mobile devices, and consumer electronics.[87] When the project was announced, seven goals were outlined: the abolition of licensing fees for Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Integrated Runtime, the removal of restrictions on the use of the Shockwave Flash (SWF) and Flash Video (FLV) file formats, the publishing of application programming interfaces for porting Flash to new devices, and the publishing of The Flash Cast protocol and Action Message Format (AMF), which let Flash applications receive information from remote databases.[87]

As of February 2009, the specifications removing the restrictions on the use of SWF and FLV/F4V specs have been published.[88] The Flash Cast protocol—now known as the Mobile Content Delivery Protocol—and AMF protocols have also been made available,[88] with AMF available as an open source implementation, BlazeDS. Work on the device porting layers is in the early stages. Adobe intends to remove the licensing fees for Flash Player and Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) for devices at their release for the Open Screen Project.

The list of mobile device providers who have joined the project includes Palm, Motorola, and Nokia,[89] who, together with Adobe, have announced a $10 million Open Screen Project fund.[90]

As of 2012, the Open Screen Project is no longer accepting new applications according to partner BSQuare. However paid licensing is still an option for device makers who want to use Adobe software.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ FLV and F4V[dead link]
    F4V is based on ISO base media file format standard, available as a free download [1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Usage of Flash for websites". Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  2. ^ Waldron, Rick (August 27, 2006). "The Flash History". Flashmagazine. Retrieved June 18, 2001. 
  3. ^ Gay, Jonathan (2001). "The History of Flash". Adobe Systems Inc. Retrieved October 18, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Grandmasters of Flash: An Interview with the Creators of Flash". ColdHardFlash.com. Retrieved February 12, 2008. 
  5. ^ Matt Fisher (2013). HTML5 for Flash Developers. Packt Publishing Ltd. § Stage3D versus WebGL, p. 91. ISBN 978-1-84969-333-2. 
  6. ^ "Stage3D vs WebGL Performance — Airtight Interactive". Airtightinteractive.com. 2011-10-28. Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  7. ^ "What just happened to video on the web". Adobe. 
  8. ^ "Adobe Press release on MPEG-4 in Flash Player 9". Adobe.com. Archived from the original on December 3, 2010. Retrieved December 4, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Adobe File Format Specification FAQ". Adobe Systems. Archived from the original on November 11, 2007. Retrieved November 15, 2007. 
  10. ^ "Free Flash community reacts to Adobe Open Screen Project". Retrieved November 29, 2008. [dead link]
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External links[edit]