back to article Adobe's revenge on Steve Jobs: HTML5

Despite significant investments from Microsoft, Google, and others, HTML5 remains not quite good enough for a range of apps. So says Mark Zuckerberg, but I also heard that this week from the chief technology officer of a large media company. Rather than gloat over HTML5's long road to native app parity, though, he fretted about …

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Oh no!

I really hope Adobe doesn't get to grips with HTML5. The last thing the world needs is Adobe continuing to inflict their cruddy software on it. It's just a shame that most people don't realise that the bloated heap of crap called Acrobat is not the only PDF tool about.

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JDX
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Re: Oh no!

It's just a shame that most people talking about Adobe's 'cruddy software' have never actually done any serious development in it. Flex/AS3 and Adobe's toolset for it is actually a really nice development setup, speaking as a programmer myself, and FAR more portable than HTML5 is going to be for a few years.

Also - how come we bash Adobe for being buggy and dangerous, but nearly all the exploits are Windows-only?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh no!

If portable is your aim then Java is best. But every tool has its downsides.

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Re: Oh no!

> the bloated heap of crap called Acrobat is not the only PDF tool about.

Let me guess, you're a windows user? No-one running Mac OS X or and flavour of Linux uses the Adobe reader unless they accidentally installed it and haven't got round to disassociating PDF files with it.

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Facepalm

Re: Oh no!

"If portable is your aim then Java is best. But every tool has its downsides"

Portable between OS's maybe, portable between different versions of VM? Nah ah. Unfortunately Java brings its own unique set of issues to the portability problem which arn't necessarily any easier to solve. Besides which I'm afraid the days of Java (c)raplets has past. Not many people have the skillset and the browser based end results usually look pretty poor even compared to flash.

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Re: Oh no!

For designers, Adobe suite is what gcc, visual studio,xcode is for a developer.

They won't give it up, there is no credible rival, no alternative.

Adobe embraces html5? Be happy for it.

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@JDX

"Also - how come we bash Adobe for being buggy and dangerous, but nearly all the exploits are Windows-only?"

I hate Windows as much as the next geek, but even I struggle to blame MS when I'm using a Mac, or Linux, or BSD, or......

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Re: Oh no!

"It's just a shame that most people talking about Adobe's 'cruddy software' have never actually done any serious development in it."

No, but most of us have seen the cruddy and bloated end products, particularly on mobile devices.

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Facepalm

Re: Oh no!

... but nearly all the exploits are Windows-only?

You are confusing the exploit itself and the malware out there availing itself of the exploit. Just 'cos nobody's hitting it on other platforms doesn't mean it's not there. Why do you think Adobe keep shipping new versions of Flash, Reader, etc for Linux? Just for the sheer fun of it?

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Re: Oh no!

@JDX - Did you seriously just call Adobe's toolset 'nice'? And if so, are you sharing whatever it is you're smoking? It's anything but nice. It literally gives me a headache every time I have to deal with it.

I will say this though: the continued lack of a HTML5 standard is getting very annoying. Haven't we been waiting long enough?

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Linux

Re: Oh no!

Adobe have a version of Reader for Linux? Not that I have any interest in installing it.

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FAIL

Re: Oh no!

"If portable is your aim then Java is best."

Except we're talking about the mobile market, where iOS has nearly half the market and doesn't allow java to run. So that's a very strange definition of portable.

The prohibition against interpreted code on iOS limits things to platforms which can be AOT compiled, such as .NET (see http://www.mono-project.com/Mono:OSX). Ironic, that.

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Re: Oh no!

True, and even Windows users can use a different PDF reader if they wish. Adobe Reader is overkill (and a security risk) for just about everyone.

Also, it sounds like the OP may be failing to distinguish between Adobe Reader (a free tool that many people still call "Acrobat" because it used to be called Acrobat Reader) and Acrobat or Acrobat Pro, which are non-free software for massaging PDFs in various ways. Most people have no contact with Acrobat / Acrobat Pro.

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Re: bash Adobe for being buggy and dangerous, but ... exploits are Windows-only?

Because at root, Adobe subsumed the MS mistake when they decided Reader shouldn't just be a PDF reader and needed to be able to write crap to the disk just like MS apps do.

Adobe was never really comfortable in the MS world. But way back in the dark ages before Mordor forged the ring, I mean MS bound applications tightly to its OS (even third party apps), it was a bit more tolerable because even if MS wasn't specifically supporting their differently styled apps, they weren't trying to crush them into the MS way.

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JDX
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Re: Oh no!

>>No, but most of us have seen the cruddy and bloated end products, particularly on mobile devices

It's not Adobe's fault that the people using their tools are poor developers. For one thing, many of them are designers who don't know how to code well. For another, many of them are paid $5 to create crappy adverts and so on... those people write equally horrible Java or C++ :)

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JDX
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Re: Oh no!

>>Did you seriously just call Adobe's toolset 'nice'?

I can't speak for the design-based tools, but Flex is a good API and FlexBuilder is a very decent IDE.

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JDX
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Re: Oh no!

>>If portable is your aim then Java is best

That doesn't make sense when we're talking about client apps. I'd say Flash is far preferable to Java applets; it's designed with presentation and GUI in mind and makes that stuff much easier.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Most people have no contact with Acrobat / Acrobat Pro.

Oh yes they do. Maybe not in the context of programming, but we're stuck installing it all over the network because somewhere up the chain of command there is a never to be sufficiently damned asswipe who has decreed that certain forms many in the office are required to complete will not be released as forms which can be completed and saved via Reader.

Acrobat 7 is what 5 years dead? (Probably more, but Adobe hide the expiration pages these days so I'm not going to spend time looking it up.) But those Acrobat 7 installs are still big gaping security holes on our network because a different set of asswipes won't spend the money to replace it (and if I could get the price they'd get, I'd probably buy a copy for home use). Granted the second set of AWs have a slightly better case in that the money is needed elsewhere and if the first AW would send the files out correctly we could just uninstall Acrobat 7, but from my little foxhole on the front line it's still a fuster cluck.

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Facepalm

Re: Most people have no contact with Acrobat / Acrobat Pro.

Jesus! Is amanfrommars posting anonymously now? What a cruel trick.

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Meh

Re: Oh no!

Yeah. Basically since forever. I keep it around as there are some pdf files that won't work properly with anything else. Alas these are mainly forms from some big organisations - often government and large banks.

Come to think of it though: I haven't seen one of those for a while...

Apart from that: yes, it's ridiculously bloated and not very nice to use, to say the least. Heaps of better alternatives for everyday use.

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Jobs Last Laugh

Steve may yet have the last laugh, as under his final watch HTML5 support was crippled outside of Safari by not upgrading the JS engine in the webView and limiting it's functionality.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jobs Last Laugh

>Steve may yet have the last laugh

It's pretty clear now that he had no idea what HTML5 was when he made his pronouncement............judging by the number of iOS apps developed in Flash/Flash Builder & endless games with AS3 spin-off love-ins like Sparrow, pretty sure the argument is moot with developers too.

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Stop

Re: Jobs Last Laugh

EXACTLY why would using the older JS engine, when embedded in an app, be a problem for HTML5? When you're in Safari, where you're SUPPOSED to be running HTML5 code, you get the latest, all singing, all dancing engine but that breaks normal sandbox security rules so you can't embed it in your own code. Writing a native app and then adding HTML5 is kind of against the point isn't it?

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Re: Jobs Last Laugh

I can spot those crappy app miles away. They all talk flash, and they for sure are pure crap.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jobs Last Laugh

>I can spot those crappy app miles away. They all talk flash, and they for sure are pure crap.

I'm sure you think you can, but you're wrong. Recent Starling and AIR for iOS [many 10K's] are indistiguishable from their Sparrow cousins which have being doing rather well for a while - or maybe you haven't come across Angry Birds.

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Rovio make Angry Birds, Roxio rip CDs and DVDs.

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FAIL

"Adobe for its proprietary approach to Flash."

Little bit of bias here: care to mention the alternative at the time Flash was created by Macromedia, in 1996? For better or worse Macromedia/Adobe filled a huge gap in a browser-independent way, when Javascript was slow as a dog and there was no functionality alternative. It's only now, over 15 YEARS later, that there is a standard alternative available, except even then it's without the strong authoring tools.

Worth remembering, I think. I disable Flash, as I'm not a fan of it, but I don't think just blindly repeating Jobs' words is a fruitful exercise.

Also, would Apple have even survived in the dark days without Photoshop? They should be showering Adobe with thanks, I reckon.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Adobe for its proprietary approach to Flash."

I wonder how different things would be if adobe had focused on making flash lean, fast and secure? Nobody really cared that it was proprietary back then, but a lot started caring when it became obvious it was slow, battery draining and responsible for a whole lot of security issues. I think that's what really focused people on the fact that we had a single company doing all the work on a major web standard - and ballsing it up.

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Re: "Adobe for its proprietary approach to Flash."

'lean' - I assume you mean running lean, but one thing they were very good at was lean downloads (of the player!) - that's how they got onto those close-to 100% distribution figures. Became a pain in later versions with a separate text framework that needs downloading by the client (done in the background, blocked by aggressive firewalls); but their small plug-in download with a clear version path is why it was such a great development target - particularly if you compare it to shockwave or java.

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Stop

Re: "Adobe for its proprietary approach to Flash."

Apple's problem with Adobe was that, although they nominally supported OS X, they put so little effort in to it they might as well not have bothered. Apple provided the Carbon framework as a compatibility layer to allow developers of OS 8 & 9 apps to port to OS X. Adobe were still using it when Apple announced that 64 bit OS X wouldn't support it, and it wasn't until the second Adobe release following that they finally had a Cocoa version of their code.

Don't forget that, although Apple had a nominally small market share at the time, a huge proportion of Adobe's Photoshop/Creative Suit sales were for the Mac versions, so it wasn't like there was no demand or money to be made. Adobe development was just hugely lazy and couldn't be bothered.

Apple didn't want to be in that kind of situation with the iPhone, waiting for Adobe to catch up with their APIs when they felt like it. More importantly Flash just wasn't designed with the idea of being driven from a touch screen. Apple's challenge to Adobe was "show us a version that runs well on a mobile phone", and Adobe never really succeeded (to the point that even they gave in and cancelled the mobile version).

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WTF?

Re: "Adobe for its proprietary approach to Flash."

"Apple didn't want to be in that kind of situation with the iPhone, waiting for Adobe to catch up with their APIs when they felt like it. More importantly Flash just wasn't designed with the idea of being driven from a touch screen. Apple's challenge to Adobe was "show us a version that runs well on a mobile phone", and Adobe never really succeeded (to the point that even they gave in and cancelled the mobile version)."

Well thats one way of looking at it. Another way is that allowing a graphical VM to run on their phones that could download apps willy nilly off the web shot rather large holes in their profitable walled garden approach to software. I wish Apple fanboys people would stop thinking that Job's hate of Flash was some kind of magnaminous stand against crapware for the masses - it was nothing more than a stand against potential loss of Apple profits.

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FAIL

@boltar

The original plan for the iPhone was that everything would be a web app, uncontrolled by the App Store. It was only due to developer demand that Apple provided native binary apps in V2, but have continued to support web apps.

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Re: boltar

"I wish Apple fanboys people would stop thinking that Job's hate of Flash was some kind of magnaminous stand against crapware for the masses - it was nothing more than a stand against potential loss of Apple profits."

And I wish people like you would realise that it was probably a bit of both. I can tell by your tone that you are not an Apple user, so you won't have an understanding of just how bad software on the platform was. It's equally as bad on Linux too and I'd argue that it's pretty rotten on Windows too. Jobs was doing what any CEO worth his salt would do with a nascent market place - his motives were financial, sure, but the bloke did give a shit about performance, whatever you may want to think. And Flash just plain sucked on mobile. It's still shockingly awful on my Nexus S.

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Re: "Adobe for its proprietary approach to Flash."

The upgrade treadmill required new features every few years. That's how we ended up with Acrobat with support for Flash and all the other crap. No one is going to pay a few hundred just for support for the latest version of office.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Adobe for its proprietary approach to Flash." @Steve Todd

It is not necessarily development who were lazy, but rather management who shrugged their shoulders and said "well, it works right now, doesn't it? don't bother porting until we *have* to".

Unfortunately, the above is all too true all too often.

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Re: "Adobe for its proprietary approach to Flash."

Nope, the fact that Apple tried to get Adobe to make a proper version from the very beginning talks against that conspiracy-theory.

If that was the case why would Jobs even have bothered contacting Adobe on these issues. What jobs probably didn't tell Adobe was that they had a phone going on. Just that they should fix their bloody crap ware that they bought from Micromedia. Not one Micromedia product have been of high quality.

And I'm sorry to say that when Adobe bought Micromedia, it was more like Micromeda taking over Adobe. Adobe used to produce high quality software, that's all gone, and been gone for a long time.

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Re: "Adobe for its proprietary approach to Flash."

Exactly in Jobs letter he said and I'm paraphrasing that if and when Adobe shows us a lean mean mobile Flash we will be happy to support it on our mobile devices. He never banned it on the Mac. Well Adobe never made such a beast and here we are

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Re: "Adobe for its proprietary approach to Flash."

I'd have to say I liked Freehand better than Illustrator until Adobe bought it.

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Re: "Adobe for its proprietary approach to Flash."

Actually it was Macromedia, not "Micromedia." I had zero involvement with Flash as I am exactly the wrong person to pick in the artistic world. My involvement was with their Dreamweaver line which worked quite well and passed HTML validation with flying colors, unlike many other products I used at the time. After Adobe bought them, well that was the end of product use here as I was well aware of Adobe QA/QC problems.

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Re: "Adobe for its proprietary approach to Flash."

One other thing that is useful to remember, the widespread adoption of Flash took place BEFORE Adobe acquired it. I think Macromedia was more responsive to the community and that it IS Adobe's corporate culture which has bolluxed things up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Adobe for its proprietary approach to Flash."

Given that Adobe create the most advanced applications available for MacOS, I think it's fair to assume that they are also the biggest customer of those SDKs. The risk of building against a new SDK is huge, more than the company could warrant it seems.

The more recent problem between them is better described below, note the "coincidental" dates of the respective bitch slaps..

April 27th 2010 – http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/googles-andy-rubin-on-everything-android/

April 29th 2010 – http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/

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Unhappy

A couple of years on, there is STILL nothing to replace Flash for sophisticated things in the browser, which shows how far off the mark Jobs was.

The saddest thing about all this is that people were happy to believe Jobs' nonsense about Flash, so clients started asking for everything to be done in HTML5 when that wasn't, and still isn't possible.

During the Olympics there were several comments on the BBC iPlayer website whinging that it was done in Flash and not HTML5, demonstrating that people simply don't understand that wasn't possible.

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Totally agree here ... I've shifted from developing in a single (relatively) stable platform, flash/flex ... to the fragmented mess that is html5/css/js, and native ios, and native android in parallel. Not pretty. And by the time html5 catches up, people will then start making the same complaints about it as they did about flash.

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Holmes

Not seen one webpage in flash that I liked.

In fact I did dislike them so much so I started to boycott companies products whose webpage was based on flash.

Yepp, I did look elsewhere for a new car when I bought mine just for that reason. One potential sell that one company lost just because they had gone bananas with flash on their homepage, when I wanted information on their cars.

I concluded if they can't build a proper homepage, to inform potential customers of their products, they for sure can't build cars either. Their flash pages was all flashy but just made me angry when I could not get the info I wanted.

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Surely that's a design/development flaw. The problem with Flash is that its too accessible to have-a-go coders, who can produce rubbish. Flash/AS3, like anything else, should be done properly or not at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Ad absurdum together

And I'm looking forward to losing all sense of proportion by buying houses with whichever real estate company uses the most jQueryUI on their site

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Anonymous Coward

Erm, am I missing something?

Since when was Flash ever used to build applications on the WWW? it was usually for video playback or really annoying website intros which went out of fashion years ago. There may have been Flash games and some people using it for upload controls, but nothing that major.

Job's fight was against flash on the mobile device for video and that battle has largely been won.

If there is something wrong with HTML5 then propose a solution, simple as that. We don't need proprietary solutions to widespread problems. The WWW would never have taken off if it was copyrighted and required you to only use a browser from one company.

When Facebook re-wrote their iOS app did they use Flash? nope. So the battle now is HTML5 vs native applications, which is a well known battle. Control and lack of installation (web) vs speed and integration with the host device (native).

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Re: Erm, am I missing something?

Have a look at Audio Tool and Pixlr to name two. You can build incredibly powerful apps in the browser using Flash (I did so for several years).

With the release of AS3 Flash became a serious development platform with a huge amount of capability and potential. The biggest problem was that a lot of developers couldn't get over its reputation as a lightweight tool for making advertising banners so didn't even consider it.

I know a few .Net programmers who were very surprised when they saw AS3 code, with a class structure, object typing etc.

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Re: Erm, am I missing something?

Just to point to one place - an enormous amount of eLearning content on and off the web still is in Flash. YouTube propelled video to top of the Flash application charts - unfortunately overshadowing all the richly interactive applications of Flash that HTML5 remains some distance from matching.

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Re: Erm, am I missing something?

No wonder I dislike Pixlr...

I used to use Photoshop professionally, nowadays I use Pixelmator for the very little pixel work I do, and it's a pleasure to use, all native cocoa.

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