Flash on the Beach Day 3 with interesting “from the [Adobe] horse’s mouth” Q&As

! Warning: this post hasn't been updated in over three years and so may contain out of date information.

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I thought I’d write up day three in a different style to the other days (mainly because I’m running out of ways of expressing “useful/ interesting session” when describing each one). Also for me there was one session on day three that made attending the event essential: the Adobe “Town Hall” session first thing in the morning. Such sessions can be great for teasing info out of a company (especially one as secretive of future plans as Adobe) and for getting good answers to questions that tend to stump local agents.

“Big Blue”, the SIlverlight logoI went long to the session armed with two questions. I expected it to be packed, so got there early, was first in, and sat in the middle of the front row so as to maximise my chances of getting to ask at least one question. After the introductions we were asked for questions and I went for it. Unfortunately the nerves set in as I started to speak and my question went clean out of my head! Arghh! Luckily I rambled about Microsoft whilst getting my thoughts together and recovered a few seconds later. And what was the question? Well the succinct version is

Microsoft’s Silverlight 1.1 will be a free install on Windows CE when launched whereas Adobe charge a small fortune for the Flash Player 7 SDK for the same platform. Do Adobe intend addressing the matter?

flash.pngThe answers from the three Adobe representatives were interesting and varied. I’ve paraphrased them here (and if they or anyone else who was there wishes to challenge that paraphrasing, please do as I don’t claim a perfect memory). Also I have forgotten the name of the flash player product manager that was there (and so have called him “FlashPlayerBoss” until I find it out)

Ted Patrick: Whilst Adobe is aware of Silverlight, we aren’t really concerned about it and feel it important to continue down the current planned flash development path rather than react to Silverlight.

Richard Galvan: Yes we intend addressing the matter; no we don’t intend telling you what we are planning.

FlashPlayerBoss: With embedded devices we have a choice: more processing power or lower power consumption. We are intending going down the lower power consumption route.

swxsmall.pngMy other question concerned technologies like SWX. As it was a more complex question that I wanted to discuss, rather than just asking then listening to answers from the stage, I cornered Richard Galvan at the end. My question to him was this:

Technologies like SWX are achieved through reverse engineering an Adobe-owned proprietary file format: SWF. What is Adobe’s official position on these technologies therefore.

Richard gave me a very clear and detailed answer and I’d like to thank him for it. In a nutshell his answer was that developers like himself didn’t have a problem with the likes of SWX and felt such community support for Flash was on the whole a good thing. However there was a big caveat, one that Adobe’s legal department is concerned about: by failing to discourage the reverse engineering of the SWF file format, Adobe could be accused by a future user of failing to protect that user’s intellectual property as anyone could decompile that user’s SWFs. Therefore Adobe currently do not condemn the likes of SWX, but at the same time they neither condone such technologies, nor do they offer any assurances that they wont condemn them in future.

Whilst he didn’t want to commit himself to advising me directly on whether it was safe for us (ie Eurotherm) to use such technologies, he agreed that it would be a risky strategy.