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Graphics Open Source Programming Software

Flash Is Dead; Long Live OpenFL! 166

Posted by timothy
from the pride-wenteh-already dept.
First time accepted submitter lars_doucet writes "I am a 15-year Flash veteran and nobody hates to say this more than me: Flash is dying, and the killer is Adobe. Where to now? HTML5 doesn't help me with native targets, and Unity is proprietary just like Flash was — 'don't worry, we'll be around forever! And so sorry about that neglected bug report — we're busy.' I'm putting my bets on OpenFL, a Haxe-based, fully open-source implementation of the Flash API that might just please both Flash refugees and longtime Flash haters alike. My article discusses my experiences with it and gives a brief overview for newcomers. In short: I can keep making Flash games if I want, but with the same codebase I can also natively target Win/Mac/Linux desktops, mobile, and more, without having to mess with Adobe AIR or other virtual machines."
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Flash Is Dead; Long Live OpenFL!

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  • Is that a good thing?
    • by gregor-e (136142)
      Sounds like you have to talk your users into running native code on their machine. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Because, you know, this is slashdot. We won't believe something is dead until netcraft reports it...

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Pahroza (24427)

      I think the verb you're looking for is confirm, not report.

    • Because, you know, this is slashdot. We won't believe something is dead until netcraft reports it...

      Didn't RFA, summery saying; " Unity is proprietary just like Flash was — 'don't worry, we'll be around forever!"

      They all think that way

      http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9709/... [cnn.com]
      The Funeral of Princess Diana
      Elton John performs "Candle in the Wind"
      4 min. VXtreme streaming video

      This maybe available with WMP, but I've never allowed that program to run (many reasons).

      But I'm going to say it's dead as a VXtreme search on http://www.netcraft.com/ [netcraft.com] crashes the browser window taking me to about:blank (Opera 12), or just

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @01:24PM (#46518111)

    Flash was one of the few holdouts of the Plugins era of the Netscape vs. IE Browser War. It came out because There wasn't a standard between the two for vector based graphics.
    Flash worked in different browsers and across many different OS's so it got well accepted. Then Adobe for the most part didn't let go easily and created more and more stuff to it, to make it rather full featured, killing off Active X and Java Applets for standard web pages.

    That said. HTML 5 is not perfect, however it does give us a lot of features that we think we should use flash for, and we really should follow the standards that comes part of the browser then rely on plugins.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lars_doucet (2853771)
      OpenFL supports HTML5: http://www.openfl.org/blog/201... [openfl.org]
    • by mlts (1038732)

      Agreed, HTML5 is not perfect, but it is better than addons, and those are oftentimes the items that malware uses to gain control of the Web browser (and thus a foothold of at least a user context, if not full run of a machine.)

      Of course, the irony is that you can use Flash Professional to make HTML5 content.

    • by enos (627034) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @01:51PM (#46518379)

      Flash became dominant because it filled many real needs. Vector graphics is just one. It also brought creation tools so artists could work with it, it brought a scripting environment fast enough to use in a browser. Like you say, it also brought commonality to all the different browsers. This means that Flash brought a lot of features to the masses:
        - browser games. These were known as Schockwave or Flash games.
        - usable online multimedia. Yes there were video sites, but they became far more usable and reliable with Flash video.
        - rich design. As much as we hate them for all their inherent problems (and I do too), the fact is that before HTML+CSS caught up the only way to implement a crazy design was with Flash.
        - rich typography. We've only got proper font support very recently. That means the website can define its own font, not simply choose among the handful of Web fonts one could assume were available on the client.

      Yes you could do video with native plugins like WMPlayer. Do you remember how terrible that was? Half the videos wouldn't play because of some unknown problem with codecs or such. When FLV came in it was great. Despite its problems, it brought reliability. I don't think YouTube would have become as successful as it is without Flash. Same with audio.

      Despite its many problems, Flash brought a rich, standard interface to the web when nobody else could.

      • Now all of those features are available without a plugin. Why create a new plugin to implement them?

      • by evilviper (135110) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @06:49PM (#46520653) Journal

        Yes you could do video with native plugins like WMPlayer. Do you remember how terrible that was?

        No, I remember how my 233MHz computer could play full-screen video from a web page, with no tearing and my browser never crashing... Something my 2.4GHz P4 couldn't manage using Flash.

      • It replaced a product that was not web friendly in the Macromedia product line, Director. Director created ShockWave files, the code name that became the product name for the web plugin. Director was raster graphics based and Macromedia saw that this wasn't going to fly and created Flash as the vector graphics replacement for Director. The Flash plugin allowed SWF packaged files to play in a web page. We creatives had tools at the time, thanks for thinking we were left out, but we weren't. We weren't starvi
    • by Anonymous Coward

      What you're missing here is that this is proof that Linux is winning. Flash had no place to go because of the bolstering marketshare that Linux is taking over. It's known that Linux makes up an easy 20% of all machines on the internet today with as many Linux downloads as there are from primary and mirror sites, as well as BT downloads.
       
      I know the Windoze and AppleSux boys will tell you differently but Linux is well established in the mainstream. The proof is in the numbers.

    • by ProzacPatient (915544) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @02:23PM (#46518687)

      HTML 5 is not perfect, however it does give us a lot of features that we think we should use flash for, and we really should follow the standards that comes part of the browser then rely on plugins.

      HTML 5 is ideal but one of my problems with using pure HTML and JavaScript for certain tasks is that implementation can vary wildly and performance even more so. Browser A might implement only a part of the standard, Browser B might implement the entire standard and Browser C has no support and worse is when all of them fully support the standard but Browser A is super slow compared to Browser B and Browser C is basically unusable. I've also seen a few JavaScript intensive websites demand you use only Chrome and I think this is a symptom of these problems.

      As bad as proprietary plugins are at least it'll always have a consistent implementation across browsers and perform, in the case of Flash, equally bad across all the browsers.

      Its not that I don't support the idea of cross-platform and cross-browser HTML5 solutions for tasks previously only accomplished through Flash but I think people often fail to understand it isn't all unicorns and rainbows as its made out to be.

      • by Lennie (16154) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @03:10PM (#46519117) Homepage

        It also works the other way around. If people don't use the browser features, browser manufactures won't work on improving them.

        • by Salgat (1098063)
          The problem is that it's up to the browser devs to properly implement the standards regardless, or the feature use won't ever be there to begin with. You can't expect people to start using all these unreliable features in blind hope that they improve compliance in the future.
          • by Lennie (16154)

            Browser vendors need to know how developers use features to know what direction they need to go in. Or what next to standardize.

      • HTML 5 is ideal but one of my problems with using pure HTML and JavaScript for certain tasks is that implementation can vary wildly and performance even more so. Browser A might implement only a part of the standard, Browser B might implement the entire standard and Browser C has no support and worse is when all of them fully support the standard but Browser A is super slow compared to Browser B and Browser C is basically unusable.

        I guess that's the price you pay for deciding to ride the bleeding edge. When HTML5 reaches the Recommendation status [w3.org] perhaps the browser developers will concentrate on supporting it (the standard) rather than speculating on which of their proposed implementations will give "the bigger market share"/"scratch their biggest itch". Until then there will continue to be a lot dog-waving by the tails.
        Oh wait... HTML 4 was a different dog, same leg action - but good developers worked with the differences.

        Bleeding

      • Its not that I don't support the idea of cross-platform and cross-browser HTML5 solutions for tasks previously only accomplished through Flash but I think people often fail to understand it isn't all unicorns and rainbows as its made out to be.

        Who writes code and thinks a new standard is going to have unicorns and rainbows? Wait, ok, idiots that don't write code and use WYSIWYG tools. Well, when you set an expectation bar too high or are looking up from the bottom of the pool ...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Don't forget: Flash is used for far more than just web-based bullshit. Animation studios will continue to use to produce things like Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, My Little Pony, and Teen Titans Go! because it's so much cheaper/faster than other methods. As long as you're looking at 2D, Flash can do almost everything you can get out of traditional methods and you can throw your renders into PS/AI for tweaking if you need to touch up a frame.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Flash_animated_televisi

    • Then Adobe for the most part didn't let go easily

      Actually, Adobe offered to opensource ActionScript (Flash's language) to be adopted as the update to JavaScript, but some stupid argument about... XML parsing(?) lead to some holy war where the ECMA-scripts parted. Which is too bad. Because ActionScript supports object oriented code.

      • Which is too bad. Because ActionScript supports object oriented code.

        Java supports object oriented code. It's still a bit icky if you ask me. Not as icky as Flash, mind you. Nothing makes a browser go boom like Flash, but Java comes close.

        • Do you mean Java, or JavaScript. One is an cross-platform language with strong C++ style syntax, the other looks like someone looked at VB and said "programming shouldn't have to be this complex." The latter is an admirable goal for small things (batch file replacements) but doesn't scale well if you want to do complex things.

    • by exomondo (1725132)
      But OpenFL is not a plugin, so what's your point?
    • Flash was one of the few holdouts of the Plugins era of the Netscape vs. IE Browser War. It came out because There wasn't a standard between the two for vector based graphics.

      Bzzzt! Wrong. I was a BETA and ALPHA tester for Macromind/Macromedia when Flash was being developed. It was developed specifically to replace their Director product as it was doomed being a primarily raster graphics animation and multimedia authoring tool. To claim Flash started as anything but shows you weren't there. When Flash began the Internet was still really slow. I think the university had three T-1 lines at the time for the whole campus to use. Flash could create animated interactions (all the rage

  • How is openflash supposed to more secure than adobe flash?

    How do we know this isn't an NSA front organization?

    • Maybe because all the code is open source and you can inspect it yourself? http://www.github.com/openfl [github.com]
  • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @01:29PM (#46518151)
    Die you bastard die!!!
    How can we make sure it doesn't come back from the dead. Zombie Flash.
    Take off and nuke Adobe headquarters from orbit... It's the only way to be sure.
  • by scorp1us (235526) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @01:33PM (#46518185) Journal

    It looks like if you don't want to deal with Flash, you have basically two options: Qt's QML for non-web-pages or HTML for web-pages.
    Soon though, thanks to QMLWeb [kde.org], you'll be able to use QML-to-JS in the browser.

  • To Clarify (Score:5, Informative)

    by lars_doucet (2853771) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @01:33PM (#46518187)
    It seems a lot of people either didn't RTFA or are basically misunderstanding what OpenFL is. OpenFL is NOT an open source version of the flash Flash Plugin, like Gnash. OpenFL is a code library written in Haxe. You use OpenFL, and then you can output a truly native (C++) app, but can still use the flash API. It doesn't embed the flash player, or Adobe AIR, or anything like that, in your generated C++ app. You can use this to create truly native apps for mac/windows/linux/mobile, etc. Very recently they've added the ability to output to HTML5: http://www.openfl.org/blog/201... [openfl.org] So you can take your old flash code, port it to Haxe, and then have a 100% Javascript based HTML5 game. And you can take that same Haxe code and make a native C++ app with it. And so on. Hope this helps demystify things.
    • by richy freeway (623503) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @01:46PM (#46518325)
      Can someone mod this guy down please? He's clouding the discussion with facts.
    • So it's a way not to learn a new language. Is there a danger of as the flash api is not updated possibly losing out where things like HTML5 while not perfect, gets perfected?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by lars_doucet (2853771)
        Again, you clearly did not read the article. For people who hate the Flash API, there is lime: https://github.com/openfl/lime [github.com]
        • OK, so they rely on a spin off project on it's own, and the rest of the world goes on with HTML5 which will continue to be improved and expanded. Which one will provide more use in the long run? So, OpenFL, is a way to avoid learning new technology. Hopefully it doesn't lead people down a one way street.
          • OpenFL supports HTML5: http://www.openfl.org/blog/201... [openfl.org] So any improvements to HTML5 will also benefit OpenFL. What OpenFL solves is the issue of "shit, my platform holder's investors got bored and yanked the rug out from under me, time to build my workflow back together from scratch!" By using Haxe, I can preserve my codebase and pivot to whatever the hot next technology is without having to bet on any one platform. I see that as a feature, not a bug.
            • As a cushion then, while one comes up to speed on something else. Sounds fair enough.
              • by grayhaze (3582431)
                Or as a way of targeting a range of different platforms using a familiar and proven API without needing to learn a different language or worry about understanding the low-level architecture for each platform. By producing a native application for each platform, which targets the hardware directly, it also maximises performance without the overhead of an interpreter or renderer.
              • by exomondo (1725132)

                As a cushion then, while one comes up to speed on something else. Sounds fair enough.

                Why write HTML5, Java (Android), native Windows/OS X/Linux versions directly when you can utilise your existing Flash knowledge (which admittedly I have very little so it's nor really for me) to write in OpenFL and multi-target?

          • OK, so they rely on a spin off project on it's own, and the rest of the world goes on with HTML5 which will continue to be improved and expanded. Which one will provide more use in the long run? So, OpenFL, is a way to avoid learning new technology. Hopefully it doesn't lead people down a one way street.

            One way to a known dead end. So, yeah, face palm city.

    • I didn't see it on their site, but is there a list of features from Flash that they do or don't support? It seems that some things, like cross-domain requests, wouldn't be possible if they went from Flash to Javascript/HTML5.

      • There's a few things here and there, not sure if there's an actual list. If you target flash, obviously you have all flash functionality available, but certain things (such as super-advanced international text field support) still need to be added on various targets. HTML5 is a brand new target so that's the least mature, whereas mobile and desktop targets have really good coverage. A "list of gaps we need to fill" would definitely a good feature to add to the OpenFL site, though.
        • by qpqp (1969898)

          A "list of gaps we need to fill" would definitely a good feature to add to the OpenFL site, though.

          'tis called gap analysis (between an as-is and the desired to-be state) and enterprise architects use tools for that. A Free (GPL) tool can be found here [enterprise...ecture.org]. The downside is that this takes a shitload of time.

      • by grayhaze (3582431)
        The vast majority of the Flash API is available and cross-platform communication is possible through web sockets. Take a look at https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] for a nice demo of one such project.
    • OpenFL is a code library written in Haxe. You use OpenFL, and then you can output a truly native (C++) app, but can still use the flash API. It doesn't embed the flash player, or Adobe AIR, or anything like that, in your generated C++ app.

      So is this a possible migration path for those who were using Adobe AIR? If it's C++, could it tie in with Apple's ObjectiveC framework and thus create deployable apps in the Mac App Store?

      • It already does! You can make native-binary mobile apps for ios and android using OpenFL, RIGHT NOW.
      • by grayhaze (3582431)
        You can already create native iOS and OS X apps using OpenFL, along with Android, Windows, Linux, Flash and HTML5. There's nothing to stop you selling these apps through the various stores.
    • by k31 (98145)

      Thanks, that was helpful.

  • Apple's footprints were found at the crime scene.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Flash was bad from the start and html5 and what not is just an extension of the same bad idea imo.. It is literally flash(sparkly) at the expense of function and another avenue for security exploits.

    Youtube? I use a downloader app, keep local copies of anything remotely interesting.

    Since ebay started using html5ucked, it takes many times longer to view the same content. All that impage overlapping crap. Before, you'd middle-click an item, middle click image after image and all are loaded for quick detaile

  • Just like before when I saw Macromedia let Flash kill Director and Shockwave.

    Damn shame. It was such an awesome product.

    FYI, Director's Lingo looks a whole lot like today's Lua.

    Cheers to those of us who helped make it and those of us who took it and used it to start a great career.

    I miss Director.

    • I will drink to that. ShockWave sucked, but I do wish they had kept Lingo. Was a good scripting language with an intuitive grammar and syntax. I did a lot of cool stuff with it in the 1990s.
  • Flash is dead and Apple killed it. Sure, Google promised it to save it with android, but they could not. Flash is a resource hit and if Apple was not going to learn how to make it work, who else has the money?

    An open flash clone might be ok because it does not matter that it will not run on the devices most of the world are going to be using in the near future. These app can be legacy, like the stuff that requires IE. But it is just like Java which has fallen 25%. People will figure out how to make HTM

    • OpenFL already runs on tons of mobile devices, natively. Clearly, you did not read the article.
      • - "Thou shalt not read The Fine Article!"
        Alas, I bow my head and obey.

        • by H0p313ss (811249)

          - "Thou shalt not read The Fine Article!"
          Alas, I bow my head and obey.

          I read the article once, the bastard then turned around and burned my house to the ground, held my family as hostages and blew up the nearest power station.

    • Flash isn't dead. It's something everyone wants to be dead, but it isn't.

      I'm not entirely sure why this myth keeps being repeated on Slashdot of all places. We complain when Amazon streaming is broken, we share links to the semi-secret way to turn on HTML5 video on YouTube and then whine when we still end up having to use Flash for half the videos, we gripe about DRM on Hulu because it means we can't download content for offline viewing and then, after all of this, we pretend Flash is dead.

      No it isn't.

  • by BenJeremy (181303) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @01:58PM (#46518473)

    Can OpenFL handle something like Stage3D and wrappers like Starling?

    I've used Haxe in the past, but found it lacking in support of things like sound and sprite animation for writing mobile games.

    • by grayhaze (3582431)
      There are projects underway to create a common API which targets Stage3D, OpenGL and WebGL, but with a bit of work you can do 3D already. Whilst nobody to my knowledge is working on a port of Starling at present, there are great ports of Flixel and FlashPunk already, along with a range of alternative game engines.
  • If you download “Google Chrome” as opposed to “chromium” for linux, from Google, it has a completely up to date flash plugin built in. It installs with a right click in Debian, and is easy to add to any distro that you're making ...
  • As long as employers (game devs, in particular) are willing to keep paying people to write it, I'm pretty sure it's going to stay popular.
  • It been a fun ride but it needs to go. The use of Flash is preventing more open technologies like HTML5 from moving forward in order to support all what Flash used to do.
    • Yeah, let HTML5 move forward.
      My internet connection has moved from 7kb/s to 1000kb/s, and sites still load as slowly as in the 90s.This is obviously the way to go. And that's with ads blocked via HOSTS and google's javascript libraries blocked when possible.

      How about teaching several webdevs how to optimize code instead of copypasting it from stack overflow? When a regular site is as heavy as a flash site of the 00s, several people are doing it wrong.

      It's funny. I can download videos and shows faster, my on

  • It will be better for everyone concerned if you do, citizen.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Title: "Flash is dead"

    Summary: "Flash is dying"

    TFA: "Flash is getting hard to deal with compared to other approaches"

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