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GNU is Not Unix

Macromedia Looking at Opening Flash Player 84

duder writes "Well, it appears that Macromedia is going to open source their Flash player. There is a article at benews which contains an purported e-mail from Macromedia's Flash Player Manager. " From what the e-mail says they will be "releasing the Flash Player Source Code SDK & Flash File Format (SWF) SDK, in mid January."Update: 01/07 02:39 by H :A very big thank you to David Michie who helped bring me up to speed-looks like SWF has been open for quite some time, and Macromedia had announced the opening of the source back in May. Check out for more information.
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Macromedia Looking at Opening Flash Player

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  • It's a Good Thing, sice we'll be able to create a new flash file format based on XML. I suggest that this new format is called "xfl", eXtended Flash Language. It should be open, so anyone can right-click on a xfl animation and see its source, just like html.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What ever happened to Xara's incredibly tiny Flare vector format?

    I received this piece of information from a Xara engineer about 6 weeks ago:

    I submitted it [the Xara vector format] at the sixth annual World Wide Web Conference in San Jose a few years back. Unfortuantely at that time interest in vector formats was low among most attendees. Xara is a small company and simply doesn't have the resources to continually push the format. Chris Lilley was very supportive, but I guess we were overtaken by events. That said, our format is an open format, with a specification freely available on the web. It's a shame no one else decided to take it up as an option.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Are you insane? Those are quotes from another Slashdot article [] by CmdrTaco. Macromedia's CEO (Rob Burgess, FWIW) didn't say anything like that. Replace "Flash" with "Slash" and "Macromedia" with "Slashdot" and you have the original quote by CmdrTaco.

    Since Flash is written for Macs and Win32, how the fsck do you think they're going to produce a "Flash tarball"?!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Quicktime already supports Flash. It's just another media format.. How is this a challenge to Quicktime.. Flash isn't going to handle the Sorensen Codec, or QDesign2 Audio compression.

    Flash might give QTVR a run for it's money, but I doubt it.
  • I don't really give a damn why something is opened, as long as it is, with a fairly liberal license. It's just nice to see the code, regardless of the motivation.... Though, I think the argument could be made that file formats should by their nature be open standards.... it's self-crippling to have closed file-formats...
  • The CEO of Macromedia had these things to say about opening Flash:
    "I get a nice flamey email about once a week from some ass who calls me a hypocrite and slams me for not getting out a new release. My usual response is to tell them that I delay the release by 24 hours each time someone asks me when a new Flash tarball will be out. "
    "It's really easy for someone to complain that I didn't release a new version of the source code every week. Its also easy to forget that in the last 6 months we've doubled in traffic and we've had to optimize our code and hardware to handle that. A new source release is secondary: Our job is running Macromedia. We want to release new versions of Flash, but it is a definite second priority to keeping Macromedia moving."
    "Finally, it's coming soon. It'll be out when its finished. And if you ask me again I'll postpone it again."

  • So much for an attempt at humor....
  • My former company licensed a beta copy of the Flash 4 File Format SDK, and I can assure you that it's NOT open source. The article on BeNews didn't say "Open Source SDK." It's analogous to what Sun has done with Java: they've published the format of Java class binaries, and the source to the java.* libraries is available for download, but it does NOT mean that developers can modify and distribute the source. Developers CAN write their own Flash players or .swf file creation tools.
  • In the right place, and crafted by the right hands, a heavy Flash site can be insanely amazing. You can bypass all the crap and workarounds in trying to execute something that's a genuine *experience* in a web browser-- versus something that's kinda interactive as long as you have the right browser and don't mind clunky Javascript crashy code.

    For instance, I love a lot of the new movie advertising sites which present the movies with Flash trailer-like pieces.

    Mind you, I don't want Slashdot using Flash.. But if you have a site that wants to be entertaining, dynamic, and maybe a bit different, Flash rocks.

    Why does it give you the creeps?

  • are they worryed by a standard ?

    they make money from selling the tools now what happens if you become sidelined and the player dosnt work on 1/2 the machines that you addvertise to well you are not going to use it !

    SVG rules I just hope ani is in there for latter standards


    a poor student @ bournemouth uni in the UK (a deltic so please dont moan about spelling but the content)
  • maybe this means we can get a flash maker for Linux... Maybe a gimp plugin.

    Or am I living under a rock, and there already exists one for Linux? To my knowledge, there is nothing like Director for Linux/UN*X.
  • Real Player... Gross.

    Conscience is the inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking.

  • Man, your post was quite funny already, but when I read the reply, I was ROTFL. Oh wait, he may actually have been serious...


  • Than I would toss Macromedia Flash out!
    While it is a decent product, I really prefer the interface of Adobe products to those of Macromedia. Having used Dreamweaver, Firecracker and Flash next to Photoshop, Illustrator and GoLive, I find that Adobe puts together products that are more streamlined and polished. Maybe I'm just used to their style.
    As far as open sourcing Flash, people could check out [].

    I have thought for a while that with the depth of market penetration that Flash has, it would be nice to have it as a sort of standard so that other companies could be involved, because web streamable vector graphics are a lot bigger than just Macromedia.
    I do respect the work they have done, and don't want to see the excluded from reaping the benefits of their work. We all need a vector graphic standard, though, and it isn't for the better to have one company to have complete control of anything, as Macromedia has now with the delivery of vector graphics.

    I hope they don't Sun on this one (we want a standard, no, we want us to control it, but we want a standard).

  • Thank you Macromedia! Flash is truly cool and if it was made an open standard under a DFSG-compliant license it would be really cool for everyone!
  • Um, no.

    Most of the flash sites I've seen seem to have no idea about design from the perspective of usability.

    For example, why is it that many of these sites have navigation systems in which you can only see where a particular button leads when you move your mouse over it. In one example, The graphical buttons had been passed through a blur filter so the text on them was illegible until you floated above them, then they snapped into focus. I was slapping my head at the stupidity of it all.

    God have mercy on us all, and not let the flash designers get their hands on mainstream applications.
  • I am sure that atleast version 3 of the flash format IS open. Checkout the flash site. I'd be surprised if the newest isn't open as well. It's been that way for a while.
  • by Masa ( 74401 )
    OK, cool. I hope that there will be a Linux version of the player. Then I'll be able to see those funny Dilbert animations with my Linux box. :-)
  • QuickTime and Flash can happily co-exist. Different Goals. QuickTime does a *lot* of things, some of which Flash does also (and sometimes better), but with all the video expertise in QuickTime, and a *great* graphics engine, and some great web stuff in Flahs, there's no reason for one to 'kill' the other in the market.
  • My sentiments exactly.
  • Man, I'd love to pour over that code!
  • No matter how I read the intro, I can't agree with your interpretation. Duder quite clearly stated that there is an article which claims that Macromedia are open sourcing Flash.

    It is the article's claims that are incorrect: the letter they quote is a confirmation that the SDK will be available. The authors of the article have spiced this up as 'Flash going Open Source'.
    -- Andrem
  • Thank you for the information links. As for Slashdot not presenting it as a rumour, I am often very hard on being absolutely clear on what you say. In my job if I gave a brief and presented Slashdots intro as is, I would get my ass chewed for not being clear. I may ramble on sometimes, but when I bring up information that is simply a rumour I say somewhere in there "This is only a rumour". I don't rely on simple phrasing to get my point across.
  • Maybe you could post a link to further information about Open Source Flash?
  • "Macromedia Looking at Opening Flash Player"
    Says the headline and then presents a neat summary of the e-mail.
    I guess you just read too fast.
  • Well, as simple justification for making players and viewers, open source means that the companies themselves don't have to spend money building them.

    Macromedia [] makes their money off the tools, not the viewers/players. The more people that have the viewers, the more viable Macromedia's products [] are.

    Basically, with the open source for the viewers, Macromedia now will get to either a) put mor emoney into development of the tools or b) make more money, or most likely (because they're cool) c) both.

  • Flash is very good at what it does. Don't use Netscape's buggy flash plugin for Linux--Macromedia's version is top notch. is a pretty good demo of what Flash is good for. shows what is possible with an all-out Flash solution. The latter is pretty fast even over a 56K connection.

    [I fail to see what Lynx has to do with this. Please explain.]
  • Look at this! Seriously, open sourcing software is now a marketing thing! First we have MacOS X yesterday (or the day before, I don't remember), and now this. It'll be like the domino effect - people are trying to play off of Red Hat's success.
  • More Information here: []
  • Not a rumor.

    I'm the lead engineer for the team (Middlesoft) that wrote the SDK's and I can assure you they exist. And have for some time, for that matter. Release awaits resolving the licensing issue.

    Macromedia has a press release for it, buried in their sight somewhere.


  • I am writing to clear up some confusion regarding the story posted at BeNews on January 5, titled "Flash Player to go Open Source."

    It is true that Macromedia has announced plans to make available in the near future the Flash Player Source Code & Flash File Format (SWF) Software Development Kits (SDK). However, Macromedia is not pursuing an "open source" strategy as your article indicates. "Open source" is a term used for the historical development model utilized by the UNIX and Internet communities to facilitate distributed development of complex software. With open source software, the development and maintenance of the code base is the responsibility of the development community. With free source licensing, Macromedia maintains the code base, which downloaders may modify, use, and deploy.

    We apologize for any confusion. Stay tuned for further information about Macromedia's free source licensing program.

    The Flash Team
    Troy Evans, Flash Player Product Manager

  • Re incorporating the XML DOM, I am working on a set of perl modules which present a .swf file as an object hierarchy. Eventually, it'll be possible to edit, create and parse swf files - so far it just parses a small subset of Flash features - and programmers will be able to use my modules to convert back n' forth between Flash and XML.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I can't help but wonder if all this OpenSourcing is really a good thing. Wonder if this means a 100% compatible flash type product from Mickeysoft in the very near future. Embrace and extend is very easy under these circumstances.
  • Man, I would love that. I finally converted myself over to The GIMP for most of my formerly Photoshop needs but I still use DW for a lot of initial page design.

    On a semi-related note: Can anybody recommend a good web editor for Linux? Pico has been my tool of choice for a long time but I need something more full-featured (visual table design, DHTML would be nice, etc) so I can stop rebooting to Windows.
  • Even though opening some of Flash is great, why doesn't shockwave get the same type treatment?

    Look at nates/, they have flash players for a few unices (Sun, Linux, IRIX), and seems to be keeping these up to date.

    Why haven't they ported shockwave yet, anybody know?
  • I do most of my browsing from a SPARC Solaris machine using Netscape. The flash plugin works, but is missing several features which are available in the Win32 versions. It'd be nice to have the source available, because then maybe this thing can finally be brought up to speed.

    On the other hand, it's really nice that a standard that is becoming very popular on the net is going to be available like this. If you use it on the net, it should be publically available, free and open.


  • Macromedia may be trying to preempt SVG becoming a viable authoring medium. This preserves the sales of their Flash authoring tool, which is Macromedia's main source of income from the Flash product. Remember, they make much of their money from tools for open formats (Dreamweaver - HTML, Fireworks - GIF / JPG, etc) and maintaining their lead in this area would be important to them.

    I don't want to sound too 'monopolistic paranoid'. In, this news appears to be just confirmation of earlier promises that Macromedia has made. I just want to present another perspective.

    SVG would be a real advance in web graphics. Instead of paying for authoring tools basic graphics and even animation can be done by hand scripting in a text editor. IBM's alphaworks has an excellent java SVG viewer and some example files, I'd suggest everyone with an interest in Flash and web graphics have a look at what the possibilities are.

  • The plugin for Netscape under Linux is available,
    I've got it installed at work and at home. And I'm actually very impressed with the Shockwave format:

    Compact vector animations which download quickly over a modem. Okay, it can be overused, but then so can DHTML.

    Chris Wareham
  • All this could possibly refer to is the release of the latest version (4) of the file format and SDK. They tried to generate the exact same hype last year.

    But the truth is that the SWF format is never going to be a usable Web format until it comes out from under Macromedia's control. As it stands, they can just change the format slightly any time competing development packages are released (hence no-one really has tried releasing a competing application to Flash). The Flash 4 plugin has been around for ages. Why hasn't the revised file format already been released?

    One link of interest if you're looking into generating Flash under Linux is Paul Haeberli's library at []. Bear in mind that it doesn't come with source and it only outputs version 3 SWF.


  • The page for MSWordview has links to the MSOffice binary file formats. It's at
  • For anyone who's into open source Flash stuff, check out [].

    There's a bunch of good info there.
  • While I think it's great that they're making it open source, I think it's important to consider what license it will be under. Will it be Free Software? If so, great!

    (see This page at the Free Software Foundation [] to find out the difference between open source software and free software.)
  • Normally I would agree with you. But this situation is a little different. Macromedia has been trying to push Flash for some time now. The fact that they are opening up the Flash file format is not new news either.

    from http:// flash4_print.fhtml []:
    "Macromedia published its Flash file format as an open Web standard in 1998, allowing other companies to both export the Flash file format or playback Flash content within their applications. Macromedia also makes the Flash Player source code available at zero cost to platform and device developers, further extending Flash's broad reach."

    or if you want to read the press release from 1998 go here: d.html []

    Also this was not presented as fact, but as a rumor. Thats why words like "appears" and "purported" are used. There is also no reason why Slashdot should contact Macromedia. They themselves are not a news organization nor are they the source of this information.

    I think the fact that this was a rumor was adequately explained. If you are not interested in reading industry rumors then don't. I'm also tired of anybody who complains about the articles being posted getting an automatic mark up from the moderators.
  • Whether or not this is true, I have a question.

    Is any one working on creating GUI's that are as cool/neat/whatever as those that Flash sites have? Are there any design principles that can enhance productivity, either on the desktop or in a handheld interface to a real world system?

    Maybe I watch SciFi too much, but their interstitial interface eye-candy is really appealing. (And I don't mean themes, damnit!)
  • Here is a link on macromedia's web site to the flash file format - which is already open. are/flash/open/spec/ []
  • Offtopic, but back on radar. +1 is good for something.
  • I don't really like Flash and it gives me the creeps to see something like this being seen as a cool move. Ok, licensing it this way is the best they could probably do, but think about it: Do you really like all those Flash-Sites? REALLY?
  • It would be interesting to see what justifications are being used within companies to get the go-ahead for O/S releases. It's still a difficult business model to sell to conservative minds.

  • The Flash File Format (SWF) has been "open" since April 1998, but the spec was (is) very buggy and poorly supported.

    Macromedia announced they would release the source code for the Flash Player in May 1999, but the have been very slow in delivering.

    Everything you ever wanted to know about Flash is here: []
  • Oh the magic of cut and paste. A big chunk of the BeOS article is from a readme file I wrote at least one moon ago. I feel so not famous.

    But as the lead engineer for the team that created the SDK's I'd like to contribute a few things:

    • There are _2_ SDKs being released at the same time. One for porting the player (the Porting SDK) and one for creating SWF files in C++ (the File Format SDK).
    • Our contract was to release for windows, but it wasn't hard to port them to Linux. :)
    • The SDK's are done. Complete. Fini. They await the magic legal touch of Macromedia to get out the door.

    I hope those of you who can use them, enjoy them!


  • by jetson123 ( 13128 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @10:45PM (#1397191)
    Read the FAQ [] on Macromedia's site: the player is not being released "open source", it's released "free source". You can't sublicense, the license is non-transferable, and the field of application of the code is limited.

    This is clearly an attempt by Macromedia to kill truly free implementations of the Flash format. Should another implementation of the Flash format become the de-facto standard, Macromedia would lose a lot of their strength and control of this market.

    I suspect, in particular, that this may be related to the next release of Netscape this year: it will almost certainly need to include some kind of Flash player, and if they didn't make some kind of source code available, it would be the free implementation, giving an alternative implementation of the Flash format an instant big market share.

    I think Macromedia's meddling and their implementation are best disregarded. If vector graphics is to become a web standard, we need truly free implementations, not the proprietary "free source" mess that Macromedia is offering.

  • by revscat ( 35618 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @08:55AM (#1397192) Journal

    Does this indicate Macromedia is shedding some enthusiasm for the SVG format? Flash is already the de facto vector graphics standard. I understand and appreciate the fact that the W3C (with reps from Macromedia as members of the working group) is working on a standard for vector graphics, but I don't think it will ever take off, especially if Macromedia does open-source the Flash format.

    I understand there are philsophical differences between SVG [] and Flash, but I just can't find any benefits to using SVG. Flash is small, comes with the browser, and very powerful.

    Thanks W3C for all your work, but if this article is true then it will all have been in vain. Maybe the Flash format will change in the future to incorporate the XML DOM so that it will be more in line with what the W3C is shooting for, but who knows?

  • by technomancerX ( 86975 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:45AM (#1397193) Homepage
    Ok, Macromedia actually has FAQs on their websites about this. For those that are interested:
    Macromedia FAQs []
  • by Borogove ( 95793 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:35AM (#1397194) Homepage
    A good place to look for some accurate information would be macromedia's website:

    They state quite clearly that they aren't releasing it as 'open source'. Instead the Flash SDK will be released under a royalty free license. You will not be able to distribute the source with any derived products.

    However, the Flash file format IS genuinely Open. So you can write your own Flash player from the ground up.

    Flash has several advantages over SVG ( SVG is XML based, so will not be small. From my understanding, achieving Flash style animation in SVG will involve a lot more work.

    However, SVG may have its place. A single renderer should be able to handle SVG and Flash formats, so the standards needn't compete. SVG will be hand craftable, so simple objects (can we say bullet-point spheres and horizontal rules?) won't be difficult to create.

    What ever happened to Xara's incredibly tiny Flare vector format?

    -- Andrem
  • by kilrogg ( 119108 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @10:33AM (#1397195) Homepage
    Do flash sites have to support different OS'? I was at the "flash site of the day": disney's toy story 2 [] and after clicking " Yes, I have Flash already -- take me to the Flashed site. " I got an error page [] saying that I basically had to install windows or get a mac.

    this is similar to the fox fiasco of a few weeks ago (although they prevent the viewing of the entire web site) and i'm shure there are plenty of other sites that do the same thing. I guess my question is: is this the result of web site designer's ignorance or does the linux version of flash have some "bugs" which requires the redesigning of the flash site?

    does anybody know?

  • by Dysan2k ( 126022 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @08:56AM (#1397196) Homepage
    Well, frankly, the flash player they have out now for Linux isn't really all that bad. I'm not real sure what the limitations are on the thing, but at least now maybe we'll have a fully functional player that's in line with newer players. I know currently that some sites still don't recognize the current Linux flash player including (At least mine doesn't that I d/led from Macromedia) My thing is when are they going to put together a player for Shockwave stuff? The director plugin's need to happen fairly soon along with a GLIBC port of the RealPlayer G2. This libc5 stuff just don't cut it under RH, and I've not been able to find the newest versions/fixes of libc5 lately to upgrade RH's 5.2.18 (or something like that).

    Still, it's just one more step towards better software! I just wish M$ would Open up their file formats for .doc, .xls, etc. (If they have, please someone point me in that direction! I could really use them to work on some other projects at the moment!)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:33AM (#1397197)
    Moderator - Too late to kill this story, but maybe someone could amend the article with a link, (if any still around ) that points to the old ancient press releases from Macromedia that clearly stated the intention of releasing source code to flash, flash spec, and a player (besides the flash player source in java they already leaked).

    This news/rumor is lame because it is yet ANOTHER example of slashdot making a news announcement out of something generally known to flash oriented people and especially all those programmers that ceased reverse engineering Flash specifically because of the original news release to release source to flash rasterizer interpreter.

    Macromedia only went Open source to heed off Public Domain style BSD source code efforts that competitors could use in proprietary products.

    Basically its a shameful and transparent move of theirs.

    Kind of like 3dfx hiring a guy who got the first glidelib stuff done for voodoo and taking his source and coercing the guy to shut down his 3dfx reverse engineering efforts.

    I hate this. I wish theyed hurry up. Its not like flash 3 and 4.0 are that good for animation anyway (frozen frame count, cpu affected, no velocity based animation paths, etc etc)
  • by Fross ( 83754 ) on Thursday January 06, 2000 @09:09AM (#1397198)
    Hopefully releasing this to Open Source will prompt many more developers, both from a multimedia standpoint, and OS developers, who will port and extend the functionality.

    Though based around and on the web, the Flash file format is an incredibly efficient and versatile format - the Flash Player, for those not familiar with it, is the desktop standalone player for Flash files.

    To those who think this is simply a marketing ploy, this is simply part of a progression - the Flash file format was Open Sourced about a year ago, to allow exporting in other packages to Flash format, for instance.

    Hopefully this will both catalyse the use of Flash as one of the most extensible and versatile multimedia formats available, and act as another "toe in the water" for one of the biggest multimedia companies entering the Linux waters. Let's welcome them aboard.

  • by BoneFlower ( 107640 ) <`george.worroll' `at' `'> on Thursday January 06, 2000 @08:54AM (#1397199) Journal
    This is a rumour. It may be true, but one email some random person supposedly recieved, posted on a website is not enough to be put up as truth. I have not heard of any press releases by Macromedia regarding this, have they been contacted by Slashdot? Its a great thing if it is true, if not this story is a waste of bandwith. Clearly stating it is a rumour would be ok, but presenting it as fact is wrong.

"The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception a neccessity." - Oscar Wilde