Thursday, May 13, 2010

Adobe's founders fume mindlessly in public

The biggest problem with the open letter released by Adobe's founders is there's no there there, no substantive argument.

They warn against the web fragmenting into closed systems, but in fact the exact opposite is happening, the web is unifying into an open system with a common language; it's reaching maturity.

One Adobe creation, the Portable Document Format will constitute an important part of the new web reality, in no small part because it is no longer proprietary. When Adobe turned PDF over to the ISO, all objections against its use disappeared. Had they done the same thing with Flash, the result would likely have been the same, and Flash would now be joining HTML5, the DOM, CSS, and Javascript as part of the emerging standard. In that alternate reality, even Apple would likely be happy to support it because they would be writing their own implementation to their own high standards, and Adobe, having had a huge head start, could continue to dominate the market for tools to create Flash content.

Instead Adobe chose to keep Flash a proprietary format. They should not be surprised that others' reactions run from lukewarm acceptance to outright rejection.

That Flash can be made to run acceptably on mobile devices, and that some web developers would prefer to keep using it rather than learn to use the open standards, doesn't even remotely constitute evidence that the future of the web is at risk unless every platform vendor were to allow it on their systems. Flash is common, yes, but its percentage of installation has already peaked and is beginning to dwindle. It is not and now will never be part of the standard, even if Adobe were to finally see the light and turn it over to the ISO or W3C; it's too late for that.

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