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The truth about Flash

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Setting the record straight

Recently there has been a surge in discussion about Adobe® Flash® technology, and within that discussion, a fair amount of incorrect information has been communicated.

We would like to clear up some of those misperceptions.

Touch

The Adobe Flash Player runtime was actually originally created as a technology for tablets with touch interfaces, and today, it has support for working on touch-based devices.

For existing content developed with mouse input in mind, Flash Player will automatically convert the touch events to mouse events when running on a touch device. This allows content designed for the desktop to work seamlessly on touch-based devices using Flash Player.

For new content developed specifically with touch in mind, Flash Player 10.1 will provide a complete set of multitouch and gesture APIs.

Read more about Flash and multitouch

Video

Seventy-five percent of all video on the web is viewed via Flash Player, including videos encoded in the most popular codecs such as H.264 and VP6.

There are many claims that H.264 will kill Flash. However, H.264 is a video codec (which requires a player), while Flash Player is a complete multimedia runtime that can play back H.264, among other codecs. Furthermore, Flash provides a solution for advanced video distribution, including support for technologies such as streaming, adaptive bitrate delivery, and content protection.

Of course, playing back high-definition video can be a CPU-intensive task. This is why Flash Player 10.1 will include support for hardware-accelerated video playback across devices from mobile to desktop environments. Now that the appropriate APIs are available in Mac OS X v10.6.3, we are also implementing GPU-accelerated video on the Mac, available as a preview release code-named Gala. This can significantly improve CPU usage as well as battery life.

Find out more about video for Flash in the Video Technology Center

Performance

Interactive content for Flash Player is dynamic and visual, and like all multimedia content and technologies, it requires more processing power than static HTML documents. Flash Player performs as well as, if not better than, comparable multimedia technologies. The Flash Player team is constantly working to deliver the best performance for rich interactive media on the web.

On mobile devices, better performance translates into better battery life. Adobe has made a number of further optimizations for the Flash Player 10.1 release around code execution, memory use, hardware-accelerated video playback, and battery life.

Of course, since Flash Player runs across platforms, all of the optimizations made for mobile will also benefit content on desktops, laptops, netbooks, and tablets when they run Flash Player.

Get more information on Flash Player performance

Security

Security is one of the highest priorities for the Flash Player team. The Symantec Global Internet Threat Report for 2009 found that Flash Player had the second lowest number of vulnerabilities of all Internet technologies listed (which included both web plug-ins and browsers). This is significant when you consider that Flash Player is among the most widely distributed and used pieces of software in the world.

Given the complexity of modern software, security vulnerabilities are going to be present. However, Adobe has taken extensive steps to reduce the total number of issues as well as help ensure that when issues are found we can quickly address them and provide updates. This includes taking steps to ensure that users are able to get the latest Flash Player updates as quickly as possible, and working with browser vendors to integrate Flash Player privacy settings with those of the browser.

Read more about Flash Player security

Openness

Flash Player is part of a rich ecosystem of both open and proprietary technologies.

The core engine of Flash Player (AVM+) is open source and was donated to the Mozilla Foundation, where it is actively maintained. The file formats supported by Flash Player, SWF and FLV/F4V, as well as the RTMP and AMF protocols are freely available and openly published. Anyone can use the specifications without requiring permission from Adobe. Third parties can and do build audio, video, and data services that compete with those from Adobe.

There are no restrictions on the development of SWF authoring tools, and anyone can build their own SWF or FLV/F4V player.

Flex, the primary application framework for the Adobe Flash Platform, is also open source and is actively maintained and developed by Adobe and the community.

Finally, the Flash Platform has a rich developer ecosystem of both open and proprietary tools and technologies, including developer IDEs and environments such as FDT, IntelliJ, and haXe; open source runtimes such as Gnash; and open source video servers such as Red5.

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