I just went through some blogs and the Adobe Open Screen web site to try and understand what’s going on. If you haven’t heard, Adobe is removing licensing restrictions on it’s SWF and FLV/F4V file formats that serve us Flash content and all those crazy videos on YouTube and such. In the past, the license on the specs restricted the reader from creating competing players, which has resulted in some pretty weak open source players that relied on the developers reverse engineering and guessing at what the spec is.
Opening the specs makes that no longer an issue. But the other announcement, that Adobe is going to make its player free for embedded devices as it does with desktops should really remove the need to have other players (which appears to be the true objective of this project), except for the open source bigots who must have their apps served open sauce, I guess. Bringing a free Flash player to devices is huge in my books and with their porting layer APIs made public, that should make it really easy for device developers to port the player to their devices. I think that’s pretty game changing and you’ll start seeing more Flash-based user interfaces on devices over time.
So it seems like pretty exciting news and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes. But, I do hate the fact they’re using the term “Open”. This is one of my dogmas as colleagues that I’ve worked with in the past are painfully aware ;). “Open” is too tied to the word “source”. And especially when the project is called “Open Screen” it’s to easy to jump to the conclusion that they are actually open sourcing their player technology. But from what I can understand from the brief FAQ’s they have on their site, I don’t think they are. Which then begs the question how do you get their player running on your device. Do they have pre-compiled binaries? Which libc? Which OSes? Which compiler? At any rate it has left me confused and I’m sure others are. I wish people wouldn’t use the word “Open” unless they really mean Open Source.