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Why the Open Screen Project is so important

There has been a lot of talk about openness lately as well as our mobile strategy so I want to explain some things that I think are being misrepresented. As many of you know, we established the Open Screen Project as way for us to work together with the leaders in the mobile, desktop, and device industries in part, so we can deliver the highest quality Flash runtime across all these devices. As you can see by looking at the partners we are working with, they represent essentially every mobile company on the planet besides Apple.

In an earlier post I talked about Apple’s arrogance as being both a strength and a liability. This led some to cleverly quip that it was Adobe who was the real source of arrogance. But that is simply not the case if you look at the facts. It would be arrogant for us to say something like “our player is the shit so if it doesn’t run well on your device, that is your problem.” The truth is that we are doing just the opposite with the OSP. We realize that we have to work closely with companies that use our runtime so that it performs as fast as possible. We are essentially saying that we need help to make our runtime all that it can be. Hardly an arrogant attitude.

Many people bring up the fact the Flash Player runs poorly on Macs and that is why it will never be on the iPhone. While I will admit that the player is not 100% on par with Windows, it is definitely getting close. One commenter mentioned, and I am quoting here, “CPU usage goes up and over 100%, fans kick in and the whole machine still gets too hot, all for the most trivial of websites. This is why it’s not welcome on Mac, and just imagine how badly it would run on the iPhone.” This kind of misinformation is unfortunately very common. Either this person is using a very old Mac or hasn’t upgraded their Flash Player in a long time. Create a simple Flash file, update your Flash Player, and run it in Safari and you will quickly realize that this is not the case.

But let’s talk more about the Flash Player on the Mac. If it is not 100% on par with the Windows player people assume that it is all our fault. The facts show that this is simply not the case. Let’s take for example the question of hardware acceleration for H.264 video that we released with Flash Player 10.1. Here you can see some published results for how much the situation has improved on Windows. Unfortunately we could not add this acceleration to the Mac player because Apple does not provide a public API to make this happen. You can easily verify that by asking Apple. I’m happy to say that we still made some improvements for the Mac player when it comes to video playback, but we simply could not implement the hardware acceleration. This is but one example of stumbling blocks we face when it comes to Apple.

Let me also reiterate that Adobe is a company of Mac users. You are hard-pressed to find someone at Adobe who doesn’t use a Mac or that is without an iPhone. We love Apple products so obviously we want our player to be top notch on that platform. But anyone will freely admit that openness is something that Apple just isn’t known for. Sure Adobe makes plenty of closed-source products, including the Flash Player. The key difference is that we are willing to be open and transparent with industry partners through initiatives like the OSP. Even Microsoft, who actually has a competing runtime, realizes that it is in their best interest to help us get the Flash Player running as fast as possible on their operating system and devices. So to sum up my point, it is easy to point the finger at Adobe when it comes to performance on the Mac, but there is only so much we can do if we don’t get the help we need.

I also wanted to mention something else about the iPhone. If we simply slapped Flash Player 10.1 into the iPhone browser today it might not perform very well. That is why the Open Screen Project is so important. Take Palm for example. We now have the Flash Player running very well on the Palm Pre because, as part of the OSP, they worked with us closely to make sure that it did. The same will be true for Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and every other partner that is willing to work with us. I fail to see the arrogance in this open approach.


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  1. To be fair, Flash is still pretty choppy on a Mac if not 100%.

    For example, right now I have an page open, a streaming video, and a streaming audio page, and I am at 80% CPU usage.

    That’s pretty high. Higher than a high end 3D video game.

    You call it misinformation, but at best it’s mild hyperbole.

    Apart from that however, if I am Apple I could probably come up with 3 to 5 other reasons why I wouldn’t want to host Flash on the iPhone. Potential security flaws and the implications of scaling SWF’s with zoom are just two off hand.

    It’s hard for me to be passionate or even really care about this personally since I am both a Flash developer and a Mac developer, I can do both without having my hand held.

    My personal opinion is that Adobe should stop being to schizophrenic when it comes to focusing their efforts on evolving the Flash platform.

    4 years ago it was all about video. Then it was all about Flex and RIA’s, then it was all about 3D, then it was all about Augmented Reality, now it’s all about the iPhone.

    I’m so tired of Adobe insisting that Flash do everything \ok\. I’d rather see then make Flash do a few things incredibly. The closest thing to that is video, and it’s debatable.

  2. Of course Open Screen Project is important!

    Still, I don’t understand how the hardware acceleration introduced in the Flash Play 10.1 works only on mobiles. The accelerated drawing API uses (tesselation and) OpenGL ES 2.0. As far as I know, OpenGL ES is a subset of OpenGL so if it works on OpenGL ES it (should) work on OpenGL. So why is there no hardware acceleration on the desktop player ? :'(

    The Flash Player is becoming more and more powerful. The latest additions such as 3D maths and the Vector class brought a lot of speed but the poor fill rate is now the bottleneck.


  3. Supporting Apple’s stack can be difficult. When I was at GarageGames, Mac support was a perennial problem child. It was important for indies, but it was hard to get skilled engineers (we typically had one overworked, stressed guy working on Mac support at any given time), and the OS was not super game friendly.

    While individual Apple engineers were often sympathetic, we never saw any concerted effort on Apple’s part to focus on games or great 3D. I think the iPhone demonstrates that there is a business case for supporting these things.

    So.. I hope things work out for you. :) It can be a tough battle!

  4. Just want to add one thing, i’m very pleased when i open my browser in my Nokia N900, and i can run my Flex aplication in this device, hope to see the new flash player 10.1 soon in the Maemo OS of the N900, and of course the AIR 2.0.
    As far as i see i’m really not worried about flash apps in IPhone, sooner or later, Apple will have to let the flash player enter in the IPhone.

  5. @Michael can you explain what you have open. with a video playing, or and a page playing video and a page streaming audio? What I am saying is that having a simple Flash movie on a webpage does not make your CPU hit 100% as was said. Those kind of statements are simply false. And you will see that I mentioned in detail why there are deficiencies in the Mac player, which I readily admit that there are.

    I guess I disagree that we shouldn’t be trying to evolve the Flash Platform. Four years ago it was video and you now see Flash driving almost all of it on the web. Then it was Flex and RIAs and we are again seeing revolutionary applications being built with those technologies. I don’t see the logic in stopping our history of innovation on the web.

  6. @Jean-Marc there is hardware acceleration for video in the desktop version of 10.1. As for the Open-GL features and why they are not in the desktop I really don’t know. Let me try to find out why that is.

  7. If Adobe can’t help providing a substandard experience for Flash Player users on Mac OS X in all popular browsers—lack of hardware acceleration, lack of mouse wheel support, inability to properly handle mouse button releases outside of Flash Player content areas, etc.—then why even bother? Why not cease updates to Flash Player altogether and publicly call Apple out on your reasons for doing so?

    Regardless of who is responsible, the fact is that Flash Player sucks under Mac OS X—even under Safari—so why let it limp along in its crippled state? I am writing this from the latest version of Mac OS X on my MacBook, which is my main computer, so I would obviously prefer for the Mac OS X version of Flash Player to be as good as the Windows version, but it just isn’t, so why not put it out of our collective misery until Apple and Adobe do what needs to be done to provide a feature-equivalent Flash Player (such as it is) to Mac OS X users?

  8. @lee I am referencing NFL game center which is a mild 3D app that doesn’t animated much t all.

    I wouldn’t say Flex is overwhelmingly revolutionary. It’s impressive. But you aren’t seeing it spread as widely as video is.

    I am not knocking Flash video in any way. It puts food on my table for sure, but I consider that the one-hit wonder of the platform.

    The thing about Flex is that it could be way way way way better and it’s been at least 2 years since a major release which is untenable in the software world. We’ve already seen two major releases of the iPhone SDK in under 2 years and a 3rd is rumored.

    So when I see Flex 4 is still in Beta but people are making 3D trees appear on a piece of printer paper, I am forced to raise my eyebrow.

    My point is that at *some* level there is legitimacy to the criticism against Flash, and it’s a disservice to jump from hot topic to hot topic while not giving any signs of dealing with some of the core issues like Mac/Linux support or CPU chomping.

    You can make any kind of argument that under the right circumstances Flash is CPU friendly, but the truth is that it’s not very hard at all to cap a CPU in Flash with a few PNG’s and some scaling/tweening.

  9. @Brian thanks for your opinion. Unfortunately we won’t be giving up on the Mac version of the Flash Player, sorry. The vast majority of the Flash community uses Mac laptops so it is clearly not as bad as your are positioning it to be. Oh and the mouse wheel bug is fixed in Flash Player 10.1 if you care.

  10. @Michael I’m not sure what to tell you if think Flex should be updated more often. Maybe it should. I don’t really have an answer for you on that other than Flex 4 is great, you should try it.

    Your comments about Augmented Reality are ridiculous however because that has nothing to do with Adobe. We didn’t create AR and nor do we develop any specific software or code to do it. It has been built soley by the community.

    Another note about performance. Many, many times the culprit is that the developer who created said tweening PNG animation didn’t follow the best practices. Now we have done a poor job at getting these best practices out to the public but we are working on that.

  11. So is it just the APIs on the Mac platform that’s holding you back from improving or is there more to it, like Steve Jobs saying \I don’t like Adobe, let’s not talk with these guys\? (which is my real understanding why Flash isn’t on the iPhone, but that’s just me :)) How is Adobe about to work these issues out with Apple?

  12. @Alexander heh I wish I knew all the details too. The hardware acceleration for video is solely because of lack of a public API to let us do it. I would love to sit with down with Steve to find out what the issue is, but I think that is highly unlikely :)

  13. @lee I was obviously referring to the Flash Player runtime, not developer tools—hence my references to “Flash Player” in particular. For end-users, Flash Player is every bit as bad as I represent it. When an end user drags something even slightly out of a Flash content area (the boundaries of which may not be clear), releases a mouse button, then finds an object stuck to the cursor or sees a scrollbar move without being clicked, that is bad. When mouse wheel support doesn’t work as expected without a JavaScript-and-ExternalInterface work-around in place (which is not always possible, especially when submitting content to Web sites), that is bad. The lack of hardware acceleration for video under Mac OS X may not be much of an issue for fast computers, but the other issues are not so easily overlooked—especially for those of us who make and use the kinds of applications for which consistent drag-and-drop and mouse wheel functionality are particularly useful (e.g., games, media display and interaction, and data management and visualization).

    I have read various mentions about the mouse wheel issue supposedly being resolved in a beta version of Flash Player 10.1, but I have not been able to confirm it under any browser and I seem to recall reading that the supposed fix would apply to Safari only anyway. Do you know of a working example that demonstrates the supposed fix?

  14. Steve Jobs is a pompous clown and as much as I would love to go back to a Mac it makes no sense to as I don’t want to be beholden to Apple’s arrogance and the inflated prices of its ecosystem (i.e., Apple itself, 3rd-party peripherals, etc.).

    Lots of apps either don’t run at all or run poorly on a Mac, not just the Flash Player. And the guy complaining about how 3d games don’t peg out his CPU. LOL. What 3d game? Running it in Parallels? LOL

  15. @lee I just removed the general-release version of Flash Player from Mac OS X using Adobe’s latest uninstaller tool then I installed Adobe’s latest beta version of Flash Player 10.1 and mouse wheel support is indeed now available in Safari and OmniWeb, but it still seems to be missing in Firefox, Chrome, and Opera.

  16. This is CPU usage stats for two Adobe AIR 1.5.3 apps (flash / Mac OS X 10.6):
    Tweetdeck: 3.3-3.4% (continuously) with peaks to 12.5%
    Twhirl: 6.8-7.6% (also continuously) with peaks to 14%

    This is CPU usage stats for Safari:
    Seesmic Web: 0% (continuously) with 0.1% ‘peaks’.

    There is a huge CPU burn gap between FLash twitter clients and web twitter client(s).

    Flash is wasting CPU cycles (not much, fortunately, but they’re still wasted).

    My guess this ‘waste’ is due to the fact that flash, with all its fancy Flex and 3D capabilities, in the end is *still* just a movie player with a framerate schedule to burn.

  17. @Brian yes the mouse wheel works currently in the beta in Safari and will also work in Firefox before we release. Thanks for trying it out. I know you meant the Flash Player. But we spend all day looking at our own and each others Flash content. That’s all I meant. As for the other issue, that is something where the developer didn’t implement it properly. We have a stage leave event which you can respond to in order to make it behave properly.

  18. @Bart I think are slightly confused. AIR applications run in a separate runtime that is separate from the browser player. With that being said we do have some CPU issues with AIR which we are working on in AIR 2.0 which you can get on labs.

  19. @lee Here’s another interesting update: although mouse support does work in Safari under the latest beta version of Flash Player 10.1 for Mac OS X, a quick FBML-based Facebook application test revealed that in-application content and the host page both responded to mouse wheel scrolling simultaneously, which was unexpected. I may be missing a bubbling option somewhere; I’ll have to dig deeper later.

  20. lee, from a strategic pov, Apple and Adobe know very well that if Flash gets on iPhone/iPod then the whole XCode/Obj-C development platform is doomed. Flash on iPhone is a Trojan horse, which if allowed, will take over the development platform.
    For as long as Apple has the lead in pushing these fantastic products, they can afford to keep Flash out of their system. It is a pure business decision. Adobe knows that Apple is spearheading the current wave of personal computing (mobile) and it has every incentive not to be left outside.

    Hey, in the end, it is a battle.

  21. A lack of knowledge about how systems work with software seems to be a huge issue in these conversations about Flash. There’s so much disinformation spread about, it’s easy to see why people have the opinions they do. The biggest failure is that people do not want to believe that Apple has them locked into a platform far more proprietary than the Windows platform they were using before. Sure, it’s built on Linux, but what does that matter when you can’t even rely on having essential APIs and vendor support to build your applications. It’s not just Adobe, look at all the iPhone App rejects.

    Apple’s failures will expose themselves over time. It’s certainly easy to see why people are enamored, with such beautiful hardware and UI. But that only goes so far.

    I personally believe that Adobe is making great strides in ALL aspects of Flash. They recognize the issues, they listen to the community, and they have leveraged the OSP to bring together a whole host of vendors to enhance the Flash experience on all platforms. You cannot say this about ANY other RIA technology. I love what Adobe has done with ARM. It’s a perfect example of what can happen with synergistic relationships.

    Keep up the good work Adobe. And thanks for the writeup, Lee.

  22. Lee I certainly hope Apple gets its head out of its butt with the Flash Player. If this arrogance isn’t lost soon, then Apple is going to find out how stupid they look. I would rather see a slow and steady approach at getting the Flash Player on the iPod/iPhone rather than not having it on their products at all. Apple is certainly loosing a lot of potential with their products with the absence of the Flash Player.

    Get with it Apple or get left in the dust! BTW I am a fellow Mac user.

  23. “That is why the Open Screen Project is so important. Take Palm for example. We now have the Flash Player running very well on the Palm Pre because, as part of the OSP, they worked with us closely to make sure that it did. The same will be true for Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and every other partner that is willing to work with us.”

    Thanks, Lee. I agree that the Open Screen Project shows that Adobe is interested in establishing universal support. There’s no interest in cutting Apple out… they’re a significant part of the digital ecology.

    For troubleshooting, make sure to note the browser, and run it in a fresh session… different browsers gate plugins in different ways, and the Ajax in many current webpages can kill browser responsiveness all on its own. Running a video in a parched browser can indeed be suboptimal.

    tx, jd/adobe

  24. Lee, thanks for the article.
    I am a long-time Mac user and Flash developer. I just wanted to note that Adobe has done a fantastic job improving the mac version of flash player.
    And for the rest of you winers out there unhappy about the mouse wheel support and hardware acceleration, go complain to Apple and while you are at it, mention Print Selection missing in Safari, sporadic behavior of minimize/maximize button and other abnormalities. Good luck being heard though…

  25. @danno to be honest I’m not sure if they even have an official public position on the matter. It’s hard for me to know for sure about their reasoning. I have heard that they think it won’t perform properly. But I have also heard the reasoning in comment #21. But I think they will avoid doing it until they have to. Once other smart phones have it running I think it will finally happen. But let me be clear that this is just my personal opinion, not Adobe’s :)

  26. @Danno I think @moga answered your question earlier in these comments…

    “from a strategic pov, Apple and Adobe know very well that if Flash gets on iPhone/iPod then the whole XCode/Obj-C development platform is doomed. Flash on iPhone is a Trojan horse, which if allowed, will take over the development platform.”

  27. @Brian S

    “For end-users, Flash Player is every bit as bad as I represent it. When an end user releases a mouse button, then finds an object stuck to the cursor or sees a scrollbar move without being clicked, that is bad.”

    That is bad of the developer. You can write your Flash apps to not do these things. If you’re having difficulty creating an intended behavior I’m willing to help. Adding a MOUSE_UP listener to the stage and/or Event.MOUSE_LEAVE is usually the solution to those types of problems. Also OS X mousewheel support has been possible since ExternalInterface.

    I think we design/developers give flash a bad rep far more than anything the player does or doesn’t do, largely because many of us start out without a degree in computer science, or any professional certification. A few tutorials, and an O’Reilly book doesn’t prepare someone for application development, and testing. But Flash should receive credit for being a tool that with a little elbow grease you can easily learn to create some cool stuff.

  28. I agree that most of the restrictions are made by Apple. However, there are many aspects where Adobe needs to get things right.

    For example, Flash on Mobile (Flash Lite) experiment. Adobe’s focus on Flex (Flash Builder) and neglecting Flash Authoring for development and AS3 language support features.

    I can only hope that Adobe is learning something out from all this shouting and screams from Flash developer community :)

    // chall3ng3r //

  29. How does the lack of public API for HW accelerated video explain the differences Ars Technica benchmarked on Flash content that didn’t make any use of video?

    GUImark :
    Windows Vista = 46 FPS, 54 % CPU
    Mac OS X = 28 FPS, 140 % CPU

    2advanced :
    Windows Vista = 2 % CPU, peaking at 31
    Mac OS X = 28 % CPU, peaking at 66

    Winterbells :
    Windows Vista = 9 % CPU, peaking at 14
    Mac OS X = 60 % CPU

    (note : these were all done on the same machine, a Mac Pro quad 2.66 GHz)

    Are Apple’s API responsible for most of the way Flash behaves internally?…

  30. Big kudos at Adobe for it is trying to fix the biggest problems about new media for everybody.
    Standardization is a good thing (and many of us are experiencing the implications of the lack of it) and even though a few things (or even many) will be left out, the Flash platform is our best chance of living in a better world, where technology is really useful and user friendly.

    If Adobe manages to bring a unified runtime environment to the whole span of internet-enabled devices (from desktop to handheld), the possibilities of innovation will be endless.

    Yes Flash is not as good on Macs, but if Apple is behaving even worse than how Microsoft did.. there ain’t much Adobe can do (other than reverse-engineer the API’s and try to find a solution with big efforts).

    Thanks Adobe, for trying to make things how they should be.
    And let’s all be patient while they too try to find out what we could all make of the Flash platform!

  31. “A lack of knowledge about how systems work with software seems to be a huge issue in these conversations”

    “Apple has them locked into a platform far more proprietary than the Windows platform they were using before. Sure, it’s built on LINUX.”

    I lol’d. Epic fail.

  32. “from a strategic pov, Apple and Adobe know very well that if Flash gets on iPhone/iPod then the whole XCode/Obj-C development platform is doomed. Flash on iPhone is a Trojan horse, which if allowed, will take over the development platform.”

    Wow… so, why this “revolution” didn’t happen with the 1 billion devices where the Flash Player has been installed? Flash will always be limited to what the VM will be able to offer: a small subset of the features the device actually has. Of all the applications, or should I say games, made in Flash with the CS5 “Packager for the iPhone” hack, none of them really impress: just simple puzzle games, with limited animated graphics, spooky sounds and that’s it; and don’t brag about that “it’s fault of developers” because when an environment is limited like Flash on iPhone is, there is no much more you can do. Thinking that all of sudden all the other development environments will disappear because of Flash is available on the iPhone, is ridiculous and stupid.

    On a side note: any comment about Moket (a company signaled, sponsored and backed by Adobe) decision to fold down and its owner moving to iPhone native development? I mean, with the “revolution” around the corner, why anybody would take a such a drastic decision…..

  33. Of course windows is everyly more open than Apple. I tried building a device that ports contents to mp3 players, iPhone inclusive, I downloaded the play for sure (M$’s) docs online but come to apple, they sent me a document I had to fill, they will come over to my office, I had to pay some fees… etc. They frustrated the whole project with their protocols that I gave up on it. Am thinking of reverse engineering the iPod, sniffing packets, will do that when am fired up again anyway.
    I think time will tell. I like Adobe’s approach anytime and we’ll support you all the way. Keep up the good work.

  34. Go open-source so everybody will really know if the problem comes from a lack of low level API, or a poor Mac code quality from Adobe.
    Even if it’s the second case, you’ll probably have some good help to improve performance from the mac developer community, if not from Apple.

    Or of course, you can continue to pretend that Apple is the real problem but hey, we see some famous applications like WOW which run very well on the Mac, so how could we trust you ?
    Pretending the problem can’t come from you and rejecting the responsibility on Apple IS arrogance.
    We don’t care if having help from Apple would help : you had 10 years to learn how to master Mac OS by yourself but obviously you didn’t care much all that time.
    Now the Mac is selling well, the iPhone is a big success and you seem to realize that Apple products are important for the credibility of your \open screen project\.

    Work harder. Find the bottlenecks by yourself. How many of them are still obvious but left apart because you don’t do some good performance profiling ? Like this one was ?

    Or maybe you could recruit one engineer who specialized in OS X’s optimization of applications and let him/her optimize like a dog. That might help, too.

    Until then, stop to be so arrogant. Because you really are at Adobe.

  35. “Let me also reiterate that Adobe is a company of Mac users” Maybe this is the problem. If Microsoft is the evil empire, Apple it’s a sith sect.
    I’m skilled enough to avoid overrated products like Apple’s, and you should do the same.

    #21 get it as it is, so clear, and also flash would probably aggravate the iphone battery issue.

  36. Hi lee i am a windows user and flash works well for me.
    Come on people there is no way in that every thing in software goes as we like we always push limits and ask for more in the computer world
    so be a little pation and you will have what you need and i am sure that there is always a solution to go around these problem

  37. This is all well and good, but how about 64-bit support for Windows (and Linux, I suppose)? You have apparently not noticed that almost all new Windows PCs run x64 versions of Windows. The only reason that browsers aren’t 64-bit is because of Flash (and hence other plugins). You need to show the way ahead and support 64-bit. The only excuse here is laziness and that really is no excuse.

  38. You know people think way too highly of Flash when they insist that it could somehow completely replace Apple’s dev tools. I’m a guy who loves Flash Player dearly, but seriously? I just don’t see that happening. Native controls and closer-to-the-metal code are going to win out in so many situations.

    Of course, I’m not saying Flash isn’t welcome at all. I just don’t think it would cause some sort of crazy revolution that would be the downfall of XCode/Objective C.

  39. wow, these actually made me a little sad…

    GUImark :
    Windows Vista = 46 FPS, 54 % CPU
    Mac OS X = 28 FPS, 140 % CPU

    2advanced :
    Windows Vista = 2 % CPU, peaking at 31
    Mac OS X = 28 % CPU, peaking at 66

    Winterbells :
    Windows Vista = 9 % CPU, peaking at 14
    Mac OS X = 60 % CPU

  40. The current strategy of Adobe is to push the Flash player anywhere. I think there is an alternative, which you partly realized in demoing Flash CS5 generation of iphone apps. I’d call such a strategy tooling, that is the creation of tools for the generation of applications (native for iphone, .exe binaries and so on). In this case the focus is not on the performance of the player, but in the usability/friendliness of development tools.

    Just my 2$

  41. I haven’t red the whole article yet but…
    The Snow Leopard Safari flash player is RIDICULOUS! I installed the system and my application runs 3-4 times slower! I measured it…
    Why does the Mozilla flash player 2-3 times faster? Why?
    I have Xenon Macpro and I have a MacBook Pro as well, it happens on both computers.
    The same slow thing happens in Google Chrome as well.
    I don’t know whose fault it is, I am pretty sure it is Apple’s fault…

  42. I think a lot of the complaints about the Flash Player would be alleviated if Adobe were to provide publishers with the ability to throttle CPU usage on select SWF embeds.

    The biggest problem with user experience on a lot of sites is due to slowness of rendering, scrolling, and updates of the web pages. A lot of the problem is caused by CPU-intensive Flash ads that use a lot of filter effects, animations, and or complex vectors. This slows down the whole page. The problem is that most of these ads are unwanted. Now, we are even seeing VIDEO ads WITH SOUND that start automatically when the page is loaded. Incredibly annoying.

    Now, if Adobe were to provide additional parameters on the embed tag to limit CPU, and perhaps also mute the sound, publishers could mitigate some of the nasty effects of ads whose content which they do not always control.

  43. You’re saying that you can’t add hardware accelerated video support because of the lack of APIs? Are you kidding? This can’t be serious?

    A big software company like Adobe, not being able to add hardware accelerated video support because there is no API that do the job for you? I expected a big software company like Adobe to be able to do the job themselves without having to wait for others to do it for them.

    Don’t say it’s impossible to do it yourself, you know it’s false.

  44. The way I see it apple will be apple… they will support themselves, charge huge rates for inferior computers, and try to do it all alone. In the end this will be the cause of their downfall.

    Adobe is doing things proper. You make it possible for us to make the best products on the web. But you can’t make everyone happy. That’s why all flash sites should have an alt word press site… for those users who don’t want the full experience of the web.

    Keep doing what you’re doing.
    And when do I getmy FL player for android?
    I’m currently developing my sites to bridge the mobile / web experience.

    To the apple users I wish you the best of luck.
    To everyone else. . Roll on

  45. @Nonoche, @leef regarding that Ars Technica benchmark example, it’s extremely flawed because of the way that Mac and Window’s machines measure CPU. On a Windows machine the CPU of all the applications always measure up to 100% no matter how many multi-cores are available, but on a Mac it’s 100% * # of cores. This explains how GUIMark is 140% for the Mac when it’s impossible for a Windows machine to record 140% CPU for any application. So since it’s a quad-core, all the Mac CPU scores should be divided by 4 to be comparable to the Windows CPU measurements. Do this and you end up with the following results:

    GUImark :
    Windows Vista = 46 FPS, 54 % CPU
    Mac OS X = 28 FPS, 35 % CPU

    2advanced :
    Windows Vista = 2 % CPU, peaking at 31
    Mac OS X = 7 % CPU, peaking at 16

    Winterbells :
    Windows Vista = 9 % CPU, peaking at 14
    Mac OS X = 15 % CPU

    Mac is still slower than Windows but it isn’t nearly as much. Also the tests were done with the Flash Player 10 beta, not the final version. It would be curious on how the final version of Flash Player 10 turned out, especially with one of the Flash engineers commenting on the GUImark that text was one of the bottlenecks on Mac and they apparently did a fix for the release version of Flash 10.

    Now anyone complaining it’s slow on the Mac is just providing anecdotal remarks that don’t add up to much without proper benchmarking against a Windows machine of the same site. It’s also unknown what other browser tabs the user is running, with possible Flash content.

    Also part of the problem that JD mentions above is that some browsers have certain caps on plugins.

    From Tinic Uro, one of the Flash Player engineers:
    “Lets talk about maximum frame rates. In Internet Explorer this is 100 frames/sec. Why? Because the minimum time slice Windows timers can provide is 10 milliseconds. What about FireFox? FireFox does not use special timers and made a decision to limit the maximum frame rate for plugins.”

    “The Mozilla team also decided that plugins would get no time when they are on a hidden tab so it would not render the browser unresponsive or less responsive by adding new tabs. So do not be surprised if your SWFs and FLVs do no play on hidden tabs. Apple went even a step further in Safari: If the browser is not active, plugins will only get about 4 frames/sec, mainly to save battery and avoid the dreaded noise of the fans.”

    This is why AIR applications running CPU heavy content can always run faster outside of the browser both on Windows and Mac and Mac tends to have greater increases in speed (but once again just anecdotal).

    @Lee, perhaps you can help convince Tinic Uro, or someone else on the Flash Player team to write a new post about frame rates, CPU, hardware acceleration with different browsers and different OS’. Perhaps someone from Adobe can set up a new benchmarking system similar to GUIMark, benchmarking different things (ActionScript math, animating vectors, bitmaps, text, etc). People could post their results, which could hopefully include some who are running Mac and Windows on the same machine. There’s so much disinformation around this topic that it would be helpful to have some proper data. Especially for Flash developers who sometimes have to discuss/explain these topics with clients or bosses.

  46. @iFrodo oh OK you know it’s possible to do? OK I will let the player team know that because in your mind they are just too lazy to do it. Our player engineers bust their ass and are some of the best programmers on the planet.

  47. The Open Screen Project is important because it gives other mobile manufacturers something Apple has not got on the iPhone – Flash. Stop pandering to Apple and give them a rocket up the arse.

    I am tired of people getting so excited over Apple stuff – yeah sure it looks nice, but it’s overpriced, overhyped and everyone has got an Apple this or Apple that – I want to see some variety in the market place and we don’t all want to pay double for a computer / phone that has the “shiny thing” going for it. So maybe it’s time to let Safari die on it’s own sword – Apple users are smart enough to install Firefox or Chrome – let iPhone die a death whilst everyone steals it’s best ideas and makes them better…

    Flash is about providing access to great content that is imaginative and disruptive without having to pass through some self appointed style guru’s “approval process” but can be brought to market in a slick way quickly…

  48. Thanks Lee, this was great. As along time Apple enthusiast I have to admit that I am losing faith in them. Ever since the iPhone and iPod came out, I feel they have lost their competitive advantage – which was at one point, their computer. I’m glad to see Google and everyone else coming out with phones and working with Adobe. When my contract is up, I’m definitely going to try something else for half the price.

    As for flash on mac, yes, it crashes quite a bit, even for a pretty powerful machine.I just bought myself a nice Dell for $800 including monitor specifically for Flash – I can’t believe I just said that, but it’s the reality. Thanks for your (and the Adobe team) for their hard work.

  49. @Andrew Morton – feel free to ping me ( and I can answer any questions you might have specifically, but what I’m prepared to say in the context of a response to this post, is that the mobile ecosystem is far more complex to master from a business perspective than the web world, no matter what runtime/VM/platform/delivery channel you are targeting. I was a very early adopter of Flash Lite, and the industry was very different to what it is today (pre iPhone business models of monetization). Flash (as either a browser plug-in or standalone player on the device) is a small component of the global mobile ecosystem, but one that has the potential to change certain aspects of consumers’ mobile user experiences over time. The Open Screen Project, FP 10.1, Slider … these are all exciting and important developments and initiatives for Adobe and their mobile strategy and I’m looking forward to seeing how they change the game, but this time from the luxury of a full-time app development position with a mobile operator, rather than from a self-funded start-up :)

  50. @lee
    I’ve known devs that can make a 1080p H.164 video run at 30FPS on G4 1.25GHz with Radeon 9200 (a Mac Mini), on an alternative OS (called MorphOS), or run Quake 3 at 40FPS on a G4 1GHz with Radeon 8600 512Mo.

    I don’t say that flash devs are not good enough, I just say that I doubt that the reasons that you are advancing in your blog article are the real reasons of not having Linux and Mac optimized version of the Flash player.

    If fact, I say quite the contrary to what you think I’m saying, I say that I’m convinced that Flash devs are perfectly able to do the optimizations, with or without existing API. And that this API argument is just a commercial argument to give a reason while the real reason is probably money related.

    Because if no API exist, while it’s perfectly possible, this need a lot more work to make the software use the hardware to accelerate the video, and I think that’s what is the real reason, because more work means that it’d need more money. And probably that Adobe don’t want to spend that money right now. That’s I think the real reason, and it’d be far more rational and credible for you to admit that, than to use a pseudo technical reason that is far from valid in a developer point of view.

    So in nutshell what I say is: It’s possible technically to do it even without an API, but it needs a lot more work and so more money. And maybe Adobe don’t want to spend that money on that right now and prefer to wait to expect that Apple will provide an API one day, which will be better in an economic point of view.
    But please, don’t say that it’s impossible to do without this API, this is false and the Flash engineers team is perfectly aware of that, you can ask them, you’ll see. If it’s a money issue, then say it rather than hiding it behind a non valid technical reason.

  51. @Glen: I totally agree

    Don’t worry about Apple. Google’s open source android will take their market sooner or later anyhow. I believe that open source will eventually also beat M$ in the end when everything will go into the cloud.

  52. I see the potential for flash on websites or even for streaming video.

    But i like the click2flash plugin the most so i can disable all this annoying unnecessary flash crap programs/ads on various websites i visit on a regular basis!

    If Apple is behaving as you described (i can imagine that very well) you will keep you problem. But to be honest a plain HTML website on my mobile phone is what i would like to have, no matter if it’s an iPhone or any other kind.

  53. Sorry thats not true. The Gap ist Huge. On a new MacPro with 4GB Ram you can’t look a HD youtube Vid with both of the cores are less than 80% usage… sorry. the Flash player ist bullshit on a Mac. Every 4 year old PC plays youtube HD better.

  54. The bottom line is that Apple has always pushed a proprietary strategy. It’s why their computers don’t share the same popularity as PC’s. It says a lot that MS will work with you guys and Apple won’t. Honestly, I think Apple’s business practices should get them slapped with a anti-trust lawsuit. Why is anything they do not as bad as MS trying to push IE with their OS.

  55. You’ve got to be kidding me! uses 95% CPU when run on Safari. 130% CPU when run on Chrome under Mac OS X 10.6.2 with the very latest Flash player.

    I would never, ever, want Flash to be available on my iPhone. It would drain the battery within seconds. Mostly for crap that could have been done using HTML+CSS.

    Glad I have ClickToFlash on my Mac. Saves me from lap burns from a computer running at full capacity just to render some text replacement.

  56. It’s really annoying how Adobe persists with an unoptimised Mac client. The short sited thing is a lot of us devs use Macs and I now actively block it and it’s another reason to avoid using it as a development platform. Where I was looking at Flex and used Flash more so a couple of years ago, I now do my innovative work with jQuery and will use HTML5 as it’s browser support picks up.

    Also, how is the open screen project Open, if it’s just about Flash (closed)?

  57. I haven’t read all the posts so sorry if this has already been pointed out.

    For me its very simple,by giving the Iphone the ability to run flash player, being it stand alone or browser plugin, would kill iphone’s golden egg of app development, wich is a large ammount of the iphones income.

    It’s obivous that if Apple worked with Adobe the player would be better.Thats not the point here, for me its all about money.

    Wasn’t Adobe that said: “We will be ready to deliver a faster player to Safari once Apple is ready to deploy the player in Iphone” ?

  58. Pierre Bernard, I don’t think you get it (or you work for Apple). If Apple would work with Adobe (like Bruno said) then they could start trying to make the player work better on that platform. You need to face the fact that Apple doesn’t WANT it to work well.

  59. I am not surprised that this topic has been brought up. I have had many issues with mac users reporting the same problem over and over again. Apple must realize that their mac system is a stolen version of Linux with a few visual enhancements and therefore should be classified as a open-source project encouraging cooperation with Adobe and other vendors for the purpose of creating a better experience for public members.

    Why not use Windows instead ? problem solved, it runs perfectly on XP, Vista, windows 7..

  60. I have to agree with Michael.

    Flash player on mac is not up to par and it is not as simple as a lack of hardware acceleration, people not updating their player or spread of misinformation..

    I’m running Flash 10 on a modern mac and there are frequent occasions in which it will flood the CPU and crash the browser. Moreover, isn’t OpenCL supposed to provide hardware acceleration to 3rd parties? i thought that was the point of it..

  61. i use a/develop on mac.

    i have to agree with lee based on my personal experience (i know some have had exact opposite experience). i agree with him that a performance, at least in some signifigant capacity, plays a role in how your app performs on a mac. the shop i work at has developed some very intense flash sites/apps/ads and all of them have to be tuned to the ‘nth degree to get them to perform well on both operating systems. and in the end, at least 50% of the time, our sites perform better on macs than PCs of comparable machine specs.

    to be honest, its been shocking when that happens because we’ve been so beaten over the head with the stigma that flash on mac is fail. but its been our honest-to-god experience i’d say for the past 3 years now. and we’re talkin some intense stuff; full papervision sites, recording 30 second webcam video at 15fps as bitmapdatas, converting them to PNGs and zipping them all in flash, full video with tons of vector animation over them…i mean ridiculous stuff that stresses my brain everyday lol.

    And other shops like ours (some much better than ours) have been experiencing the same sort of thing. their sites perform as well on mac as they do PC. flash, in general, can be a pain to optimize for because it can change your whole approach to something that would otherwise be simple but its truly necessary to get your swfs running well on the majority of personal computers.

    i personally think adobe has been doing a good job of addressing the mac issue and i appreciate it. keep trying harder, of course, because on either platform, we could always use more performance.

    also, id like to throw my 2 cents into the flash/iphone hat. the reason apple doesnt want flash on their phones is plain and simple. why buy an app or game from the app store when that app is available for free on the web lookin cool in flash. of course there would still be reasons to buy apps over using a flash site for some tasks/games etc….but a lot of reasons would go away. enough to hurt the bottom line. and in business, its ALWAYS about the bottom line. with adobe, with apple, with business and business move or lack there of. money.

    the flash IDE crashes for us often on mac. but the web player has been on par with windows from our point of view for a while now.

  62. @lee “As for the other issue, that is something where the developer didn’t implement it properly.”

    It is certainly possible for a developer to improperly implement an ActionScript 3 equivalent to onReleaseOutside (many ActionScript 2.0 developers did not even implement that), but this has been an issue with the Mac OS X version of Flash Player for some time. Please see bug report #FP-234 for further information.

    That used to be a publicly viewable URL, but you need to be logged in to access it now, so I don’t recall much of what was there or know if there have been any recent developments. It looks as though there may have, though, because I just ran a quick test in both Firefox and Safari and I could not duplicate the problematic behavior in either browser, so perhaps the issue has been resolved. By the way, I am currently running the beta release of Flash Player and Mac OS X 10.6.2 on my MacBook.

    @lee “We have a stage leave event which you can respond to in order to make it behave properly.”

    I recognize that there is no ActionScript 3.0 equivalent to onReleaseOutside; that is not the issue. The issue is (or was?) that the release event is not being detected on Mac OS X in particular (possibly specifically in Firefox). Again, though, maybe it is fixed now or will be in the upcoming 10.1 release. This may warrant more testing with different versions.

    @leef “That is bad of the developer.”

    If so, then that includes the developers of Adobe’s own Flex SDK.

    @leef “You can write your Flash apps to not do these things. If you’re having difficulty creating an intended behavior I’m willing to help. Adding a MOUSE_UP listener to the stage and/or Event.MOUSE_LEAVE is usually the solution to those types of problems.”

    I have no problem creating the intended behavior; I have a problem getting it to work with the Mac OS X version of Flash Player.

    @leef “Also OS X mousewheel support has been possible since ExternalInterface.”

    Thank you, but calling out to JavaScript is not an equivalent work-around. Nor is it even possible if the deployment environment does not allow additional files or offer its own canned work-around for contributed content to access (e.g., game sites that accept a single SWF for each game, but no supporting files).

  63. “Apple does not provide a public API to make this happen.”

    That’s just total bull. Apple does have a public API to play hardware accelerated H264 video on a surface: The Quicktime API. Not only that, but you get a rock solid decoder for no effort. If you write software for this platform and wish to exploit that capability, it is exposed for you as a software vendor.

    That you can’t talk directly to the video driver yourself is a FEATURE of OSX, not a shortcoming. I don’t want you talking directly to the hardware. You’re not my hardware vendor.

  64. Dear Lee,

    Thanks for your time and all the comments you made about the Flash Player’s performance on the Mac!

    As you see some users are very passionate about it cuzz let’s face it: Flash is omnipresent and we (the mac users) would like to enjoy it to the same extent as the Windows users.

    I find your explanations about the OS-native CPU usage measurements on the mac do not excuse Flash’s abysmal performance on the platform.

    Fact remains that watching a simple (SD quality) Youtube video (infamous Dog skater: takes about 45% of one core. Even IF it may translate into smaller value when 2 cores are taken into consideration it still is much as a whole. Unacceptably much, in my humble opinion.

    That was just one example of one SD-quality video. Now please, Lee, watch the following Flash video on your newer generation Mac:

    Even using the 10.1 beta tt’s stuttering ALL OVER every 3-4 sec. It’s not even HD quality. On Windows. however, it plays flawlessly.

    I know there still work to be done and I know you guys are working hard. But please, don’t put the blame on Apple wholly as it’s clearly also Adobe’s duty to make the Flash player fly on Mac OS X as it flies on Windows.

    One more thing: even the MOST powerful PPC computers are struggling to play any Flash content out there. Yes, even a G4 is a perfectly capable computer nowadays but wat brings it down to its knees it’s Flash web content which is played through a non-optimized Flash Player.

    What Macromedia couldn’t achieve, I truly believe YOU guys at Adobe CAN.


  65. I too am late to the party, via daring fireball. But do not judge me because of that.

    Lee, you encourage people to try and see that flash player is not slow by making a small flash app and seeing how it runs. A good try but unfortunately not all flash apps, be it ads or a video player are not as perfectly done and simple. To the end user flash players performance is how it runs *with* the current flash content that is or is not done according to Adobe guidelines.

    I have seen a simple animated ad steal 100% of my core duo. It is not acceptable. I have seen the same with some basic web video (maybe on vimeo), no matter if the movie was playing or paused. This too is unacceptable.

    You complain about Apple’s restrictive API. You are probably correct, but why do mplayer and vlc perform much better? Are they not bound to same restrictions?

    A thing I noticed when playing the problematic video. Flash player had much higher screen refresh rate than QuickTime. QuickTime refreshed about the fps of the movie. Flash player about twice that. I checked that with the Quartz Debug tool. Screen refresh is *very* expensive on OS X.

  66. @Jussi re-read the post. I was responding to someone who said a simple Flash app takes 100% of his CPU. As for the API, the restriction is for browser plugins and that is where the trouble is for us. Standalone applications don’t have this restriction.

  67. Why doesn’t Adobe use the Apple-approved method to play back h.264 via the appropriate APIs? Why are Adobe applications becoming less native with each new version?

    Sure, you can claim it’s Apple’s \fault\ for not allowing direct access to hardware, but it’s also Adobe’s \fault\ for trying to shoehorn a non-native application on to OS X.

    Personally, I’m very pleased that Flash is not available on my iPhone. Quite apart from h.264, I have always found Flash’s performance on OS X very bad (though with nothing like the problems with the Linux version), and have been a very happy user of ClickToFlash for a couple of years now (and I rarely click). Until Flash becomes an open standard recognised by proper standards bodies, I want it off the web.

    Anyone who knows anything about Flash cookies should be very wary of both Flash and the people who thought something like that was a good idea.

  68. @lee ok. I was not aware of an additional restriction for browser plugins, and I have seen some, like veetle, run video very well.

    Let me reiterate the CPU hogging. I have seen a simple flash app, animated ad, taking all CPU, as weanon a paused video player. In the latter case, maybe in the former too, flash player was causing excessive screen updates, which were the likely cause of the high CPU usage.

    From end user’s standpoint it does not matter whether the fault lies at Adobe or the flash author. Experience is equally bad. And guess who they blame?

  69. So why don’t you just open source the Flash player? You don’t make any money from it; your Flash-related revenue comes from the authoring tools.

    Incidently, your Open Screen project doesn’t feel very open when I got to the web page; it basically tells me that because I don’t happen to be running Flash (or perhaps it’s because I’m not running JavaScript for that site) you don’t want to give me whatever technical information I need as a programmer. Do you really need Flash to have the top page give a simple explanation of what the project is all about?

    While I think Flash is a good and useful tool, it’s that sort of use of it that keeps me from being upset that Apple doesn’t support it.

  70. Actually I agree with Curt here. I ran into the same problem when I visited your home page. I’m not going to change my browser settings or install javascript (actually it’s installed but disabled) just to go to various other sites.

  71. “This kind of misinformation is unfortunately very common. Either this person is using a very old Mac or hasn’t upgraded their Flash Player in a long time. Create a simple Flash file, update your Flash Player, and run it in Safari and you will quickly realize that this is not the case.”

    That’s *exactly* the arrogance we’re talking about! There’s all kinds of things wrong with this.

    1. User complains of having a problem. Response? User must be spreading “misinformation”. Flash is fine. The problem is you, not us!

    2. It works fine for “simple Flash files” if you’ve “updated your Flash Player”. Therefore, assuming you’ve upgraded, the problem is simply that your Flash file isn’t sufficiently “simple”. (Again, it’s your problem!) I guess if I was a Flash developer that might help, but as a user that doesn’t do me any good when the problem is that a random website with a simple Flash animation causes the problem.

    And why is it that the same site, when run in a Windows virtual machine on the same system, uses far less CPU? I mean, sure, it’s my fault for buying a Mac and expecting Flash to not bring down the system, but the root cause is still that Flash Player is kind of lousy on Mac OS, no?

    “But let’s talk more about the Flash Player on the Mac. If it is not 100% on par with the Windows player people assume that it is all our fault.”

    It’s a proprietary program published by Adobe. It’s hard to imagine who else could be at fault. (Though now I’m beginning to think that it’s actually *my* fault. Adobe has a whole bunch of reasons why it can’t possibly be *their* fault!)

    “The facts show that this is simply not the case. Let’s take for example the question of hardware acceleration for H.264 video that we released with Flash Player 10.1.”

    That’s a very new feature, and available only on a very few graphics cards. For the 90%+ of the world without Flash 10.1 and a graphics card that does H.264, do you think you could make performance not so terrible on the Mac? You’ve just been pushing pixels for the past 10 versions on Windows, right? Can we have their not-totally-awful pixel-pushing performance? Nobody cares about hardware H.264 (well, maybe some people do). Make the “simple” files work well first.

    If this is your attempt at humility, I’m not surprised that Flash 10.1 is your attempt at Mac performance improvements!

  72. As a test, I went to the Flash link in post #75. I’m running a relatively new Mac with the latest Flash plugin and the graphics stuttered in an unwatchable manner. My CPU in Safari went from 10.5 to 78.

    I also use Click to Flash for most of my browsing and it makes things much quicker and less annoying (fewer ads). And I think the ad situation is one that Adobe cleverly avoids mentioning. That is the main reason they are so adamant about have Flash available.

    BTW, the only time my browsers crash is when running Flash.