[IAEP] Flash at Sugar Labs

Wade Brainerd wadetb at gmail.com
Sun Jan 4 21:23:44 EST 2009

Personally, I don't believe that Sugar Labs the organization needs to be
concerned with any of these four points.

The question is whether the Sugar *software* is flexible enough to adapt to
the needs of its users.  Who are we to say what they should install, and
what tools they should use to make their content?

Currently Sugar is incapable of running software which is not specifically
designed for it.  This precludes smaller organizations who cannot design
custom Sugar activities from producing good content.  Once the Sugar
software is more flexible and able to run arbitrary programs (Gnash, Flash,
Silverlight, GTK, Qt) without massive time investment and hacking on the
part of the content producers, the other questions won't even reach this

Best regards,

On Sun, Jan 4, 2009 at 8:38 PM, David Farning <dfarning at sugarlabs.org>wrote:

> Bryan Berry started a great thread about activity development a few
> days ago.  In the initial post he proposed using flash as means of
> developing content.  Before taking the thread any farther I though we
> should stop and look at what flash actually is.
> The term flash is often interchangeably used as:
> 1. A brand
> 2. A player
> 3. A development environment
> 4. A protocol
> Yep, confusing.  As we continue the discussion, I thought we should
> look at how 'flash' relates to Sugar and to more generally to OLPC and
> Open Source.  I have CCed MaryBeth from Open Media Now and Rob from
> Gnash to help clarify the many shortcomings in my explanations.
> First, the brand -
> Flash is primarily a brand.  It was originally created by MacroMedia
> and has been purchased by Adobe.  The brand consists of the player,
> IDE, protocol, and the support and marketing provided by Adobe.  As a
> brand, Flash is competing head-to-head with Microsoft's Silverlight.
> Second, the player -
> The most visible part of flash is the player.  The _Adobe_Flash_Player
> is a proprietary product which is developed, supported, and
> distributed by Adobe.  Currently,  the Adobe Flash Player can only be
> distributed with Adobe's permission.  Binary code for the player can
> be downloaded for most operating systems and distributions.
> Third party redistribution is strictly prohibited without permission.
> As such it would not be possible for Sugar Labs to distribute the
> Adobe_Flash_Player in its code bundles.  Deployments can, and often
> do, add the Player as an available activity.  The Player can be
> legally redistributed over an organization's intra-net.
> Third, the authoring tools -
> Adobe's business model is to give away the player and sell the
> authoring tools.  As a result, Adobe sells several very good, yet,
> expensive authoring tools.  Adobe's development tool costs
> approximately $750 US.
> Fourth, the Standards -
> Flash deliverables come in two formats .swf and .flv.  Swf and
> ActionScript, the development language use to create .swfs have been
> open sourced.  I believe that the ActionScript source code is jointly
> held by Adobe and Mozilla.  There are possible legal questions about
> the patent encumberment status of some of the media codecs used in
> swfs and flvs.  We would need clarification from the Software Freedom
> Conservancy on these issues.
> So, counting backwards how does this affect Sugar Lab?
> Fourth, the Standards -
> We need to wait for feedback from the SFC and Open Media Now.
> Third, the authoring tools -
> Adobe has done a very effective job eliminating the competition for
> flash authoring tools.  http://osflash.org/ has a number of open
> source development tools.  I am not enough of a flash developer to
> judge if the authoring products are mature enough to be useful or not.
>  Are there any Flash developers out there, can you judge the quality
> of some of these products?
> Second, the player -
> The Free Software Foundation has flash player project called Gnash.
> The project is makin slow yet steady progress towards being a fully
> capable swf player.  The project suffers from lack of support.  Many
> Open Source users either download the Adobe player or forgo using
> flash.  The itch factor is pretty low.
> As a product, Gnash is approaching, yet is not yet ready for, prime
> time.  I spent New Years Day with my sister's kids( ages 11, 7, and 4)
> looking at their favorites sites under Ubuntu/Flash, Ubuntu/Gnash,
> Xo/Flash, and Xo,Flash.  I bet that was the first time they have ever
> heard a adult tell them to, 'come on, play it again, just one more
> time, please...' about their favorite games:)
> There was a steady decrease in the availability and usability of sites
> with Xo and Gnash.  We need to wait for feedback from Gnash about the
> product's technical limitations and the project's development
> limitations.
> Finally, the brand -
> Adobe has recently asked Gnash to call their player a SWF player
> rather than a flash player:)
> I appreciate your feedback on the technical aspect of Bryan's propose.
>  In the next few days, I will try to summarize the (1)
> organization/development and (2) the educational/pedagogically issues
> of his proposal.
> thanks
> david
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