[IAEP] Flash at Sugar Labs

Wade Brainerd wadetb at gmail.com
Sun Jan 4 21:28:34 EST 2009

I should add one assumption that I'm making, which is that Flash will never
be considered the *primary* content authoring solution for Sugar activities.

If it were to become so, given the current state as outlined by David's 4
points, there needs to be significant support by Sugar Labs for the Flash
development tools, financially and with code.  But from my perspective, the
challenges associated with making it a primary content authoring system are
so large as to be not worth pursuing when a few simple tweaks to the current
software stack would get you 90% of the way there.


On Sun, Jan 4, 2009 at 9:23 PM, Wade Brainerd <wadetb at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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
> list.
> Best regards,
> Wade
> 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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