[IAEP] Flash at Sugar Labs

John Watlington wad at laptop.org
Sun Jan 4 23:24:43 EST 2009

On Jan 4, 2009, at 9:23 PM, Wade Brainerd wrote:

> Personally, I don't believe that Sugar Labs the organization needs  
> to be concerned with any of these four points.
Ahh, but a recurring question from existing Sugar deployments is how  
to get Flash, why Flash doesn't run faster, etc.

> 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?
The question is what answer you provide to this crucial question.

How crucial ?  Any (non-x86) processor design hoping to for MID/ 
settop/laptop market penetration is
paying Adobe to support them from day one.  One day, we hope they  
will instead pay someone
to port Gnash + codecs instead...

> Currently Sugar is incapable of running software which is not  
> specifically designed for it.
Sugar runs simpler SWF applications just fine, through the Browser.   
They don't have to be
"designed" for Sugar.

> 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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