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Speed Tax for Speedy death of Flash Platform

I'll start with a wonderful dialogue from the movie AVATAR, which really suits Adobe and community relation today:

"They're just pissing on us without even the courtesy of calling it rain."

Well, I couldn't find better line than this to explain whats happening in the drama of Adobe & Community clash.

Adobe is a company who has never been kind to the community. They never supported, showcased, appreciated community's great work in a way it should be. Sponsoring couple of projects, events/contests does not make a huge difference.

The message was clear, MAX 2011 keynotes incident
The torture of the community of Flash Developers began from the MAX 2011 keynotes, and it is still going on. One after another PR mess and disaster only made developers' lives a HELL. This has become a routine practice for us now. Adobe drops a PR bomb on us, community reacts negatively, and then some Adobe Employees/Evangelists try to justify and explain the new PR mess again and again on various sites or blogs, and then they ask Why there is so much FUD in the community?
Adobe clearly delivered a message that HTML5 has been brought in the front position and Flash has been pushed on the back seats, and it is now 2nd class citizen of Adobe. So, don't complain now, if they are treating it as a 2nd class citizen. Adobe guys may not agree, but we are not as dumb as Adobe think we are.


Screwing up your loyal customers / communities will only lead you to the destruction
This is common sense, and a very basic rule of business. Learn something from Apple and Google in this regard. No wonder why Adobe and RIM get along very well with each other, they are unable to compete in the market and satisfy their loyal customers, it is something which in common in both. You make false promises to your customers, you keep them in dark, and you screw them hard, and then you expect them to love you in return. Hahaha! Poor fellas.


Leadership lacks true vision at Adobe, and they are not doing anything about it.
We have to pay the price for Adobe's non-visionary leadership. Why don't you get a new highly skilled, less expensive, more visionary and presentable CEO? You guys can't see how consistently bad he has been performing. Since the day he was appointed as CEO in 2007, till today, such a horrible performance in every area, stocks, software qualities, PR, etc.
This whole thing makes me believe what many ex-Adobe employees say about Adobe, that its plagued with bureaucracy, and not many creative people and creative freedom is left in the company. A perfect example is Ansca Mobile company, started in 2007 by two former Adobe engineers Carlos Icaza and Walter Luh, who worked on Flash Lite at Adobe. Look at them, they are comparatively very small company but they are doing really great job now with Corona.
Honestly speaking, Adobe lacks vision and a good leadership from a long time now. Due to which, they can't understand the growing technologies, where to invest, what to do. Forgot about the future, they can't even see the present. They can't see where everybody is going today. A friendly suggestion to Adobe guys, Get rid of this CEO (Mr. Shantanu Narayen) and appoint some other person as CEO who take less salary and does better job. Believe me you are going to save more money than you'll earn from this so called PREMIUM features tax.

Here is a two year old article about Adobe's fall down, a must read:
http://www.codfusion.com/blog/post.cfm/adobe-should-fire-shantanu-narayen


We can't earn enough by selling tools only, we need more ways like Revenue share, taxes, etc.
There are numerous ways to earn money, its not community's fault that you can't make great tools for developers. But we still buy Flex/Flash Builder, don't we?. Don't blame us if you can't generate enough profit from your tools, lets do the basic comparison, when it comes to speed FlashDevelop outperforms Flash Builder, and FDT leaves FB behind in features for hardcore developers. These small groups/companies are doing 100 times better job than Adobe in providing great tools to developers, that's why we choose them over Adobe's tools. We have seen how well you compete with your rivals, so lets not get into that debate.

We have always paid for your massively priced products and bundles (CS3, CS4, CS5, etc), where had that money gone? Who says Flash Platform is free? We paid for the platform not for the tools which you sold us with couple of random updates (Deco Tool, Spray brush, etc), I don't remember any new huge feature coming in Flash Pro in years. Bone tool is good feature but it doesn't work every time, its broken and I'm talking about developers here.


The new wave of PREMIUM features scares me
This is going to be dangerous, this shows a sign to us that now we have two kind of features in the Flash Platform, Premium and Non-Premium, and many awaited features from whitepaper might end up being a PREMIUM features like ActionScript Workers, etc. Now, this whole thing adds new level in the stack of uncertainty. First, we have a constant fear of Flash Platform's life, and now we have to worry that if Flash Platform survives, which features are going to be PREMIUM.


Speed Tax is just a beginning of an end
Today, after many years, they finally started to do something to boost the speed and they hardly have completed couple of features from the many promised in whitepaper and see this, they want to get early profits out of it. Tomorrow, if they make some security features for the Flash Player, then there will be Security Tax, and may be Stability Tax. If you want more secure and stable Flash Player, get a new license and your content will run in crash-free, hack-free mode of Flash Player unlike others. Getting any idea where it is heading?


Licensing for everyone who uses Stage3D with DomainMemory, is a HORRIBLE idea
The thing which bothers me the MOST is hassle of licensing. Whether you are making a game or something else, whether your game crosses that $50k milestone or not, if you use Stage3D with DomainMemory, you'll have to go through the licensing process. Do you call it a smart move?

According to Adobe's FAQ about premium features: A nominal program fee may be introduced beginning 1st August, 2012. So, there you go, a nominal fee for every license. We can imagine what nominal would be from Adobe's perspective.
[+Lee Brimelow writes on his blog: No you don’t pay anything to get the license... ]. I don't know whats going on? Please someone clarify this?

I just want to let the community members know that this is just one side of the coin, the other side is yet to be revealed. They haven't told us how they are going to check how much our game is making, how this monitoring system will actually work and believe me that will be another disaster, bigger one too.


Peeping into our balance sheets
Why the hell is every company today wants to access our data? and How on the earth they are going to track the record of my earnings for a game? There could be many sources of generating revenues from a game, and Adobe is going to keep an eye on all of them. Brilliant, just amazing. This is going to be a true innovation and a revolution in the field of technology. I'm sure Adobe has enough resources assigned to do this job.


This is how you payback
I thought it is payback time for Adobe, since they haven't done any thing significant for the platform in last many years. But, this is how they payback our services and hell lot of money which we have paid for their average tools. Stage3D is the only big feature added to the Flash Platform, since the day they acquired Macromedia till today.


So, what is the problem really?
Again, referencing to +Lee Brimelow's post, he writes "...It is primarily for the console-quality games that come out of Unity and in the building of things like the Unreal Tournament 3 demo from Epic."
If that is the case, why don't Adobe with the Unity's and Epic's support, add this licensing in the Flash Export feature in IDE's of Unity and others, so it will be required for those only who are using these high-level gaming tools to create AAA games.
If you are like me, you don't make any games, and even if you do, you know your games won't cross $50k milestone ever, so why do people like me have to buy a license and allow Adobe to keep an eye on my little earnings all the time. Adobe also knows this fact very well, and they are saying themselves that most of the Flash devs won't be affected by this Revenue share as they are not likely to cross that mark, but still they are forcing everyone who wants to use domainMemory and Stage3D together to buy a license, so that Adobe can make little extra cash, even if you are making some non-game stuff or something for educational purpose like tutorials, etc.


First deliver, then talk about money
I want to make it clear, that I'm not going to bet my hard earned money on this limping horse (Adobe). If I have to spend more money, I would love to spend on some other company who has some respect for its community and has track record of delivering. You guys have hardly completed couple of features from the long list of promised features in the whitepaper, and you have already started to think about generating early revenues from it. This tax/share would have made some sense after you would have delivered most of the features from whitepaper by next year.
So, the point is, you could have implemented this revenue share model after you would have improved the VM performance in Flash to match up with Alchemy opcodes performance, then it would have made a sense. People who want to port their C / C++ code to Flash Player, they can use Alchemy 2, and for that they have to pay for a license, sounds fair. Other developers, who are making stuff from scratch in AS3 will get a great performance as well, without having to use any domainMemory/Alchemy, etc. So, they don't have to get any license or something at all.


More and more burden on the community
So, we all are aware of the fact that Flash Platform is community-driven platform. Without the support of an amazing community of hugely talented people, Flash would not have been what it is today. Community has a major contribution in the success of this platform. Now, poor developers who contribute to the community in a big way, they have to maintain two versions of the same library. One which uses PREMIUM features so they can use it in AIR apps (till Adobe introduces some other tax on AIR apps as well) and the other which doesn't, for those developers who want to use the library in Flash Player. This is an added responsibility on the shoulders of the community members.


Adobe loves HTML5, more than Flash now ?!?!?!?!
So, Adobe loves HTML5, that's great, so do we, but that doesn't mean cutting down the resources of Flash and moving them to work on HTML5. Both should be given their required amount of resources to keep up. You don't need to lower Flash's image to make HTML5 look great, pass statements like *This can be done in HTML5 easily, so don't use Flash for that."
I was telling a joke to my friends, about this recent WATERMARK announcement of Adobe, which is a great innovation from the company, showing a watermark message in runtime is great idea, Since Adobe makes tools for both Flash and HTML5, they can use this watermark for marketing as well. Like if you just make a simple fade in fade out animation in Flash, and when you compile it, a watermark message can be shown, saying *"You can do this in HTML5 now, use Adobe EDGE to create it in HTML5".
Well, it won't be wrong to say that HTML5 is Adobe's favorite now, at least reality reflects that. Muse, Edge, Shadow, PhoneGap, etc. Adobe Developer Connection site has more and frequently added articles/tutorials/videos on HTML5, CSS3, etc. and if you go to other sections like Flash Player, AIR, you won't find any new articles/tutorials from last 4-5 months. Do I have to explain anything further?


We don't believe you Adobe, don't you remember what you did last November
Its matter of trust, and Adobe has lost it in a big big way, not once, not twice but many times. We all know how rapidly things change with Adobe. Today, they are saying that no similar licensing will be required for AIR apps, but it can change in future, knowing the fact how Adobe changes rules overnight. Anything can change, we just don't trust you Adobe at all, sorry.


Protesting in my own way
Today, after this announcement I'm going to boycott CS6. I'm not stupid enough to think that one person's decision of not buying their products will make any significant difference to them in terms of anything. I know this can make things even worse, that's why I won't suggest every community member to take the same decision as a protest. I'm not making this decision only because I'm angry and upset with Adobe, but I don't have enough money left in my account to waste on something which doesn't truly worth it. I know what they have been selling me from CS3 to CS5.5, I mean look at the upcoming features of Flash Pro CS6, Spritesheet Generator, OMG! (Adobe made fun of Flash Pro when they displayed & highlighted this tiny little feature at MAX keynote on big screens last year.) My non-Flash dev friends laughed at me by saying that The best gaming platform of the web doesn't have its own spritesheet generator yet. LOL!
Another upcoming feature is Export to HTML5, wonderful, isn't it? added Wallaby in Flash IDE, isn't it? Nice.


Conclusion
Adobe, If you want to kill it, just go ahead and do it in one go, have some mercy on the wonderful community of developers and your own baby platform, don't kill it in installments. Don't leave it in half dead half alive state like Shockwave/Director. I'm say this because your efforts look so desperate and deliberate. I have seen Flash devs going from superheros to second-class developers, from jobless to beggars*, but you guys are not bothered about it, right!

[ *beggars: Yes, thats true! Begging for projects, for work, for features etc. If you want to see by yourself, go to the AIR developer forums of BlackBerry, and see how Flash devs are begging RIM to update AIR 3.2 on Playbook and enable Stage3D on the device. Both Adobe and RIM are silent about this. Adobe says RIM is handling AIR on Playbook, and RIM says we'll think about it if Stage3D content shows up on other mobile platforms and there is good demand for it. Do anyone remember Adobe's Danny Winokur at BlackBerry DevCon 2011 Americas, showcasing Stage3D game on Playbook?]



Today is a very unfortunate day for me, as I have finally started to write about my whole experience of working with Flash Platform, the outstanding community of developers and Adobe. It will be a very long and detailed article about my journey, and the day I say goodbye to Adobe and sadly Flash, then I'll publish it. I have a feeling that its going to happen soon, I'm standing at the tip of the cliff, I just need a slight push to jump off the cliff, couple of more announcements like this will do the job.

Thank you guys for reading my longest post ever. I don't write detailed posts normally, but this time I couldn't stop myself.
Please comment about the things you agree and things you don't, and tweet or share this article with other Flash devs, I want every fellow from the community to read this.

Thanks for you time.
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24 comments
 
I totally agree with the spritesheet generator being a joke, anyone with half a brain wouldn't invest in CS6. I mean come on I can code spritesheet generator for movieclips in few minutes and they are promoting it as the next best thing since sliced bread :/

I wonder what will happen when people get sober from the HTML5 buzz, the time will come when more and more people realize that HTML5 is still simply not there yet, and whats worse it never will in some aspects. Its just so popular everyone is talking about it but we have yet to see some major games come out of it. Hopefully it will be not too late for Adobe to realize that they should stick with Flash in the first place and not jump on to the bandwagon.

I thought that Adobe is an innovation company, sometimes I wonder if they even see what is happening. Its so shortsighted that one could thing that they don't even care. I don't get it.
 
I don't know, this seems overblown to me. These bytecodes are about Alchemy, a tool for compiling C/C++ for Flash, which they've decided to market to games makers using a games industry style licensing model. It scales better for a bigger ROI since it's a tool that fewer might take advantage of. I am not personally in the market for this - but I don't see it as terrible. This doesn't seem like the end of the world to me. As Thibault pointed out though on the haXe blog, Adobe needs to deliver better AS3 performance - soon.
 
For me the saddest thing about this post is that in order to get so angry about the decisions a company makes, it means that you have to be very passionate about the product. Otherwise you would not get so upset about it. Now imagine if this passion could have been directed towards the product for the good and benefit of the community. But Ray is not alone in feeling like this, and ultimately I believe it's this vast exodus of developer passion that will signify the end, more so than anything Adobe themselves do.
 
+Kevin Newman When Adobe suddenly decided to pull off the Alchemy support, they said that they are working on Alchemy 2, which will be a commercial product for those who want to easily port their C/C++ projects/libraries to the Flash Platform. Non-commercial use was supposed to be free of charge, and there was no combo deals discussed like using it with Stage3D or something. What Adobe is doing today, they are planning to sell license to everyone, if you are a big game studio or a just an indie game developer or non-game developer, if you want use Alchemy with Stage3D, you have to get the license. Even if they distribute licenses for free (which is not clear yet, nominal fee is mentioned on FAQ page), are you willing to let them track record of every single penny you make from a game or other flash content?
 
+Richard Davey Yes, you can say that I'm very emotional and passionate about Flash. I know its just a technology, and every technology has its day, they come they go, not a big deal. I have also kept myself updated with the trends and I do work on all major web technologies, but yes Flash is my favorite platform and has a very special place in my heart.
What you are saying is that we should direct our passion towards contributing to the community, and ignore what Adobe is doing. That's what we have been doing from years, and that is the reason of success of Flash Platform. But situation has changed now. Many big guns of the community has stopped contributing to the community and abandoned the platform completely because of incompetency of Adobe, and things and announcements like this place hurdles in our ways to contribute.
 
+Ray Kutro Nope, I wasn't saying you should be directing your passion towards the community at all. I am sure you have spent years being an active community member. What I was saying is that you are yet another example of someone who had a massive love for Flash, and that I thought the saddest part of all is the way in which Adobe have destroyed this fire inside of you (and many other devs like you).

Money cannot buy the sort of commitment you used to have to Flash.

They can shove as many features as they like into CS6, but I bet they've pretty much lost you, and lots of others, for good. This is far more damaging to them than any stock price dip imho. It's a long-term issue that won't be fully realised for years.
 
I think the key quote here is "Stage3D is the only big feature added to the Flash Platform, since the day they acquired Macromedia till today. ". Adobe has always sucked at building innovative web related products. Remember "GoLive" or "Live Motion"? You still can't even read 8bit pngs with full transparency in photoshop. It seemed to me that when they bought Macromedia flash was now going to be for "enterprise level application development". That didn't work out to well so now they are shoehorning in opengl but have nothing that makes it very appealing to develop with. So in comes Unity/Unreal and in 6 months their IDEs are compiling out swfs with vastly superior toolchains. Adobe's stuck wondering where they're going to make money as who wants to use their klunky IDE and slow language? This really is a shame. I've been using Flash on and off for over 10 years now and the platform always seemed like a lot of fun, but at this point in the game I really agree with you that it is time to say "sayonara".
 
I would appreciate if +Lee Brimelow or someone else from Adobe clarifies the confusion of license fee. Is it going to be free or nominal fee will be applied?
Chris D
 
"First deliver, then talk about money" now I thought this was a no brainier! why the hell are there Adobe people surprised when they are now charging people use flash features for the first time ever. Its madness to think people wont react to such a big change in the way flash is used. It seems they are only concerned with their immediate internal political pressure and have no room to respect or passion for their product and the people who have been using it for so long. Developers are the blood of the platform simple, and it seems obvious that most are feeling like they keep getting spat on. Now back to haxe.org I go.
 
+Ray Kutro Lee and Renaun are presenting in Las Vegas tomorrow night on Stage3d. I've already asked both of them more than a few questions already about licensing without any definitive responses. I gave Renaun a heads up that I'll be asking more tomorrow night as well :). My guess (and only a guess) is that they don't know yet either, but I have no doubt they are doing their best to find out. There is also the email address fpl@adobe.com that we can send licensing questions to. But wonder if that email goes into the same black hole that Flash Pro bug email reports as well? ;)
 
+Ray Kutro I wouldn't use a license like that - but then I don't plan on 50K after-overhead revenue on just the web-browser version of an app revenue. I'm just not that big a player. If I were that big a player, I might decide that was worth it. I'd make the same calculation for Unreal Engine, which has a similar license, but takes 25%, instead of 9% - of ALL revenue (with a similar buffer area). In the games industry, this kind of licensing is not uncommon. That said - I'm not in the market for this. I do everything in AS3, and aside from Box2D (although I hear Nape is faster) I hadn't planned on using Alchemy anyway. I think this is ultimately a mistake by Adobe, but mostly because of their failure to lead with a well articulated strategy and narrative. It's really the CEO's job (or at least the produce lead's job) to set that strategic narrative, and as far as I can tell, no ones even trying. They just throw a bunch of cold facts out, and hope something sticks. That's a terrible way to run a technology company. By definition, technology companies have to be about the possible, about the future. I don't really see this as a betrayal of any kind, in fact, they could have chose to lock the domain memory (read Alchemy bytecodes) down entirely, but they actually carved out some exceptions they though the community wanted (ones that would work great for video apps for example). In retrospect, they probably should have avoided releasing the domain memory AS3 hooks altogether, and just made Alchemy it's own standalone product. And as Thibault has pointed out - release the improvements to AS3's runtime simultaneously. I wish I could say lesson learned -but they don't seem to understand messaging even a little. (sorry this is ranty - I don't have time clean it up - please forgive.)
 
I'm sad for Adobe--not mad and not thinking they're not "fair". If they have a scheme that works then all the power to them. Unfortunately, in the meantime those of us arguably unaffected by the latest change have to do clean up in the form of client education. For the longest time clients would contact me and have a clear idea what they wanted and--for the most part--their ideas were logical. Now I have to try to explain what I think makes sense for their business and it's ultimately a waste of time. I have to advise what I think Flash's "future" is. I have to tell them I can use AS and still deliver to iOS (apps)... and so on and so on. This isn't entirely Adobe's "fault". But as someone who has staked a good part of my career in Flash I have to now choose to effectively abandon it. To never use the "F word" again.

Having said all this, there's TONs (if not more than before) work related to Flash.
 
+Ray Kutro there is no charge for the license. There is only ever a fee if you make over 50K.

+John Olson I mentioned on my blog that there would be more details soon.
 
OMG, as I predicted in this article, Adobe has actually released Flash CS6 with these two features only HTML5 Export and the biggest feature ever Spritesheet generator, that's all!

Well, I was right to boycott CS6 completely. Thanks Adobe for saving me from wasting my hard earned money. You keep screwing up the community.
 
You sound surprised +Ray Kutro ? :) I love the page title on the Flash CS6 Features page "3D animation software". Like, for real?! and the touted CS6 features aren't even IN CS6 yet! Not too keen on the close ties with CreateJS either :(

Having said that none of the current SWF to Sprite Sheet tools out there work very well (including Zoe) so I may actually have to get CS6 anyway literally just for this reason sigh
 
+Richard Davey I'm not surprised as such, but I was expecting that they might have couple of more tiny features in Flash CS6 which they will promote as the coolest features in the world, but they did nothing and pushed the release with these two features only.

A friendly suggestion: If you want to buy CS6 for Sprite Sheet only, then I would suggest you to try it first, do you really expect Adobe to deliver a better Spritesheet generator than other 3rd Party tools already available free of cost?
Adobe is not known for making rock solid stuff.
 
True, although I would hope they of all people would be able to build the best solution given they've direct access to the native movieclip data before published to swf. It simply has to be better than what's out there at the moment! (it wouldn't be hard, believe me)

You're right about the rest of the Flash CS6 features of course - or rather the complete lack of them. Literally no compelling reason to buy it at all. At this point I'd put good money on there being no CS7 version at all (and they'll probably cite poor CS6 sales as the reason for this, when the reality is that there's no actual reason to get CS6)
 
Flash is or isn't "dead" independent of the features or lack there of in CS6. Gee--does anyone really use Flash Professional? Yes... for animation it happens to be very popular. If it can really output clean HTML5 I think it has a real hope for utility.
 
That's a hell of an expensive utility.
 
There's also a neat mobile touch emulation layer for mobile apps. I do think they should have spent some time on a Starling publish target, personally.
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