Flash: The most underrated technology

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Joined: 01/10/2013

As I'm typing this on my distraction-free, appliance text editor, the AlphaSmart Neo2 feeling liberated and not worried about a red underline under my bad spelling, (even though this is a black box with a MAC address) I'm starting to think Adobe Flash was underrated technology. I remember in the early days of HTML5, everybody, even Steve Jobs said Flash was awful, but Flash could have been Savour of the Universe. (sorta) Today the web is way more bloated than Flash ever dreamed of being and the web is way more unusable when you block Javascript than when you blocked Flash at it's peak. Flash was very powerful and supported GPU accelration and actually had 3D games and I'm thinking AVX might have helped Flash if it wasn't being killed off right around the same time HTML5 was starting to take off. Most people hated Flash for being slow and having annoying autoplay videos and ads and HTML5 is doing the same damn thing except we found a good compromise, we had click to Flash, you could consent to execution on an applet by applet basis and another interesting feature that flash had is it was like mod trackers where you know how they were like Midi+Wave Tables in one file? Well Flash was like that with vector animation, it was efficient storage and transmission of lossless media that was so efficient, it was designed to run on dial-up. I purpose an odd call to action that I doubt will ever happen, the resurrection of Flash, specifically a libre clone of Adobe Flash Creator CS6 that's fully Actionscript 3 compliant with a UI that will make CS6 users feel at home and a clone of the latest build of Adobe Flash Player and Flash Plugin that has support for AVX1&2, defaults to a click to execute mode and if the applet has a header or footer or whatever that says the license, it will be displayed as a behavior of the plugin before execution and will say "click to play" and if it doesn't have such metadata it will say "unknown legacy binary, click at your own trust of the site host" or something like that. I think this project should be called "Photonic" after hearing the phrase "activate the Photonic Canon" and thinking "'Photonic Canon'? That sounds like a a technobabble way to say 'Flash Light'."

The Photonic editor 1.0 (god, that sounds so cheesy and awesome writing this) should target a drop in replacement for Flash CS6 and the Photonic Player 1.0 should report as the latest version of Flashplayer with no added features as preservationist project. The Photonic Player 2.0 should also support Flash binaries reported as Photonic 2.0 and target extra features like contemporary codecs like Flac, Opus, Flif, Codec2/Wavenet and whatever codec with expired patents like MP3, Jpeg2000, and I guess codecs that will have expired patents at the time Photonic 1.0 is feature complete like I'm guessing any patented codecs that exist now like xHe-AACv2 and BPG's lossy HEVC keyframe compression. Not to mention lossless data compression like 7zip and Facebook's zstd and common dictionary based compression that would be built into the standard that the Flash files reporting as Photonic 2.0 could utilize like 650MB of highly compressed vectors, lookup tables, wavetables (I guess it would be FLAC/Opus Tables) and other dictionary assets that the developer could point to that's under a linking friendly license. I picked 650MB because I think it would be good to target a CD dictionary size, something that takes up a fair amount of space even today, but was a relevant size during the heyday of Flash and it's a size that's justifiable as "it's an initial large size, but worth it for saved long term bandwidth" and would be a required download and even well worth the wait of 1 day & 2.5 hours on dial-up or IP over avian carriers if you're really that bandwidth starved. As bad as we're told Flash was, especially with somebody with a huge conflict of interest against it like Steve Jobs making public statements against it and would probably rather support slower interpreted scripting rather than VM byte Code that if vector optimized would compete with his business model of vendor lock-in. BS like "Flash is not optimized for touch" Well, neither was the web in 2007, just make a bigger button. Or "Flash kills battery life" Javascript does that now. I think it had interesting qualities, it was so bandwidth efficient, Newgrounds was built around user generated flash content in the days of dial-up, imagine how much more bandwidth efficient it would be with contemporary codecs and Vector CPU extensions, that sounds like demoscene stuff, it would be an interesting challenge to make the coolest demo that could fit in a 5 minute dial-up download of 2MB that we endured during the heyday of Flash Newgrounds or have a 1.44MB size challenge. Maybe there would need to be a new Newgrounds and I was thinking "Oldgrounds" then "Neogrounds" and was thinking that looks too similar reminds me of Neocites and then I thought of "Geogrounds" although Newgrounds still exists. I like this concept of continuing the Flash legacy, Jim Hall is continuing the legacy of DOS with Freedos and there are libre successors to Qbasic like QB64 and Freebasic that build on that legacy and as much as a lot of people hated Flash, the only thing wrong with it compared to Java was Adobe ruled the code with an iron fist while in theory Java was more "open". Anybody remember Oracle suing Google for Dalvik? Yeah, Oracle can burn in hell for all I care.

Anybody think this is a good or bad idea?

Postscript: Oh, and the typing experience on the AlphaSmart NEO2 is a pleasant experience, it feels like it's just me and my ideas though the spell check got a little annoying because of words that newer than 8 years old according to my BIOS splash date and words I just made up, but you can just add words to the dictionary and this thing has a battery life on AAs measured in years, not hours. Contemporary Smartphones are heaters in comparison to what I'm assuming this Freescale Dragonball based device is. It's a recommended buy if you can find one. It only does a couple things and it does them very well. This 44x4 character display isn't that bad either and if you're reading, that would mean the text sending over emulated USB Keyboard function was seamless.

Post-Postscript: It sends text at like 300 Baud and I'm assuming that's to minimize transfer errors, but it's amusing to see each character pop up.

Joined: 03/19/2020

I only saw your topic after You commented in mine (I usually only read General Free Software Talk on this forum, that's why) and thought I would also comment yours :)

You know, what? I never looked at it from this side. Well, that's maybe because back in the "glorious days" of Flash I was not into the tech enough to actually understand what it is or to know about the Free Software Movement...

Anyways, You might have found the reason of flash' failure:
> the only thing wrong with it compared to Java was Adobe ruled the code with an iron fist while in theory Java was more "open"
And Java probably failed for security reasons. Why did something as shitty as js succeed then? It was, unlike java, designed to run in a sandbox. It had, unlike flash, free software implementations available. It's straightforward to deploy, because it doesn't require compilation. It's relatively easy to learn (compared to, say, C or Haskell - although were not used on websites back then).

The things I haven't realized until You pointed them out - that flash could be blocked or allowed on applet basis, that turning it off didn't break as many sites, that it was efficient. Those make me think You're right.

I don't realize why people think spyware can cross some software out. Firefox also contains spyware. And many of us are using some liberated version of it :) Here, of course, we'd need to be using a clone of flash, since there's nothing to liberate.

Unfortunately, I don't think such technology could be made popular again. It can at best gain a small group of hobbyst-enthusiasts like gopher protocol did.

Joined: 02/12/2015

Someone deleted my post, but I responded that there is a free software version of flash called gnash. The last major release was in 2012, it was in widespread use in years prior to that. A fork of the project is on github and was updated two years ago, and Arch users are using it to build gnash, which they say is running stable: https://github.com/shunonymous/gnash