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Thoughts on Flash (apple.com)
962 points by andrewdavey on April 29, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 505 comments



If they're going to pitch HTML5 as an alternative to Flash (and, implicitly, the iPhoneOS API), then why not let them compete directly with Cocoa Touch apps? Why not offer HTML5 developers a way to take advantage of the App Store's monetization and discoverability?

Apple already provides some amazing documentation and tutorials for making offline-capable mobile web apps, but they're still treated by Apple as the bastard cousins of "real" iPhone apps. They should buy or provide an officially-supported analogue to a tool like PhoneGap[1] or Titanium[2], allowing HTML5 apps to appear in the App Store, and perhaps provide an Apple-supported framework such as their mysterious PastryKit[3] or contribute to SproutCore[4], giving HTML5 developers better tools to conform to Apple's HIG.

HTML5 apps built on open standards should be on an equal footing with apps built in Cocoa Touch. That would be walking the walk.

[1] http://phonegap.com/

[2] http://www.appcelerator.com/

[3] http://daringfireball.net/2009/12/pastrykit

[4] http://blog.sproutcore.com/post/531215199/introducing-sprout...

EDIT: "officially-supported analogue"

EDIT: footnotes


I get this argument, but couldn't you say Apple gives the customer the best of both worlds?

Web & HTML 5 support: developers can make or do anything they want to on the platform.

App Store: Cultivated catalog of high quality apps for customers.

At the end of the day, we don't need PhoneGaps or Titaniums-- we need MobileSafari to have the same hooks into the hardware (gps, compass, accelerometer, camera, etc) as Cocoa Touch. Then it's a level playing field.

If you're saying that that, too, ought to be in the App Store, well-- then what you're really arguing for isn't technology but that the App Store is a better distribution channel to mobile devices than the Web. It certainly is-- I have millions of competitors for the word "Congress" on Google, and about 12 in the App Store.

To solve the distribution channel problem, I don't understand why some enterprising YC person doesn't simply start making a web App Store app for the iPhone that allows people to sell web applications to iPhone users, handle fulfillment just like the App Store does, and handle curation, just like the App Store does.

There's money to be made here.


What I'm arguing for is not technology (which already exists), but technology support in the form of official frameworks, which subverts the "3rd party middleware" argument, and for equal access to distribution and payment channels. I have no motivation to create iPhone web apps if I can't easily get them in front of iPhone users monetize them.

A few other points:

- MobileSafari already has access to many hardware functions: gps, accelerometer, maybe compass? There are some great iTunes U videos on this if you're a member of the iPhone dev program. Obviously it would be good to have access to all the hardware features.

- Every time I hear about the App Store being "curated" for "high quality" I choke a little (iFart?). There's no reason why html5 apps in the app store wouldn't go through the same review process.

- The Google results for "congress" have no relationship whatsoever to "congress" in the App Store. Web pages != web applications.

"I don't understand why some enterprising YC person doesn't simply start making a web App Store app for the iPhone that allows people to sell web applications to iPhone users, handle fulfillment just like the App Store does, and handle curation, just like the App Store does."

Not a bad idea, in fact. A few big hurdles, though: 1) you can't install apps on the iPhone except via the App Store (or asking a mobilesafari user to create a home screen icon themselves) 2) payment system inertia-- who's going to sign up for another micropayment account when they're already set up with Apple?

EDIT: while I was writing this, nailer said it better and more succinctly.


So I think we're in (nailer) agreement, though I don't see why anybody has to wait on Apple to make a web app store. I think there's money to be made even with all the marketing hurdles.

I want to explain myself in regards to your response here:

"- The Google results for "congress" have no relationship whatsoever to "congress" in the App Store. Web pages != web applications."

In a lot of cases this is true. But I, for instance, make web apps about members of congress. My mission is to get people information about members of congress wherever they're at. In order for those web apps to get discovered, I have to rely on Google for people to discover them (as well as good marketing and PR and all sorts of other things). I'm simply point out that the App Store is, in fact, a less competitive environment than the web for the dissemination of information, which a lot of web applications, and iphone applications do.

Type "Weather" into the App Store, and there's a few hundred applications. Type it into google? 319,000,000. I'd wager to say that 99% of "Weather" applications on the iphone are about the dissemination of weather information.

So while, yes, web pages != web applications, many web applications are about the aggregation and dissemination of information. And search-- whether it be through Google or through the App Store-- is an important factor to their discovery and use. Being in the "top 25" apps for a search result in the App store is valuable, just like being in the top of Google search results. And right now, the App Store is far less competitive than Google search results.


I don't see any reason why HTML5/Javascript apps couldn't be in the App Store as some sort of "featured" section, with a means to install them as icons on the home screen, except that Apple would be diluting the market for the native apps. That's not in the developer's interest, but it might well be in Apple's interest to have more decent free stuff on the iPhone.


who said anything about free? my point is that mobile web apps have no way to monetize, and that could be fixed by letting web apps in the app store, via a native bridge.


We're arguing for Apple to make the web app store.

Clearly the current situation of open standards apps not being monetizable is not the best of both worlds.


But how is this different from the monetizibility of web-apps on the existing web?

And don't forget - even if Apple were to acquiesce and make an app store for web apps, there would still be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The claim would be that Apple is trying to take away URL-addressibility from the web. Heck, people already complain about this just for Objective-C Apps!

Exhibit A: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=945443


Don't you remember that Apple was first trying to force everything on the iPhone to be done on the web?


We all remember, but they changed their minds and now fully embrace the app store, and even use it as a major marketing point. Suggesting we go back to it now is a bit pre-mature, I think. JS simply doesn't run comparably to native apps, so if they want to talk battery life, they should discuss it there as well.


He did. In the very next sentence:

> Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript – all open standards. Apple’s mobile devices all ship with high performance, low power implementations of these open standards.

Not too many words there between 'JavaScript' and 'low power'.


They may be low power compared to other implementations of the same, but I'd be very surprised to hear that the same program written in html5 and JS didn't consume more power than an app equivalent. Ever use Meebo? Ever look at how resource intensive it is, vs Adium or a similar program?


Hmm, oddly I don't recall the 1st party apps being HTML apps, with access to the camera.



Awesome. Thanks for the link.


Can't you create a barebones cocoa touch app that basically just shows safari, and your app runs inside that as ja and HTML?


That's what PhoneGap is. It also provides the webkit js engine with access to the camera, accelerometer etc.


You could, but Apple are rejecting apps that are just web views or RSS readers so I wouldn't recommend it.


There are plenty of apps that utilize web views inside of native iPhone UIs, like tab bar controllers and other widgets. They are "hybrid" apps and make the best of both and they get by the review process just fine. A lot of them are fairly big names, like Reddit.


The point is that if you build your application correctly no one will even notice it's not a Cocoa app.

Take the iTunes App Store for instance. Nearly the entire application is a Webview, the AppKit equivalent of stuffing a Safari window into your application. It's all HTML (or an HTML-like markup language) and CSS. It's a little clunky sometimes but you can't say it doesn't "feel" like a real application just because it uses web technologies.


A full app that runs inside a WebView is very different from an app that is just a WebView.


What's the point? Just point users to your URL instead.


You can also serve the content locally so you don't need to have a network connection.


Income.


I built a demo using PastryKit. See it here: http://michaelgrinich.com/pastrytweets/

Code is here: http://github.com/grinich/pastrytweets


>or contribute to SproutCore[4]

The President and CEO of Sproutit, Charles Jolley, has been employed by Apple since 2006. I guess that would count as contributing to SproutCore.


They aren't pitching them as equal. Apple wants them to be unequal.


Which is why their argument here is bullshit.


They aren't comparing HTML5 to Native Apps, they're comparing HTML5 to Flash.


That's the spin talking. The issue here is market control and always has been.


I love this. Apple clearly laid out their reasoning, using facts and persuasive argument. The world needs more of this.

Obviously, there is some spin in the post, and I don't completely agree with 100% of it, but I love the level of discourse.


I have trouble swallowing some of this. A few of these theories have been debunked successfully.

I have a small problem with this "don't look at the man behind the curtain" routine. Proprietary is proprietary. Don't try and swing it.

Battery Life: http://vimeo.com/9705969, http://vimeo.com/9724682

Delays: http://www.neowin.net/news/adobe-quotapple-hurts-customers-f...

Touch/Scroll: http://www.mikechambers.com/blog/2010/02/22/flash-player-con..., http://www.mikechambers.com/blog/2010/02/23/scrolling-html-w...

Speed: http://jobemakar.blogspot.com/2010/04/flash-is-speedy-on-and...


Delays

Your link makes it seem like an evangelist is playing loosely with words; "available for download" could simply mean beta/RC status, not ready for release everywhere.

Battery Life

From your link: The results are amazing: I can watch a 4 hours and a half flash movie, without interruption, with a bright screen (no sleep mode) and sound !!!

From Steve Jobs post: The difference is striking: on an iPhone, for example, H.264 videos play for up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play for less than 5 hours before the battery is fully drained.

They seem to agree with each other? And only helps Apple's point.

Touch/Scroll

How about hover?


It is true that some of these links are from evangelists. But we're not saying Steve Jobs is neutral are we?

Battery Life: It's a bit of hyperbole. We don't watch videos on the iPhone for 10 hours. Would it matter if Flash could play videos for 11 hours? It is a misdirection or a sidestep of an original claim that Flash would kill the iPhone inside of 2 hours.

Touch/Scroll: Another sidestep. A Flash issue? With that I answer: a:hover {}

I just don't get this argument from Apple. Steve Jobs pioneered high usability mobile UI because Apple took the reigns. Now we have Android UI taking a cue from Apple and "unlocking the mobile market"

Flash and HTML5 have a similar relationship. HTML5 opens it up a bit. That's great. But what about HTML6? Flash is Area51 for implementation study.

We don't need to implement a marquee tag and then take it away once we realize it sucks. How could we market test video conf. or canvas-based visuals if we had no way to benchmark them? Flash is good. The VS. argument is a misnomer.


> "We don't watch videos on the iPhone for 10 hours."

We do other things on the iPhone. I don't want to make the choice between watching a video and then restricting my own usage just so my phone has enough juice to make a call. I'd rather watch videos and use my phone, and the more power efficient everything is, the more the user can do this.

To put it in perspective, if Apple's numbers are to be believed, running Flash alone doubles the power consumption of the device. That's insane.

> "With that I answer: a:hover {}"

a:hover is no longer (it certainly used to be) a common tool used for site navigation. Which is to say, rollover dropdown menus are out like parachute pants - it's a non-issue on the web today. Just about every site works with "clicks", which is Apple's primary form of interaction with websites on touch devices.

The most compelling argument made though we've already been aware of for some time: cross-platform toolkits encourage lowest common denominator design. In Apple's world of pixel-perfect mockups and obsessive attention to detail this is abhorrent - and I'm inclined to agree. The iPhone's chief strength is its remarkably polished user interface - which for the most part remains true across its 3rd party app sphere, thanks in no small part to Apple's obsessive HID enforcement.

A Flash-compiled-to-iPhone app destroys this in the same way that a Linux Qt app hastily ported to Windows is the same.


> a:hover is no longer (it certainly used to be) a common tool used for site navigation. Which is to say, rollover dropdown menus are out like parachute pants - it's a non-issue on the web today. Just about every site works with "clicks", which is Apple's primary form of interaction with websites on touch devices.

This is precisely what I am talking about. We slice the pear in the middle and somehow end up choosing one side over another. True, a:hover is a deprecated form of menu control in HTML, but it is in Flash, too. Again, how you use the tool. Damning an entire developer base based on miscreant use is not a compelling argument. Sorry, but it isn't.


> "based on miscreant use"

That's being a bit generous in favor of Adobe - the majority of the Flash development sphere is practically what one would consider "miscreant use".

Here's my impression of the different sorts of Flash use, based on my journeys on the web:

- Videos/Audio: Easily replaced by HTML5, and better too. More readily hardware accelerated, behaves as part of the core browser instead of a hijacking addon (e.g., Ctrl+T while focused on a Flash applet = no new tab), and much better battery life on mobiles.

- Crappy restaurant websites and other crimes against humanity: These should just die, and HTML5 will hopefully inspire better design ethic than this. I don't buy the argument that hovering is no longer common used as a critical navigation feature in Flash - I see it everywhere, especially for crappy restaurant websites. Flash is also impossible to crawl which reduces the usefulness of the web overall. Hell, you can't even LINK to content in a Flash site. IMHO the "full Flash site" (as opposed to Flash being a component of a page) needs to die a fiery, painful death.

- Games: The only place where Adobe has even a remotely legitimate claim that Flash is an empowering product rather than a crutch.

When I think of Flash these keywords come to mind: slow, buggy, crashy, badly designed, usability nightmare, gimmicky, unprofessional, and just plain bad.


> That's being a bit generous in favor of Adobe - the majority of the Flash development sphere is practically what one would consider "miscreant use".

The vast majority of websites in general are poor. It would be no surprise to see that the majority of Flash sites would also be poor. Both sides have exceptions, though.

> Videos/Audio: Easily replaced by HTML5, and better too. More readily hardware accelerated, behaves as part of the core browser instead of a hijacking addon (e.g., Ctrl+T while focused on a Flash applet = no new tab), and much better battery life on mobiles.

I don't disagree. I am grateful that HTML5 can handle this, but it took a "standards" committee several years to roll this into a questionably viable model. The immediate fanfare for the slow implementation raises my eyebrow a bit. We're all happy about having something we've needed for years. The company that created the fold so we could have sites like YouTube today? The devil.

> - Crappy restaurant websites and other crimes against humanity: These should just die, and HTML5 will hopefully inspire better design ethic than this.

It won't. Cheese is forever. If HTML5 can accomplish cheese, people will create cheese. We're all hopeful, but the human condition comes into play.


It's not the cheese I object to - but that the Cheese breaks the internet in fundamental ways.

Example: We just wrapped up Restaurant Week here in Seattle where a bunch of local establishments offered up prix-fixe specials for a couple of weeks. The website for this event was done up all in Flash, and made it impossible to crawl for a search engine, or even to link or bookmark a particular restaurant for later retrieval.

What did we exchange for this cheese and gimmicky design? Everything.

There's no regulating for good taste - you're right, most websites in general are poor. They, however, are still accessible - neon green text on black background with an annoying MIDI track in the background is still information that:

- you can link to

- you can bookmark

- you can copy and paste

- you can search for in-browser (doubly important if the website fails at layout, e.g. most Flash sites!)

- you can search for on Google/Bing

Those are pretty important.


> What did we exchange for this cheese and gimmicky design? Everything.

I agree that if you don't follow the proper protocol you will end up with an undesirable site. I can't argue that Flash == HTML in terms of accessibility. There are ways within Flash to harness some accessibility but it is up to the developer to implement these. An informational site in Flash is a bad choice. I would never suggest the use of Flash for broad use. A fun site (like http://www.myspace.com/fanvideo) is more appropriate.

> - you can link to

> - you can bookmark

Named-anchors and proper implementation (same as AJAX RIA)

> - you can copy and paste

"Selectable text" is an option in any Flash text field.

> - you can search for in-browser (doubly important if the website fails at layout, e.g. most Flash sites!)

> - you can search for on Google/Bing

Flash exports text within to the container. Google also can search SWF.

> Those are pretty important.

Agree.


"Selectable text" is an option in any Flash text field.

Is copying/pasting it to the OS (or app) pasteboard an option? If so, will it use the same UI as native apps have? Or will it force a funky widget of its own in the middle of an app that otherwise looks like the rest of the OS?


The options are the same as the OS using the same UI. Identical to right-click menu in browser inputs/address bar. It is using the OS clipboard. CTRL/OPTION+C/V works the same as well.


Are you saying that Adobe reimplemented the UI? Or that they pass it off to the OS to handle? Because if its the former, the iPhone doesn't have a menu dropdown for cut/copy/paste. Or a ctrl/command button, for that matter.

I'm only asking because I've never had copy/paste from flash work well on the desktop.


And HTML5 canvas changes this how?


Because <canvas> is used for just the "flashy" part of the site but everything else is still in traditional HTML with all of its advantages. Sure that can be done in Flash too, but, as we've seen, people often end up just doing the vast majority of the site in Flash. There's not the same temptation with <canvas>.


Why not? If <canvas> is being used as a drop-in replacement for Flash, why wouldn't it just be used in exactly the same ways? There's nothing special about canvas that would make it less prone to abuse.


Flash includes a ton of controls: buttons, scrollbars, text areas, etcetera. It has its own scripting language and memory environment that is separate from the HTML page and its DOM/JavaScript environment that contains it. There are ways to shuffle data and events between the two, but that means going out of your way to do so.

So if you're going to have a Flash-y data visualization component, say, it's easiest and most natural to have the controls for it (buttons adjusting parameters, display of those parameters, navigational controls) made in Flash too -- just expand the content rectangle of your Flash component out and drop in the controls.

In HTML5, the 'environment' of the <canvas> object is that of the surrounding HTML page. Adding buttons and other controls around the edge of your visualizer is most straightforwardly done by using "native" HTML <button>s and other such elements.

So it would be surprising to see <canvas>-using pages end up being done in a way where the <canvas> is essentially the whole page — it would require more programmer effort — whereas in Flash that's by far the easiest way to do it.


Although i agree that there are a lot of issues wrong with Flash, some of the things you mention aren't entirely accurate. For example, you can link directly to interior Flash content with SWFAddress (http://www.asual.com/swfaddress/). Also, there have been greater strides made in crawlers so that Flash content is more easily indexed by crawlers.

I will be the first to admit there are a lot of poorly designed Flash sites, but from an interactive design perspective, Flash still gives you the most freedom to create more innovative ways for user interaction. IMO this isn't something that should be dismissed so quickly.


Hover isn't used for navigation in Flash. Its used for controls in games, a lot of the time. You click to start, then move the mouse to play.

// note: Deleted this comment and readded it, since I originally replied to the wrong comment. Whoopsies.


> We do other things on the iPhone. I don't want to make the choice between watching a video and then restricting my own usage just so my phone has enough juice to make a call. I'd rather watch videos and use my phone, and the more power efficient everything is, the more the user can do this. To put it in perspective, if Apple's numbers are to be believed, running Flash alone doubles the power consumption of the device. That's insane.

What's your battery life playing an intensive game or using a processor intensive app?


"But we're not saying Steve Jobs is neutral are we?"

I would argue that that's a reasonable point to make. Steve Jobs doesn't have a vested interest in seeing Flash die, he has a vested interest in seeing the iPhone platform succeed. If he saw any way Flash could help that, I'm sure he'd be all for it, but he's seen how Adobe's behaved in the past (late with PPC versions, late with OS X versions, late with Intel versions, late with 64-bit versions, crashy Flash, slow Flash, etc.), and he has no interest in subjecting the iPhone to the same issues that the Mac platform has had to endure at the hands of a slow-moving corporation who has little interest in being a good citizen.

I would argue that Jobs is 'neutral' in the sense that he's not supporting anyone else's agenda. He's made his choice based on the facts before him, and while you may not agree with how he got there, I would say that he got there from an initial position of neutrality.


The very moment flash was not included in the iPhone, Steve Jobs had a vested interest in seeing Flash fail. If Flash expands, user satisfaction with the iPhone goes down. If Flash fails completely, one of the strongest negative components of the iPhone disappears.


Why does he have a vested interest in making it fail? Could he not change his mind and allow Adobe onto the platform? It's not like he's never changed his mind in the past (the Intel vs PPC 'Megahurtz Myth' comes to mind).


I would argue that it was even sooner that that. The Steve has probably hated Flash for a long, long time.


Yes, this goes back to 1989 fight over fonts, and the 1993 fight about Display Postscript and the 1999 fight about Photoshop on Windows, and the 2007 withdrawal of 64-bit Carbon toolkit at the last minute.


Battery Life: It's a bit of hyperbole. We don't watch videos on the iPhone for 10 hours. Would it matter if Flash could play videos for 11 hours? It is a misdirection or a sidestep of an original claim that Flash would kill the iPhone inside of 2 hours.

If a phone can watch 4 1/2 hours of flash in software before the battery is drained this means that watching a two hour movie will eat half of my battery. By comparison I can watch a two hour movie using hardware decoding and still have 80% of my battery left.


About Job's remark of hardware vs software decoding of video:

In both cases, he's talking about H.264. An end user might not even realize there's a difference. But some encoders produce H.264 that can hardware decode, and some encoders do not. Not all H.264 is created equal, and this is one area that really matters.

You want an H.264 encoder that produces hardware decoder compatible video.


When it comes to battery life, you must consider the affect on the total user experience.

If the iPhone can play video for 10 hours, that means a 2 hour movie brings my battery life to 80%.

If the iPhone could play Flash video for 5 hours and I watch a 2 hour movie, my battery life is reduced to 60%.

Given other things I do with my phone battery life is important beyond "how much video can I watch?" If the repercussions of watching a two-hour video are so much less severe, I am more likely to watch the video in question knowing I won't wind up with a dead phone after a half day of traveling.


Apple modified WebKit to support most uses of a:hover by changing how touch interaction works when a :hover style exists on an element. Apple cannot do this with Flash, which means Jobs's argument here is right on the money.


We don't watch videos on the iPhone for 10 hours.

No, but you might watch a film and a couple of music videos and then the battery is getting awfully low. My iPhone lasts a day on one charge (with heavy web use & lots of calls). Halving that with a 2 hour film could be a big problem.


Apples position is that proprietary implementations of open standards is the way to go (tho' of course WebKit is completely open).


Thought:

Proprietary isn't bad. Open isn't great. Proprietary vs. open is bad. Proprietary + open is great.

Proprietary implementations are a (sometimes) necessary interstitial step towards great open implementations. Save the "VS." narrative for Street Fighter II.


> "Proprietary implementations are a (sometimes) necessary interstitial step towards great open implementations."

True, but Flash is a closed standard with a closed implementation. Adobe likes to claim it is open - but the fact remains that not only is it impossible to write an open implementation of their incomplete spec, but Adobe has actively sought to keep core components proprietary even in spec and prevent competing implementations.

That's the part that irks me about Adobe's role in this issue - they're playing themselves and Flash off as this open savior of the web when they've actively been evil in that regard. If you're closed, great, do your thing; if you're open, then actually open your spec - don't open part of it and then go after the other half with lawyers.


So Adobe gets tossed aside in favor of HTML5/canvas. Or an open version of the SWF format with no licensing issues emerges. I am fine with that. If Adobe wants to be stupid, they are more than welcome to.

Apple is calling the kettle black with the proprietary argument. We can drill down to specific layers but the effects are the same to the developer coding on that layer.


I'm not flaming, trolling or baiting, but I am curious: under what circumstances do you think proprietary implementations are necessary?


OS has contributed to advancements in design, but proprietary initiatives employ a fleet of people to research, design and case study a technology. They do it all day and not as a side project after work.

Again, it isn't a case of one vs. another. I wish we didn't need to take a side and finally come to a conclusion that both are good in their own ways. Evolution is key.


There are plenty of people that are employed full-time to work on Open Source software. Don't perpetuate the myth that all Open Source software is created by people 'in their free time.'


Most aren't. That is why the myth exists. Plenty < Majority.


If your implementation relies on technology that you have licensed from a third party.


To be fair... Zangief vs. Sagat is an abomination, but Zangief PLUS Sagat would cure world hunger.


Proprietary on the web affects everyone, proprietary on the iPhone affects only the iPhone.


And the iPad, then other mainstream consumption devices. This argument doesn't live in 2010.


The point is it will only ever directly effect products made by the same company. A device from HP or Microsoft will never be hurt by an issue with a closed Apple platform.

If there are issues with Flash, it will hurt every company using Flash, and there is nothing those companies can do about it other than bug Adobe to fix it or drop Flash support.


I don't disagree that Flash has the potential to create issues.

The argument just suffers from the fallacy of composition. The standoff motif is getting old. We're talking about software, not cold war against another country.

Apple doesn't want you to notice Steve behind the curtain. With Adobe we tend to pick and choose what we agree with and ignore the points that don't support our bias.


In what way is saying "Flash has problems, therefore putting Flash on your platform will expose it to those problems" a fallacy of composition? I don't see it at all. It's not wrongly attributing an attribute of one small part of Flash to the whole. Or are you saying the fallacy is somewhere else?


In this respect, I am not arguing for or against Flash on any device. Just that the argument against it is just as flawed as the argument for it.


But you don't appear to have pointed out any specific flaws in the argument against it. So you're not making an argument, just an unsupported assertion.


All I am saying is that Steve Jobs isn't putting all the facts on the table as they are. He is feeding the anti-Flash gang mob with half-truths.

To say Flash is proprietary, possibly poorly executed format is a fair thing to say. To say it is completely without merit and has no place is a fallacy. HTML5 video is widely supported today. Flash might be a delivery vehicle for another unrealized idea tomorrow.

And the "death to the plugin arch" circle-jerk logic is almost intolerable. Only create within the confines of the parent layer's imaginative capacity? Sounds more closed than SWF.

kevinh said it best: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1305322

Support to my assertions: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1304353


I have no issue with him shutting out something that really sucks today at the cost of potentially missing out on something awesome to do with it tomorrow. The awesome scenario just doesn't seem likely to come to pass. If tomorrow there's a completely great thing on the web that can only be done with flash, then I think Jobs is pragmatic enough to reevaluate.

But the fact that the main use for Flash on the web these days, beside video and unusable websites, are animated flash ads that use up 40% of my much more powerful Macbook Pro's CPU time means I'm in no hurry to have flash on the phone, openness dogma be damned. When Jobs limits my general purpose computers, I'll be angry, but until then, I'm glad he's making the tough design decisions instead of just letting the device be a free for all.


> But the fact that the main use for Flash on the web these days, beside video and unusable websites, are animated flash ads that use up 40% of my much more powerful Macbook Pro's CPU time means I'm in no hurry to have flash on the phone

In my opinion, this is moot point. Annoying ads aren't going to be limited to Flash. HTML5 ads aren't going to be more fun.


I was talking mostly about the CPU utilization, not just the annoyance factor. I would hope that the HTML5 equivalent would be less power-hungry.


What flash ads? Just use AdBlock.


My point was that that is one of the main uses of Flash, and that an extremely simple/common flash implementation is enough to burn a huge number of CPU cycles for no benefit.


No user benefit. But there's nothing stopping advertisers from making crappy HTML5 canvas ads, and those are guaranteed to burn even more of your CPU cycles. So I call shenanigans on that argument.


Apple controls the iPhone's HTML5 renderer and feels much more confident in its performance. "There's nothing stopping advertisers from making crappy canvas ads" is not the same thing as "canvas ads will suck at least as much power on average as Flash ads."


They were separate points. Canvas is inherently more computationally expensive than Flash at this stage of the technology. As canvas advances, so does flash -- unless Flash dies off completely, Canvas ads will always suck more CPU cycles than Flash ads.


"unless Flash dies off completely, Canvas ads will always suck more CPU cycles than Flash ads."

Who says they'll progress at the same rate? That's ridiculous. Flash is at least 10 years old and has been in extremely heavy use, so it's likely plateaued in terms of performance on most platforms. Canvas (and the rendering engines for it) are very new by comparison.


John Gruber has been making these exact points. This could basically be ghost written by Gruber and we wouldn't know the difference.


Gruber is really Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs is really Fake Steve Jobs. Fake Steve Jobs is actually Bill Gates.


The latest from Fake Steve on this piece: http://www.fakesteve.net/2010/04/please-stop-thinking-about-....


Fake Steve raises an interesting point about how close John Gruber and Apple are.

>"...we leaked the Flash essay to our Chief Apologist John Gruber and told him to start whipping up some buzz on Twitter about it, and he followed orders [http://twitter.com/gruber/status/12988151829]."

Consider too that Steve Jobs replied to an email asking about the restriction of apps to C* with a link to a Gruber post [http://www.taoeffect.com/blog/2010/04/steve-jobs-response-on...].


Oh man, I almost spit my tea out laughing at that. Wow.


I'd argue that the real Steve Jobs is Bill Gates, lately. Maybe Monopolies (essentially) do that to people.


Apple do not have a Monopoly, unless you use a diseased meaning of the word Monopoly to mean devices produced by Apple. In that case, almost every company has a monopoly.


At a certain point, if you execute so much better than the competition and set yourself up differently (controlling and innovating in hardware too) and you maintain total control of your platform, you can dominate in the market to such an extent that you have a virtual monopoly.


Yes, but Apple do not have a monopoly in smartphones or computers. Maybe, just maybe you could say they have significant market dominance of mp3 player market, but who cares about that.


How is it so different? Microsoft at least did not control the hardware. Apple has always been worse than Microsoft in that respect - they even wanted to control the printer at one point! The only difference now is that for some reason its working for them now and iPhone is incredibly popular. But they're much more monopolistic than Microsoft ever was, and they always have been, and I would imagine they always will be.


I've often wondered if Gruber's reliable contact at Apple was some guy with turtlenecks and no numberplates.


He did throw up this little Tweet a couple nights ago: http://twitter.com/gruber/status/12988151829


And he did it at 9:42pm, iPhone's preferred (evening) time. (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1250125)


Keep in mind, he lives in Philadelphia, where it was 12:42am.


I'm sure he operates strictly on Cupertino time. ;)


I think Gruber remains independent from Apple. It would be too conspiracy theory for Gruber/Daring Fireball to be a secret PR mouthpiece for Apple. More likely Apple reaches out to him because he is by far the most influential Apple website outside of Apple (MacRumors is a distant 2nd in my opinion). They don't have to pay Gruber anything; the increased ad revenue from being a member of the elite The Deck should more than compensate.


More likely Apple reaches out to him because he is by far the most influential Apple website outside of Apple

I also think he is one of the most levelheaded apple-centric websites out there. Gruber talks a lot about premium products (not just apple) and their success in various markets -- DF is like a premium tech/apple/good taste blogzine and I imagine that his style appeals to a lot of people at Apple, whether they reach out to him or not (and "legally" or not)


Gruber is fantastic when he's not in "scandal" mode.

The site quality degrades significantly, however, when he latches onto a "scandal", whether it be about stolen iphones or illegitimate wi-fi security claims.

With his recent ad nauseum stolen phone coverage, DF has felt more like an overwrought Entertainment Tonight scandal episode.

I've found the best Gruber reading algorithm is:

if (post < 2 paragraphs) { worth bookmarking } else { mark as read }


Because they're obvious points to make.

Apple's competitors have been clamoring to put Flash on their mobile devices because it's one more bullet point they can use in their marketing against the iPhone.

Yet it's 2010 and mobile Flash is still nowhere to be found. How is that not Adobe's fault?


Don't lose sight of the issue. 3.3.1 is the issue, not "Flash on the iPhone". By reframing the argument as "Flash on the iPhone", you are succumbing to misdirection.


3.3.1 is an issue for developers. No Flash is actually a super huge deal for users.

I think one of the main reasons they published this was so they could respond to “iPhone doesn’t even have Flash.”


True enough. And Cocoa Touch is not an 'open standard.'


Jobs never said that Cocoa is an open standard. He just state that Flash is as proprietary as Cocoa Touch. Market share =! Open.

His point is that on the mobile web, HTML5 is open, not Flash.


So "Flash on the Web == Bad" because it's not open, but "Flash cross-compiled apps on iPhone == Bad" because it's not... open... ? The logic doesn't match up. As has been stated, it's a misdirection. Steve Jobs is setting fire to a house on the west side of town so that no one will notice that he's robbing the bank on the east side.

He's trying to come off as an 'open crusader for the web against Adobe' because 'Adobe is not open,' but on the other hand shoving Adobe (and others) off of the i{Phone,Pad} platform because it's not part of Apple's own 'not open' environment. I hate Adobe as much as the next person, but let's not dress Steve Jobs up as a knight in shining armour just because he also doesn't like Adobe.


"Flash cross-compiled apps on iPhone == Bad" because it's not... open...

Neither stated nor implied. The logic doesn't "match up" because it's a separate issue, addressed with different arguments:

"We have discussed the downsides of using Flash to play video and interactive content from websites, but Adobe also wants developers to adopt Flash to create apps that run on our mobile devices."

He then goes on about third-party middleware, e.g.:

"We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers."

Jobs does not make the openness argument in reference to Apple's proprietary platform at all. It seems to me that you have to ignore the last third of the article to think that he was.

He's trying to come off as an 'open crusader for the web against Adobe'

Is Jobs lying when he says Apple supports open web standards?


This has nothing to do with what's open and what isn't, it's about who controls what. Apple controls iPhoneOS, Adobe controls Flash. It's a prizefight. Don't get caught in a sucker punch just because you were paying attention to the fancy footwork.


I agree, but a hell of a lot of people are missing these obvious points, though. Most people with an opinion on Apple are.


I think it's almost entirely bullshit and misdirection. 3.3.1 doesn't apply to specifically to Flash.

"Open" is irrelevant. Apple is certainly no more open than Adobe.

The Full Web - whatever. Don't support it in the browser, don't support browser plugins, fine. Safari on iPhone still crashes all the time.

Reliability, security, performance - these are all things that apply to native apps built for the App Store, so why are apps built with Flash excluded in particular?

Battery life - more irrelevance. I'm pretty sure that there are games on the App Store right now that will suck away your battery's life faster than most cross-compiled Flash games. Game loops are intrinsically always busy - they don't necessarily have a natural idle point like GUI event loops do, especially if they are running at less than their desired framerate.

Touch - this is an application quality issue. I don't see any difficulty in simply not approving apps that have awkward non-touch interfaces.

The last reason, it being another layer, is the most insidious. UI difference, performance, etc. are all irrelevant - games have weird UIs, drain battery, and poor performance is a quality issue. The truth is Apple doesn't want to be disintermediated. Apple wants developers to be strictly dependent on its tools and APIs, and not use anything between the app and the platform. This is particularly offensive to me as a software developer, and it's far worse than anything Microsoft has ever tried to pull. It's the reason why 3.3.1 is phrased the way it is, and it has nothing to do with Flash and everything to do with locking developers in.

As I see it, Flash on the web is used for three things: (1) video, (2) casual games and (3) ill-advised corporate intro screens.

I'd love to see video not needing flash, but it isn't, yet. Having a sand-boxed third-party FLV player, so that it didn't need to infect the Safari process, would be nice to have. I don't really see that approving such a process would be necessarily harder than approving any other native application on the App Store.

I'd love for (3) to disappear. I can't bear those things.

And it would be great if HTML5 was universally usable and performant enough to work for (2), but it isn't, yet. I know of many casual Flash games, though, that would work really nicely as apps, and Apple is hurting me personally by increasing the barriers preventing those apps on the web from being available on my device. This policy is both anti-consumer and anti-developer. Only in the short-term is it pro-Apple, but I hope and expect Apple will fade in the longer term in competition with Android.


>The truth is Apple doesn't want to be disintermediated. Apple wants developers to be strictly dependent on its tools and APIs, and not use anything between the app and the platform. This is particularly offensive to me as a software developer, and it's far worse than anything Microsoft has ever tried to pull. It's the reason why 3.3.1 is phrased the way it is, and it has nothing to do with Flash and everything to do with locking developers in.

Microsoft did the same thing with DirectX and OpenGL. OpenGL was cross-platform. Microsoft stopped supporting it, and instead insisted that developers use DirectX. This essentially killed cross-platform gaming for Mac/Linux. DirectX games port between Microsoft platforms and Microsoft's Console, but require significant middleware to port to OpenGL and non-Win32 platforms.

Use of an API, public and documented, is a form of dependence and lock-in. Apple has done. Microsoft does it. Oracle does it.


There's nothing stopping you from using an OpenGL api that's built on top of DirectX, though. What Apple has done here is say that you can't put an API between you and the underlying API such that you are insulated to some degree from platform changes; but even worse, they've mandated which languages (!!!) you can use to interop with that API, which is almost criminal, technically speaking. (Of course it's not de jure criminal. Just for the reading comprehension impaired.)


He addressed 3.3.1 here

"Sixth, the most important reason.

Besides the fact that Flash is closed and proprietary, has major technical drawbacks, and doesn’t support touch based devices, there is an even more important reason we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. We have discussed the downsides of using Flash to play video and interactive content from websites, but Adobe also wants developers to adopt Flash to create apps that run on our mobile devices.

We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform."

Agree with him or not this is his view. And I think its a valid view. The first macs with a mouse didn't have arrow keys. And the early generation touch devices don't allow intermediate steps.

This is not stopping anyone from compiling from lisp to html5. Apple is fine with this. Buy native apps on their platform, for the time being, wont have intermediate layers.


"The truth is Apple doesn't want to be disintermediated."

I thought Jobs article made that pretty clear, actually.


I agree, but it's really sad that we're at a place where we praise Apple for communicating... like normal human beings.


Corporations typically don't appeal to reason on complex issues. In fact, most humans don't (though maybe "normal" ones do?).

What's sad is that it's a simple but important standard that isn't ordinarily upheld. It isn't sad to praise anyone for meeting that standard.


Apple is a corporation, not a human being.


Clever. The only thing more disturbing than Apple's behavior is how many developers seem to be suffering from stockholm syndrome.


Yes, Flash and iPhone developers alike.


The Supreme Court would like a word with you.


What? The legal notion of "legal personhood" and actual personhood are not comparable, not even legally, and especially not in the context of the discussion at hand.


So, to recap, legally being a person and being a person aren't, legally, the same.


Please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_person

"This legal fiction does not mean these entities are human beings, but rather means that the law allows them to act as persons for certain limited purposes..." Emphasis mine.

This stuff isn't even on topic, but when people insist on insulting my intelligence with snide pseudo-logical comments, I will insist on correcting them.


In other words, you like feeding the trolls?


The comment was a jab at the court's decision to move in the direction they have. I'm sorry that wasn't clear to you.

Beyond that, I find it incredibly silly that you find your intelligence so easily insulted. Perhaps it's time to take a chill pill.


parent is referring to this: http://www.scotusblog.com/2010/01/analysis-the-personhood-of...

which was generally interpreted to mean the SCOTUS decided corporations are people.


Regardless of what Apple think is best for the users, I would still prefer to have Flash on my iPhone. Not only to be able to use websites made in Flash, but also so that developers have a way to develop software without going through the App Store.


hmmm I too agree with this post somehow.... since long I am also not comfortable in learning flash and creating flash based website.. though the graphics is amazing but very slow.... the current decision by apple will definitely hinder the progress of Flash... Adobe need to come up with it's own version of mobile phone :) in the post Steve Jobs mentioned not to encourage the third party layer.... so they ll be slow to adapt the platform changes.... But today got mail from Appacceletor Titanium, they are quite happy bcoz they are developing based on JavaScript.... not sure..


The Lord said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And the woman replied, "The serpent tricked me, and I ate."


What he describes as the "most important reason" is also the big mistake here. If using certain libraries or cross-platform development tools truly did result in worse apps, then the market would take care of that.

He also doesn't seem to understand that such tools do not all totally hide the underlying APIs. They fall along a continuum in that respect. And in trying to ban extreme cases like Flash, Apple has also basically banned compilers.

Every programmer I've talked to about this thought it was some combination of stupid and evil (there ought to be a word for that; stevil?) to insist that apps be written only in C, C++, and Objective-C.

Surely there must be people fairly high up in Apple who realize what a crazy move it is to try to dictate to hackers what programming language they should use. It worries me that those people aren't being heard.


I'm starting to suspect that Apple really requires proprietary APIs and decrepit languages for the same reasons Spolsky[1] once said Microsoft used proprietary and huge and ever-changing APIs. It's cover fire to make everyone else's projects soak up more hours, increasing the fraction of captive developers and shops who are only experienced in iPhone OS work, rather than being prepared for work on iPhone OS and other platforms.

[1] http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000339.html


I'm starting to suspect that Apple really requires proprietary APIs and decrepit languages for the same reasons Spolsky[1] once said Microsoft used proprietary and huge and ever-changing APIs.

Microsoft finally addressed this and stabilized their APIs but they were somewhere between 5 and 10 years too late. Circa .NET 2.0 + in my opinion as an ex-.NET programmer.

Apple could easily end up in the same situation if they continue down this road.

EDIT: Detail


Why was this downvoted? I thought it was a reasonable point.


Every programmer I've talked to about this thought it was some combination of stupid and evil (there ought to be a word for that; stevil?) to insist that apps be written only in C, C++, and Objective-C.

Ya it's insane. I have no idea how they can be this out of touch with the development community.

Even the Microsoft developers that I know think it's evil and restrictive. Microsoft has failed in a lot of ways in the past but one thing they've gotten right is .NET. It's relatively open and they are beginning to actively support other languages. So instead of .NET and the CLR dieing off people can innovate on top of the runtime and continue to compete at some level with other dynamic languages. The same goes for java and the JVM.

My biggest fear now is Apple will decide to slowly but surely drop OS X support and begin the transition of moving the majority of users over to a new locked down stevil new Operating System.


I do think it is reasonably evil, but I'll be very surprised if, say, Apple enforces this against somebody writing software in a lisp, or all the games using Lua or Unity. But saying literally "You can't write software in Flash" makes for somewhat questionable legal language.


One of the regulatory tests for abusing market position is unevenly applying rules to lock-out certain competitors. If Apple does allow things that are technically forbidden, but ban flash, they may open themselves up to an anti-trust lawsuit.


Wouldn't this apply more if Adobe was competing with Apple? Also if Apple had a monopoly on anything?


I'll buck that for you. I don't just dismiss it as stupid and evil.

There are 2 things that stand out to me which aren't being discussed. 1) Apple has maybe the very best record in supporting their customers' software through various multiplatform upgrades. If you've been on board with them, they've taken you from 68000 to PowerPC to Intel and they've had bloody seamless transitions. Perhaps that has something to do with their desire to specify how apps are built and which tools are used to build them. FWIW, they did their own iPad chip but they bought one off the shelf for iPhone, I'd imagine that they will have their own phone chip before too long. This just seems logical and sensical to me and it's possible they might alter the architecture in some way and maybe want to dynamically translate the existing apps.

2) If you look at iPhone and iPad, they clearly had some foresight and vision when they did the phone. They didn't accidentally build the iPad and it turned out to run the same software and be compatible. Perhaps there is something else that they have in mind in the coming years or two. Maybe you'll be able to use app store apps on AppleTV. Who knows, maybe there will be some other device too.


Stevil is the best thing I've heard all week!


The market might summarily "take care" of iPhone itself.

There are many people (young people) who don't know anything about design or hacking, but they know enough to make an app in Flash--sort of. And when people buy those apps that look, feel and work like crap, they'll think iPhone itself is crap. Sure, they might pay for more expensive apps (those that are still in business), but once you get in the habit of paying little, it's hard to start paying a lot. I still buy cheap motherboards and curse myself later. And, once you get in the habit of getting crap, it's hard to expect anything more for your money. At this point, Apple has no edge over Android. Et cetera.

I can see a strong case for why it's evil, but to show that it's stupid would require thorough understanding of what a clueless, fickle public would do. Maybe the business morlocks at Apple are better at that than we are, and maybe we're better for it.


Flash is closed, Apple is open. Huh?

I can build a flash app entirely for free, legally, with zero restrictions, forever, on the tools I used to write it, or where I can deploy it to. Adobe has bent over backwards to make players (also free) backwards compatible. That's pretty open.

I must pay to build an iphone app, which I can only do on a computer owned by the same company, running an OS owned by the same company. This app only runs on hardware made by said company, and only run on an OS by said company. I am restricted in how I can build this, and must live by the whims of an opaque editorial process. In terms of openness, this makes Bill Gates look like RMS.


Apple makes Bill Gates look like Richard Stallman?

Let me ask you something. How many of Microsoft's competitors are building products that compete directly with Microsoft core offerings using the source code to Internet Explorer?


How many of Microsoft's OSes have specifically forbidden that you install another web browser?


That depends on who "you" means. If by you, you mean "me"? None of them. If by "you", you mean "Dell"? Very different story.

Your comparison is, to this reader, simply hyperbolic.


Did I miss Apple removing Opera from the App Store?


That's Opera Mini -- most other mobile platforms have the full Opera Mobile browser available (or soon). That browser is explicitly against the rules of the app store (as it runs interpreted code downloaded off the Internet).

[Edit: What's with the down votes -- this is factual information]


None, because the source code to Internet Explorer isn't based on an LGPL library and so can be kept proprietary.

Now, how many Microsoft OSes refuse to run in a virtualization environment on non-approved hardware? How many treat such execution as a license violation?


So your argument appears to be that Apple, having chosen to build the most popular (by vendor support) browser library on the market on a GPL codebase, is less open than Microsoft.


No, my argument is that your argument is misleading because it ignores the fact that Apple doesn't have a choice in keeping Webkit open. It's possible that they would want to and possible they would not want to, if they had a choice. When they originally chose KHTML to base Webkit on, in 2002, years before the first iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone OS, etc., their attitute towards being open may have been different than it is now. No one is saying Apple were less open than Microsoft in 2002; people are saying it's less open than Microsoft now, and you counteract with ignorant, invalid arguments while ignoring the evidence you're presented with. You're behaving like a troll.


Apple has been a (or, THE) driving force behind Webkit for some time now. They weren't forced to start with LGPL code. They did because they were comfortable working under the GPL.

I object to the subtext here, of "Apple only does open source when they're dragged into it". No, in fact, Apple has been a vocal and active open source contributor for many years now, to a far far greater extent than Microsoft.

I started with WebKit because I think it's especially relevant to this conversation. WebKit is an important gift to all of Apple's mobile competitors. But move on from WebKit and there's still:

* LLVM/Clang

* OpenCL

* Grand Central Dispatch

* Darwin

* Quicktime Streaming

etc etc etc.

Name one bona fide open source project that Microsoft runs that any of its competitors in any market have been able to use. I'm sure there's at least one. Maybe if we go project-vs.-project, Microsoft will even come out ahead. I really doubt it, though. So for now, just one.


That's all true, but in the last few years Apple does seem to have undergone a rather alarming shift away from open systems.

I don't think anyone is disputing that they've done a lot of nice open stuff in the last few years, since jumping on the bandwagon in a big way with Darwin ... but that sure doesn't seem to be their M.O. anymore.

It's beginning to look like that whole attitude was borne out of desperation and a need to get MacOS in line with the times, and now that they're not against the wall it's back to the same old sealed-box model that was driving people nuts twenty years ago (and which was arguably a big part of why they ended up in trouble).

Time will tell, I guess.


They just shipped GCD. FreeBSD has already ported it.

Meanwhile, in their most hotly contested market --- the one, by the way, where Apple makes more money than any other --- over just the last two years, Apple code has been adopted by virtually all of their viable competitors.

I don't think you can support the argument that they're shifting away from open source with any credible evidence, but I'd appreciate any stab you take doing so.


My concern is that all of their new products seem to be sealed boxes.

Yes, they still make Macs, and still sell MacOS, and MacOS is still fairly open. But it seems like the Mac is quickly becoming a legacy product, and Apple is no longer a computer company but instead a personal consumer-electronics company.

And this chart (http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-in-case-you-...) suggests that the Mac is no longer Apple's biggest product in terms of revenue. The locked-down iPhone is, with the iPod coming in for a close third. Add in the iPad and it's going to move even more in favor of their closed products.

I've always had a soft spot for Apple since they came out with OS X and cheated what most everyone assumed was corporate death, and I'm writing this on a MacBook right now. But I find their other products less than compelling, and since it seems that the direction they're going in is more towards sealed boxes and away from the open-system approach of the (post-2000) Mac, I'm not sure how much of their gear I'll be purchasing.

I do own an iPod just because I haven't found a player that's as good, in terms of being well-integrated with software, and the iPod at least doesn't restrict you to only loading music that you buy from iTunes. (I do wonder if, were Apple to bring out the iPod today, if that would be the case.) But I don't have an iPhone and I don't see myself purchasing an iPad. And their last few updates to OS X haven't felt like they're keeping up the pace of speed and feature improvements that they had been; it seems like it's the red-headed stepchild now.

There's a serious question in my mind as to whether the MacBook I'm typing this on will be the last one I ever use.

It's just disappointing because they brought out a lot of neat stuff.


They weren't forced to start with LGPL code. They did because they were comfortable working under the GPL.

They did it because the alternative - writing an HTML rendering engine from scratch - was not an economical option for them at that time.

On the whole though, I agree with your point that no other company has released and actively maintained an open source project that is directly benefitting it's competitors.

Though I would tend to believe that's more of an accident of history than any sort of belief in the open source movement.


"No, my argument is that your argument is misleading because it ignores the fact that Apple doesn't have a choice in keeping Webkit open."

Well, not to be pedantic or anything, but WebKit didn't have to be open at all. WebCore and JavaScriptCore (based off KHTML and KJS respectively) needed to stay open-source, but the WebKit framework that unites the two is a from-scratch Apple project that was open-sourced in 2005.

It could be argued that all the work happens in WebCore and JSCore, but the WebKit framework on top of them makes dealing with the two far, far easier than it would be to use them alone.


The codebase is arguably more open but the platform as a whole is not.

I think the closed platform thing is a lot more troubling and has the potential to be worse for the market as a whole than if they had decided to build a proprietary browser but allowed other browsers on it.

(This is not to defend Microsoft's portable strategy, though; they've got the worst of both worlds. They have a shitty proprietary browser and then don't let you install anything else on it, AFAIK.)


I agree. Apple isn't as open as I'd like either, although I'm not worried about it (I think I, as a user and a developer, benefit from it).

But that's not really the argument here, is it? The argument is, "does Apple make Gates look like RMS". I don't think that's a credible claim.


Can you really build flash apps for free? Honest question — I thought you needed to have Flash.

If you do need Flash, you have things backwards. For one, he's talking about web apps, not iPhone OS apps. Web apps are entirely open and Apple is huge on pushing what you can do with the web.

Also, building iPhone OS apps is absolutely free. The entire SDK and documentation is free of charge, you just need a Mac to develop on. You need a $100 membership to sell iPhone apps, which is very different from needing it to try out development.

Flash on the other hand, costs $700.

Flash is entirely closed. Apple is mostly closed and is totally up front about it, but they completely support open web standards.


Yes you can.

The compiler is free and open (http://opensource.adobe.com/wiki/display/flexsdk/Flex+SDK).

That, an editor, and Bob's your uncle.

On Windows, there's also a nice open source IDE (http://flashdevelop.org).

The one thing that's not open source is the player, and that is free.


You realise that Adobe lets you make any components you want EXCEPT FOR THE PLAYER? Why, because they want to retain control of it. I mean, they publish the spec, people have made players before, and they have been told by Adobe to stop.

Sounds familiar.


That is incorrect.

They used place that restriction on those accessing the .swf spec, but that restriction has been lifted. I'd have to check, but I think it's been several years now, but it's certainly been more than a year.


It'd be interesting to pressure Adobe on this point right now, given the context.



Building iPhone OS apps is free if you have a Mac and don't want to test or use those apps on an actual iPhone OS device.


> For example, although Mac OS X has been shipping for almost 10 years now, Adobe just adopted it fully (Cocoa) two weeks ago when they shipped CS5.

right. And the Finder - a piece of Software central to OSX was using Carbon until... when exactly? At most 6 months prior to when CS5 came out.

iTunes - a corner stone of the iPhone software world? Still on Carbon.

If I hate one thing, it's hypocrisy.

Aside of that, nice arguments and well-written. Also, from this perspective, MonoTouch and Unity might be in the clear too as they are not cross-platform toolkits reducing themselves to the least common denominator.


"Also, from this perspective, MonoTouch and Unity might be in the clear too as they are not cross-platform toolkits reducing themselves to the least common denominator."

Hell yeah! Let's pray. I'm not interested in using MonoTouch because I want to make a cross-platform App that also runs on iPhone/iPad. I'm interested in using MonoTouch because I prefer C# to Objective-C, if only because that's where the bulk of my experience is.


Unity works on Linux, Windows, and Mac OSX as well as iPhone. What isn't cross-platform about it? Do you mean doesn't work on android?


Actually Linux is not supported by them. I think it's Windows, Mac OSX, iPhone and Wii. Still cross-platform certainly.


Apple purposefully wrote Finder in clean Carbon as an example to developers, to prove that it was possible to make good cross-platform software. iTunes was also written very carefully -- and very cleanly -- in Carbon to be cross-platform.

Adobe, however, hacked Creative Suite into Carbon with buggy, inefficient code and then took 10 years -- ten years -- to schedule the time to fix it.


Have you ever used itunes on pc? It sucks. Almost as much as flash.


It almost serves as an example of how cross-platform targeting can deliver a poor product.


Carbon = OS X + OS 9 native code. It has nothing to do with the PC version (well, it does a little bit, but that is irrelevant to this discussion).


It's true. Its fine on my MBP, but I can't stand it on Windows. It feels sluggish on a quad core processor. How that is even possible I don't know, but it does.


>Tunes was also written very carefully -- and very cleanly -- You are joking right?


iTunes wasn't written in Carbon to be cross-platform with Windows--if anything, it would be easier to make a Cocoa app cross platform because you just need to port Cocoa, which is basically just OpenStep.

It was written in Carbon to be cross-platform with Mac OS 9. And because it was just SoundJam MP, which was written for Mac OS pre-X. (Though, to be fair, so was Photoshop.)


This is where he loses me:

"Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open."

Adobe can just as easily say: "Though Flash products are proprietary, we strongly believe that standards pertaining to what software is allowed to run on your computer should be open."

It's doublespeak either way, and it's crazy to think that either of those two viewpoints is good for the industry.

edit: Also: "If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?"

Flash can handle touch events just fine. Rewriting all that flash code in H/C/J is a monumental task compared to just updating a few flash events.

Basically, this is a lot of corporate spin and not a lot of sound arguments.


My head started to spin when trying to reconcile points 1 and 5.

Point 1 states Adobe Flash has proprietary features and the standardized open feature sets of HTML5, CSS, and JS should be used instead.

Point 5 states 3rd party layers limits development to the standardized features and leaves out the proprietary features that makes Apple unique.


They are talking about two different scenarios that aren't really that related.

Point 1 is in reference to the lack of Flash within Safari.

Point 5 is in reference to banning applications originally written in Flash.


Or, more cynically,

Point 1 is in reference to a non-Apple product

Point 5 is in reference to an Apple product


Exactly. Apple vs non-Apple (or more generally, things a company controls vs things a company doesn't control) is the only relevant point here. Everything else about open standards and performance woes is just spin.


Point 1 is talking about websites / web applications. Point 5 is talking about native apps. Two different domains entirely.

With point 1, if developers are going to make a website, and they ditch flash, their work would work everywhere well (iPhone/iPad/iPod, Android, WebOS, Symbian, and Blackberry OS 6, as well as on the desktop). They wouldn't be limited to the platforms Adobe decides to support (or decides to support well).

With point 2, if you're going to make a native app for the iPhone, make one for the iPhone. Don't make one with Flash, which may not get around to supporting things like GameCenter, or multitasking, or any of the other hundreds of things Apple adds in new releases.

Choosing Flash for either one makes a substandard experience compared to the other options available.


I do understand your point about using the right tool for the right job, however Apple is arguing both sides. Either cross platform standards are a good thing, or platform specific features are a good thing.

While web applications and native applications are different domains, they are not different enough to mean different reasoning can be used. An end user doesn't really care if something is built using HTML5, flash, or compiled natively. They just care that it looks cool and does cool things.


Either cross platform standards are a good thing, or platform specific features are a good thing.

This is the classic fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses of the 2nd order, a.k.a. "a false dichotomy" or "the fallacy of the excluded middle".

There is a third possibilty: that both are good, and that which is better depends upon the nature of the app one wants to create. This third missing case also happens to be the reality of the situation — there are tradeoffs, and one selects which is better according to the upsides that one desires versus the downsides one is willing to abide.

(Surely you're not claiming that there are no tradeoffs between the native API and web technologies! I can think of several, not the least of which is the limited rate at which innovation can be brought to the web API.)


Cross-platform standards are a good thing for Apple. Getting people to use Apple's platform specific features is a good thing for Apple. Apple does what is good for Apple. There is no contradiction.

Remember, this is not an essay about why everyone else should support Apple's actions. It is an essay about why Apple thinks its actions are good for it.


"Apple does what is good for Apple. There is no contradiction."

I don't even think Jobs tried to hide this very well. It's pretty clear he is arguing from the perspective of what is best for Apple, and clearly and coherently explaining why.


> It is an essay about why Apple thinks its actions are good for it.

Hidden in that of course is the lack of concern for what's good for the consumer.


Point 1 states that ubiquitous Flash co-opts the rate of advancement of the web. E.g. You can't effectively differentiate, compete and move everything forward by supporting, say, h264 because Flash is already everywhere.

Point 5 states that ubiquitous Flash co-opts the rate of advancement of the mobile platforms it runs on. E.g. you can't effectively differentiate your device by adding a new sensor, API or capability, because Flash won't bother to support it until the hardware is standard.

It's the same basic argument: Flash becomes the platform, it's not a particularly good one and it's not a particularly good situation for developers.

Would you rather Apple compete with Google, RIM, Microsoft and HP/Palm for developers, or have them compete with interchangeable Flash-playing-boxes, leaving developers to Adobe's whims?


"If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?"

If you have to make significant changes to the UI portion of your application, why not thrown the entire thing out and start from scratch with an extremely new (less mature) technology stack that you're probably complete unfamiliar with.

I believe Netscape got similar advice in the nineties.


> [Jobs:] "we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open."

Consider Python. Is it a standard? Yes, because there's an open source reference implementation.

Does it pertain to the web? Yes it does, because http clients and servers can be, and often are, written in this language, and its standard library and 3rd-party open source libraries support http and other web protocols such as HTML.

So if you're so keen on stand ards Steve, why can't I write web software in Python for the iPhone and iPad? Why are you such a hypocrite?

On a wider note: Steve, do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar-coated digital handcuffs, or do you to change the world for the better?


"why can't I write web software in Python for the iPhone and iPad?"

Ummm... you can. If you write 'web software' in Python, all an iPhone/iPad user needs in order to use it is the URL. Both devices have a best-in-class web browser that would be more than capable of running your web software well.

Also, check this out:

http://cl.ly/k0t

Apple is putting effort into make web apps first-class citizens on their devices.


Is python really a 'standard'? Python's had trouble lately with non-mainline implementations because the grammar keeps changing. There's no standards document laying out how the language should behave, in the sense of 'Jython is compatible with the Python language 2.5'; rather, third-party implementations duplicate features and functionality from CPython based off the PEP they're defined in.

Does it pertain to the web? It doesn't. Python isn't used 'on the web', it's used on the backend to generate web pages, as is C#, Erlang, and pretty much every other language ever. Are you suggesting that Apple should include a Python interpreter in WebKit? It sounds like that's what you're suggesting.

The simple answer would be 'because Python is not a language that is used in client-side scripting anywhere on the web'. No other browser supports it, and even if they did it wouldn't be widely used.

Your argument seems not only spurious but nonsensical. Python is used to send or receive documents over HTTP, so therefore I should be able to write a web app in Python to run on the iPhone? It doesn't make sense.

My home cable internet 'pertains to the web' too, and it uses documented standards like DOCSIS, so why doesn't my iPhone support DOCSIS? It's a ridiculous argument, as is yours.


> Is python really a 'standard'?

In an important sense I think it is. If I write a program in Python I can be reasonably sure it will run on someone else's system (obviously I have to take into account different Python versions, different underlying OS, etc). If I write a program in C++ or Scheme, what assurances of portability do I have if someone else's system is running a different implementation, with different libraries available, and different underlying behaviour in edge cases.

> rather, third-party implementations duplicate features and functionality from CPython based off the PEP they're defined in.

Yes; CPython is the standard. It's better if the standard is a program rather than a document, because you can run a program and find out what it does, but a document just sits there and does nothing (and may be hard to understand or ambiguous; the spec for Algol 68 comes to mind here).

> Python isn't used 'on the web', it's used on the backend to generate web pages

It is used as an http client as well as a server.

> Are you suggesting that Apple should include a Python interpreter in WebKit?

No, I'm suggesting that Apple should open up their platforms and allow people who have bought iPhones and iPads to run software of their own choosing on them; I'm sure someone would port Python fairly quickly.

> The simple answer would be 'because Python is not a language that is used in client-side scripting anywhere on the web'.

That's factually inaccurate; I personally have written code in Python that acts as a web client. As have some of my friends.

> No other browser supports it, and even if they did it wouldn't be widely used.

You seem to be under the misapprehension that client-side web programming must involve running inside a graphical web browser. This is not the case. Ever heard of wget? Or scraping?

> Python is used to send or receive documents over HTTP, so therefore I should be able to write a web app in Python to run on the iPhone? It doesn't make sense.

Yes it does. For example, I might want to write a program to cache certain web pages so I can read them even if I'm in an area with poor wifi and 3G access. And I might want to write that program in Python.


The sad thing is Steve, along with many others, totally, entirely believes that selling sugar-coated digital handcuffs is changing the world for the better.


So...are you saying that Steve Job's efforts have made the world worse, or no difference at all?


A reference implementation is a good test suite but a poor substitute for a standard. It's huge and you can't just sit down and read it, you have to simulate it in your head to really understand what it would allow or demand. (This is also an awful problem with the HTML5 spec.)


On the contrary, its a written standard that you "have to simulate in your head". If you have an implementation, you can simply run the code and see what it does!


If Jobs had said "We strongly believe that you should be able to develop on the iPad and iPhone using all open standards pertaining to the web," you would have a point. Your logic is all twisty.

"We only want to support open standards" does not imply "we want to support all open standards."


I guess by "standards pertaining to the web" Apple means HTML, Javascript (ECMAScript to be precise) and CSS. What do you mean by "standards pertaining to what software is allowed to run on your computer"?


Packaging systems and their associated programming languages / APIs. Like Android .apk files, Apple .dmg files, Microsoft's .msi. All open and usable by anyone who wants to build one (though some fees may apply.)


Less of an explicit standard and more the previous consensus that the company that sells you your computer shouldn't retain control over what kind of legitimate software you can run on it after it's in your possession, based on some self-aggrandizing notion that they know what's best for you better than you do.


Uh? Have you met users before?


That's exactly the mentality that keeps 'users' stupid.

Apple is basically saying: "users are stupid, let's protect them from thinking." Imagine if we said that about our kids: "Our kids don't know how to handle the real world. Let's protect them from having to deal with it." (never mind that most parents do in fact go through this phase).

The reality is that users are just kids who haven't learned how to use computers. Two factors make this hard: most computer software is generally poorly designed (speaking in terms of the number of poorly designed products vs the number of well-designed products), and most software is not designed to teach users how to use it.

Apple is busy buying fish for starving people. The company that teaches users how to fish is the company that will win big.


That's not about keeping users stupid, it's about not making them worry about stuff they should not worry about. The user may be the world's best neurosurgeon, does that mean that they have to learn about filesystems?

  most computer software is generally poorly designed
You are right about this one. But the thing is that Apple does exactly that: offering well designed software. It's not about buying fish, it's about hiding unneeded complexity. How do you drive the car: press the gas and it goes, press the brakes and it stops. Turn the wheel to the right and it turns to the right. You need zero knowledge about what's going under the hood. Now take the iPad: tap an app and it launches, press the home button and it stops. Swipe to the right, swipe to the left…


"The user may be the world's best neurosurgeon, does that mean that they have to learn about filesystems?"

There's a bit of a divide as to what 'personal' computers are being used for. The original mainstream use was to create/edit files using programs. The modern use is to interact with other people via the internet. So no, the neurosurgeon doesn't have to learn about filesystems because filesystems are mostly becoming irrelevant.

I don't think software should be designed to educate people about the trappings of decades of computer cruft. I think software should be designed so that using the software teaches the user how to use the software. Apple's method (re: iPhone/iPad) seems to be to design software that doesn't invite learning, and at the additional cost of limiting functionality.


Apple's method (re: iPhone/iPad) seems to be to design software that doesn't invite learning

Could you clarify this, perhaps by comparison to something else? Everything in my experience strongly supports the notion that Apple's general approach leads to much greater levels of competency and independence than anything else out there right now.


Turn the wheel and it goes where you want it to. But if you want to go to Google Voice, you'll have to take a long detour few people know of. You see, the road to Google Voice hasn't been optimized for your comfort. Or Apple's profit.


Downvotes noted. The truth, it burns.


More good news about 3.3.1 "must write in C, Objective-C or C++" clause: it's made even more obvious here that Apple only cares about commercial middleware UI-driven applications. Those of us with custom toolkits and compilers (and games developers) can probably relax. Though, I wish they would still change the wording. I dislike having to wait for my friend's cat to click the "I Agree" button, since I cannot actually agree to the terms as worded and not break them.


Well 3.3.1 is worded poorly then, you'd think their legal team could do better if they just wanted to stop Adobe. Its pretty explicit about banning other languages.


Yes, it's stupid. But with Apple, I feel I only need to fear their intention, not their wording. The intent here, it seems to me, is to stop Adobe from making crappy commercial middleware for Apple's platforms. The wording is overly broad and stupid, but I'm no longer as afraid of it.

If they were intent on getting rid of everything under the sun that isn't straight C, Obj-C or C++, there would already be an App-ocalypse underway.

(I was going to say "App Holocaust" first, but that seemed even less tasteful.)


I feel I only need to fear their intention, not their wording

I'm leery of their capriciousness. They obviously have no qualms about changing their terms of service on a whim, giving folks only weeks to comply, and not accepting any compromise. That is simply not the type of folk I like to do business with.


The intent here, it seems to me, is to stop Adobe from making crappy commercial middleware for Apple's platforms.

This is actually the biggest part of Job's argument that I don't buy. If their intent was actually to stop crap from being produced, they would just reject apps that are crap from the App Store as they do now.


It's a question of technical vs. subjective evaluation. A lot of apps on the app store are technically acceptable (i.e. they do things right), but do useless or stupid shit (i.e. they're junk). Apple's only lately started to police the actual purpose of apps, rather than their technical merit (or compliance with the HIG).


I suppose making this rule more explicit was the goal. The #1 complaint about the app store rejection system is that it is not transparent or explicit.

Still, 3.3.1 is poorly worded, so it's not a great solution.


"Those of us with custom toolkits and compilers (and games developers) can probably relax."

Which part of the submitted article supports this? (genuine question not snark). I see a lot of flash bashing but nothing indicating you don't have to " write in C, Objective-C or C++"


Not the parent but the article says: "The most important reason... We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers. becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features." Suggesting that the primary reason for the clause is that it will prevent third party apps effectively blocking enhancements made the the development environment; if you are using your own tools this isn't an issue. Not sure I agree that this means apple will be happy with developers using tools outside Objective C, but it certainly could suggest it.


The article is about Flash though. They clarified about Flash specifically, but reading other things into this seems foolhardy.


The rationale that Apple doesn't want developers shackled by third party development tools of which they have no control suggests that if you have control (e.g. you embed a Lua interpreter in an otherwise native app) or you still have full access to all the goodies (e.g. You use some sort of game engine for the guts of your 3D game) then the clause is not intended for you.

Still, it would be better for them to spell it out more clearly or have a mechanism for you to get a preliminary ruling before you embark on development.


I'm afraid quite the opposite is the case:

We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform.

IMHO, this sentences leaves no doubt that Apple does not only target Adobe, but any kind of layer they consider harmful for their platform.


Anyone who doubts this need only write an AWT app to be convinced.


There's absolutely no need to specify languages for the purpose Apple is claiming they have in mind. They could simply say that you must not use an intermediate layer between your code and their API. There's no reason for them to not want you to write the application in Scheme (as an example).


Unfortunately in legal situations, it's often the letter of the law not the spirit of the law that carries weight. It's been pretty obvious from the beginning that Apple wanted to block Flash, but not, say, Unity. I think they'll find it hard to only enforce it against certain infringers though.

Imagine if a government introduced a law that said no-one was allowed out on the streets after dark, but then only actually enforced it against Hispanics.


That's really a terrible analogy.


Maybe, but it unfortunately is the way life is in many places, and it serves to make the point pretty good. Selective enforcement of this policy is a real risk.


There is an even more expressive quote for Adobe to peruse: "Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind."


Apparently CS5's Flash development suite can export to HTML5's including canvas support: http://www.9to5mac.com/Flash-html5-canvas-35409730

So that's one less reason to support Flash itself on an emerging platform (iPhone is pretty mature, but it is still very young compared to desktop OSs - see the bounty of new features and UI changes coming to iPhone OS4).


I worry that they are just retargeting Flash to HTML5/canvas instead of redeveloping/expanding the Flash production environment as a true standards-based authoring tool. It makes me think of exporting HTML documents from Word (or to be kinder, OpenOffice). Yeah technically it is [HTML5/Canvas/CSS3/whatever] but it's still the step-child, and will be treated as such. Given the HTML & CSS that Dreamweaver coughs up at the moment, my hopes are not high.

I'm also concerned about their choice to introduce FXG for web use instead of using SVG. The Wikipedia article on FXG links to a blog post by Mark Anders where he contrasts the role of the format vs SVG by saying "FXG was designed as an exchange format between tools that understand graphics, like Photoshop, Illustrator, or other 3rd party ones, and tools that understand Flex and MXML." Right. So why are they now introducing it as a format for the web (via JS/canvas)?


The sad thing: CS5 Flash could also export to native iPhone apps. A native exported app would run faster, consume less power, and potentially have better integration with the underlying platform, all with exactly the same interface as an HTML5 web app... In other words, a native app exported from Flash would be better than an exported HTML5 web app in all the same ways Steve describes HTML5 video as being better than Flash video.


Actually, the native-exported apps are mentioned by Jobs in point 6. Of note: these apps were slower than native apps, consumed far more power than native apps, used more memory than native apps, and had little to no integration with the underlying platform, other than running in the first place.

Jobs' point talks about this; the issue is that if Flash CS5 supported what the iPhone can do today, who's to say when it will support what iPhone OS 4 can do tomorrow? Will they update Flash on Apple's schedule, or their own? Or at all?

For one example, look at GameCenter, Apple's new XBox Live-type service. Would Flash support it? Would Adobe go to the trouble of adding full support for GameCenter to their Flash runtime, so that games written in Flash could make use of that feature?

That wouldn't make any sense, because then people would have to write a different Flash app for the iPhone than for Android; either developers use GameCenter on iPhone and nothing on Android, or GameCenter on iPhone and their own solution on Android.

My suspicion is that Adobe wouldn't implement it (because it's a lot of work to just support one platform) or wouldn't implement it well (because they just don't really care), and that if it were available developers wouldn't use it (because it would only work on one platform anyway). This leads to a worsening of the overall experience, as the flood of quickly and cheaply ported Flash apps into the App Store dilutes the value that's there.

Perhaps Adobe would add GameCenter support, but that might be a new feature for CS6, which might come out (for example) August 2011, after Apple's released iPhone OS 5, with more new features Adobe hasn't had time to implement.

Developers using Flash would have a substandard environment, and would produce substandard apps, assuming they even cared at all about doing things right. That's what Apple's trying to prevent.

[Edit: typo, point 6, not point 5]


I don't see Jobs addressing the performance of CS5-exported apps in point 5 ("Fifth, there’s Touch.") or elsewhere. The only place he says anything that could refer to Flash native apps is point 6, in which he argues against cross-platform development systems.

I think this is a red herring, though. Apple doesn't reject apps for not taking full advantage of the system. People can and will make Objective C apps that don't use GameCenter (or iAds, or the accelerometer/camera). If Apple was most concerned about GameCenter adoption, why not leave out the 3.3.1 change and instead mandate that all games must use GameCenter? That would guarantee Adobe would include it in Flash and then nobody -- not even the native developers -- could produce a "substandard" app.

But even if Adobe made a version of Flash that could target every aspect of the iPhone platform perfectly (maybe by open-sourcing the compiler and allowing Objective C extensions), Apple would find a way to reject it. It's not just a matter of making it easy to port things to the iPhone... it's also a matter of making it hard to port away from the iPhone. Apple currently has the majority platform, and they want to make the choice between platforms expensive, so that developers choose the iPhone first and -- as much as possible -- exclusively.


You're right I meant point 6 but typo'ed. Thanks for pointing that out, I've fixed it now.


Webkit?


All his reasons are fairly obvious for the technical user and have been discussed in the blogosphere, but I think hearing it from the horse's mouth and at a very high level will benefit non technical users.


I think you overestimate the degree to which non-technical users await, with bated breath, a pronouncement about programming languages from high officials at Apple.

I love non-technical users. I was trying to explain to one of them yesterday that they can still use my website even after their school wipes their hard disk, and separately, even though the email address (login) is their home email address and not their school email address. She was quite convinced that I didn't understand the situation, because she was going to lose "all of her memory except the Hotmail at Google", like the tech guy told her.


I had precisely the same discussion yesterday with a new client. She didn't understand how our web application did not have a larger list of system requirements. She started repeating the situation in a louder, slower manner to help me understand.


Patrick, you should totally write a book of quotes from your encounters with users. It will be really insightful and such a good laugh.


Tech folks are cynical enough without my help.

Here's all the insight I can muster: non-technical people do not have an accurate mental model of how the computer works. They have a semi-accurate mental model of the steps they take to do routine things on the computer: I click this thing, then I type in this thing, then I click this thing, then the magic happens. Deviations from that routine will almost certainly cause task failure.

Example: you know how Macs have the menu bar at the top of the screen rather than at the top of the window? I have at least one customer whose mental model is that the screen ends where stuff stops getting painted to it, and then that grey gunk above it is scary computer stuff. It took a day to talk her through finding the Help menu -- "It says Help, at the top right of your screen" because she was looking under the grey gunk bar and literally did not notice it until I returned the screenshot she had taken with a big red arrow on it.


I thought it would help reduce the cynicism and help programmers make a better mental model of their users (because that's what we've got all wrong at the moment).


What I always say to non-technical people:

All the programs and data in your computer is in files and folders, even windows is just a bunch of files. You understand this and everything else is far easier to understand.


Well then, the iPad must be impenetrably difficult.


The iPad reduces everything to what the users currently understand: the sequence of steps they take.


I don't think anyone would ever have the need to remove the Badoo icons software from his/her iPad.

My comment was only intended to be about desktop computers.


This blog of anonymous IT staffers' actual stories is quite illuminating:

http://blogs.computerworld.com/sharky


http://clientsfromhell.net/

Is this what you're looking for?


Had a friend who was certain he could make a million dollars selling subscriptions to Google.


Met a guy at a party last month who said I could make lots of money on the internet! Apparently, if you're good at websites you can put ads on them and make a ton of cash. Who knew!


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