Adobe establishes Open Screen Project for Flash, AIR

Adobe Thursday launched a new community development project aimed at using Flash and AIR to create a consistent application interface across devices.

One of the specific problems Adobe wants to solve with the Open Screen Project is the ability to automatically update software on devices over the air so people using them will have the latest versions of the Flash player and AIR. Lynch noted that Flash has used the automatic update model successfully to bring the Flash player to Web users. "That update to Flash Player 9 -- 61 percent of the PCs connected to the Web had the update in less than three months," he said.

Bringing that same ability to devices would be a boon for bringing a consistent user experience through Flash and AIR on devices, but only cooperation between people creating the devices, and application and content providers, can facilitate this because of the complexity of developing the technology, Lynch said. "It's really important to ... keep the runtime [on devices] fresh," he said. "We can't do that alone."

So far, for the Open Screen Project, the company has signed on carrier partners NTT DoCoMo of Japan and Chunghwa Telecom of Taiwan; smartphone and handset manufacturers such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Motorola, LG and Toshiba; component providers ARM, Intel and Marvell; and content providers MTV and NBC Universal.

Adobe is not just promoting the Open Screen Project outside of the company; it has unified its mobile and desktop Flash and AIR development teams internally so they are working on one consistent platform for all devices, Lynch said.

"The mobile teams and desktop engineering are now together in a group I'm leading called the Experience and Technology Organization," Lynch said. He added that achieving the goal of the group and the Open Screen Project will be no small task, but the company is embracing the challenge.

In the meantime, to facilitate more third-party adoption of Flash on devices, Adobe has removed the licensing restrictions for proprietary media formats used with Flash -- Shockwave Flash (SWF) and Flash Video (FLV) -- so developers can now create their own third-party Flash players.

Lynch said Adobe will still try to offer the industry's best Flash player, but it wanted to give other people free access to the formats to reach its goal for the Open Screen Project. "We're removing that restriction to increase the confidence of people in the industry adopting Flash as the core format across devices," he said.

AIR is currently available in its 1.0 version, while Flash's latest available version is Flash 9. Adobe does not have a time frame for the next major releases of its runtimes yet, but it expects the first fruits of the Open Screen Project to appear in them, Lynch said.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
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