Got lots of responses, both public and private, to my quick, one off entry knocking Adobe for their lack of Linux support. Many of you pointed to this interview with Mike Melanson, released the day before my entry, and it’s a very interesting look at some of the actual reasons for the delay. Ian and Jeff specifically called out this bit:
“I would say the hardest part is selecting APIs that have broad coverage across distributions.”
What Mike means by that, for those of you not intimately familiar with the intricasies of Linux on the desktop, is that Adobe’s facing a paradox of choice of sorts. Whether it’s audio, general graphics, GUI elements, and so on, Linux offers a choice of APIs. Usually multiple choices, and that presents Adobe with something of a dilemma. Which do they pick? Which distros use which APIs? What does that mean for compatibility? In another link that Jeff del.icio.us:for’d me, the Adobe guys discuss just this fact, and to their credit they are actually soliciting input from the community on their choices. That’s great to see, and really encouraging.
As an aside, I’ve been knocked for not having turned up the Penguin.swf blog previously, and that’s a fair criticism. It’s my job to be keep myself informed of such things, and I’d somehow missed that one. Suffice to say I’m tracking it now. One curiosity; it’s not Top 10 in a Google query of “flash linux,” while it’s #4 for “flash 9 linux.”
Even with the volumes of information available on that blog, however, which go into tremendous detail on the difficulty of porting to Linux – a definite topic for another post – my basic stance remains unchanged. I’m not now nor have I ever taken the position that some of the less rational commenters have, that Adobe somehow “hates” Linux. Nor am I unsympathetic to both the difficulty of the task and the resource limitations involved.
But here’s the thing: if Adobe wants to continue to position Flash as a multi-operating system, near ubquitous platform for developers and providers to target, it needs to be truly cross-platform. If Flash was just another application, like a Photoshop, we would not be having this discussion. It’s not. Flash is a platform, and thus has an additional level of responsibility to the developers that build on top of it. While simultaneous shipping might not be possible, as one private commenter pointed out to me, I think two plus years is too long. Far too long. I know some folks don’t agree with that, but I just call ’em as I see ’em. I’d be very interested to hear what the Flash developers in the audience might have to say about the issue; do you share my concerns, or not care?