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Is Steve right?

A reader from Germany writes:

What is the OL team’s take on Steve’s toughts on Flash?


Gentle reader,

I agree regarding the support of open standards such as HTML 5, which OpenLaszlo heartily supports too. The greater standards compliance we have, the better.

But it is amusing that Jobs contrasts the ubiquitous Flash player with the ubiquity of the Webkit “player”. The primary difference is that Webkit is open source, which presumably saves us from being beholden to any one manufacturer for bug fixes. But in reality, that depends on whether individual manufacturers track the latest releases of Webkit on their devices. Somehow I don’t think that any phone manufacturer has a provision to run the Webkit nightly on their phone. [We have even run into this in Safari. The Webkit team made a severe optimization error in the current squirrelfish engine that OL tripped over (incorrect caching of prototype properties). They pretty quickly developed a fix for it and we verified it in the nightly, but they had to advise us that there was no way that fix would be out in a release for at least 6 months. So OL has to browser sniff and at runtime adopt a much less efficient class implementation on the current Safari release.]

The battery life and performance issue is a marginal point. Clearly they could set a standard/licensing term for that and just say that Flash has not met the bar (yet).

I disagree vehemently with the current license stance (which Jobs does not address in his note) that they are using to further lock Adobe out from delivering a cross-platform development environment. This has created a substantial amount of collateral damage. For instance, take the Frotz app, which implements the Infocom Z-machine. Technically under Apple’s current license this app is illegal and will eventually be removed from the store (it has not so far). Another that has already been removed is the Scratch player. This is in no one’s best interest. Scratch is potentially creating the next generation of programmers!

OpenLaszlo is not affected by the license, as I pointed out in my blog post, because we deliver a web app, not a native app. Presumably all interpreters could do the same, but that just points up the ridiculousness of the license restriction — it boils down to “you may only run an interpreter on the iPhone if it requires a network connection”. Huh?

How does one define an interpreter? Every program is an interpreter because every program has data that drives the state changes. iTunes is an interpreter of mp3’s. How is that any different that the Frotz player interpreting a .z5 file? Where do you draw the line between data and interpreted program?

18:55 | Link | Reply | Track


Is OpenLaszlo illegal on the iPad?

A reader from San Francisco writes:

Dear Lazzie, I was reading this article, and it seems to spell doom for OpenLaszlo on the iPhone and iPad. Should I worry?

Gentle reader,

OpenLaszlo is indeed a cross-compiler, translating from the high-level declarative LZX language to various runtimes, such as Flash and DHTML. But, because OpenLaszlo generates standards-compliant HTML web apps, it is not covered by the Apple SDK agreement. Any application that runs in Mobile Safari will continue to run, regardless of how that application is generated.

OpenLaszlo does have the unique advantage of being able to generate a Flash-based version of your application if you need to deliver in an environment where CSS2/HTML4-compliant web browsers are not available, or if you need to integrate with other Flash-based technologies. But if your application is being delivered to modern web browsers (which includes the browser for the iPad and iPhone), OpenLaszlo can generate a DHTML-based version of your application with no changes required on your part.

In theory, OpenLaszlo could follow the approach of Adobe’s CS5 and build another back-end to generate native iPhone apps. If they did that, they would find themselves in the same boat as Adobe — developers using their product would be in violation of the new Apple SDK agreement[1]:

What remains to be seen is how Apple will enforce this new agreement, and whether the market (the ultimate arbiter) will go along with them. Veterans of the business will surely be reminded of IBM vs. Telex, where IBM tried to lock out competitors from making compatible peripherals for its mainframes. IBM succeeded for a long while; even wearing down the government’s effort to bring an anti-trust case against them. But in the long run, the market ruled against them (by moving away from mainframes altogether).

Power to the people!

[1]: It’s ironic that OpenLaszlo is able to generate applications for the Flash 10 player because Adobe’s FLEX SDK is open source. OpenLaszlo cross-compiles to ActionScript 3 and then uses the Adobe SDK to compile from there to Flash.

10:25 | Link | Reply | Track


Why Verizon has still not made money on me

I see the fiber hanging on my pole that my phone comes off of, so I figure I can order it. My brother, 3 poles closer to town, just got his, so we know it is live. I can’t order it. It’s “not yet available in my area”. Oh, I get it. My house number is 2 poles down the road, and the fiber stops before that.

Continue reading "Why Verizon has still not made money on me"
09:38 | Link | Reply | Track