How do I get flash to work?Arora uses the Qt and the current version (4.4) does not ship with support for netscape plugins. After the release of Qt 4.4 this feature was added to QtWebKit and will be part of Qt 4.5 this winter. To get it today all you have to do is compile Arora against WebKit trunk. Every few days someone pops into the Arora irc channel asking how they get get plugins. They say "plugins", but they really mean flash, and by flash they really mean video. Every day users are willing to download a development version of WebKit, built it and then build Arora just so they can get their YouTube fix. Users! These are the people who are not willing to do anything are willing to go through all that pain on their own. Big red alarms should be going off at the w3c that a binary plugin is required for browsing these days. Arora has pretty clear documentation on how to get plugins working so I can only imagine how many users went through the hassle and didn't have to ask for a pointer to the instructions. There was even a developer who after putting Arora on an arm device asked how to get Flash working. After discovering that he could not just copy the flash libraries to his device I got the distinct impression that no matter how good Arora was if he couldn't get flash it wouldn't be good enough. The majority of flash on the web for me seems to be 1) videos 2) ads 3) movie websites. I even had a user tell me that Arora was fantastic and would use it every day, but only once Qt snapshot had flash. In the last three years flash has gone from just another plugin to the only plugin on the web browser that matters. I myself never installed flash in Linux until two years ago. This is of course all because of video and specifically YouTube.
But here is where I am puzzled. Adobe is acting like they deserve to be the standard rather then what they should be which is scrambling to make sure they keep their foothold in the browser. Today flash is installed on nearly every browser, but "almost all" should not be good enough. They should have binaries for every platform under the sun, a QA team like no other, and paid developers on every open source browser to make sure the integration is perfect. Adobe should make sure that there is no geek out there who is fed up with flash and willing to dedicate their time to hacking on video on HTML 5.
Flash as a product is pretty bad. It frequently causes the browser to crash and Konqueror (and now Chrome) even ran flash in its own process so that when it crashed it wouldn't take down your whole browser. Flash ads frequently cause your CPU to spike and cause your page loading to freeze. As a user experience they are pretty bad to boot and until recently Google couldn't even index them. Adobe regularly make releases that break browsers and only release binaries for a insanely small set of platforms. Want to run 64bit Linux, or any BSD? No flash for you.
Adobe has bet big on Flash and I mean huge. Six years ago they were a desktop company producing desktop software. But the past few years they have changed. They bought Macromedia and along with flash got their board of directors. For them flash, flex and the web is the future. They want to be the Microsoft of the web. They are directly completing with every cross platform toolkit out there in an attempt to create the new way that desktop and web software is created. They are riding the wave of flash installed and enabled on your browser and if that starts to change they will not be happy. If the golden goose (video) stops laying eggs before some killer flex apps are released there will be problems. Who knows how unhappy they were when the iPhone was released without flash and a dedicated YouTube application sat on the main screen. Perhaps they wanted too much money? There is a video on YouTube a short while back where on of the Adobe sales guys was giving a presentation at Google about flex. There was around ten people in the audience and near the end of the presentation he started saying
Just between you and me Adobe plans to ... platform .. web .. embedded .. flexMy jaw hit the floor when he did that and he was no doubt reprimanded if not fired when he returned to Adobe for the plans he spilled*.
No doubt Adobe will try to flight, maybe create their own YouTube clone, maybe fight with patents to keep HTML5 video off the web. Already they have announced that they will be removing the license fees on the next major releases of Adobe Flash Player for devices. You can read it for yourself in the Adobe quarterly report where they expect to get more money from "an increased demand for tooling products, server technologies, hosted services and applications". Now what happens if people disable flash, developers don't use it, and device manufacturers no longer want it? If YouTube even hints at HTML5 video I would short their stock.
*This has happened several times on Google tech talks that I have seen, it is amazing what people will say when they think they are only speaking to ten people and not the web.