Home Adobe to Publish Flash File Format Specs

Adobe to Publish Flash File Format Specs

Adobe is today announcing the “Open Screen Project” which will seek to create a consistent runtime environment for rich media across a myriad of devices. In other words, Flash on the web, mobile, desktop, television, and other consumer electronic devices. As part of this initiative, Adobe will be releasing the file format specifications for Flash (.swf and .flv/f4v) and removing all licensing restrictions involved with the Flash format. In the future, the project will be expanded to include AIR.

Previously, Adobe allowed developers to create tools that wrote to the Flash format, but not that played it back — for that you had to use their Flash player program. Adobe will now remove all licensing fees associated with Flash and AIR — effective for the next major release of each — making them free on all devices.

The Open Screen Project “will remove barriers for developers and designers as they publish content and applications across desktops and devices, including phones, mobile Internet devices, and set top boxes,” said Adobe in a press release.

In addition to publishing the Flash file format specifications, Adobe will also publish specs for the Adobe Flash Cast protocol and the Action Message Format protocol. They will also publish the device porting layer APIs for the Flash player.

What Adobe is doing with Flash — making it an open format — follows in the footsteps of what they did with PDF back in the mid-90s. Adobe saw a lot of innovation happen around PDF after publishing the file spec and is hoping the same thing will happen with Flash. “Only by making the [Flash file format] spec open and available to everyone will we see the universe of the extended web grow,” said Dave McAllister, Director of Standards and Open Source at Adobe, who told me that proprietary communications formats “make no sense.”

Since releasing the PDF file format in 1993, it has become an open standard for documents and recently took a major step toward becoming the ISO 32000 Standard. Facing increasing pressure from Microsoft’s competing Silverlight technology, it seems Adobe is gunning for Flash to become the standard format for delivering rich media to the web and other devices.

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