Gee, that sure escalated quickly… (Flash player “bundling” gets Slashdotted)

Apparently, sickness the debate over whether Macromedia should bundle third-party software with its free Flash Player has broken the confines of the Flash blogs this evening, and found its way over to Slashdot.

While this means a lot of extra typing for bloggers and Macromedia staff (particularly John Dowdell), I think it’s a good indication of how much suspicion is raised at the mere thought of bundling such “bonus material” with something many feel is a “basic necessity” for rich internet application development. I’ve heard from people who still want to love Macromedia, and from others who already think Flash is evil, and from still others who just feel confused by the whole issue.

If you haven’t already, feel free to let us know what you think, too. I honestly do believe Macromedia is listening.

And thanks again to all our new visitors from Slashdot! Hope you enjoy your stay!

— Vito

[Edit: With some help from others, I hope, I’ll try to clarify/address more of the issues/concerns/misstatements/questions presented in the comments later, but I’ll wait for the dust to settle first. I can only speak from a developer’s point of view, though, and there’s no sense fielding questions while the shouting match is still in full swing. 😉 ]

[Edit 2: Macromedia has, at least in my book, proven itself to be considerate of the needs of developers and the Web community at large: The company has since redesigned the download page in question, making the Toolbar choice a little clearer and offering an option for developers who want to show their clients no part of it. Thanks, Macromedia.]

The issue of Flash Player bundling: A matter of trust

It’s great to know that Macromedia monitors these humble blog sites, sale and it’s even better to know that they’re concerned about what we have to say. I just received a comment from John Dowdell of Macromedia Support asking me to help clarify my recent post regarding Macromedia’s packaging of the Yahoo! Toolbar with the Flash player for certain Web visitors.

After responding to his post, capsule I realized others may not quite understand my position, either (It was classified under “rant” after all), so I figured I’d post his message and my response here. So here we go:

Hi, I’d like to be able to clearly present your concern to my partners, could you check me here, please? How would you rank the following concerns which I could synthesize out of your post?
— Don’t like Yahoo
— Gives Java or C++ arguments some ammo
— Not clear of future scope of ways to shift Flash costs from authoring tools to corporations
— Not sure of spyware/malware risks or implications
— Other

(The FAQ on the site advises that the only people who see this must (a) surf IE/Win (b) must click “GetFlash” link instead of the normal ActiveX (c) must not already have Yahoo Toolbar installed. Web search term of “site:macromedia.com yahoo toolbar” brings up more.)

Could you help me to relay your core concerns most effectively? Thanks!

Regards,
John Dowdell
Macromedia Support

And my response, which still may or may not be coherent:

Thanks for the comment, John! It’s great to see Macromedia is monitoring the blogs and fielding our questions. In return, I’ll do my best to answer yours, too. Hopefully, I’ll speak sensibly on each of your points:


How would you rank the following concerns which I could synthesize out of your post?

Don’t like Yahoo

This is not an issue at all. In fact, I feel rather sorry for Yahoo in this; I truly wish them no harm, and in fact, I use and enjoy many of their services.

I do wish them good luck with their toolbar, but I hope they’ll find better ways of marketing it than packaging it with other company’s software. In my mind at least, such arrangements always seem to cheapen my view of both party’s wares, as if neither could stand on it’s own.

Gives Java or C++ arguments some ammo

It rather does, don’t you think? If I can download the Java Virtual Machine WITHOUT the fear of installing “something extra,” then, as a business, I’d rather search for Web apps built on THAT technology than attempt to find ones built on something that now seems to be a marketing ploy.

It’s the proverbial “slippery slope:” First, the flash player comes bundled with something I’m not interested in otherwise. Why should I not expect the next version to have even more “marketing potential” built in? Will Flash Player 8 feature content-sensitive ad delivery built in?

And no I’m not saying this is the inevitable outcome, but I think you might understand the reason for suspicion. Just about everybody on the Web has faced unwanted advertising, and anything we can do to nip it in the bud is welcome. Once I’ve paid for Flash MX 2004 Studio Professional and spent time and money developing an application it it, I don’t want my potential clients to see MY work as being associated with third-party advertisers.

Not clear of future scope of ways to shift Flash costs from authoring tools to corporations

I’m not sure I understand this, but I think I may have addressed it above. In short, I see the Flash player as the means to deliver new software to the public: a Runtime or Virtual Machine, to be specific. If the runtime itself is being used for marketing purposes, I’ll look for one that doesn’t.

Not sure of spyware/malware risks or implications

This is probably the main reason for my concern, but it’s also the CAUSE of the other concerns listed here.

It’s not so much the existence of spyware, but the POTENTIAL of spyware that is raised by this packaging. Until now, I never even entertained the idea that Macromedia would do such a thing. This was naive perhaps, but now I have a hard time imagining that the company WOULDN’T entertain the idea if a “partner” with deep enough pockets came knocking.

In essence, it’s a matter of trust between Macromedia, the developers who create apps with its products, and the companies who will rely on both.

Other

As you can see, the problem I have is not with Yahoo or the idea that Macromedia needs to make money, too. But when I develop an application for a client and tell him he’ll need to download the latest Flash player from your Web site, I don’t want to feel like I’m sending him to FreeIpods.com or some other “GET YOUR FREE GIFT FOR FILLING OUT THIS SURVEY” site. Macromedia is better than that, and I hope it’ll stay that way. (Promote Yahoo Toolbar like crazy all over the Macromedia site if you need to, but just don’t make my clients feel like they’re being asked to download something they wouldn’t otherwise.)

Hope this helps, John, and again, thanks for asking!

(VeryVito)
abuse@turdhead.com

Hope this helps others, too!

Please Macromedia, don’t do it!

Say it ain’t so, sickness Macromedia!

You’ve built a great development platform (Macromedia Flash MX 2004) with amazing market penetration, eczema and I (along with hundreds of other Flash and ActionScript programmers, buy cialis bloggers and fans) have been singing your praises, doing my best to add “legitimacy” to the role of the ActionScript programmer/Flash developer in a world of Java, C++ and other uber-geeks who scowl at the thought of Flash being considered “serious business.” In the last two years, you’ve made great strides in changing the business world’s view of Flash from that of a “banner ad maker” to that of a true Rich Internet Application (RIA) development platform.

And now this.

Some idiot (I’d like to be more forgiving, but I believe this decision had to have been made by an idiot) at Macromedia has decided to allow the “packaging” of the company’s free Flash player — the building block on which the company’s (and my) RIA dreams are built — with third-party tools of dubious value (no offense to Yahoo, who owns the particular tools in question, but this just smacks of the start of worse things to come). In other words, at a time when people are running to cover and doing their best to avoid spyware, viruses and unnecessary background processes, Macromedia has apparently decided it’s a good idea to start pushing irrelevant and unwanted downloads to its growing corporate customer base. What’s next? Cydoor and Gator wallet?

Right now the offer to “get more than you bargained for” only seems to affect people using Windows and Internet Explorer (I know, shock!), but it stills doesn’t bode well. Www.rhjr.net has more information on the disaster in progress, feel free to read up on it there, and then be sure to head over to Macromedia’s Web site and let them know what you think of the idea, too.

Meanwhile, I’m gonna brush up on my SVG and Processing skills…

— VeryVito

[Edit: A followup to this article was later posted here.]

So far, www.texas-holdem-i.com owes me $27,000

Turdhead.com now has a new advertising policy that we hope will better serve our friends in the spamming community. In the past, tadalafil we’ve simply deleted unsolicited advertising from our comments section, website like this but apparently, this has not hampered the spamming community from keeping us busy, regardless. Thus, beginning today, we will glady store and publish ALL commercial messages submitted to our comments board for the reasonable fee of $1,000 per message per day.

Keep in mind that submission of unsolicited commercial advertising constitutes acceptance of this new policy, and billing will commence upon acceptance — NOT upon publication, which will commence only once payment is recieved.

To protect our readers from such nuisance advertising, we will also make every effort to collect on this debt, as we cannot afford to provide storage space for unsolicited ads or provide a free advertising service for cheap, unscrupulous and/or ass-brained Web spam operators (such as those submitting spam for www.texas-holdem-i.com, www.pokerpartyonline.com and several other companies).

Happy holidays, and we look forward to servicing you hard!

–The management

(Of course, valid non-commercial comments are always free and welcome!)

ADDENDUM: This new system works great! Apparently, the folks at www.online-poker-333.com have decided it’s worth more than $40,000 for them to advertise on Turdhead.com. As soon as they pay their bill, we look forward to “unhiding” their important messages, too!

ADDENDUM x 2: To see how this spam crap is affecting others, too, take a look at the following blogs as well:


JesseWarden.com

LordAlex ‘s MX Blog