Android First to Host Adobe AIR Amidst HTML5 Controversy

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Android First to Host Adobe AIR Amidst HTML5 Controversy

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While Apple remains adamant about keeping Flash off the iPhone, Adobe is backing one of Apple's closest competitors: Google's Android phones.  At today's Mobile World Conference, Adobe demoed AIR 2.0 on an Android-based smartphone, which could be the first potential host when Adobe's new runtime for running Flash and web apps outside of the browser is released in the first half of 2010.  In their effort to spread Flash technology as far and wide as they can, Adobe is also joining the LiMo Foundation, an organization that wants to put Linux on more mobile phones.  These announcements come amid a swirl of controversy over a blog posted by Ian Hixon, a leader in the WHATWG HTML5 working group.

The blogosphere debate reached a fever pitch over Hixie's claim that "the latest publication of HTML5 is now blocked by Adobe, via an objection that has still not been made public (despite yesterday's promise to make it so)."  However, Larry Masinter, who works at Adobe and the W3C, quickly revealed the other side of the story: "No part of HTML5 is, or was ever, "blocked" in the W3C HTML Working Group -- not HTML5, not Canvas 2D Graphics, not Microdata, not Video -- not by me, not by Adobe."  Masinter says that his "objection" has been blown out of proportion.  All that was recommended, he said, was that the Canvas 2D API and RDFa/Microdata formats be moved to separate subgroups since he believed that these were out-of-scope for the W3C HTML5 charter.  The full complaint is widely available, he says.  "That's what I was asking for, in the somewhat stilted language of 'objection'," said Masinter.

The comments on Ajaxian's coverage speculate that there's more at issue than just claims that Adobe is out to crush HTML5.  ywg writes:

It [Masinter's objection] relates to the whole RDFa vs Microdata argument, which itself is being used as a proxy for the W3C vs WHAT-WG power struggle. RDFa is the W3C’s solution for embedding meta-data into HTML, whereas Microdata is Ian Hixon’s baby. The W3C working group recently voted to split Microdata out of the HTML5 spec, something that Hixon, as editor, was not pleased about. He did it for the W3C spec, but not for the WHAT-WG, thus meaning the two specs are no longer in sync.

Whoever is right, Ian Hixon’s opinion should be only be considered in light of his personal stake in this issue, and his often demonstrated disdain for the W3C and its processes in general. Portraying the W3C as a secretive, compromised organisation helps to drive people toward the WHAT-WG. Of course, the WHAT-WG, being a smaller, invitation-only group of browser vendors, is in many ways more opaque than the W3C, it just lacks some of the bureaucracy around it.

As they try and dispel more feelings of mistrust in the web community, Adobe is gearing up for its biggest launch onto mobile platforms.  Within five months, Adobe is expected to release the lightweight, blazing fast Flash Player 10.1 and the runtime based on it: AIR 2.0.  Adobe now has video of AIR 2.0 being run on a Motorola Droid via the Android OS.  The company will make AIR available on Android and RIM Blackberry devices, and probably on other platforms as well.  A main feature of AIR on mobile systems will be the ability to to share screens across mobile and desktop systems using the Adobe Acrobat Connect online via AIR.  Adobe expects smartphones to ship with Flash Player installed by the end of 2012.

Adobe was pleased to announce at the MWC that it would join the LiMo Foundation to support Flash on mobile Linux systems. Adobe also announced that it is adding Symbian, Freescale, and Opera to its Open Screen Project initiative.  Still absent from the project is Apple, whom Adobe criticizes for not allowing Flash on the iPhone or iPad.  

Adobe may have hinted that Apple's lack of cooperation was to blame for Flash's perceived issues on Mac OS X.  "We depend on getting accurate and detailed crash reports from the operating system vendors," said Tom Barclay a senior Adobe product manager. He said that Apple's reports are sometimes "incomplete or anecdotal, and they choose what they want to report."  Regardless of Apple's stance, Adobe still plans to get Flash apps onto the iPhone with the help of a new compiler in the forthcoming Flash CS5.

UPDATE- Ian Hixie has since posted on the W3C mailing list saying that he was "mistaken" and had based his outcry on this item.  He is now asking if it's ok to prepare the drafts for FPWD publication now.

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