Adobe’s love and hate for browsers

Adobe has 2 of the most popular browser plugins (see Common plugins for Firefox). Flash is by far the best way to deliver multi-media content to web users because of 2 reasons.
1. Same user experience on all platforms and browsers
2. Ability to stream

Flash Player Penetration is 98% of Internet viewers. This is great for any software! Adobe loves browsers.

Then why did Adobe choose to write Apollo outside the browser? Which clearly puts them On A Collision Course With Web Browsers. Here is why Adobe hates browsers:

From a end user perspective Flash has remained at (in)famous “skip intro” on web sites or as a media player to watch videos or listen to music inside the browser. Flash is not as popular for writing web applications as AJAX is.

The main reason for this is the “back button” in the browsers. Hitting the back button unloads the Flash application losing the application context and any interim session data.

Back button is one of the most used features in browsers. It is hard to change user behavior. This has restricted Flash usage to just media delivery on the web. This I suspect is also the reason why Apollo did not leverage existing browser plugin installations, instead decided to keep it outside the browser chrome.

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  1. Vijay,

    >Then why did Adobe choose to write Apollo outside the browser? Which clearly
    > puts them On A Collision Course With Web Browsers. Here is why Adobe hates
    > browsers:

    You can’t understand unless you have been a RIA developer. There is better world beyond browsers, I love my browser (firefox) but I still want to create applications which, looks better, integrate with OS still under a security-sandbox and provide better user-experience (drag-drop, system-tray, rich-ui etc).

    I guess, you would have realized Adobe Apollo and Dekoh are two different games.


  2. Vijay said


    I am not disputing Apollo is attractive to Flash/Flex developers. Apollo and Dekoh are 2 different approaches, not sure what you mean by different games. UI in the browser does not mean other OS integration benefits are not available to Dekoh applications.

    The thought was just around why did Adobe not leverage the huge penetration already that it enjoys in the form of 2 popular plugins.


  3. Zach Stepek said


    You asked why Adobe isn’t leveraging the huge penetration they already enjoy on the desktop. It would seem that they are. The Apollo runtime leverages Flash Player and PDF to create new classes of desktop RIAs. The install for Apollo will be powered by Flash and initiate from the browser.

    My life has become increasingly less stress-filled since I stopped having to deal with browser incompatability issues that arise while developing with the traditional HTML/CSS/AJAX model. I really like the thought of testing for one platform, and only one platform. If Dekoh applications can be guaranteed to have only one specific configuration / runtime / environment to test against, then I may take a look. But, judging from your initiative to support all major browsers, I can’t see how that would be the case.

    Also, in my opinion, creating an environment where you can instantiate a browser plugin within your application is just asking for trouble. What if the user doesn’t have the plugin? What if they don’t want to install it? What if they’re running Microsoft’s JRE and every time they run a Java applet it crashes?

    – Zach

  4. Vijay said


    If the argument is that it is better to write HTML/Javascript/AJAX/Flash application outside the browser then it is going to put Apollo at a competing position with the browser.

    If your argument is just that Flash is better than AJAX, you can very well do the same in the browser (BTW, you can write Flash based applications on Dekoh). My only point is browser back button makes Flash applications in browser not work the same way users expect web applications to work.

    I did not understand what you meant in the last paragraph. Dekoh does not depend on any applets, if that is what is implied. Only the one-click installer is applet based, but soon there will be a download and install alternative also.


  5. G said


    You can write Flash sites & applications that support deeplinking (therefore the back button) and search engine optimisation.. it just takes a little more thought.

    I think you are mistaking the general usage of flash with the its capabilities. There applications that take advantage of the latest features to provide full image editing services, video mixing services, and word processing apps that are miles ahead of anything similar built using the AJAX methodology.

    It’s just another revolution of the same wheel… the majority used to use flash to produce tragic intro screens or equally appalling timeline based sites. Then there was a noticeable shift in the quality of most flash work, helped by actionscript being used as a proper object oriented language (although this is still scoffed at by unhappy/underpaid developers), the excellent video support, and the ubiquity of the flash plugin.

    Nowadays there are a lot of excellent OS flash projects around, that make it pretty easy to build a site that behaves as end users expect, yet provide a much more enjoyable/engaging user experience. For instance you can implement deeplinking using SWFAddress & full blown tracking using Google Analytics, or a custom built stats package.

    It is up to the people who work with a technology to make the most of it and keep pushing what it can do. That’s where progress comes from.

  6. Durairaj said


    If you were a RIA developer and know what flex and flash now does you wont make these points upto this extend. If you dont want to use the technology its upto you, dont write something about the technology without understanding the full features.

    > It is hard to change user behavior.
    Users would keen to adapt to the richness and easyness of the apps they dont want to use age old technologies.. so user would change their behaviour if it is easy for them and get the better what they have now


  7. Vijay said


    I am not commenting on any technology. I am only trying to analyze why Adobe chose not to be within the browser although they have such large presence inside the browser.


  8. Irfan said

    Hi Vijay,
    From your conversation I couldn’t understand the gist about why you raised the question of Adobe moving out of browser…

    As far as I understand… Adobe is doing great job with extending their approach with not limiting to browsers only while maintaining the supremacy at Browsers… We as a developer can now create the same apps which were built for browsers as a standalone applications for end users.

  9. HelloWorld said

    Peace people

    We love you

  10. adelbert said

    My guess:
    One of the big points for Adobe AIR is
    that Adobe does not have to worry
    about the browsers differences when
    implementing the AIR runtime, only OS
    differences matter.

    Otherwise: Adobe has to take care of Firefox
    security model, IE6’s model, IE7’s model,…


  11. Flex is the replacement of AJAX/CSS take it or leave it….and if Adobe decides to build Apollo outside the browser, wu says they av not done well, at least since the first realease of flex about a year ago, we are now having flex 3.0 and 4.0 is still on the way, to me nothing is wrong with their approach, why Sun had J2SE, J2ME, J2EE, and Adobe also has Flex, FlexMobile so why not FlexDesktop codenamed Apolo…my 2 cents

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