September 05, 2008

Flashpaper discontinued

I was interested to read this article about the fact that Adobe are discontinuing development of their Flashpaper product, and the problems that this is going to cause for other companies which use Flashpaper as part of their own product or service.

In one sense, of course, you could argue that companies who failed to read the writing on the wall when Adobe acquired Macromedia deserve everything they get for failing to spot the obvious problem with one company now owning both Acrobat and Flashpaper. The only real surprise is that it’s taken this long. But even so, it’s an interesting and somewhat salutatory lesson about picking the technologies that you choose to rely on for your own products or services carefully; what if Moxiecode decide one day that they don’t want to maintain or develop tinyMCE, our WYSIWYG editor, any more?

The other thing that puzzles me slightly is that I thought I remembered from the Flash conference I went to last year, that Adobe have a slightly evolved version of Flashpaper baked into their file sharing application, the name of which I’ve now forgotten. But the idea was that whatever sort of file you uploaded to their site, you’d be able to get a Flash-based preview of its contents, and that preview looked very much like Flashpaper. Perhaps it was always a separate product; it would seem particularly mean to discontinue development of the product for your customers, whilst continuing to develop it internally to use in your own products. Adobe wouldn’t do that, surely?

- 3 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Steven Carpenter

    As far as I recall, the discontinuation of FlashPaper was being foretold early this year (good discussion here) and some companies claimed to have had it confirmed verbally last year, so the announcement wasn’t exactly a surprise. At the time the alternative, advocated replacement was Share, which was available initially via Adobe Labs, but Share wasn’t a download-and-install offering, so it wasn’t a direct replacement. Share was eventually merged into, and FlashPaper is effectively now dormant.

    That said though, I think I can see the rationale here – there are a number of existing sites that offer similar services to FlashPaper, like ScribD’s iPaper, Print2Flash and OpenOffice, and services like Slideshare are able to convert to Flash, Adobe is actively opening up its specifications and tools, and AIR supports PDF rendering alongside Flash, so maybe at some point they intend Flex/Flash to render PDFs too. With all that going on it seems reasonable to assume that anyone wanting to develop or use a converter like FlashPaper have a number of alternatives. All the same, it’s a good point about lock-in.l

    05 Sep 2008, 20:07

  2. Andrew Ingram

    Since TinyMCE is open source, it doesn’t really matter if Moxiecode give up on it.

    06 Sep 2008, 01:07

  3. John Dale

    Yes and no. If they did, from our point of view, one of three things might happen:-

    1. We continue to maintain and develop the code ourselves, or
    2. Other users or developers take the code over, or
    3. The code withers away because nobody has the commitment, expertise and desire to take it over.

    Case 1 is unlikely; if we wanted to look after our own javascript WYSIWYG editor code, we could be doing so today; the fact that we don’t suggests that we are, at best, unenthusiastic about the idea. So it comes down to which of case 2 and 3 would transpire. I agree with you that case 2 does happen, but it’s by no means guaranteed to; a quick glance around Sourceforge reveals an abundance of open source projects which have long since been abandoned by their original authors but which nobody else has picked up.

    06 Sep 2008, 09:24

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