What is Missing in Apples iBook Author? Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash.

iBook Author got a lot of fan fair on its intro with many trial software runs. The video below shows iBook Author in action:

Steve Jobs Unfair Rant on Flash

Steve Jobs has had a well deserved legacy of continuing top rank innovation. But Steve also had a darkside. He believed he could copy or steal anybody else`s ideas; but once they had been applied to Apple hardware or software they were Apple’s “magic”alone. Nowhere is this dark trait seen more tellingly than in Steve’s treatment of Adobe Flash.

In Walter Isaacson`s biography Steve traced the fault to 2003 when Adobe refused to comply with Steve`s request to develop a version of the newly rewritten Premier Pro video editor for the Mac. All sorts of reasons can be postulated for this refusal but Apples development of its own Mac-only competing top-end video editor, Final Cut Pro plus Apple`s GarageBand music editor and Apple’s Aperture as a photo editor all competing with key Adobe products inevitably played a part in the refusal. Also, Adobe’s top brass still had to swallow the bitter taste from a decade earlier when Apple`s Truetype copied Àdobe Type 1 font technology but Apple released Truetype to Adobe’s surprise as open and free software and in the process killed a lucrative font business for Adobe.

Fast forward to 2010 and Steve Jobs refusal to allow Adobe Flash Player to be run on not just iPhone but any iDevice. In an “Open Letter: Thoughts on Flash” Steve sought to justify his stance by raising 6 problems with Flash.
First, Flash ‘is 100% proprietary…Flash is a closed system’. Yet Flash player is free, available on more OS platforms and has more open APIs than Apple QuickTime, Windows Media Player and other competing media or animation players . Also Jobs ignores Adobe’s Open Screen Project and its standardizing work.

Steve wrote “that the loss of Flash Player was slight to iDevice users.” He cites the many Apple game apps made up for the loss of Flash games and the fact that Flash videos were replaced by .H264 videos. Steve fails to note that a)Flash is used on 47% of the 17,000 most popular websites and Flash animations not videos comprise more than half of Flash usage. Finally, millions of Flash-based websites built by Mac users were now unavailable to iDevice consumers.

Third, Steve trashed Flash security, reliability, and performance. “Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009″. What Steve fails to mention is that Apples own QuickTime had an even worse security record in 2009. And for the past 4 years Adobe’s Flash Player and Apple Quick time have had the same number of security advisories at Secunia ‘s respected security service. This despite the fact that Adobe Flash Player offers many more features , coding services, and platform support in comparison to Apple QuickTiime.
Steve cited bugs “We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. “ but fails to note Apple’s own QuickTime and its continuing buggy behavior.

“In addition, Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it.” And then – “Fourth, there’s battery life.”These are the very worst of Steve’s Reality Distortions. Apple was late in delivering the Apple Accelerator APIs to Adobe and within a month of his notes publication and 2 months of delivery of the APIs from Apple , Flash Player was running on a variety of mobile devices plus matching Quicktime performance on the Mac for speed and battery life. See here, here, here, and summarized here for the real facts.

“Fifth, there’s Touch.Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers.” This objection is testament to how isolated and out of touch Steve was on the Flash Player state of the art. Within a month of Steve’s letter a new Flash Player was released with a complete set of touch capabilities.

“Sixth, the most important reason….Flash is a cross platform development tool. It is not Adobe’s goal to help developers write the best iPhone, iPod and iPad apps. It is their goal to help developers write cross platform apps.” Steve baldly states his I-want-a-monopoly case.No customer choice[if Flash Player apps don't rate customers won't buy them] allowed. But there is definitely the added burden for software vendors and businesses of having to develop another set of code for their mobile apps. Steve offers up HTML5; but as Steve well knew, HTML5 is not ready in standards, features and performance for primetime animation and application development. As well concentrated all his abusive remarks based on video performance where all parties were in the throes of major developments – ignoring Flash’s other pivotal role in animation and efficient media storage.

Rather Steve imposed his unjustified  decision for all Apple users [if they did not like Flash, they simply would not use it - but use on Macs belies that]. So in order to enforce a closed, proprietary and non-cross platform application development on iOS  - Adobe Flash, Java, and cross platform code generators are all banned on Apple’s mobile OS.

And so here we have the Steve Jobs Darkside - willing to destroy the work and business of hundreds of thousands of Mac-based Flash developers to create his own Apple iOS monopoly. The FBI report on Jobs is closer to the truth than Isaacson’s biography- Smart, Tough, Dishonest.

Ye Editor also got to witness an iBook Author session and 8 things stood out about iBook Author:

1)It is simple and fairly easy to use given templates and iWorks-like interface;

2)Users can import text from some Office and most iWork apps including styling; but after that import options fall off notably;

3)Adding images, video, HTML5 snippets and widgets and aligning them is  really easy [text and object flow around drag and drop operations] making  for savvy chapter layouts;

4)It  can turn out large iBooks but they are  huge  files about 1.3 GB for a 100 page, with 10 or so  large “animated” illustrations;

5)it can be slowwww at times in design and creation particularly importing 3D objects and perfecting  live  effects;

6)it does not have  advanced and compelling animation features familiar to Erain Swift3D [Mac, Win] , Toon Boom Animate [Mac, Win], SwishMax [Win], Anime  Studio [Mac, Win], as well as Flash CS5.5 [Mac, Win] developers;

7)As usual of late from Apple, iBook Author is highly proprietary, with a  very limited set of legal imports and also export possibilities;

8)It produces proprietary iBook 2 files which handcuff you to the Apple ecosystem.

As  substitutes for Flash animation, iBook Author  supports a smorgasbord of specialized widgets, HTML5 snippets, Collada 3D models and interactive quiz drop-ins none of which match the full range of features and options available in Flash. As for animation, Apple’s  Quicktime is again  found missing in action. This is ironic because QuickTime had many of the same or even worse  battery-power, security-risk, and performance problems that Steve Jobs  attributed to Adobe Flash. The result is that iBook Author has problems in   performance,  storage efficiency and  the range and robustness of animation features which are routinely available  in Flash.

Meanwhile HTML5 is still  not a viable animation  solution  as Canvas, SVG,  CSS and JavaScript all vie for small  portions of the  full Flash animation feature set. In sum, iBook Author is proof of the fact Apple simply does not have a replacement for Flash for its millions of Mac graphic artists and  designers. Yet Apple’s case against Flash is highly suspect .  iBook Author just underlines the case of deficient products being provided to loyal Mac graphic designers and developers when many products much better are available not just Adobe Flash but Toon Boom, Anime Studio, Erain Swift 3d among others.

Bottomline: Apple Owes Its Graphics  Community a Viable Animation Tool

iBook Author reveals the huge gap in Apple’s software line-up. Having sunk Adobe Flash on dubious if not illegitimate grounds on the iOS platform and doing the same on Mac OS, Apple owes the Mac animation and graphics design community a viable alternative to Adobe Flash. Apple has failed to deliver.

Apple Quicktime  at 1/3 of the functionality of Flash continues to have reliability and security issues as bad if not worse than Flash. And on animations and efficient storage of media, Quicktime is a quick loser.   Steve’s proposal of HTML5 animation tools as the answer has failed to bear  competent fruit. True, there are tools  like Sencha Animator or Adobe’s own Edge [based on jQuery JavaScript] but the fall well short of  Microsoft Silverlight as well as FlashIf Apple chooses to eliminate something of indisputable value in their software ecosystem, then they must replace it with something of equal value. To August 2012, Apple has not. Perhaps a tiny chunk of the $28 Billion currently in Apple’s cash coffers could be devoted to that replacement. Apple owes this to its ultra loyal graphics community.

  2 comments for “What is Missing in Apples iBook Author? Adobe Flash

  1. GAG
    February 12, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    This is the best laugh I have had all day. Seriously, does the author have a clue?, not likely!. Reminds me once of a friends grandfather roaring with laughter when he read an article that stated that “Ford does not have an answer for the horse’. And to think that some people get paid (Adobe anyone) to write such dribble. Come back in a couple of years and see where flash (trash) is. Whats flash you say!.

    • admin
      February 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Whenever I write a story commenting on Apple I have to take into account the Apple Fanataic contingent. These are people who see Apple and Steve Jobs as close to if not infallible. Yes, Steve and Apple certainly did free client computing from the grasp of a highly proprietary and sometimes exceedingly lazy Microsoft monopoly [think Windows Vista, Internet Explorer, and Windows Mobile among other software glitches imposed on the public]. There is now at least 3 fold competition for client OS software – Microsoft, Apple and Google primarily. And we have to credit Steve Jobs and Apple for bringing that about. I for one say thank you.

      But Steve and Apple are cloning the Bill Gates monopoly formula – tightly proprietary and even more restrictive ecosystem. In fact Microsoft is even back copying the ideas adopting Windows Store and ever more proprietary Windows 8 and other Microsoft software. And in the process of doing so, Steve and Apple have been short changing their users: not just suppressing Flash, but also Java, and cross platform development tools. And its not just case of shorting its Mac base of millions of graphics users by still not bringing touchscreen or stylus operations to the Mac, but also overcharging for the Mac and Apple hardware in general. With no debt and $100 billion in cash[more than the total GDP of Bulgaria, Bahamas, and Slovenia all combined], Apple owes its Mac Graphic community either lower prices, a viable replacement for Flash on iOS[and neither QuickTime nor HTML5 come close to Flash functionality], or some other $cash dividend for supporting Apple loyaly for so long.

      But GAG reacts like an Apple Fanboy – doing an insulting attack and simply not addressing the issues raised in the article and the sidebar. Apple’s own Quicktime was just as bad if not a worse performer than Flash on Macs and iOS for security, memory bloat, response time, and bugs. Also Apple did not disclose the Graphics Accelerator APIs in a timely fashion because as soon as they did, Adobe produced a much improved Flash Player. The bottom line is that iOS does not have software to replace Flash -an efficient container for bitmap, vectore and video graphis, fonts, animation scripts, and broader communication capabilities. Efficient because the total size of SWF runtimes have not been matched for size, speed, and content features on iOS – and it shows in iBook Author how badly such capabilities are needed.

      So Apple should make or buy a replacement for Flash functionality on iOS. After all they have $100Billion to do so [there is no debt on the Apple Balance Sheet]. So why not buy Adobe for $20billion, fix the problems, make Mac graphics users happy because all those graphics applications have come home.

      In the meantime, unless comments address these issues rather than just insulting and attacking, thos Apple Fanboy comments will be immediately directed to trash – which they are.

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