Upcoming Flash Player Enhancements?

Judging by the amount of responses to Mike Chambers (Macromedia Product Manager for Developer Relations) post regarding possible GIF or PNG support in the next release of the Flash Player, the Flash community is pretty excited by the potential of an enhanced Flash Player in the not too distant future.

Me…? I can’t understand why they haven’t taken the player footprint size hit before and added in support for both in the last version.

While we’re on the subject of Flash Player enhancements, is there anything specific apart from the ubiquitous RegExp support that you’d like to see it make to the next version of the player?

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  • John Dowdell

    “I can’t understand why they haven’t taken the player footprint size hit…”

    Because download size directly affects adoption rate… this has been tested in the field, and extra kilobytes do increase the number of download cancellations. It isn’t just “add a runtime GIF import filter or not?”, but more like “add a runtime GIF import filter or have the other abilities available to a majority of consumers earlier?”

    There’s a second reason to minimize size, and that’s to fit into pocket devices. The alternative here would be to have different capabilities in laptops and pockets, which would be a difficulty in developing and maintaining content.

    The Macromedia Shockwave Player has had a wide variety of runtime import filters for years (as well as native-code extensibility), but the increased size means that only 50% of consumers have a current version, as opposed to 90%+ with Flash.

    Regards,
    John Dowdell
    Macromedia Support

  • sgrosvenor

    I understand the quandry, with regards to download cancellations, but what would a ~102KB increase in footprint result in real figure cancellation terms?

  • John Dowdell

    Hi Steven, I don’t have the testing results handy, but I recall that even 10K increments in download size measurably affected the adoption rate of new versions. (With each rev of the Player there’s usually a hefty load of working in further compacting existing code, to make more bytes free for new code… the regime is really pretty brutal.)

    I don’t know how details will play out in future versions, but that’s the background on how previous decisions have been made, if that context is of help.

  • sgrosvenor

    I know that you must hear the request for RegExp support in the player; and there have been custom AS 1.0 and AS 2.0 custom interpreters written, but what would be the increase in footprint for this type of addition?

  • Rob Edgar

    John,
    I have heard these arguments before about player footprint affecting adoption rates but to be honest I just dont buy a modest increase having any significant impact.

    After all MS MediaPlayer and RealPlayer are 10-20+ times larger than the Flash Player but there adoption rates are not 20+ times less than Flash.

    I also dont see why some of these features cant be modularised so that future new Rev’s of the player wont mean all modules need to be updated together so the download hit wouldnt be there on every rev.

    Also at the end of the day do you end up with a product that never gets signficantly improved due to “footprint” concerns and just fades into obscurity as it doesnt have the features needed to support modern applications. My fear is that the mindset at MM has you guys walking down that path.

    Say a 300k increase in the player footprint reduces adoption by a massive 20% BUT if it added so many powerful features we could develop serious RIA’s and you might find that the USAGE rate of flash was actually higher!

    Adoption rates are NOT the be all an end all, Notepad proabably has the highest adoption rate of any word processing software in the world today but what does that count for, usage is probably more difficult to measure but is ultimatley more important, particularly in the case of Flash where, to be very blunt, 80% of the flash movies you come upon are just worthless crap and most end users today wouldnt care if they had no flash player at all.

    I think what I am trying to get at here is that LOWER adoption rates may not be a bad thing after all.

    Rob

  • Rob Edgar

    John,
    I have heard these arguments before about player footprint affecting adoption rates but to be honest I just dont buy a modest increase having any significant impact.

    After all MS MediaPlayer and RealPlayer are 10-20+ times larger than the Flash Player but there adoption rates are not 20+ times less than Flash.

    Also at the end of the day do you end up with a product that never gets signficantly improved due to “footprint” concerns and just fades into obscurity as it doesnt have the features needed to support modern applications.

    My fear is that the mindset at MM has you guys walking down that path.

    Say a 300k increase in the player footprint may reduce adoption by 20% BUT if it added so many powerful features we could develop serious RIA’s you might find that the USAGE rate of flash was actually higher!

    Adoption rates are NOT the be all an end all, Notepad proabably has the highest adoption rate of any word processing software in the world but what does that count for, usage is probably more difficult to measure but is ultimatley more important, particularly in the case of Flash where, to be very blunt, 80% of the flash movies you come upon are just worthless XXXX and most end users today wouldnt care if they had no flash player at all.

    I think what I am trying to get at here is that LOWER adoption rates may not be a bad thing after all.

    Rob