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SitePoint Podcast #47: Checkmate Apple

Kevin Yank

Episode 47 of The SitePoint Podcast is now available! This week your hosts are Patrick O’Keefe (@ifroggy), Stephan Segraves (@ssegraves), Brad Williams (@williamsba), and Kevin Yank (@sentience).

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  • SitePoint Podcast #47: Checkmate Apple (MP3, 45.1MB)

Episode Summary

Here are the topics covered in this episode:

Google Chrome Extensions Go Live

Google dropping support for non-modern browsers come March 1st, 2010

Apple claims iPad will offer the best web browsing experience available

Host Spotlights:

Show Transcript

Kevin: February 5th, 2010. Chrome extensions go mainstream. Google drops IE6 and what the iPad means for the future of Flash. I’m Kevin Yank and this is the SitePoint podcast #47: Checkmate Apple.

And we are all back together again—all four of us! It’s been—I don’t know how many episodes—at least five since we’ve had the whole crew together.

We’ve got Patrick O’Keefe from the iFroggy network. Hi, Patrick.

Patrick: Hello.

Kevin: Holding down the fort very nicely in my absence. Thank you for that.

Patrick: Thank you.

Kevin: And Brad Williams from WebDev Studios. How’s it going?

Brad: Howdy.

Kevin: You had the week off our last panel show, isn’t that right?

Brad: I think so. That was what … a month ago?

Kevin: I can’t keep track of your travels. You’ve been all over the place.

Brad: It’s all blending together at this point.

Kevin: And Stephan Segraves from Houston, Texas. How is it going, Steven?

Stephan: Pretty good. I’d say “howdy” but Brad took that from me.

All: (laughter)

Patrick: Ohhh boy.

Kevin: Stephan and I are excited about this show, I think it’s safe to say because it’s all about iPad. The entire Web, for the past week, it’s been iPad, iPad, iPad. Apple sure knows how to steal the spotlight. Stephan and I are fans of a lot of things they do.

Stephan, are you ready for some iPad chat today?

Stephan: Yeah, I’m ready to hear what the other guys have to say too.

Kevin: You’ve watched the keynote, I assume.

Stephan: I did.

Kevin: Good. Good.

But before we get to that, there’s a few other stories to check in with. First of all, something we’ve spoken about a few times before was Google Chrome and specifically, extensions support in Google Chrome. This past week, we hear that Google Chrome for Windows has had a major update which adds official support for extensions. It’s been beta only, up until now.

We were a little confused about that the last time we discussed it. I don’t think we’re the only ones; they’ve had a big extensions site up for awhile now but apparently it’s only been available to people running in the beta updates stream but now the official version of Google Chrome for Windows has full support for extensions and also they’ve added bookmark sync in there, which I found surprising. The bookmark management features of the app continue to be under whelming for me but at least I can sync those bookmarks to every other computer I work on.

Stephan: With the bookmark feature, is it— I’m kind of out of loop about this. It seems like a cool feature to me, but as someone who doesn’t really need the syncing, is it something that other browsers are offering right now and how does that compare to the other offerings?

Kevin: It’s been available as an add-on definitely for Firefox. There’s been a few bookmarks syncing extensions as well as things like the Delicious extension that will just replace the browser’s bookmark system with your Delicious account. And certainly Mozilla has been working on just a sort of a general platform for syncing browser related data across all of your computers, not just your bookmarks but also things like history and passwords and cookies and all that sort of stuff.

So it’s a step along the road that other browsers are threading but it’s early in the life of the browser, I think. This is kind of a niche feature. Are there really that many people out there that will be running Google Chrome in more than one place?

Brad: I do. Maybe I’m the minority, I don’t know. Extensions were a long time coming. I think you’re right, Kevin, we did discuss this, I think, about a month ago, that it was announced that extension support was coming to the stable version and then it just never happened. Because I would literally was on the site every day waiting for it to happen and it never did. And there was never really an announcement on what happened but anyways, they delayed it. They finally released 4.0. It’s out and I’m hoping now because even the extension library on the website where you can kind of surf through and see what they have, there isn’t a whole lot in it. So I’m hoping now that it’s in the stable version supports extensions that more developers will get involved and actually create some…

Kevin: Wait, wait, wait, wait—I’m reading the TechCrunch story here and it says there’s 1,500+ extensions available. Are you telling me there’s nothing in there?

Brad: Wait, there might be a 1,000 and some but I’m telling you there’s nothing that really… there’s a couple that caught my eye, but a lot of them don’t really—they don’t interest me and I don’t know if it’s just me but it doesn’t—and maybe it’s because I’m used to specific Firefox add-ons and I haven’t seen those pop up yet.

Kevin: So is it just cluttered with people going, oh, my first extension.

Brad: It’s a lot of that.

Kevin: Displays ‘hello, world’ on browser launch.

Brad: There’s a lot of real basic ones like NFL scores, NBA scores, news from this site, news from that site—stuff that you can get from regular RSS reader anyways. There’s also a lot of Google specific extensions. Quick hooks into Gmail and a Google URL shortener and Google translate integration, a lot of things like that. I’m really waiting for that Firebug extension to show up, so hopefully that’s in the works.

Kevin: The funny thing I just noticed is that the number one most popular Google Chrome extension is Xmarks Bookmarks Sync.

I don’t know if Google is just paying attention to the most popular extension and adding that feature to each release of its browser but yeah, when the most popular extension in your library has just been obsoleted by your latest release, I’m not sure that’s a healthy extensions community.

No doubt the official release of the support will prompt a few more developers to build something a little more meaty. So I’m sure we can look forward to some Firefox-style, really game changing extensions for his browser soon.

Stephan: But it blows my mind that they’re lagging so much in the Mac browser behind what they’re doing on the Windows browser.

Kevin: Well, that’s it; the Linux version of Google Chrome’s extensions are still for the beta release only and the Mac version is only beta right now. Or no, did they release a full version?

Stephan: I haven’t seen a full version, no.

Kevin: In any case, extensions are only available for Mac developers running the developer preview, the super unstable version of the browser. So, yeah, they’re still way behind and they’re asking Mac users to hang tight but I don’t know if the Mac version will always be last in line or if they’re planning to sync them up at some point? I guess we’ll find out.

Well, our next story is also related to Google and they are dropping support for older browsers, including older versions of Chrome, I noticed. Starting March 1st, Internet Explorer 6 users are going to be out of luck because Google is no longer going to be guaranteeing that their web applications will work in older browsers like IE6, anything earlier than Firefox 3, anything earlier than Chrome 4 and anything earlier than Safari 3, which I found was the most generous one.

I’d say anyone running Safari these days would have to be on Safari 4 unless they are running a rather old operating system on their Mac.

They’re saying that starting March 1st, new releases, particularly of the Google Docs and Sites apps will be dropping support for these older browsers and simply won’t be working well, if at all, in non-modern browsers.

I think a lot of us have wanted to do this in our own work. Is Google giving us that permission?

Brad: Yes. I’ve been pretty vocal about it and I’ve actually at our company, we dropped IE6 support a while ago. We’ll certainly do it but there is obviously an additional fee associated with that. But this, I think you made a great point, Kevin; this helps justify…

Kevin: Let me stop you there though. I’m really interested. Is that something—is that an optional extra that your clients tend to take up or do they go, oh, yeah, you’re right, we can probably do without it.

Brad: Most don’t. Most smaller sites don’t take it up. Now, the larger clients—sure, they want it to work on every browser that’s ever been created and they usually will. But we’re very upfront about it. We tell them and we explain the reasoning behind it. But I think like you said. This does help our company and many others out there like it, to justify what we’re doing. It says look, now Google is also taking the same stand that we are. So it’s not just my company trying to take the easy way out and not work on IE6.

It’s just like Google says, a lot of it is because it’s lacking features and you really have to jump through hoops to get IE6 do certain things that you really shouldn’t have to do. I’m sure everybody’s out there cheering when we first saw the blog post, it was a nice moment. And obviously, it’s not just going to stop overnight but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

Kevin: Absolutely. I wonder though if corporations are moving to things like Google Docs as their primary office suite. So if they’re dropping things like Microsoft Office and going for the free option where that make sense.

I wonder if that was a way of getting out of paying for an upgrade for Microsoft Office and now staying with Google Docs is going to require them to pay for an upgrade to, well, Microsoft Windows in many cases or at least pay their IT staff to deploy a new version of Internet Explorer. I wonder if their cost-dodging efforts are now going to make them take a second look at Google Apps and go, well, no, that’s not quite as attractive as we were hoping, maybe we’ll go back to Microsoft Office.

Has the strength of Google Docs been at least in the corporate market that you can run it on all the browsers and they don’t have to deploy a software platform upgrade? It’s what I’m wondering.

Brad: Yeah, I’d love to see some numbers on that because I saw couple of articles kind of call that out and it’s hard to say exactly—I mean, you would think it would be a very, very, very small percentage but I’m sure there are people that are using IE6 and Google Docs on a daily basis. I just don’t have any pity for companies really depending on IE6 at this point. I mean, they’ve known years ago that it’s hated among the development community and it’s very hard to work with and they haven’t made the effort to get off of IE6 at this point? I mean it’s 2010.

Stephan: Not to mention security holes you know.

Kevin: Well yeah!

Stephan: I mean, why not jump on that back when we were having all the security issues and update IE6 then? So now it’s becoming more and more apparent; eventually, everybody’s going to start dropping support for IE6 and then they’re going to be really be up the creek without a paddle.

Kevin: Well, you’ve got your web developers telling you to upgrade, you’ve got Microsoft telling you to upgrade, you’ve got now the German government telling you to upgrade, and now Google is telling you— forcing you to upgrade if you want to keep using their software. I think if you’re ignoring the signs now, I think you’re right, I don’t have a lot of pity for them either, Brad.

Brad: I do think it’s funny that you point out that Google says it’ll support Chrome 4.0+.

Kevin: Well, yeah.

Brad: So basically a month and a half after—two months after the 4 came out that that’s the only browser they’re supporting. I think it’s odd.

Kevin: Yeah. I guess they don’t like their older work.

So let’s dive into it guys. Apple last week announced the iPad, its new tablet computer based on the operating system and software platform of the iPhone and the iPod touch, it’s going to run a browser very similar to the Mobile Safari browser that you get on your iPhone except it’s going to be on a big, biggish 10-inch screen, and Apple is claiming right up front—it’s their top selling line on their features page for the iPad—that the iPad will provide the best web browsing experience available. And yet, no Flash support because obviously, Mobile Safari on iPhone and iPod touch has no plug-in support. There just simply isn’t an API for extending that browser and so it’s coming to the iPad with those same restrictions and therefore, no Java plug-in, no Flash plug-in, whatever other esoteric plug-in you might rely on is not going to be there.

Does the iPad provide the ultimate browser experience? That’s my question. Adobe is hoping that people are going to read its marketing saying no, there’s no Flash on this thing. It’s not the best browser experience and therefore people won’t buy it and that will force Apple’s hand to open up its platform to Flash. But is that going to happen?

Patrick: So is this the best way to experience the Web or is it the best way to experience the App Store? It seems like we might have the biggest, most pretty App Store in the land especially Apple App Store but the Flash thing is it’s going to bother people and I don’t think the iPad is going to suffer necessarily but it certainly leaves an opening in the market for someone else, maybe HP with the Windows equivalent, to come in and provide Flash support on a tablet device.

Kevin: I know within six months of the launch of this thing, I will not miss Flash on this device because as we saw with the iPhone, any site that people want to use on that device is going to be updated with HTML 5 video and other— an iPhone specific version of the site where that makes sense. Or if the site does something that is really beyond what you can achieve on that type of browser, they’re going to write their own iPhone app. So I think we’re going to see the same pattern follow the release of the iPad and therefore, for myself, for an early adopter technology-minded user, within six months of the launch of this thing, I’m not going to miss Flash in the web browsing experience.

Stephan, it sounds like you have the same feeling.

Stephan: Yeah. You know, I miss Flash on my iPhone a little bit and it’s just because of the way I use it and what I do. I like to look up restaurants and things and some of those restaurants, actually, a lot of restaurants have Flash-based websites. I don’t know why, and it really annoys me when I’m trying to look at the menu or something and I can’t because the website is in Flash. I don’t think I’ll have that problem with the iPad though just because I don’t think I’m going to use it that way. I’m not going to be looking up restaurants on the go with my iPad. It’s a different user experience, it’s a different methodology of using the iPad than using iPhone and I don’t see the need, I really don’t, and I’ll get to another reason later on the show.

Kevin: Well, that brings up a good point. What is Flash used for? It’s used by hoity-toity restaurant sites. It’s used by movie sites, when you see a movie trailer, the URL at the end is often pointing to an all Flash website. So you’re not going to be able to experience previews to the latest movies on these devices.

Is there anything else people can think of?

Patrick: Video, games, it depends on how you use it I think is how much you’ll miss it but I think that’s a good point. And this is where the point that John Gruber at Daring Fireball made is the companies, the developers, they don’t really care about anybody but themselves and their customers. So they don’t necessarily care about Adobe or Apple but if there’s a sizable audience that’s using the iPad, then they’ll make their sites work well with the iPad. It’s the same as mobile browsing. If it has mobile visitors, a lot of mobile traffic, then they invest in creating a mobile site or have it work well with a mobile device. The same thing will happen here. I think the smaller budget operations are probably the ones that won’t be able to adjust or will be very slow to adjust but as far as the average large game site, large video site, Hulu, etc., I mean I expect that they’ll adjust and get ready to be viewed on the iPad.

Kevin: So here we have a chicken and egg situation where if the iPad is successful and has a big market, the developers will necessarily accommodate them but will the user base come if the experience on day one is not the best? I think what happened with the iPhone was lucky because people were buying it as a phone. And yes, it had a really nice web browser on it but what drew the initial ground swell of user base to that device was the phone. And then web developers wanted to target those phone users with their web apps… great.

On the iPad, what’s going to draw people to that device, if anything, on day one which six months down the line will create a market that web developers want to chase? Is it the apps, is it the bookstore, is it the office suite that you can control with your fingers?

Well, that’s the question. I think Apple is betting that it’s just the coolness factor of Apple’s new device and maybe that is enough. Maybe that’s all it’ll take. I know that’s half the reason I’m buying it.

Patrick: Right. I think that’s a fair point. I think that it’s going to be a good browsing device, something that you’ll check email on browse the web and kind of a lightweight thing for how some people use a laptop even. You know lighter laptop users might find it as an acceptable substitute, something that’ll be lighter and easier to carry and you know the coolness of Apple is certainly a big part of it and I don’t foresee it having any problems because of the Flash thing. Does that does not mean people won’t buy it I think on day one? Well, I mean, I see plenty of people commenting that they’re going to wait for the second generation and I think there’s a lot of people that’ll feel that way not because of the Flash issue even but just because of the perception that first generation devices and you have some kinks that need to be worked out whether it’d be Apple or someone else.

I think a lot of people will just wait till the second generation but the coolness of Apple products probably cannot be underestimated.

Stephan: The Safari browser, the Mobile Safari browser that they built for the iPhone and for the iPad, it’s awesome. I mean I don’t think there’s any other way to say it and it’s fast, it’s renders quickly. It’s a good browser. So, I think people’s browsing experiences are going to be good.

Kevin: And by all reports, the fact that the iPad has a 1GHz processor in it makes that fast browser incredibly faster. Like, it’s a phone operating system and a phone browser running on something closer to a desktop hardware platform, and rather than add stuff to take advantage of that hardware grunt, at least in the first version, they’ve pretty much gone barebones with the feature set and as a result, this thing screams from what I’ve read.

Stephan: Yeah, and if you look at who they target and who goes into an Apple store—walk in to an Apple store and look at who’s there, it’s a lot of kids—and how many sites do they go to that have Flash, nowadays.

Kevin: That’s a good point. That’s a good point. If we’re talking about who’s going to buy it, it’s the experience they’re going to have going in to this store, they’re going to go, “Ooh! Here’s this device. Will it do what I want to do on the Web?”

They’ll play with it. They may load two or three sites and then, if it does what they want, they’ll take it home. So, what sites are they going to load? Maybe they’ll load YouTube and that’ll work well.

Stephan: Facebook.

Kevin: Facebook I think is a big one. Facebook has a nice iPhone experience but I suspect that on the iPad they’re just going to go with the default site because the only reason they did the iPhone specific site is because of screen real estate. I think the standard Facebook site will live very happily on the iPad screen but there are Facebook users and there are Facebook gamers.

I know there are people that only log in to Facebook these days— yeah, for Farmville!

Farmville is a Flash app and it’s not going to work. And there is no Farmville iPhone app. Short of them releasing a Farmville iPad app to replace the Facebook one—I could think of worst things for them to do. Short of them doing that, it’s not going to sell to the Farmville set. Are there any other big user group amongst the regular users out there who’re going to be put off by this device? I don’t think so.

Patrick: I think if Apple is smart, they’re going to make these deals, if they’re not already made, to work on the Apple devices. They’ve already got YouTube app right on the iPad homepage.

They obviously realize how big that is, a major situation, but it would be important, and so they’ve already taken care of it. I think that’ll happen more and more as we get a little closer maybe and they’ll have the major app for the main sites, and they’ll partner with those sites and they’ll be listed right on this page—YouTube, Facebook (maybe not MySpace), but other sites that people visit and they’re take care of that early.

Kevin: So, why are we so ready to cast Flash aside, is what I’m thinking. If they had said, “Well, it will support Flash but it won’t support JavaScript.” I think there would be pandemonium, rioting in the streets. No one would buy this thing if it didn’t have JavaScript. Is it because Flash is not used for critical web stuff or is it because Flash is not an open standard?

What is it for you, Brad, that makes you ready to just sort of go, “Well, Flash, it can be a casualty.”

Brad: I think it’s a little of both. I’m not a huge fan of Flash. We typically don’t use it on websites we build just because I know the limitations and this is a perfect example—why limit a possible user that could find your site on an iPhone or an iPad when you don’t have to just for some fancy little movie intro on your website.

But, again, I do see kind of like we’re discussing here. I understand there are users out there that 90% of their web experience is Flash, whether it be games, whether it be videos on Hulu. So, I think it’s a critical piece of the Internet as far as entertainment. I don’t think it’s a critical piece from the professional side of it which is kind of the side I’m on. I’m kind of either way on it; I don’t depend on Flash myself but I know a lot of people do.

Patrick: I don’t want to say the professional doesn’t matter but it kind of doesn’t matter. I don’t know. I think that this device isn’t going to be sold to the necessarily the hard core techie so much as a more general surfer. So, I think that’s why it’s so important—or at least why we’re talking about it—that is that if Flash works for it. I don’t know.

I know this podcast is aimed at the professional types but the professional types are, generally speaking, are just going to make adjustments and make their site work if they care about it all that much.

Kevin: But you’re right. Apple demoed this device sitting on a sofa. This is intended as a home sofa device. I’m sure there will be doctors and other people out there using this as a professional tablet with custom written software. But as far as using the functionality that ships in the box, I think it’s intended as a home user’s device.

Stephan: I was just going to go into the history of Flash when you look at it right and you look at—okay, it started out as, “Ooohh… make cool intros and menus and things,” and then it turned into the best option out there for people to stream video. That’s why it’s been so pervasive, right? I mean it’s not because it’s been some great functionality adder to websites. It’s because…

Kevin: God knows they’ve tried. They’ve definitely tried to position it that way. Things like Flex and even Air, to some extent, have been attempts to make Flash into an application development platform.

Stephan: Yeah, but they all required things that you had to install then on the desktop which was the beauty of it being built in to the browsers so they could stream video and you didn’t have to download anything extra, such as QuickTime stuff, and things like that.

Patrick: Flash’s installed base is definitely a plus, I think is what you’re saying.

Stephan: Oh, yeah. That’s the thing is that it’s there. YouTube took advantage of that and they said, “Everyone’s already got this. Let’s just stream video through it.” I think maybe it’s going to be Flash’s downfall that they’re— It’s not as a great as everyone thought it was.

Kevin: Right. Yeah, video became Flash’s success story and they haven’t really found their next success story but the gloss is kind of fading on Flash videos as its success story because browsers are starting to deploy native support for video.

Safari and Chrome both support H.264 encoded video. Firefox supports Ogg Theora, which is an open standard for video encoding, which gives you lower quality at the same bandwidth but it is an open standard and that’s why they’re sticking with it, and the HTML5 standard for embedding video let’s you create a video tag that includes both versions and so you can surf all three of those browsers with no plug-ins as long as you encode those two versions of the video and provide them on your server.

The more that becomes pervasive—and Internet Explorer, we’re looking at you—the more support those get, the less Flash becomes important as a video delivery mechanism.

I think Flash will continue to be used for a while, if only because of Internet Explorer, to deliver video but it’s no longer vital to have Flash because browsers like the one on the iPad are going to have native support for these HTML5 video. So, they can get away without Flash for video.

Like I said, there seems to be no next really important thing that we need Flash for. If you listen to Apple, the reason they have not put Flash support in their mobile browser, in their mobile Safari browser, isn’t because it’s not essential; it’s not because people don’t want it; it’s because Adobe have been unable to deliver a Flash player that doesn’t suck the life out of a battery or cause the browser to crash.

Do we buy this or is this their convenient marketing?

Stephan: I think it’s a little bit of both. You look at the player for YouTube, how’d they do that? They’re pulling the video out of somewhere, right?

Kevin: Well, like Patrick said, they saw it as a vital component of web browsing so they got in touch with YouTube; YouTube agreed to send them a QuickTime stream, an H.264 stream, which they could play in a native video player that Apple built themselves.

They really went out of their way for that one. They’re not going to do that for every website out there and, in fact, this browser-native support for H.264 video is kind of the way of saying, “Any other site who wants to do what YouTube did on our phone? Here’s how you can do it.”

Stephan: I’m noticing more sites offering QuickTime videos, and maybe that’s the way to go. It’s interesting to watch this. I don’t think Apple is intentionally trying to kill Flash. They’re not out there to go we want see Flash dead, but they’re not going to go out of their way to make sure Flash succeeds.

Kevin: There are plenty of Flash fans out there who are saying that’s exactly what Apple’s doing, though. They say, “Look, Flash is great and it is a powerful platform and it has super slick and easy to use developer tools. Apple doesn’t want to put it on their device because it competes with their super slick development tools for their closed App Store.”

Stephan: But see this is a terrible argument because people who invented cars didn’t intend on putting the blacksmith out of business. That wasn’t their goal. Their goal was to make transportation easier, right? And it just happened that blacksmith had to go out of business because they couldn’t horseshoes anymore. It’s just a casualty.

Patrick: But we mourn the loss of the blacksmith.

Stephan: We do.

Patrick: I’m just kidding.

Kevin: If you look at Flash on the Web as an application platform competing with Apple’s App Store, then is Apple guilty of unfair competition by saying “Well, we’re going to win that fight simply by cutting Flash out of our browser experience.” I don’t think so. I don’t think applications belonged in my web browser to begin with, to be honest.

Stephan: That’s a professional answer. (laugh)

Kevin: (laugh) Well, this is something I’ve felt for a long time like the web should be—uugghhh, I’m going to sound like, “Get off my lawn here.” But for me the web has always been at its best an interlinked collection of documents. It’s a publishing platform. Applications got thrown in there just because everyone has a web browser and people wanted to build applications that everyone could use without having to install them and every other attempt to deploy an application platform, ubiquitous enough to do that has failed and so people misused HTML and JavaScript to build things like Gmail and Google Docs and things like that, these desktop-like applications that live within a web page.

I think what Apple is doing is they’re saying. “We don’t think the Web should be like that either.” Their browser for the iPhone, their browser for the iPad is not optimized for things like that. If you think you’re going to be able to use Gmail happily, the web version of Gmail happily in your iPad browser you’re kidding yourself. The iPad browser is all about zooming to columns of text to make them easy to read and it’s not about hitting little toolbar buttons in your Gmail text editor to make things bold.

Apple’s answer to that is native applications. I’m wondering if the iPad is going to lead this exodus of web apps that should have never been web apps and make them into native apps for things like the iPad, things for the Google Android platform and whatever other hopefully more and more ubiquitous application platforms appear.

Stephan: We can hope.

Kevin: I’m hoping against hope.

Patrick: So what’s the comparable point for the desktop, I guess? Is it every single platform needs native apps if we keep it out of the browser? So you have the app for the iPad, iPhone, iTouch, you have the app for Android, you have the app for Blackberry, I suppose and then you have the desktop Mac, PC, different browsers. Does everything need an app? I mean does that go against the idea of open standards that some of us promote where it works on browsers? I mean how far should we take that notion of native apps?

Kevin: Well, I think there’s a whole spectrum. I mean I have to applaud Adobe for what they’ve done with the AIR platform. They’ve tried to provide an internet installable, ubiquitous app platform in Adobe AIR where you can write apps and they can run on all these desktop operating systems. The fact is that every time you do that, every time you do something more cross-platform you have something less native and with less of the convenience features that you’re used to in the truly native apps for your platforms. So if you’re a Mac user, a lot of AIR apps are not going to feel quite right compared to their native Mac equivalents.

But you’re right, Patrick; we can’t expect anyone who has something useful as an app to write a Windows version, a Mac version, an iPad version and whatever other versions are out there but people are doing that. I mean you look at something like Evernote which is a note taking platform that you can take everywhere—they market it as “your external brain”—and what they’ve done is they’ve built an iPhone version, they’ve built an Android version, they’ve got a Windows version and a Mac version and each of them is written from scratch to take advantage of the strengths of those platforms.

Stephan: And it is using a standard in the background, right?

Kevin: Yes.

Stephan: Maybe that’s the secret, right? I mean we’re going to come back to web services?

Kevin: It is a lot to ask if you want to play in the app ecosystem today. Do you have to write four native apps to get noticed? It is a lot to ask because each of those platforms is very different from a developer standpoint. I will grant you that. megaupload movies

To close this off, I have a question. If you were Adobe, what would you do? What is your play here? If we take for granted the fact that Flash isn’t going to get on to this device and people are going to buy it anyway, what’s your move?

My move if I’m Adobe is to move on. Build developer tools for the web technologies that people are moving to. If people are dropping Flash, I mean Adobe doesn’t make money off of people installing the Flash Player. They make money off of people buying the Flash Development Environment. But they also have Dreamweaver; they also have things like Illustrator which I think the next version is going to be able to export to HTML5 canvas. So invest more in those things.

Stephan: I agree. I say checkmate Apple and move on.

Patrick: That’s giving Apple a lot of power. A little too much. They’re not even the majority on the desktop.

Kevin: It is but what we’re saying is not that Adobe should become a creator of developer tools for Apple’s platform. I think they need to go open.

Patrick: Focus on the things that make them money. Flash doesn’t make them money.

Kevin: No, that’s true.

Stephan: So why not focus your business on, I think what they see Flash as is something to get their name out there, right? People know Adobe because of Flash. You ask someone if they know who Adobe is; they’re not going to know it from Lightroom. If I told someone I use Lightroom, they’re going to go, “What’s that?” unless they’re a photographer but I tell them, “Oh, you know that Flash Video.” “Oh Adobe, okay.” That makes sense to people. So I think that they’re counting on those people remembering the Adobe name and I really don’t think it makes them as much money as they want.

Kevin: Well the moneymaking attempt they made, they wanted to be where Apple is with their App Store. They wanted to get the Flash Player out there everywhere so that people could then buy applications built on things like Adobe AIR, although I’m not sure anyone has ever spent a penny on an Adobe AIR app, but that was their vision and then they would be selling the top-of-class development tools for that platform.

Patrick: Right. They make money with their Flash development tools and selling Creative Suite, which I believe probably has Flash in it. It did when I bought it. So you know there’s money being made but this isn’t to say that Adobe is in any trouble as a company. It’s not like there is Real Player or anything. I mean they are a healthy company, not to slam Real Player or like I don’t know; I’m old school and all that. I have some love for the past but at the same time, it’s like they’re a healthy company, they have great products, they have leading products like Creative Suite, like Dreamweaver like you said, like Photoshop obviously. So they’ll be fine. They’ll have to innovate or die I think as an Adobe person said on his blog—John Nack said that, and I think that’s the case with most products and we’ll see what they do from here and for all it’ll be better for it.

Kevin: I don’t think Flash is dead as an application development tool. They’re doing nice things with Flash CS5’s app exporter so you can build iPhone native apps based on a Flash application that you’ve developed. I think if they really work hard at making that good and making the apps that it generates highly performance apps with really nice interfaces. I think they might be able to get some leverage there, but apart from that exception, I think they really need to be refocusing on their strengths.

I think you’re right Stephan—checkmate. The game is over for trying to be for the big ubiquitous app platform. That’s just not Adobe’s strength, that not what they’re good at, much as they’ve tried.

On a lighter note, I think we need to bring the tone up here with our host spotlights guys.

Stephan, what have you got for us?

Stephan: I actually have something related. I was going to mention this earlier. I have something related to video in HTML5. It’s the Sublime Video Library, I guess it’s what you can call it. It’s a native HTML5 video player for HTML5 with no browser plug-in and no Flash dependencies and it supports Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome. If there’s Internet Explorer, it falls back to Flash, which is pretty cool. It’s really neat. You can find that it’s done by Jilion, I think is how you say it; it’s a company somewhere in Europe. Looks like it’s pretty good work.

Patrick: It actually doesn’t support Firefox, yet.

Stephan: Oh, it doesn’t.

Patrick: They plan to add it. Right now, they only support Safari 4.0.4+, Chrome 4.0+, and IE with Google Frame which is IE with Google Chrome installed in it. Those are where it’s going right now, but they do plan to have Firefox support, and as you said, IE support by falling back to Flash, but I did want to take a look at it, but I couldn’t in my Firefox.

Stephan: I played with it a little bit today. It definitely has some bugs to it. It’s a little laggy. I’m guessing they’re still working on the streaming part of it, so maybe it’s just a latency thing on their end.

Patrick: It won’t be coming to YouTube anytime soon, I guess.

Stephan: Yeah, it’s not the next YouTube. It’s not ready.

Kevin: It’s brand new. This was actually going to be my host spotlight as well, Stephan…

Stephan: Haha—beat ya! Yesss!

Kevin: …and then when I saw you posted, I went “Noooooooo!” It’s early days—like it’s just been announced—and as a preview of what’s to come, it is super impressive. It’s really slick. If you do one thing with this demo, go to it in a browser that supports it (so Chrome or Safari) and start playing the video and then click the full screen button. It actually animates to fill your browser window, as the background sort of fades back as you get with some of these lightbox extensions for viewing slideshows. It is super, super slick.

Looking at some of the stuff people have written about it, it does really impressive things that—people were worried about that the native HTML5 video tag, one of the things it does, at least in the current version of the spec, is it auto buffers. Even if you go to a page that has a video on it and you don’t plan to watch that video, your browser starts downloading the video anyway, which is kind of a failing compared to some of the Flash players that you get out there, but what’s Sublime Video has managed to do here with some JavaScript trickery is make it so that the video doesn’t start downloading until you actually said I want to start watching it now.

It’s really beautiful and they’ve kind of take in the base platform of the HTML5 video tag and built on top of it and shown really what’s possible.

So yeah, when the public version comes out with Firefox support and Flash fallback support, it’s going to be really, really great.

Brad, what’s your spotlight?

Brad: My host spotlight this week is and it does pretty much exactly what you would think. It tells you what browser you’re running. It’s a site that was set up by Google, some of the techies over at Google. It’s great for clients or maybe family members when you’re trying to figure out what browser they’re in, rather than try to walk them through what menu to go through and finding the About box, send them to and it will pop up and tell you exactly what browser they’re running with the version.

It has some information about browsers too, so there’s a link that says a few useful tweaks and if you click on that, this will be tailored based on the browser you’re running; it will show you some very basic stuff—how to change your homepage, how to change your search engine, how to set your default browser.

Kevin: Wow, that’s cool.

Brad: It’s kind of nice. Send it over to like a newbie that doesn’t really know what they’re doing and it will just make it a little bit easier on you. I’ve been using it quite a bit lately. It’s a nice little tool.

Patrick: I noticed that it says “try a new browser” down there and it has Firefox, Chrome, and IE. I wonder how other people feel about that.

Brad: Yeah, it has all the browsers and stuff. It even has Opera listed first, which is interesting.

I think we’ve mentioned this on the previous show how anytime Google kind of promotes using a different browser, they never put Chrome first; they always put Chrome second, or third, or fourth, which is kind of odd. You would expect them to put Chrome at the front, but they have all the different browsers here that you can download and check out.

Stephan: Patrick, when you guys on Windows click on the “try a new browser,” does it actually give you an option to download Internet Explorer?

Patrick: No, it just goes to a second page. On the first page, all I get is Firefox, Chrome, and IE and then if you click on it, then it takes you to another page where you get linked to Opera, Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari in that order.

Stephan: Okay, so they do link to IE, though. I was just wondering if they just had—because on the Mac, they don’t even show the Internet Explorer. They just show the the “try a new browser,” and then there’s no link to Internet Explorer.

Kevin: I bet some of Google’s corporate support people are going to be making use of this soon. “Oh, see—the problem you have there is you’re using Internet Explorer 6, and we don’t support that anymore.”

Brad: I’m sure they’re using this site quite a bit.

Kevin: My spotlight is the SitePoint CSS Reference, which was just updated this week with all new browser compatibility tables. Internet Explorer 7 and 8, Chrome 4 all of that is now fully covered and great work to the two authors who put that together, Paul O’Brien and Tommy Olsson. Great work guys. Really excited to have that reference back up to date and it’s completely free at


Patrick: Yes, I pull up the rear today. My site is It will be linked on the podcast site to make it easy. Larry Granillo—author at the site—he’s calculating the stats of Charlie Brown from the Peanuts comic strip.

He’s going through each Peanut comic strip for baseball stats—the wins, the losses of Charlie Brown and assorted other details, highlights of the games, the first time something happened, and… Wins or losses are the big one, but there’s a lot of general interesting factoids in the—

Kevin: Did he ever win?

Patrick: Right now, Granillo has done the 1950s and the 1960s with more to come. Right now, for the 1960s, it’s a losing record. It’s very bad, and I’m trying to pull it up, but the site is moving slowly, but he’s definitely not, as you might imagine, a winner.

He also tracks a number of times that he’s been knocked off the mound by a line drive.

It’s just a really fun piece, although research in a serious manner, but it’s a great read and really one of the great little—just one of those pieces that is just fun to read.

Kevin: Well thank you Patrick. I saved yours for last because I knew it would be fun.

Patrick: (laugh)

Kevin: So that brings another episode of the SitePoint Podcast to a close. Guys?

Brad: I’m Brad Williams with WebDevStudios and you can find me on Twitter @williamsba.

Patrick: I’m Patrick O’Keefe of the iFroggy network, on Twitter @iFroggy.

Stephan: I’m Stephan Seagraves. You can find me on Twitter @sseagraves or read the blog at

Kevin: And you can follow me on Twitter @sentience and you can follow SitePoint on Twitter @sitepointdotcom. Visit the SitePoint Podcast at to leave comments on the show.

The last giveaway we did—the SitePoint PDF of your choice giveaway for an iTunes review—was really successful, so we’re doing it again.

If you want to win yourself a free copy of the SitePoint book of your choice in PDF format, simply go to the iTunes Store that you use and leave a review on the SitePoint Podcast. This helps us promote the show and gain rank in the iTunes podcast directory. So you could really help us out with that and once you’ve left that review, come back to the SitePoint Podcast and copy and paste your review in as a comment, so we know that you’ve left it. We will then award a free PDF to someone.

Hey, the odds were really good last time, I’ll be honest with you. If you left a review, you were in a handful of people in the running. Definitely do it, and you’ll be surprised at just how lucky you might be.

So that’s it. The SitePoint podcast is produced by Carl Longnecker and I’m Kevin Yank.

Thanks as always for listening. Bye bye.

Theme music by Mike Mella.

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