Dead Steve Jobs was dead wrong on Flash, bellows ColdFusion man

Zuckerberg may be alive but he too is wrong on HTML5


The founder of the ColdFusion markup language has lent his voice to a growing list of big names expressing concern over the death of the open web.

Jeremy Allaire has called for an end to the religious wars engulfing devices that was originally sparked off in 2010, when Apple co-founder and chief executive Steve Jobs launched an attack on Flash.

Allaire also called Facebook’s recent decision to kill the HTML5 version of its iOS web app in favour of a native app written in Objective-C “shameful”.

“Mark Zuckerberg was dead wrong, and it was shameful for him to throw HTML5 under the bus because Facebook had an outdated and poorly written hybrid app," Allaire said in an email to journalists.

Facebook has become an important app for platform providers to land. Like Twitter, it’s an app that device-makers like Apple - and now Microsoft - feel they must have running on their software, as they risk commercial death if consumers are not able to Facebook or tweet from their kit.

While it was Jobs’ Thoughts on Flash letter that sparked the religious war, it is ironic that Facebook should dump HTML5, which Jobs had promoted as the bright-and-shining future.

In his 2010 letter, Jobs lambasted Flash on security and performance, for lacking touch and for not being "open".

As with any revolution, however, the HTML5 crusade has begun to devour itself. Jobs's hype almost ensured HTML5 was becoming unhinged from the reality of what it could achieve. Meanwhile, Facebook's ditching of HTML5 for Object-C cemented it into Apple’s walled garden to the detriment of the open mobile web.

In his letter on Thursday, Allaire highlights how Jobs was disingenuous in his anti-Flash crusade of 2010.

Steve Jobs, god bless his soul, was also wrong - well, perhaps, just deceptive - with his Thoughts on Flash and public flogging of Adobe. Killing support for Flash on iOS was not a benevolent move to save consumers from slow and crash-prone software, nor a resounding vote for open, HTML5-based content apps. No, it was merely a flanking maneuver to protect Apple’s proprietary native app development model. While Apple has gone on to deeply enhance the iOS native APIs, they’ve barely moved the needle on support for HTML5 inside of native apps.

And in a blog post to accompany the letter, Allaire points to what's now at stake in the religious war. Devs and companies building for the web face difficult choices, as they must chose between open or native.

In a deflated macro-economy that requires increasing productivity from our workforce, increased global competitiveness for talent, software developers and their choices of which platforms and technologies to build on are having a huge impact everywhere in the world. And this army of technical knowledge bearers may well be at the foundation of what will dig us out of this economic pit.

What's the alternative? Ah, what you're selling...

Naturally, Allaire has an angle, namely hybrid apps. His company, Brightcove, is positioning itself as being capable of bridging the religious war as Brightcove launches what Allaire has called “a major update” to its online video and content platform. The update to Brightcove includes native code, Object-C or Java within your HTML5 applications and includes support for third-party integrations. “We're trying to deepen the Native capabilities in Hybrid Apps,” Allaire reckons.

Maybe. But Brightcove is still playing the Jobs' game of accepting native apps, thus helping to reinforce the fences that are going up around the mobile web.

The preferred option would be to follow the Mozilla model of HTML5. That group has launched its own app store and began rolling out Firefox OS, a Linux operating system for mobile phones. Firefox OS runs HTML5 web apps using the Gecko open-source layout engine in Firefox and which accesses phone systems such as the accelerometer or dialler.

To succeed it'll take the support of major IT companies.

So far it has handset-makers ZTE and TCL Communications Technology, which have committed to making Firefox OS handsets. Telcos Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Telenor have also announced their support.

These are early days, and we need to see more devices in play. Devices also need apps – and so far the Mozilla HTML5 store is sparsely populated compared to Apple's App Store, which has 650,000 apps. Even Microsoft’s Windows App Store for Windows 8 has been racking up the numbers, now more than 3,000.

Several years ago, web daddy Tim Berners-Lee bemoaned how the closed data and app gardens of Apple and Facebook were killing the open web. It’s a position taken by Firefox maker Mozilla, too, which champions HTML5 – genuine HTML5, not the kind promoted by Steve Jobs – as the future.

“Hybrid applications” feels rather like a tech company trying to exploit the situation. Claiming jobs and economic recovery are at stake does the same thing.

However, Allaire is the father of an early web markup language and he does raise a good point that there is a future a stake. That future is the future of the non-PC web. As the web moves from the PC to the smartphone, there are already fences that have been put in place around apps and music. As tablets and TVs also become connected to the web, it stands to reason the walled gardens will encompass ever-more territory. As critical mass starts to build it will become self-justifying to back the stores - because they will have all the apps - and all the app consumers.

Sometimes there aren't two sides to an argument: there's just a right one and a wrong one. In the same way, when it comes to the cause of the web, there is only open and closed. Anything in between will perpetuate the existence of closed. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • OpenID-based security features added to GitHub Actions as usage doubles

    Single-use tokens and reusable workflows explained at Universe event

    GitHub Universe GitHub Actions have new security based on OpenID, along with the ability to create reusable workflows, while usage has nearly doubled year on year, according to presentations at the Universe event.

    The Actions service was previewed three years ago at Universe 2018, and made generally available a year later. It was a huge feature, building automation into the GitHub platform for the first time (though rival GitLab already offered DevOps automation).

    It require compute resources, called runners, which can be GitHub-hosted or self-hosted. Actions are commands that execute on runners. Jobs are a sequence of steps that can be Actions or shell commands. Workflows are a set of jobs which can run in parallel or sequentially, with dependencies. For example, that deployment cannot take place unless build and test is successful. Actions make it relatively easy to set up continuous integration or continuous delivery, particularly since they are cloud-hosted and even a free plan offers 2,000 automation minutes per month, and more than that for public repositories.

    Continue reading
  • REvil gang member identified living luxury lifestyle in Russia, says German media

    Die Zeit: He's got a Beemer, a Bitcoin watch and a swimming pool

    German news outlets claim to have identified a member of the infamous REvil ransomware gang – who reportedly lives the life of Riley off his ill-gotten gains.

    The gang member, nicknamed Nikolay K by Die Zeit newspaper and the Bayerische Rundfunk radio station, reportedly owns a €70,000 watch with a Bitcoin address engraved on its face and rents yachts for €1,300 a day whenever he goes on holiday.

    "He seems to prefer T-shirts from Gucci, luxurious BMW sportscars and large sunglasses," reported Die Zeit, which partly identified him through social media videos posted by his wife.

    Continue reading
  • A Windows 11 tsunami? No, more of a ripple as Microsoft's latest OS hits 5% PC market

    Next version of Windows 10 looms around the corner

    Microsoft's Windows 11 OS has notched up a respectable near 5 per cent of PCs surveyed by AdDuplex, as another Dev Channel build was unleashed with new features for the favoured few.

    With less than a month of General Availability under its belt, Windows 11 now accounts for 4.8 per cent of "modern" PCs (Windows Insiders running the OS account for 0.3 per cent) according to the ad platform. The figure is up from the 1.3 per cent in September, which was Insider-only and points to some migration to the production version of the software.

    The figure is both an indicator of Microsoft's cautious approach to releasing its wares and the limited amount of hardware that can actually run the round-cornered OS.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021