Adobe Flash Player Icon
Developer(s)Adobe Systems (formerly by Macromedia)
Initial release1996
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris and Pocket PC
PlatformWeb browsers
Available inChinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Spanish, Korean
TypInterpreter, Media Player
LicenseProprietary freeware EULA

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Adobe Flash Player

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Adobe Flash Player is software for viewing animations and movies using computer programs such as a web browser. Flash player is a widely distributed proprietary multimedia and application player created by Macromedia and now developed and distributed by Adobe after its acquisition. Flash Player runs SWF files that can be created by the Adobe Flash authoring tool, by Adobe Flex or by a number of other Macromedia and third party tools.

Adobe Flash, or simply Flash, refers to both a multimedia authoring program and the Adobe Flash Player, written and distributed by Adobe, that uses vector and raster graphics, a native scripting language called ActionScript and bidirectional streaming of video and audio. Strictly speaking, Adobe Flash is the authoring environment and Flash Player is the virtual machine used to run the Flash files, but in colloquial language these have become mixed: "Flash" can mean either the authoring environment, the player, or the application files.

Flash Player has support for an embedded scripting language called ActionScript (AS), which is based on ECMAScript. Since its inception, ActionScript has matured from a script syntax without variables to one that supports object-oriented code, and may now be compared in capability to JavaScript (another ECMAScript-based scripting language).

The Flash Player was originally designed to display 2-dimensional vector animation, but has since become suitable for creating rich Internet applications and streaming video and audio. It uses vector graphics to minimize file size and create files that save bandwidth and loading time. Flash is a common format for games, animations, and GUIs embedded into web pages.

The Flash Player is available as a plugin for recent versions of web browsers (such as Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari and Internet Explorer) on selected platforms. Adobe states that each version of the plugin is backwards-compatible, with the exception of security changes introduced in Version 10.

Supported platforms

The latest version of Flash Player, Version 10, is available for Windows 2000 and newer, Linux, Solaris and Mac OS X. Version 9 is the most recent official version currently available for the Linux/ARM-based Nokia 770/N800/N810 Internet Tablets running Maemo OS2008, classic Mac OS and Windows 95/NT.> Version 10 can be run under Win9x using KernelEx. HP offers Version 6 of the player for HP-UX. Other versions of the player have been available at some point for OS/2, Symbian OS, Palm OS, BeOS and IRIX. The Kodak Easyshare One includes Flash Play. The Flash Player SDK was used to develop its on-screen menus, which are rendered and displayed using the included Flash Player. Among other devices, LeapFrog Enterprises provides Flash Player with their Leapster Multimedia Learning System and extended the Flash Player with touch-screen support. Sony has integrated Flash Player 6 into the PlayStation Portable's web browser via firmware version 2.70 and Flash Player 9 into the PlayStation 3's web browser in firmware version 2.50. Nintendo has integrated Flash Lite 3.1, equivalent to Flash 8, in the Internet Channel on the Wii.

Adobe released an alpha version of Flash Player 10 for x86-64 Linux on the 17th November 2008. Adobe engineers have stated that 64-bit editions for all supported platforms are in development; alpha releases for Mac and Windows will come in future pre releases. Adobe said it will optimize Flash for use on ARM architecture (ARMv6 and ARMv7 architectures used in the ARM11 family and the Cortex-A series of processors) and release it in the second half of 2009. The company also stated it wants to enable Flash on NVIDIA Tegra, Texas Instruments OMAP 3 and Samsung ARMs. Beginning 2009, it was announced that Adobe would be bringing Flash to TV sets via Intel Media Processor CE 3100 before mid-2009. Later on, ARM Holdings said it welcomes the move of Flash, because "it will transform mobile applications and it removes the claim that the desktop controls the Internet." However, as of May 2009, the expected ARM/Linux netbook devices had poor support for Web video and fragmented software base.

Although SWF has recently become an open format again, Adobe has not been willing to make complete source code available for free software development. The source code for the ActionScript Virtual Machine has been released as a project named Tamarin under the terms of an MPL/GPL/LGPL tri-license. It includes the specification for the ActionScript byte code format. This project is jointly managed by Mozilla and Adobe. The full specification of the SWF format is available without restriction by Adobe. The free software players Gnash and Swfdec are quite incomplete at this time. However, because SWF is now an open format, the free players should achieve higher quality going forward as developers implement the official SWF specifications.

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