Adobe holding up HTML5? If it quacks like a duck…

February 15, 2010

The last thing the graphic software giant needed right now was even the insinuation that the company was standing in the way of the HTML5 standard, which many view as a competitor and even a replacement for piczilla’s Flash. Now, they’ve got more than that, though it’s not entirely clear what the publicly available information is really telling us.

There’s one heckuva lot of heat and light being generated by this blog post from Ian Hixie, a member of the HTML5 working group and an employee of Google. This missive sketchily intimates an Adobe conspiracy to block the HTML5 standard or at least parts thereof.

Adobe Evangelist Dave McCallister, July 2009: For Adobe, “open” is all aspects of communications and technologies. For us, those are open source, standards, and community. [...] We make sure that we talk to our communities, that we play with the standards groups, [...] We are actually one of the most open companies that are active. (context)

Someone whom I can’t identify publicly, since he posted only on one of the secret W3C member lists, contributed to the following thread over the last few days: 1 2 3 [Ed"”Log in required]

Larry Masinter, Adobe, quoted in the minutes of yesterday’s weekly phone status report for the HTML working group: do I need to repeat objections?

Net result: the latest publication of HTML5 is now blocked by Adobe, via an objection that has still not been made public (despite yesterday’s promise to make it so).

With friends like these…

Thereupon, John Gruber is offering the following bit o’ wisdom on the subject:

My understanding is that Adobe is trying to block the API spec for the canvas element. The canvas element hasn’t gotten as much attention as the video element, but clearly, 2D graphics in canvas is competitive with Flash, and it appears that Adobe’s plan is to sabotage it via W3C politics.

See also: Reporters’ Roundtable Podcast: HTML 5 vs. Flash (

W3C is widely known for the divisive nature of its internal politics and what a perfect for foil for either Adobe or its critics to push their respective agendas. Honestly, you needn’t doubt who I’m pulling for, but folks are reaching for conclusions (and their daggers) rather quickly.

Still, what began as a public pissing match between Apple and Adobe over the iPhone and now iPad’s “lack” of Flash support has taken on a life of its own. The attention is now squarely focussed on Adobe and, at the very least, they’ve got some explaining to do…

What’s your take?

via AppleInsider

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5 Responses to “Adobe holding up HTML5? If it quacks like a duck…”

  1. elle:

    Shelley Powers, on the AppleInsider forums:

    “I’m a member of the HTML WG, but I’m not speaking for the HTML WG, or W3C. I’m only expressing my opinion, and what I know to be facts. I’m also not an employee of Google, Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, or any other company (I’m a writer, for O’Reilly).

    There is no truth to this rumor. The posting here is inaccurate. Grossly inaccurate I would add.

    This was an issue that has been under discussion, off and on, on the publicly accessible HTML WG for months. It has to do with scope and charter, not the specifications themselves. The Adobe representative to the HTML WG registered his concerns about the fact that the HTML WG is working on specifications that push, or exceed the group’s charter. This includes Microdata, RDFa-in-HTML, and the 2D Canvas API.

    Adobe is not blocking any specification. There are dozens of issues that are “blocking” HTML5, if you want to use that term, of which I’m responsible for many at this time. Technically the HTML5 specification can’t advance to Last Call status until these issues are resolved. However, the W3C management can override my issues, and the issues of any individual or company. No one company can block the advancement of any specification without the concurrence of the W3C leadership.

    All of these issues are based on improving all of the specifications, including HTML5 and Canvas. it’s unfortunate that the HTML5 editor, who is also the Google representative to the HTML WG introduced such wild, and unfounded speculation, causing harm not only to the Adobe representative, but distracting all of us from the work of finishing the HTML5 and other specifications.

    I would hope that people would seek to get confirmation before posting unfounded accusations.

    The HTML WG thread related to this issue:…0Feb/0349.html

    The Adobe Rep’s initial concerns:…0Feb/0006.html

    Next time I would ask that you all, please, withhold judgment until you actually have facts, rather than innuendo.”

  2. John Dowdell:

    Hi, Hickson’s vague accusations were a mystery most of the day, but were cleared up in Friday comments at Ajaxian:

    Mid-day Sunday, Thom Holwerda had a wrapup at OS News:

    Later Sunday, Dilger & Gruber synchro-posted on old news. They may have gained a short-term tactical advantage by such distortions, but have traded it for their long-term reputation.


  3. Ronald O Carlson:

    “the fact that the HTML WG is working on specifications that push, or exceed the group’s charter. This includes Microdata, RDFa-in-HTML, and the 2D Canvas API.”

    Your links are dead.

    So, a fully functional Canvas isn’t possible until the charter is changed and Adobe’s been quite happy to keep pointing this out.

    Ultimately, what you’re saying is that you have cover for your actions. Not that they’re right or reasonable, but the rules have you covered. Wow, what a pleasant legalistic approach and one that I’m sure is endearing your lot to even more developers, bloggers and journalists.

    Thereupon, what is Adobe’s official position on insuring a full, robust Canvas arrives in users hands as quickly as possible?

  4. Matthew Fabb:

    If you follow what Shelley Powers is saying, Adobe isn’t blocking the HTML5 spec, but instead other bugs and issues are blocking it from reaching last call. All Adobe seems to be doing is wanting clarification on issues of scope and charter.

    Meanwhile, if you take a look at Adobe AIR 2.0 beta you will see that it supports Canvas, as it’s using the same version of WebKit used in Safari.

    Meanwhile, Adobe has been demoing Dreamweaver CS5 with canvas tag support. Since last fall they have been showing an example of copying content from Illustrator, animations from Flash and pasting the content into Dreamweaver which displays the content via the canvas tag. Here’s a YouTube video on one of those demos:

  5. Peter:

    “Next time I would ask that you all, please, withhold judgment until you actually have facts, rather than innuendo.”

    She must be new here…

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