Adobe, Developer Animosity Grows Toward Apple

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fight_small.jpgADOTAS – Is Apple trying to kill Adobe? That certainly makes for a good media narrative considering Apple’s refusal to add Flash to its iPhone browser and the recently unveiled iAd bypassing the popular tool for rich media ads. Icing on the cake, it appears changes in the iPhone developer license agreement will bar Flash-created apps from the coveted App Store — just as Adobe introduced a Flash update with an iPhone portal.

Tensions are verging on out of control with the release of Adobe Creative Suite 5, which comes on the heels of the iPhone 4.0 developer preview and the language change in section 3.3.1 of the developer license agreement.

Adobe’s people — including Platform Evangelist Lee Brimelow, who on his blog told Apple to screw itself and announced he was boycotting the company until there was a leadership change — are livid over that “applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer are prohibited” according to the agreement. Developers that count on Flash and were psyched about the updates in CS5 are spreading their bile across tech forums as well.

Brimelow — who was asked by Adobe to clarify that he was speaking for himself (while the rest of the company likely hooted in the stands) — said this equates to shutting the doors of the App Store to any app not written in Apple’s preferred language.

The change to section 3.3.1 seems particularly aimed at Adobe’s updated Flash CS5, which introduces a method to port Flash apps to the iPhone — the new developer agreement would make this feature moot.

Jobs, who believe it or not is a pretty finicky guy, apparently has no love for Flash — he and the Apple team don’t like the software itself, which is the official reason its not available on the iPhone or iPad. However, Jobs has endorsed Daring Fireball’s reading of the language change: Apple wants the Cocoa Touch APIs to be the standard for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch apps, and doesn’t want another platform — such as Flash’s mobile porter — sitting on top of it.

John Gruber argues that Flash CS5’s porter isn’t a “cross-platform” but a “meta-platform”: “Adobe’s goal isn’t to help developers write iPhone apps. Adobe’s goal is to encourage developers to write Flash apps that run on the iPhone (and elsewhere) instead of writing iPhone-specific apps.”

Ah, control issues! Something Apple is infamous for. The real loser here is Adobe, but developers are unhappy simply because they like creating with Flash and in effect Apple is limiting their toolkit. However, it appears they’ll have to go along with this rather tyrannical move as Jobs is standing his ground.

“We’ve been there before,” Jobs emailed TaoEffect CEO Greg Slepak, “and intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform.”

That’s not going to quiet the grumbling grunts. That sounds like the speech of a mobile autocrat.

Here’s the changed section in the developer license agreement:

“3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).”

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