The world wide web became invaluable to society and to the economy because it was based on open standards that were easy to use and even easier to copy and improve examples of. To protect the value that comes from this openness we must protect the freedom of computer users who access the web through software on their local computer.
The biggest current restriction on web users’ freedom is Adobe’s Flash player and its “swf” file format. Flash has become an unavoidable part of using the web but neither Adobe’s Flash player nor its swf file format are free. To make sure that web users’ freedom is not compromised when they cannot avoid Flash, the free Gnash swf player has been written.
Gnash currently supports Flash 7 and some of Flash 8. It will support Flash 9 later in 2009. If you develop websites to support Flash 7, please test them against Gnash and report any differences in behaviour to the Gnash project as bugs to help improve the Gnash player. Please also let users of your site know that they can use it with Gnash and where to find and install Gnash.
As well as playing swf movies using free software there are free software authoring tools for swf files. For ActionScript there is MTASC, and for images and sound and other media there is swfmill. Other solutions are available. With the Emacs ActionScript mode and the GNU Autotools tool chain it is possible to write and compile Flash movies very efficiently.
Rich interactive media experiences that would not have been possible online a few years ago can now be created using open standards. The quality and power of web standards multimedia has increased greatly in just the first few months of 2009. Do take a look at what can be done now, you will be pleasantly surprised.