Adobe beams up new Strobe video framework

Strobe, a developer-oriented project that makes it easier to put together an in-house online video player, aims to hit the market next quarter.

As part of the Streaming Media East conference in New York, Adobe has unveiled "Strobe," the "open framework" for its Flash video player that the company first announced last month. It's expected to be available in the third quarter of this year.

Since you were probably wondering: No, Adobe is not tweaking the pronunciation of "Strobe" so that it rhymes. Thank goodness.

But here's what it is: Strobe is a product and architecture for accompanying plug-ins based on Adobe's Flash technology that lets a company build a custom video player more easily, should it want to host online videos in-house rather than relying on YouTube or its ilk.

While Adobe's ActionScript language is "very flexible," explained Jennifer Taylor, director of product management for Flash distribution, "everybody's sort of had to recreate that from scratch, and as a result it's taken people longer than they've wanted to to to get their video players up to get their video online."

The meat of Tuesday's announcement at Streaming Media East is that a host of big new partners are on board, from content delivery networks to analytics firms. The full list of supporters is Adap.tv, Akamai, Blip.tv, Brightcove, CDNetworks, Digital Smiths, Eyewonder, GlanceGuide, Grab Media, Incited Media, iStreamplanet, KickApps, Level3, Limelight Networks, Multicast, Nielsen, Omniture, Panache, PointRoll, ScanScout, Thumbplay, Visible Measures, and YuMe.

Strobe is "taking the mystery out of creating video players, and also streamlining and simplifying that process, so people can do it much faster than they could before," Taylor said. She added that ComScore statistics have said that Flash is used to serve up 80 percent of all online videos.

Adobe is calling Strobe an "open framework" and is inviting developers to contribute, but has not finalized the way that it will be licensed. There may, for example, be an open source version that developers are invited to try out, test, and build on, but the version that will be downloadable at Adobe.com may haev a different license. This, Adobe representatives said in an e-mail to CNET News, would "take all the best pieces of the open source code, bundled with plug-ins," but that it would be protected to "prevent modifications, breaking plug-ins and prevent competing branding."

Company representatives followed up later on Tuesday to clarify that "the intent is to work with a license that allows for liberal use and innovation."

But regardless of license, the Strobe framework will be free, and Adobe does not have plans to charge for it. "Our intent is to not monetize Strobe directly," Taylor said. "Obviously, we anticipate and hope that Strobe will help accelerate the adoption of Flash video, and the rising tide helps all boats: it's going to help our partners and those who provide plug-ins for the framework."

This post was updated at 1:43 p.m. PT to clarify the use of open source technology in Strobe.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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