FlashPaper in 2008: Dead or Alive?

As my first post of 2008, I thought I would ask this question and see what people thought.

Since Adobe took over Macromedia, FlashPaper seems to have been put on the backburner or quite possibly extinguished all together. Adobe already has the pdf format and now seems focused on a new xml-based representation of pdf, the Mars Project. With CS3, Adobe did not include FlashPaper with any of the suites and has pulled FlashPaper from Contribute.
You can of course still buy FlashPaper 2 from the Adobe store, but it is still v2 and does not work with Vista or Intel Macs. I have heard a few rumors that FlashPaper might be included as an export option in Acrobat, but so far thats just that… a rumor.

So what do you think… will FlashPaper be revived in 2008 or has it gasped its last dying breath?

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  • What are you seeking… what are you trying to accomplish?

    The Macromedia FlashPaper printer driver hasn’t had many resources devoted to it the past few years… not much change there.

    (The Mars project seems quite different… a way of creating PDF to be rendered in Adobe Reader, as opposed to a way to display many types of documents in Adobe Flash Player.)

    What would you like to do better…?


  • I’ve always liked Flashpaper’s ability to display a printable document which can be loaded, UI and all, into an existing Flash application, which can be controlled externally by the application itself. PDF doesn’t cut it, and I’m sorry, but Share really misses the point as a FlashPaper replacement in my view.

    For such purposes, I don’t want a popup to display a PDF. I want something like this AS2 app I designed in 2006: http://www.mosesznaimer.com/ (click Press Clippings > Thumbnail)

    I want to be able to do this in Flex without all the AVM1/AVM2 communication nightmares.

    That is what Flashpaper is for. And that’s what Adobe is slowly killing with its inattention. Please Adobe, make a FlashPaper 3 with AS3. It won’t kill PDF, honest.

  • Have you tried Adobe’s “Share” technology (labs.adobe.com)?

    From waht I saw I think they use something like FlashPaper there. For sure, it’s rebuilt from scratch but it looks a lot like FlashPaper.

  • I concur – I love FlashPaper’s capabilities and thought it to be an awesome add-on for Flash apps. I hate that it looks like it’s going to fade away…

  • @John: “What would you like to do better…?”

    First, I’d like FlashPaper to be supported on Vista and Intel Macs. I’m sure Linux people might like support as well.
    Reasons why FlashPaper should still be supported:
    – allows for somewhat seamless integration of documents in Flash and gives Flash control over the document. (AIR will allow this type of control over pdf documents, but it is nice to still have similar control in Flash).
    – filesize… typically FlashPaper documents are smaller than pdfs.
    – speed… if FlashPaper was rebuilt from the ground up in AS3, I can only imagine the benefits that would be seen.
    – under the Adobe umbrella… now that FlashPaper is an Adobe product, so much more information could be shared between the Acrobat team and the FlashPaper team to improve the capabilities, yet still maintain the separate benefits of pdf.

  • Currently there is no way to display PDF content within Flash content, with Flash Paper, I cannot help my clients publish their contents in SWF, and I will develop a Flash interface to put them together online (without AIR)

    The ideal would be that Adobe provide an AS3 library that renders PDF content; otherwise, Flash Paper still has a lot of values.

  • Flash Paper lives on in Share (http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/share/)

    Share is a free web-based service that allows you to easily share, publish and organise your documents.

    Think of an online CMS where documents can have permissions set and then be embedded (within your site), viewed, previewed and printed via the hosted Flash Paper service.

    Whilst it’s not as ‘open’ as the Flash Paper of old, i’m pretty sure it meets all of your requirements (outlined above).

    It’s definitely worth checking out.

    Matt Voerman

  • @Matt:

    Share is interesting, but as you said, doesn’t seem to be as ‘open’ as FlashPaper.
    Are there any other tools (like search, etc) that can be added to the menu? It doesn’t seem like you can search within the page at all.
    Can you control the document with ActionScript? …Like page number, zoom level, etc?
    With the work that has been done on converting a version of FlashPaper to AS3 (as has obviously been done for Share), would it really be hard to release FlashPaper as a separate product?

  • Let’s be real clear about one thing: Share is not “FlashPaper Redux”

    Share can share documents other than printable files, but its widget is not a standalone SWF like FlashPaper swfs are. In fact, the Share widget interface sucks, functioning more like a chopped-off-at-the-knees document preview with hardly any of the functionality of a FlashPaper swf.

    If I want a sharable document, I’ll use Buzzword or Google Docs. If I want a print-ready SWF with its own interface, which has the advantage of being a CMS-manageable file, I’ll use FlashPaper. FlashPaper also has a printer driver which allows me to create fp SWFs.

    The two ideas could merge if Adobe played its cards right, but in its current incarnation, Share is not FlashPaper by a mile. I wish they’d upgrade it for AS3/FP9.

  • I can’t believe Adobe pulled out the rug from under us by not continuing FlashPaper… My company has built their our own CMS for serving up this type of content wrapped in a Flash interface. Is all this development time and money, not to mention all the hardware upgrades we made recently to Intel Macs going to be wasted? I’m definitely looking into print2flash!!!!

  • Are… “all the hardware upgrades we made recently to Intel Macs going to be wasted?”


    Why would this have anything to do with FlashPaper?

    Go enjoy your Intel Mac.
    I’ve made the switch from PC and am not planning on looking back in the near future.

  • It seems that so far only a few people has discovered the enormous potential of rendering pdf’s in flash player.

    Just visualize a pdf rendered in a Flex or Air app. 3 lines of code!

    This is the missing piece at the flash player. Macromedia did an awsome job with Flashpaper.

    Microsoft Silverlight will soon be able to render Word documents. Got it? Adobe, you have both, PDF and FLASH. Put them together.

  • I’m mainly concerned with standalone CD-rom apps that run inside closed networks – to this end I’m finding the end of support for FlashPaper a bit worrying. FP2 never really felt like the finished article (the print driver has some weird issues, and the interface is awkward to skin) so I was looking forward to a more polished version with CS3, something more like scribd.com’s iPaper.

    Launching PDFs from the app simply isn’t a good enough solution for my clients. I think Adobe have really dropped the ball on this one.

  • Hi,

    I’ve developed an open source project resembling FlashPaper. Take a look at FlexReport here.

    It’s in an early stage of development and I’d really appreciate any feedback on how you think it could be improved.

  • Adobe really seems to be missing the boat on DRM. Imagine that Adobe with Adobe Content Server which they purchased from Glassbook became the forefront DRM product. Other companies such as FileOpen realized this opportunity and got on the bandwagon quickly. Adobe quickly sabotaged their direction by pushing ADEPT and severing the cord with Adobe Conetnt Server customers.

    Macromedia (a very smart company) realized that PDFs in a Flash player would be yet another media type like video. Hmm.. Adobe PDF the leading document technology combined the best interactive media technology, Flash.Adobe bought Macromedia (and is still digesting it) and has failed to realized the true potential of PDF and Flash technology.

    Unfortunately having all the best talent and technology doesn’t mean the product managers will know what to do. You know it’s bad when the dumbest kid in town (Microsoft) can pick up the ball and possibly with the ENTIRE DRM GAME!

    FlashPaper has it’s place, and Share is DEFINITELY NOT it’s replacement. If Adobe was to lay out a real product road map, they’d see that that they can provide a wide array of tools for PDF integration. Adobe ADEPT (inept is what we call it here) is full of issues while FlashPaper already has solved some of the key issues.

    Adobe would be wise to re-think this product and keep it in their core life-blood and product road map for future development.

    Don’t worry, Microsoft will win with Silverlight and demonstrate that mediocracy can easily win against stupidity.

  • I was hoping the next iteration of FlashPaper would have offered the option of disabling printing and even hiding the header as a way of serving up content that you want to protect such as photos or graphics. A built-in way of hard coding the root URL would have been a nice addition to this nice lightweight technology.

  • I use Flashpaper for all of my PR work. It produces excellent quality and I can send it direct to the printshop regardless of the software I used to create the doc. As long as I stick with the highest quality and embed the fonts.

    My problem is that it doesn’t work with the new Adobe Flash player and the clincher is that half the websites in the world have already made their content unusable without the new player.

    Does anyone know a fix or am I doomed to finding another solution?

  • For all who are having trouble with the document not working after publishing – make sure you are saving all files in the same directory, including the flashpaper swf. When you insert the path use only the filename – i.e. don’t use ‘///Users/myname/thing.swf’ but use ‘thing.swf’ and make sure all is saved in the same directory both on your filesystem and once you move it to the webserver.
    This is a great tutorial – first time I’ve opened flash in 6 years and I was able to make this work for me and accommodate some difficult document security requirements in a project. Thanks so much for this.

  • I second everyone’s disappointment w/regards to flash paper being tossed out of the party. Now that CS4 is out, it crippled all my hopes to see Adobe get the hint, and take the prize home, instead….it’s going to seat alone at the end of bar watching the competition not leaving alone… :), sorry, I’m pissed off w/Adobe for this… Don’t get me wrong I think acrobat is great, but “Why da hell do you spend millions making sure I can embed FLVs, SWFs, PNGs, and every media format under the sun, and leave Flash/Flex empty handed? DOESN’T MAKE SENSE ADOBE!!
    GET THE HINT!! either give us some nice library/class/SWC/or writting on a napkin, or a better Flash Paper…….
    ….After a decade plus of following you, my dear Flash, I hate to switch teams, and give M$ the light of day ’cause adobe thinks that small updates to a few titles deserve my $600 upgrade……..shame on you Adobe….

  • Even crazier, Adobe Connect “Pro” lacks the ability to upload *Adobe* PDF files; they must be converted to SWF. Connect thus recommends the use of Flash paper, a discontinued software that is not even in the CS3 suite I have for Mac and PC.

    Again, I cannot add an Adobe file format into an Adobe application, gotta love that integration, and have to resort to some third party shareware http://print2flash.com

    Madness, madness, madness.

  • My total agreement over the stupidity of Adobe. I also have developed CMSs for clients that rely on the Flashpaper 2 plugin for Flash. Many, many development hours wasted.

  • Please, don’t kill Flash Paper!!! Update it to work on Vista and Macs. I have used Flash Paper extensively, as stand alone documents on web sites, embedded in Flash applications and embedded in Director. It is a great utility that can not be replaced by Adobe reader/acrobat.

  • It is completely *stupid* for Adobe to drop development of FlashPaper. I am a contactor for an extremely large communcations company (read ‘former telephone monopoly I can’t name’) and its training department is relies on FlashPaper. We are now preparing to update everything to AS3 and this huge company’s corporate purchase of an AS3 FlashPaper alone would justify FlashPaper AS3.

  • It’s ridiculous that Adobe is not providing an alternative to FlashPaper. It may not be a high-demand item, but it is a critical utility for a small subset of developers who want to integrate Adobe technologies. FlashPaper should have been rolled into Acrobat Pro as a standard export option.

    The fact that these options are missing just makes me want to invest in an opensource DHTML solution for rich media and document publishing, and purge all Adobe technologies from my projects and my clients’ projects.

  • Thanks Bjoern Berntsson!
    Indeed, looks good… and was to be expected that development would go in this direction. Still have to look into it though, what I need is the ability that FlashPaper had to use a word document’s document structure to automatically generate an interactive menu/index on the left.

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