Home > Apple, Idiots > Apple wants to patent Flash.

Apple wants to patent Flash.

Over at patentlyapple.com, there’s talk of a new patent Apple has applied for what the site calls a “Breakthrough Platform Independent Word Processor,” one that could operate in the browser. This is the problem Apple wants to solve:

The recent proliferation of web browsers and computer networks has made it easy to display the same document on different computing platforms. However, inconsistencies in the way fonts are rendered across different computing platforms could cause the same document to be rendered differently for users of different computing platforms. More specifically, for a given font, the way in which metrics for various font features are interpreted, such as character height, width, leading and white space, can differ between computing platforms. These differences in interpretation could cause individual characters in a document to be rendered at different locations, which could ultimately cause the words in a document to be positioned differently between lines and pages on different computing platforms.

This inconsistent rendering could be a problem for people who are collaborating on a document. For example, if one collaborator points out an error on a specific line of a specific page, another collaborator viewing the same document on a different computing platform may have to first locate the error on a different line of a different page.

Hence, what is needed is a technique for providing consistent rendering for documents across different computer systems and computing platforms.

This is the solution:

Some embodiments presented in Apple’s patent application describe a system that typesets and renders a document in a platform-independent manner. During operation, the system first obtains the document, wherein the document includes text content and associated style information including one or more fonts. The system also generates platform-independent font metrics for the one or more fonts, wherein the platform-independent font metrics include information that could be used to determine the positions of individual characters in a rendering of the document. Next, the system uses the platform-independent font metrics to determine how the document is divided into line fragments and pages. Finally, the system uses the determined division while rendering the document, so that the division of the document into line fragments and pages is the same across different computing platforms.

Now, call me senile, but a consistent cross-platform experience is something that seems right up Flash’s alley. A swf on PC looks the same on a Mac, or Linux. They’ve been doing this for over a decade. But you’re probably thinking wait, Walt, you senile old bastard — I’m in your head — a consistent cross-browser experience that’s already built and already used by 99% of everyone online isn’t a word processor. True, it isn’t, but aside from the fact that Adobe purchased a product called Buzzword — a Flash-based wordprocessor — years ago and integrated it into Acrobat.com,  there was also Virtual Ubiquity, which doesn’t seem to exist anymore, but did.

So, you know, prior art, and all that.

I love how moist Patently Apple is getting at the idea of this, talking about how Apple, if they put out a cross-platform word processor, will change the landscape again. Look, I’m no Apple hater, but they’re clearly trying to patent something that’s existed for several years.

Is Patently Apple going to get all excited at Apple’s upcoming plans to replace the horse and buggy with an automated, mechanical machine? I hear it’s going to be goddamn huge.

Shut up.

  1. Cody
    May 23, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I love you Mosspuppet, and it breaks my heart to see you misuse the word “clearly” 😦

  2. Timerider
    June 2, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Well, swf files don’t act exactly the same across platforms. Ever play the flash game “Happy Wheels”? There are some user created levels that are designed to complete themselves without touching anything. I would say that about 9 times out of 10 the character fails a jump or gets hit by a deathtrap when I run it under OS X. If I boot up Windows 7 and try to run the same self-playing level, the character usually makes it to the end without being killed.

    • June 2, 2011 at 4:46 pm

      That’s more of an issue with framerate than anything else, I’m going to guess. Depends on if the programmer used a frame-based, or time-based method for calculating movements.

    • June 3, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      Yes, performance can vary in different environments. For a long time Macs would double-draw plugins in a browser, and Safari was the first to stop doing this. More info here:

      Particularly considering the explosion of smaller devices now supporting Flash, developers can benefit from testing their work on lower-end machines as well as their PC workstations, gating or adjusting as necessary. (The old phrase is TETOTOAOYTM, “Test early, test often, test on all of your target machines”.)

      (Virtual Ubiquity joined Adobe when Buzzword came along.)


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