Adobe goes open source with Flex

One of Adobe's key web application development technologies is now open source, with a full resource site planned for later this year.

Adobe today announced that it would be making its Flex web application development technology open source.

The source code to key elements of the Flex platform is already available in its SDK, and Adobe plans to have a full open source site complete with project planning, bug tracking and source code management tools available by the end of 2007.

Part of Adobe's developer friendly approach, Flex's new open source development process is intended to build on existing developer community relations. One of the original architects of Flex, Adobe Senior Principal Scientist Mark Anders said "Open sourcing Flex is the next big step", helping Adobe reach a "new set of developers."

Adobe expects open source Flex will speed up adoption of its Flash-driven rich internet application strategy. Flex is a key technology component of its Apollo desktop client, as well as offering developers a more code-based approach to Flash development. Adobe will not be offering the source to its Eclipse-based Flex Builder IDE.

David Zuckerman, from the Adobe Flex Builder development team, sees this approach as good for both Adobe and the market as a whole, as third parties will now be able to build Flex development tools, "This means more competition for us and personally, I love competition. And it can only help the Flex community: other IDEs mean more people using Flex, and more IDEs keep the Flex Builder team on its toes."

Wide adoption of Flex will be direct competition for Microsoft's next generation of Web development tools, which use a similar mix of XML and scripting technologies to deliver web applications to browsers and desktops. While Microsoft's XAML tools are limited to Windows, Flex is available for most major operating systems, and opening the code will increase its coverage.

This isn't Adobe's first venture into the world of open source. It recently partnered with the Mozilla Foundation to work on the next version of its ActionScript compiler, code-named Tamarin. Adobe is using the same Mozilla Public License for Flex, though it will also be offering commercial licenses to partners that want access to Adobe's support services.

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