This link gives a nice overview of the flash ecosystem and what is being open sourced.
While I applaud Adobe’s decision to open source the Flex framework, I think people are completely blowing out of proportion exactly what has been open sourced. People should be excited as the move has lasting implications for the industry and for Adobe, and those implications benefit us developers and the users of our work. However, I’ve read quite a few blogs saying that Flex has been open sourced, which could lead to some confusion. Its the framework that has been open sourced, the components and other elements built on top of the Flash player for the purpose of more specialized RIA development. The good news is that open sourcing the Flex framework will mean nothing but good things for Flex in the long run. There is no shortage of superstars out there in the Flash development world who will make the framework better, faster and smaller. So, bravo to Adobe for taking a risky step, and there is no doubt in my mind that it will pay dividends to them.
Now, for all the people saying that everything should be open sourced or that Adobe didn’t open source enough, you’re wrong. The flash player should NEVER be open sourced, its greatest strengths are that there is only one version of it for each platform, and that its regularly updated and distributed by a large and dependable host company. We should all be afraid of the idea that little developer Jimmy in his mom’s basement could take the Flash player, make his own special version, and require it to be installed to view his web page or web app. In regards to Flex builder and Live Cycle Data Services being open sourced…. Thats just stupid. Adobe has given developers everything they need to try and compete with Adobe’s own tools, and you see competitors starting to pop up. In my mind Adobe has created a bigger competitor to its own revenue generating products than Silverlight could ever be. Free is a powerful adversary and for people to shell out bucks for Adobe’s tools they are going to have to be damn good. That being said I love to see that kind of move by a big company, it shows that they have the Moxie (no pun intended) to compete not only with other big companies, but also with the open source community.
During the video interview with Scoble, David Wadhwani (a VP at Adobe) said something really intelligent that kind of caught me by surprise. He said that Adobe realizes that in order to increase the total size of the pie (which inherently means an increase in their business), they have to give up some control and be ready to compete. Good strategy, since in the end they still have control over the most important piece of the ecosystem (the flash player), and any open source competitors that pop up will only serve to increase the buzz and ubiquitousness of the platform. Now that Adobe has opened Pandora’s Box, open sourcing pieces of the development frameworks is no longer seen as a gift by us developers, its an expectation. Any competitor who wants to seriously move into this space will need to address that expectation now. Smart move Adobe, very smart.
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