Adobe Systems today announced it will release the remoting and messaging technologies used in Flex, Flash and other Adobe products as open source projects. Because the technologies are fairly mature, Adobe isn't so much looking for help from the open source community as it is looking to get its technology into more hands.
Adobe intends to release the remoting and HTTP-based messaging technologies in its LiveCycle Data Services ES along with the Action Message Format (AMF) protocol specification under the named BlazeDS. They will be made available as public betas under the Lesser General Public License (LGPL) v3 and downloadable from Adobe Labs.
The Action Message Format (AMF3) is a binary data protocol specification used in a variety of Adobe products, including Flash, which is used on almost every computer due to its availability on Linux and Mac OS in addition to Windows.
Adobe said BlazeDS will allow developers to add data connectivity to rich Internet applications (RIAs)
"We want to provide much broader access to this important data integration technology for Flex and AIR developers," Tom Barclay, senior product marketing manager at Adobe told InternetNews.com. "As people build more and more rich Intenet apps, they have more requirements for connectivity to back end systems for exchanging data between clients and servers."
In addition to offering up the code, Adobe will offer Adobe LiveCycle Data Services, Community Edition, a subscription offering with certified builds of the code and support services for customers. Eventually, Adobe plans to work out how to implement some of the ideas from the open source community back into the commercial product, although that will take time.
"We will eventually allow people to become contributors," said Barclay. "Over time, as we gain experience and trust in working with some of these developers, we will allow them to become contributors." He said it would have to be worked out just how contributions would be rolled back into the commercial product.
Because AMF is a mature product, Adobe isn't looking for help with development. Mostly, it just wants to seed the community, something it can't do with a closed binary, said Barclay.
"When you open it up to the community, you just have a lot more involvement. You have more people writing articles on it, more people opening forums on it. Most programmers learn by example, studying and copying code and such. It just opens it up to a broader range of people," he said.
Burton Group senior analyst Richard Monson-Haefel felt this was an "everybody wins" decision on Adobe's part. "Open source does a few things. It allows Adobe to leverage the community, assuming the community is interested. It also helps Adobe get the message out that their Flex data services is not required in order to use their other tooling," he said.
Adobe expects to release BlazeDS in early 2008. The bundle will come with the Tomcat server as well as sample apps and code so people can get basic applications up and running fairly quickly, according to Barclay.