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Apache Flex Graduates as TLP, but Its Future Remains Uncertain

by Abel Avram on Jan 15, 2013 |

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) recently announced the Apache Flex graduation as a top level project (TLP) after being in incubation for about one year after Adobe entrusted the SDK’s source code, tools and dependencies to ASF. Alex Harui, VP of Apache Flex, considers that reaching TLP status “demonstrates Apache Flex's commitment to 'The Apache Way' and the project's ability to self-govern, and be a part of the broader ASF community.” The graduation was voted on December 19th, 2012, and the first release was made available a week later.

Apache Flex 4.9.0 brought a number of enhancements and “many” bug fixes, some of the most important being:

  • Localization for several languages: Australian, British, Canadian, Greek, Switzerland (German) and Portuguese
  • The SDK can be compiled to work with Flash Player 10.2-11.5. Previously, the SDK worked only with Flash Player 11.1, but the limitation seems to have been artificially introduced by Adobe because making it work with earlier Flash versions required just small changes in several configuration files, not code changes. This enhancement was introduced to help enterprises which might have a slower Flash upgrade path, according to FLEX-33108 JIRA issue.
  • The SDK can now be compiled with Java 7.
  • A Flex Installer is now available for Windows and Mac OS X.

For the near future, the team intends to be able to run Mustella on Jenkins. Mustella is a Flex testing framework containing a number of test suites created by Adobe to ensure compatibility of new Flex SDKs with previous versions. They also intend to improve the Falcon compiler for ActionScript, and to add “better support for Maven and better parity between mx and spark components.”

Although the Flex project becoming an Apache TLP is great news for developers, questions remain regarding its future. Flex is dubbed by Apache as a cross-platform framework for building Flash apps “across all major browsers, desktops and devices, including smartphones, tablets and television”, but what could be its future on mobile considering Adobe stopped developing Flash for such devices, limiting its purpose to games and premium video? There have been a number of Flash releases throughout 2012, from 11.2 to 11.5, but all of them with improvements related to gaming and some major bug fixes, and Flash content needs to have a license in order to make use of Stage3D hardware acceleration starting with 11.4. Without such a license, the content is rendered in software.

Apache Flex does not seem to have a bright future ahead, being limited to maintenance chores much needed by enterprises which have built complex legacy Flash applications. Flash still has some life in it because its replacement technology, HTML5, is still immature and lacks many of Flash’s features. But, Adobe, Apple, Google, Microsoft and others are investing heavily in HTLM5, departing from the once ubiquitous plug-in that dominated the browser landscape.

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You miss the point. by Pascal LE MERRER

Adobe Flex does not target Flash Player on mobile, tablets and TV, but Adobe AIR. Adobe Air is actively developed by Adobe: they released 4 versions since they dropped flash player on mobiles one year ago, and the new 3.6 version is currently in beta. It allows creating cross-platform native application easily. For instance one of my own flex application is published both on App store and Google Play as a native application. It could also be very easily ported to Windows 7 or Mac OSX if I needed to.

Re: You miss the point. by Giovanni Candido

Good comment Pascal Le MERRER. Is important to add that Stage3D Hardware Aceleration is not a premium feature anymore, and is free: www.adobe.com/devnet/flashplayer/articles/premi....

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