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Flash: The Next Open Source Debate?

| by Scott Delap Follow 0 Followers on Jan 04, 2007. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |
With Java open sourced and Microsoft unlikely to start open sourcing their software stack anytime soon, Flash stands and one of the most widely used technologies driving the internet which is not open source. Duane Nickull has written a starting point for the debate. In summary he asks what does open flash mean to developers. In Nickull's experience open means:
  • No lock in
  • Integration
  • Leveraging existing skills
  • Ability to fix bugs/issues without depending on a vendor.
Nickull also references a post made by David Mendels of Adobe in relation to the issue. Among the points of Mendels he summaries:
  1. The Flash programming language (ActionScript) is 100% ECMASCript, a standard with multiple implementations and is open. You can script using ActionScript with a plain old text editor.
  2. The internal Flash Player VM, “Tamarin” is an open source project run by the Mozilla foundation (donated by Adobe).
  3. The Flash file format, *.SWF is a published format.
  4. The Flash Player is available on Mac, Windows, Linux, Playstation, Nintendo Wii, Symbion, and many other platforms.
  5. An SDK for building, compiling, debugging Flash applications is available for free on Mac, Windows and Linux
  6. There is a very active Open Source community around the Flash runtime. For better or worse (I do work for Adobe -;) many many people take full advantage of the Flash Player without using any commercial products from Adobe (or anyone belse). See http://www.osflash.org/ to get a good view of this.
  7. Flash itself makes use of several standards such as JPG, AVI, GIF and PNG's as outlined here.
All of this raises the question "Is Flash Open Enough?".  This same question was asked of Java for many years before the its open sourcing in 2006.

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It doesn't matter by Robert McIntosh

I think David makes some good points and to honest I don't think it makes that much difference to developers. The only real reason to open source Flash as a whole would be to appease a community that just has to have their tools open sourced.

I would rather see focus on easier use of development than anything else. Building a typical corporate application in Flash is a whole different way of thinking. Maybe the toolset needs improvement in this area or whatever, but open sourcing it isn't going to help the development community as a whole.

What it will do in its favor is generate publicity and possibly support from the developer community which would be a good thing.

Re: It doesn't matter by Jonathan Allen

I think David makes some good points and to honest I don't think it makes that much difference to developers. The only real reason to open source Flash as a whole would be to appease a community that just has to have their tools open sourced.


I agree with you there. OpenSource hasn't changed my day to day work one bit, but good solid tools have.

Re: It doesn't matter by Floyd Marinescu

Agreed. I think flash is so ubiquitous that it is practically speaking as 'standard' as Ajax.

Flex however might benefit from being open sourced, if only to bring a wider community to adopt it.

Floyd

Open Flash means different things to different people by Ivo Emanuel Gonçalves

As some have pointed out already, open flash will mean little to those who use the official Flash IDE from Adobe. However, to Linux users, to open source programmers, and even the average geek, it will mean a lot. It will be important.

Flash is a technology that provides the same results in any browser and any hardware. That has a lot of advantages in the so-called Web 2.0 era, but people will rather stay away from it, because right now it's a proprietary format. So, opening Flash will be good for us and Adobe.

Mr. Delap, you say you are an Adobe employee. Are you working on Flash development? Could you inform your co-workers and the department chief that we, users, would like to have an Open Flash, and not only that, we'd like that Flash would be compatible with Ogg media formats like Theora, Vorbis, Speex and FLAC. It's very annoying not being able to create an audio/video player in Flash that can work with those formats.

Thank you for your attention.

Re: Open Flash means different things to different people by Scott Delap

For the record I am not an employee of Adobe. I'm sure they read our news discussions and will take your suggestions into consideration however.

Tools by Matt Giacomini

I develop flash applications and could care less if flash was open sourced. I do however wish they had a better tool.

Let me preface what I'm about to say with the fact that I develop my flash applications using 100% actionscript, and do not rely on any of the freehand tools in the flash designer.

With that being said I think the flash designer stinks, I mean really sticks, as in affects my productivity big time. For me developing flash in eclipse would be great. The current open source alternatives haven't worked for me as I need access to the latest and greatest flash object classes (otherwise I surly would not spend another minute in the flash designer). All I need is syntax highlighting and an up to date integrated compiler.

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