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Flash: The Next Open Source Debate?

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 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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