Flex Goes Open Source

by Stephen Powers.

Adobe has put an end to much speculation, announcing that it will take Flex into the open source realm and make the source and documentation available under the Mozilla Public License. This move certainly ratchets up the battle between Flex and Microsoft’s Silverlight technology — both are used to create rich Internet apps. Microsoft has targeted Flash and Flex, so Adobe apparently has come to believe that open source is the best option for gaining ubiquity for Flex. Traditionally, Microsoft has had the edge with developers; Adobe with designers. Adobe is clearly hoping this move will shake that up.

My colleague Jeffrey Hammond thinks that the reason this may help Adobe is that, until now, Flex vs. Silverlight was a case of one proprietary technology against another, so there was no reason for the standards-based crowd to join either side; in fact there was every incentive for them to try to continue pushing open source AJAX forward as fast as possible as a third alternative. Now the standards crowd has some interesting reasons to join the Adobe camp. Will it be enough? platform ubiquity of Silverlight vs. the potential ubiquity of open source should be a real test of classic vs. new business models in software.

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