Flex goes Open-Source, what does this mean?

There we have it, Adobe announced today the release of Flex to the Open Source community. While this sounds like a bit of a radical step, I mean, making a $750 programme free? It actually makes a weird sort of sense. Lets step into the press release and see what we find…

Adobe’s Press Release: http://labs.adobe.com/wiki/index.php/Flex:Open_Source

First off, let’s introduce Flex. Flex is like the younger, cleverer sibling of Flash. An evolution of the Flash’s ActionScript, aimed more at techies than animators. It uses ActionScript 3.0 as opposed to versions 1 & 2 which Flash 8 and below use, although both compile their content into the same Flash Player.

Reading that Press Release, you’ll notice the first thing Adobe point out is that they’re releasing under the MPL Liscense, and although they’re not immediately throwing everything out straight away, they’re releasing a considerable amount of important things straight away, with the rest following as and when. So that’s components, compilers, everything. Pretty neat, huh?

Adobe are touting that this is a step towards better integration with other open source projects, so we may well start to see WordPress and the like being released with Flex. That, in itself, is pretty cool. Unlocking Flex to the distribution levels of WordPress can hardly be a killer for their Flash Player.

I can’t see this is going to affect us who do Flex & Flash professionally, at least in the short-term. Although the Flex SDK is free, its a pain in the ass to configure it all, especially if you’ve never done something similar before. Time is money, and your time and your sanity is better preserved by coughing up (or getting your employer to cough up) the $750 for the Flex Builder. Which works magically compared to the hassle of SDK.

Lets get back to the topic, shall we? The rest of the accompanying MPL liscense states that it’s all open source, but things built with it can be distributed closed source, just like a commercial liscense. Developments, modifications and deviations to the source, however, should be released back into the project. Just like WordPress plugins, I guess. Say, there’s a benefit to be had. We’ve already seen the magic of Papervision, just imagine how many more developments could get started to enhance Flex…

Lets hope this is the magic to retain their edge in the fight against Microsoft’s upstart, anti-competitive, powered-by-automatic-updates stealth attacks.

So, a solid hold on the market, a relatively protective open source liscense to stop commercial usurpers, and the tireless labours of millions of open source fanatics as they attempt to crowbar some Flex magic into their killer Web 2.0 apps.

They sure sell them shovels good.