Adobe donates Flex to Apache

If Apache accepts it, Adobe's Flash SDK for developing enterprise-grade Web applications will be managed by the Apache Software Foundation

In a move that appears to be another step away from its Flash platform, Adobe has submitted the code for its Flash-based Flex framework to the ASF (Apache Software Foundation) to be managed as an independent project.

While the company pledged its continued support for Flex -- along with its underlying Flash technology -- Adobe also suggested that Web application developers in the future would be using HTML5 rather than Flash.

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"In the long term, we believe HTML5 will be the best technology for enterprise application development," the blog post stated. "We also know that, currently, Flex has clear benefits for large-scale client projects typically associated with desktop application profiles."

Flex is an SDK (Software Development Kit) that includes a compiler and a number of libraries that can be used to build cross-platform RIAs (Rich Internet Applications) that run on Adobe Flash. In 2008, the company placed the SDK under an open-source license.

The ASF will now vote on whether to take on Adobe Flex. The open source software body has not commented on if it will agree to manage the technology's development. If it does, however, it may not be long before Flex becomes an Apache project. In 2010, when Google submitted Wave as a potential project, ASF approved the technology within a month

Should the ASF agree to take the technology, the road map will be managed by an independent governing body operating under Apache's bylaws. Adobe will continue to dedicate full-time engineers to further debug and develop the SDK, the company pledged.

Along with Flex, Adobe has also submitted a number of other related components to ASF, most notably BlazeDS, a messaging system for transferring data between a Flex application and a back-end Java EE (Java Enterprise Edition) server. It also submitted an experimental Flash compiler, called Falcon, and assorted testing tools.

Earlier this month, Adobe announced that it would no longer be developing Flash for new mobile devices, and instead will focus on tooling for HTML5. The still-developing HTML5 standard will provide many of the same multimedia capabilities that Flash now offers, and won't require a separate plug-in.

Observers have speculated that Adobe's retreat from the mobile Flash platform represents the first step in deemphasizing Flash in favor of HTML5. Jack Gold, of analyst firm J.Gold Associates LLC., noted that Adobe faced a daunting task in maintaining Flash across an ever-increasing number of different platforms, as more non-Windows devices enter the marketplace. HTML5, in contrast, can work across all mobile browsers that support the standard, and will require no specific adjustments for each underlying hardware platform.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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