Flex summit – updates on the open source strategy and runtimes

 
“Challenges that bring great opportunities” is how I’d summarize what I’ve seen of the Flex summit so far.

Adobe has invited some key Flex community members and enterprise partners to discuss the open source strategy around Flex and shed light on its commitment to the Flash Platform runtimes.

Here is some of the more interesting news that came out of the discussions:

 

  • Adobe has legal clearance to submit Flex to the Apache Software Foundation, the incubation proposal will be submitted in the coming weeks
  • Adobe will not be offering any commercial support contracts for Flex 4.6 and higher, though will honor existing contracts and continue offering support for the foreseeable future.
     
  • Flash Builder is continuing to be developed, the next version will not have Design View
     
  • Flash Catalyst is being discontinued
     
  • Adobe is investigating HTML5 but doesn’t have a framework in the pipeline that would allow migrating enterprise Flex functionality.
     
  • Danny Winokur acknowledges Adobe’s communication blunder and resulting trust deficit
     
  • Adobe wants to continue to innovate with the Flash Platform, gaming and premium video are features that will drive it – but will not be limited to just those areas.
     
  • There is a firm commitment to AIR on Android, iOS and BlackBerry PlayBook.
     
  • Discussion with Microsoft is ongoing about AIR application support in Windows 8 Metro.
     
  • Falcon compiler is under development, current timeline is early second half 2012 for AS3 support, late 2012 for MXML. Based on the discussions at the summit, there is a keen interest to get Falcon contributed as open source and have the community help work on it.
     
  • Falcon JS is a research project and Adobe seems very reluctant in making any promises that this will turn into a viable product to cross compile real world applications to HTML/CSS/SVG/JS.
     

If the news about Flex going open source came at any other time, I believe just about everyone in the community would be jumping for joy. The fact that it was announced in the wake of a general sense that Adobe is starting to abandon its Flash Platform technology is what made it problematic. That said, there are certainly valid concerns – especially for the enterprise market that makes huge long term investments and Adobe wil have a tough time reclaiming trust with them.

I was skeptical about what this summit was supposed to achieve but have to say the open discussion has been great and Adobe is clearly looking to find ways to recover from the horrible communication disaster of this last month.

I’d like to thank those attending, Mike Labriola and Leif Wells in particular for being so vocal in representing community frustrations and getting Adobe to acknowledge them.

There’s more news coming out today (here is a live stream and you can ask questions through twitter using the #flexsummit hashtag), I might follow up on developments in a later blog post. In the meanwhile there are recordings available that you can watch of yesterdays discussions.

 
Discussion, Q&A with Danny Winokur
Flash Platform and Flex updates
Falcon and Falcon JS

 

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18 thoughts on “Flex summit – updates on the open source strategy and runtimes

  1. Javier Corra says:

    I’ve seen some of the recorded live streams of the summit and came to the same conclusions as you.

    I was wondering.. if design view and Catalyst are being discontinued, how are we going to create skins for the spark components? Catalyst was a good idea but very badly implemented, that’s why I think it didn’t succeed, however, if they discontinue it I think that left a hole in the flex development flow.

  2. Javier Corra says:

    I’ve seen some of the recorded live streams of the summit and came to the same conclusions as you.

    I was wondering.. if design view and Catalyst are being discontinued, how are we going to create skins for the spark components? Catalyst was a good idea but very badly implemented, that’s why I think it didn’t succeed, however, if they discontinue it I think that left a hole in the flex development flow.

  3. Peter says:

    I remember that question came up (think its in the first recording) – have to go back to double check, but from what I remember – Flash Catalyst can be used up until Flex 4.6, you could technically initially set up your project for that version and tweak it manually to target a newer release version.

    Several of the Creative Suite products will likely have some form of export but didn’t hear any solid information on that. I do agree that this would need to be addressed as skinning can be a real pain.

  4. Peter says:

    I remember that question came up (think its in the first recording) – have to go back to double check, but from what I remember – Flash Catalyst can be used up until Flex 4.6, you could technically initially set up your project for that version and tweak it manually to target a newer release version.

    Several of the Creative Suite products will likely have some form of export but didn’t hear any solid information on that. I do agree that this would need to be addressed as skinning can be a real pain.

  5. andrei says:

    I don’t see Catalyst and Design View as a big lost. I almost never use Design view, while Catalyst, I’ve just used it to import vector graphics from Illustrator and optimize it as a component to import it in Flex.
    But I wonder, if Catalyst was a failure (basically was an application built for designers to create fast web applications, without writing code) how successful will be apps like Muse (http://muse.adobe.com/).
    Maybe Adobe should see the difference of impact between Flex and Catalyst, and invest more in Falcon JS or a tool that can compile OOP code in HTML&JS&CSS project.

  6. andrei says:

    I don’t see Catalyst and Design View as a big lost. I almost never use Design view, while Catalyst, I’ve just used it to import vector graphics from Illustrator and optimize it as a component to import it in Flex.
    But I wonder, if Catalyst was a failure (basically was an application built for designers to create fast web applications, without writing code) how successful will be apps like Muse (http://muse.adobe.com/).
    Maybe Adobe should see the difference of impact between Flex and Catalyst, and invest more in Falcon JS or a tool that can compile OOP code in HTML&JS&CSS project.

  7. Hi Peter! thank you for reporting what went on at the summit.
    as Javier I am a bit worried about dropping the designing tools “for devs” (design view and catalyst). the strength of adobe was all about the workflow integration: different specialized tools very integrated each other, removing one ring from the chain will break the whole chain.
    Removing a wysiwyg tool to create UIs will take devs OR to create their own tools (hopefully) OR to create crappy UIs (likely).
    Luckily flashers are known for their visual approach to anything and the strong community so I would expect to have tools coming up from the community soon (maybe a flashdevelop extension, maybe an air app).. it happened for the lack of UML tools, it may happen for a skinning tool.
    I would expect also other companies coming out with products filling the gap (fdt?).
    Anyway, I’m worried for adobe dropping things from a day to another without an evident defined strategy. Watching them
    – “releasing opensource” flex, discontinuing catalyst (a brand new product)
    – firing a lot of people each november
    – removing design tools from flashbuilder
    – saying “air is for any platform” and discontinuing it for linux and not having it working on win metro nor wp7
    – discontinuing flash player for mobile
    – saying they’re investing in html5 and not having a js framework in the plan nor any confidence in what falconjs will become
    …it’s a bit confusing right?

    I really hope apache foundation can mitigate this confusion and have a strong influence in what flex will become giving back to that product and to the whole platform the trust it needs and deserves for still being the best solution for a whole lot of projects.

    my 2 cents,
    ciao
    pigiuz

  8. Hi Peter! thank you for reporting what went on at the summit.
    as Javier I am a bit worried about dropping the designing tools “for devs” (design view and catalyst). the strength of adobe was all about the workflow integration: different specialized tools very integrated each other, removing one ring from the chain will break the whole chain.
    Removing a wysiwyg tool to create UIs will take devs OR to create their own tools (hopefully) OR to create crappy UIs (likely).
    Luckily flashers are known for their visual approach to anything and the strong community so I would expect to have tools coming up from the community soon (maybe a flashdevelop extension, maybe an air app).. it happened for the lack of UML tools, it may happen for a skinning tool.
    I would expect also other companies coming out with products filling the gap (fdt?).
    Anyway, I’m worried for adobe dropping things from a day to another without an evident defined strategy. Watching them
    – “releasing opensource” flex, discontinuing catalyst (a brand new product)
    – firing a lot of people each november
    – removing design tools from flashbuilder
    – saying “air is for any platform” and discontinuing it for linux and not having it working on win metro nor wp7
    – discontinuing flash player for mobile
    – saying they’re investing in html5 and not having a js framework in the plan nor any confidence in what falconjs will become
    …it’s a bit confusing right?

    I really hope apache foundation can mitigate this confusion and have a strong influence in what flex will become giving back to that product and to the whole platform the trust it needs and deserves for still being the best solution for a whole lot of projects.

    my 2 cents,
    ciao
    pigiuz

  9. Peter says:

    Hi Piguiz, workflow is definitely a good point to make and something Adobe should address it as part of Creative Suite and any future products, its probably also something that can get addressed in Apache Flex.

    Personally I have never been very convinced about the need for Catalyst as a separate product, would rather see the functionality integrated within Flash Builder.

    AIR for Linux is a shame though I do have good faith they are doing everything in their power to support as wide a range of mobile platforms as possible. Danny Winokur seemed relatively confident about AIR on Windows 8 Metro as a possibility and they are looking into what it would take to target WinRT.

    Flash Player for mobile is my main concern, admittedly that was a project that takes a huge amount of engineering to get it across all different devices – its not breaking any functionality at this time – but in a years time newer Flash features will no longer work on Android etc. At least its not breaking legacy web content as the Flash Player will remain available and patched on Android and BlackBerry PlayBook.

    I would like to clarify about the HTML5 comment – this is referencing a framework that would support MXML-like syntax. Think there are a lot of HTML5 initiatives going in within Adobe. They said they were open to the idea of supporting an initiative like that but its not something they are working on or would likely make into a commercial offering.

    Through getting Flex into the Apache Software Foundation as a community we’ll have more control over the direction it takes and help shape the technology. There have been a lot of mistakes this last month, but don’t think this is one of them – genuinely excited about the future of Flex.

  10. Peter says:

    Hi Piguiz, workflow is definitely a good point to make and something Adobe should address it as part of Creative Suite and any future products, its probably also something that can get addressed in Apache Flex.

    Personally I have never been very convinced about the need for Catalyst as a separate product, would rather see the functionality integrated within Flash Builder.

    AIR for Linux is a shame though I do have good faith they are doing everything in their power to support as wide a range of mobile platforms as possible. Danny Winokur seemed relatively confident about AIR on Windows 8 Metro as a possibility and they are looking into what it would take to target WinRT.

    Flash Player for mobile is my main concern, admittedly that was a project that takes a huge amount of engineering to get it across all different devices – its not breaking any functionality at this time – but in a years time newer Flash features will no longer work on Android etc. At least its not breaking legacy web content as the Flash Player will remain available and patched on Android and BlackBerry PlayBook.

    I would like to clarify about the HTML5 comment – this is referencing a framework that would support MXML-like syntax. Think there are a lot of HTML5 initiatives going in within Adobe. They said they were open to the idea of supporting an initiative like that but its not something they are working on or would likely make into a commercial offering.

    Through getting Flex into the Apache Software Foundation as a community we’ll have more control over the direction it takes and help shape the technology. There have been a lot of mistakes this last month, but don’t think this is one of them – genuinely excited about the future of Flex.

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