What it means for Flex to become an Apache project

The vote on the Apache Flex incubator proposal has not yet started but should only be a matter of days away – currently a few additional candidate mentors for the project (Dave Fisher and Anne Kathrine Petter√łe) need to be elected to the Incubator Project Management Committee. Once that has happened it should be plain sailing to get it going.

With a bit of luck we will have the process wrapped up in the first week of 2012 – what better way to start the new year!

In the meanwhile, if you were anything like me and the Apache way of doing things isn’t quite obvious there are a couple of videos from the Flex Summit that are well worth watching. Roy Fielding – one of the original founding members of Apache, and well known for his work on HTTP and REST – who now works for Adobe explains the process, what it means for technology to become an Apache project and how you can make it thrive.

 
http://tv.adobe.com/embed/839/11798/

http://tv.adobe.com/embed/839/11799/

 
There’s also a great episode of “The Flex Podcast” you can listen to with Jon Campos, Michael Labriola, and Jesse Warden as guests talking about their take-aways from the Flex Summit and the future of the technology.

I’ve been running a poll on my blog for a little over a week now and am encouraged to see the sentiment around Apache Flex is largely positive and more of a “wait and see” than an immediate negative outlook on what is happening.

If you are active on Twitter you can follow @ApacheFlex (not sure who runs this account) which aggregates a lot of articles and tweets about Flex and the Apache Software Foundation or follow the discussion using the #ApacheFlex hashtag.

 
As you can see there are plenty of ways to keep up to date with what is happening and encourage everyone to do so and get involved in whatever way they can. Its important to realize that the community can now actively shape the future of Flex and it is an open process where contributions from anywhere are encouraged and on an equal footing.

Happy holidays to you all!

 

Update on the Apache Flex incubator proposal

The discussion about the Apache Flex proposal is now in full swing on the Apache Software Foundation Incubator mailinglist. I have to say its been great getting some outside perspective and it seems to generally be very positive and constructive.

If you haven’t followed along, here are some of the discussion points that got raised:

  • There was a point made about individual contributors versus company representation when the proposal talks about Adobe having minority representation. This was subsequently addressed in the wording of the proposal.

  • There is an interest in getting a list compiled of third party dependencies, their licenses and possible open source alternatives. Part of this will be addressed by Adobe lawyers and the findings will get shared as they become available.

  • The Flex trademark is planned to get donated to the project, there were some concerns about the request to let existing groups using this trademark continue to do so and how that would work under the general ASF trademark guidelines. This is something that would get addressed before the project can graduate from its incubator status.

  • Concerns about Flash Player and AIR runtime dependency and its proprietary nature. This has been largely addressed and the Apache Flex incubator would be free to decide how it proceeds with this and if it wants to target another export format. There is a keen interest in FalconJS and it was reiterated that there is every intention to propose this at some point as either a separate incubator or subproject.

  • There was a question about Adobe commercial Flex support. This could be partly driven by some poor wording in my reporting of the Flex Summit discussions. Alex Harui addressed this in saying “Adobe is not currently planning to offer support for Flex released from Apache, but that could change.”

 
Definitely some valid questions there and a good understanding of what the obstacles might be as well as clear opportunities. One of the quotes that stood out for me was by Greg Stein: “Let’s not strive for a perfect contribution from Adobe, and miss an opportunity for an excellent contribution.”. I agree there might be areas where we don’t have a 100% ideal situation but there is time and scope to get that addressed within the incubation period.

Bertrand Delacretaz – one of the project sponsors – issued a call for additional mentors (given the size of the codebase and large number of initial committers). These need to be existing Incubator PMC members and can register their interest on the mailinglist.

If I understand correctly how the whole process works, after the proposal is fine tuned and the discussion dies down a vote will be called on whether to admit Apache Flex as an incubator project. I look forward to seeing how this develops.
 

Upgrade your skills – video2brain can help!

Earlier this month video2brain released their new subscription plan that gets you access to no less than 139 courses (or 532 hours of video training) on a variety of topics. With the holidays coming up you might find you finally have a bit of time to work on your technology skills, so feel free to check it out.

A couple of training titles I can highly recommend:

 
These are just based on my own interests – there are courses on photography, audio/video editing, introductions to a wide range of different programming languages,…

They’ve got some very competitive introductory pricing going for either monthly or annual subscriptions and give you a three year price guarantee. The Standard option gives you unlimited access to all 139 courses, Gold lets you download all the project files and the Platinum option (annual subscription only) also lets you download the courses.

Can highly recommend you give it a try, normal pricing starts at $14.99 for a full month but as a video2brain author I’ve been given an affiliate link that gets you a nice additional discount.

Give it a go, I’m a fan of the people at video2brain – let me know what you think!
 

Apache Flex incubator proposal submitted

I’m happy to see things are moving along nicely – earlier today the Flex incubator proposal was submitted to the Apache Software Foundation.

http://wiki.apache.org/incubator/FlexProposal

There now is a discussion period followed by a vote on whether to accept the project. The voting procedure takes three days after which we will hopefully have some good news and initial source code can get committed.

If you want to follow along with the discussion, subscribe to the incubator mailinglist by sending an email to general-subscribe at incubator dot apache dot org.

 
Looking forward to seeing what the future brings!

 

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

 

"The Android Workshop" – introduction to native Android development

 
Last Thursday and Friday I attended “The Android Workshop” at TechHub in London, lead by none other than Richard Leggett.

I’ve experimented with native Android development before but was amazed at how many topics we managed to cover and in just a short period of time. It didn’t take long for me to start picking up some great new tips and tricks.

 


 
There were quite a few people with a Flash development background attending and Rich did a great job explaining Android concepts in reference to ActionScript and Flex. Its quite surprising to see how similar a lot of it is and that certainly helped get us up and running quickly.

The first day we covered a lot of theory and deconstructed various sample files, each explaining a particular topic or use of an API.

We talked about layouts, click handlers, using 9-patch images, resource handling, ViewAnimator with ViewFlipper and TextSwitcher, the intents mechanism, triggering multiple activities, using a Spinner widget and the ArrayAdapter, Toast messages, alert dialogs and status bar notifications.

The second day we did some more advanced styling, talked about threading (both low level as using AsyncTask), covered saving state of your application with SharedPreferences, learned how to work with SQLite databases as well as XML and code-based animation and working with sensors (compass and GPS).

After all that we still had half a day to work on a hands-on project. Most of us added additional features to a Pub Quiz starter project we were handed – adding score keeping, sound and vibrate functions, styling the app, adding animations,…

 
There is possibly an advanced workshop coming up next year, which I certainly hope to make it out for. If you get a chance to attend “The Android Workshop“, I can highly recommend it!

 

gotoAndSki("Switzerland") 2012 – Simple P2P for the common mortal

I’ve been meaning to attend gotoAndSki for several years now, but it never seemed to work out – until now. If you don’t know about this unique event you should definitely check it out! In summer it takes place in Norway, in winter in Switzerland.

This coming January 2012 I’ll join a fantastic lineup of speakers (Mario Klingemann, Mihai Corlan, Bhakti Pingale, Michael Plank, Steven Peeters, Dominic Graefen, Hugo Fernandes, Eugene Zatepyakin) in the beautiful town of Stechelberg. Its a relatively small scale conference, giving you excellent opportunity for networking and general “geeking out”.

During the day you can get out and see the Swiss Alps, ski or do other fun activities. The evening is conference time with several sessions over a period of three days.

 
My session is called “Simple P2P with Flash & Flex for the common mortal” and I’ll be showing the latest developments of the CocoonP2P framework. I’ll show how to set up device discovery, messaging, file sharing, video streaming (and hopefully some other cool surprises) between various devices *all without a server*.

The goal is to make it so easy your grandmother could do it – and I think we’ve pretty much accomplished that.

 
I hope to see you there, if you want to make it out – be sure to grab your ticket now – its without a doubt the best conference deal around (not to mention it includes accommodation and all your meals).