eBay, please allow open source in your Flash/Flex contest

Ebay Flex Contest

Doug McCune is reporting that there is a clause in the Widget Design Challenge 2008 contest being run by eBay that bars entrants from using open source libraries in their entries.

The actual clause follows:

Widget may not incorporate any open source code except for Adobe Flex under the MPL license

This is not good.

I cannot think of any project I've worked on in my career, going as far back as I can remember, that did not use open source code in some capacity. Heck, we owe "Web 2.0" and the web as we know it to open source (can you imagine Google being what it is today while running its huge server farms on Windows Server?) Open source is everywhere, both behind the scenes (powering operating systems, application servers, and databases) and in front (Wordpress, Papervision3D, MediaWiki, etc.) When I was still doing client work, I wouldn't take on any project with a "no open source" clause. Life's too short. And I have much better things to do than reinvent the wheel.

The Flash Platform is blessed when it comes to open source. You can find quite a comprehensive list of open source Flash projects on OSFlash. It makes no sense whatsoever to guarantee a reduction in the quality of entries by disallowing developers access to these amazing tools.

Doug sums up what developers will be missing out nicely in his post:

That means no 3D engines, no physics engines, no custom component libraries. If you wanted 3D you’d have to build your own custom 3D engine. Umm, no thanks. It’s funny because they make the explicit exception for the Flex framework, since if they didn’t do that you wouldn’t be able to make any Flex app at all.

I know this must just be a legal clause that slipped by the Flash team at eBay who are organizing the contest. Now that it has been unearthed, I have no doubt that eBay will swiftly rectify the situation and allow open source libraries and tools to be used in the contest.

As Spock would say, "it's only logical, captain." (Yeah, I gotta lay off the Star Trek books, I know!)