Great news: Adobe Open Sources Flex

I had a lovely surprise when woke up a few moments ago and read the OSFlash mailing list this morning: There was an email from Mike Chambers announcing that Adobe intends to release Flex as open source under the MPL license. This follows hot on the heals of Adobe releasing the the ActionScript Virtual Machine to the Mozilla Foundation under the Tamarin project.

What a great move! I love you guys!

This is exactly the right move Adobe needed to make to compete with Microsoft and guarantee the longevity of the platform and a healthy future for Flash/Flex developers. I want to thank Adobe for looking past immediate-term profit and having the foresight to make such an intelligent, long-term decision. It's not always easy when you have shareholders to appease with quarter-on-quarter growth figures.

Adobe has a press release and FAQ regarding the announcement that detail Adobe's intentions, including which parts of Flex will be open sourced. Currently, Adobe will be releasing as open source, "all of the components of the Flex SDK needed to create Flex applications, including the Java source code for the ActionScript and MXML compilers, the ActionScript debugger, and the ActionScript libraries that make up the core Flex framework."

As a potential limitation, the FAQ does state that "due to restrictions on some components that have been licensed from third parties or come from other Adobe products, some portions of the current free Flex 2 SDK may be made available in binary form only."

Flex Builder will not be released as open source. (And that's all right -- it's the SDK and compilers that are important.) According to Matt Chotin from Adobe, the source for Flex Charts will also remain closed (although you do receive the source if you purchase it.)

So when will Flex be open sourced? According to the press release:

Starting this summer with the pre-release versions of the next release of the Flex product line, code named “Moxie,” Adobe will post daily software builds of the Flex SDK on a public download site with a public bug database. The release of open source Flex under the MPL will occur in conjunction with the final release of Moxie, currently scheduled for the second half of 2007.

Matt Chotin also confirmed, in response to a question by Robin Hilliard, that it is their intention to start releasing daily builds from June and that SVN access will probably not be available until December, or "before the release of Flex 3".

If you want to learn more and get involved, take a look at Adobe's Flex Open Source Google Talk group.