Future Of Flash Is Open Source

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Adobe, recently announced moving their open-source development to Sourceforge. Looks like a desire to speed up their open-source development around the Flash platform. The new portal called Open@Adobe will hold Adobe’s open source projects in coming days.

We advocate the need of openness at Adobe especially for their Flash runtimes. Adobe has some great development tools like Flash Builder, Flash CS5 which target the runtimes – Flash Player and Adobe AIR. Although Adobe has a range of open-source projects they haven’t yet fully “opened” both the Flash runtimes.

Adobe has released SWF specifications till its version 10. And that kicked off some of open-source Flash player implementations like Lightspark and Gnash. The pace of development, however, is really very slow. Lightspark, which has just released its latest version few days back, looks promising with its OpenGL based rendering. Also there are implementations like Frash and Smokescreen that are attempting to run Flash content on unsupported devices like iPhones and iPads.

Last month Adobe also announced next release of open-source Flex SDK, code named Hero. Among others, the main targeted feature is the support for multi-screen development, which is in line with their ongoing open-screen initiative. However, the development is tightly coupled with the unreleased Flash runtimes, and hence builds would not be available to open-source community till the latest runtimes are officially released.

In my opinion, by making the runtime development open-source, Adobe can concentrate on development tools as well as can focus on drafting innovative features to be supported by runtimes. The open-source community on the other hand can try and tackle the ways to implement runtimes to be supported on various computing devices and architectures.

The eLearning developer community will anyways benefit from open-source developments around Flash. Traditionally eLearning courses are one of major consumers of Flash platform, mainly because of ubiquitous Flash runtimes. But the community has been in major chaos as Apple denied deploying apps developed using Flash IDE. The developers have been checking other ways to offer/deploy learning content on the devices not supporting Flash. I think that would change if Flash runtimes were open-source and available for such devices, at least partially implemented.

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