More thoughts on open source Flex and community

It’s been interesting reading reactions from folks like Ted Leung and Ryan Stewart on the Flex open source announcement. I imagine that more interesting discussions are going to happen as people slowly digest the news and start digging deeper into what this all means and how it will all work.

One of my concerns around open sourcing Flex is around how we stay disciplined about what goes into the framework. As it stands, it is quite difficult for the Flex engineers to balance between the things they would like to add to the framework versus practical considerations like download size and runtime performance. We are going to make sure we don’t get bogged down in feature-itis or “design by committee”.

One thing that I think could help is a clearly articulated philosophy about what Flex is, what Flex is not, and how it should evolve going forward. One community that has done a particularly good job at this is the microformats community. In many ways, the microformats movement grew up as a reaction to some of the more ambitious movements around adding semantics to the web. Because of this reactionary nature, the value of practical, small, incremental steps was greatly appreciated by everyone in that community.

As we open up Flex development to the world, my hope is that we can build a strong, core philosophy around Flex that is similarly grounded in keeping things practical, small, and focused.

2 Responses to “More thoughts on open source Flex and community”

  1. Tariq Ahmed

    Hi Sho!

    The community is giving a thunderous applause over this move. From a business perspective, I think it’s a smart move and along the lines of making the SDK free.

    The free SDK move eliminated price as a reason to not get into Flex. And going open source now eliminates the “I don’t like closed black box technologies” excuse.

    …yep… one day when our kids are grown up and we talk about how some people used “AJAX”, they’ll find it hard to believe anyone used such antiquated technologies. Well, it already is antiquated. HTML 4 was released in 1998, XHTML was a total flop, so AJAX developers pride themselves on squeezing out any extra juice out of an almost 10 year old platform? Good grief. I’d be nervous to peg my career on an aging platform…

  2. Max Pucher


    Flex is still fairly complex and needs a lot of coding to get a good interactive GUI out of it. Flex is built on functionality that Adobe bought some time ago and took years to make it work. Additionally does Adobe NOT understand the corporate market where such a functionality would be a really great asset. For some reason corporate users do not really care for OpenSource products and analysts who drive corporate thinking don’t like it either. So if anyone wants to be in the corporate market he can not be or use Open Source easily. I am not saying it is impossible, but more difficult otherwise we would do OpenSource only.

    Therefore I am not sure that the whole Flex functionality will really go into OpenSource.

    Given all that we developed a Flash Based GUI system that in terms of structure is similar to X11, a lot easier to use and is driven by a server side channel messaging system that does not require complex Java coding at the backend. It does require however either a repository to store the GUI definitions or XML files doing the same. There are some thoughts of OpenLaszlo in there that is a lot better than Flex in my mind anyway, but too slow. We also made it work in a special QT-based frontend so Flash is not a prerequisite for our corporate users who do not want Flash in their browsers.

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