Adobe CTO on Open Source and Flash, EU and Web 3.0 and More [Best of September '08 #4]

Some interesting posts this week (September 22-29 2008):

  • eWeek has a long interview with Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch, covering areas such as the open source aspects of Flash, the competition Adobe Air is facing from Google Chrome, Gears and possibly from Microsoft and Silverlight, and a bit about new features of Creative Suite 4 (CS4). Josh Catone does a good job of covering the Adobe Air part and the competition from Google Gears and Silverlight. In conclusion Josh thinks that Microsoft might play an important part in the cloud computing/rich Internet application (RIA) arena, something that Adobe's Kevin Lynch doesn't fully recognize.

    On open source, Lynch points out how Abobe is gradually embracing the open source movement, and he gives several examples of Adobe's contribution to OSS:

    We already open source the core of Flash, the virtual machine, Tamarin. Ten years ago we published the format that Flash uses called SWF. And for a while that format had a license agreement around it where we asked that people not make their own Flash players. And the goal of that was to maintain consistency of the runtime. [...]
    we actually removed the license restriction this year from the SWF format. So anyone can go create anything they want around that format, including a player if they want to. [...]
    But we need to balance openness and consistency. So we're very open about what goes into Flash Player, the bugs in Flash Player, the code and scripting engine in Flash, the format with Flash, the protocols with Flash. 

    On completely opening up of the Flash player Lynch is more hesitant:

    [That] would be somewhat challenging in that there are some codices in Flash that we don't have the rights to all the source to. That's one challenge with that. The other is that I think in terms of what's best here for consistency of Flash on the Web, having multiple implementations and having forking and splintering of that code would be a big loss for the Web in terms of that consistency.

    Well, there might be some truth in that, but there for sure are a multitude of OSS projects that have managed to keep control of the core development, without sacrificing consistency.

    In August I wrote about new directions in the development of ECMAScript, which is the parent language of JavaScript, ActionScript and a few other languages. The ECMAScript Harmony agreement implied a step back for the group working with the more ambitious ECMAScript 4 specification, including Adobe. Kevin Lynch, however, did not express too much worry about this development, saying:

    I think the amount of innovation that we were trying to do with ECMAScript 4 perhaps was too big of a leap for some and they wanted to see a more collaborative approach on that. So the standards process is a collaborative one where there are lots of points of view. And we're happy to continue working in the process to advance ECMAScript. But we're hoping that innovation can happen faster and that we can raise the level of scripting on the Web. So we're going to continue innovating in Flash Player. We're not removing features that we've already deployed because people are relying on them and we think they're good. And we'll keep developing it further. And at the same time we'll keep working with the standards process.

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  • Microsoft is embracing jQuery, a popular open source JavaScript library, and intend to support it natively in Visual Studio alongside its own ASP.NET AJAX library.
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  • Watch out US, the European Union (EU) wants to take the lead in the development of the next generation of the Web, aka Web 3.0. EU Commissioner Viviane Reding says: 

    Web 3.0 means seamless 'anytime, anywhere' business, entertainment and social networking over fast reliable and secure networks. It means the end of the divide between mobile and fixed lines. It signals a tenfold quantum leap in the scale of the digital universe by 2015. Europe has the know-how and the network capacity to lead this transformation. We must make sure that Web 3.0 is made and used in Europe.

    For other definitions of Web 3.0, check out my review from April.
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  • Automattic, the parent company behind WordPress, acquires commenting system IntenseDebate, writes ReadWriteWeb, who also reviews Habari, a blogging platform and potential competitor to WordPress. Habari uses the Atom Syndication Format for feeds and the Atom Publishing Protocol for web site communication. It also builds on PHP, and makes use of PHP Data Objects (PDO) for database access, and it supports MySQL and other databases.
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  • Ringside Networks, offering a "Social Application Server", which I wrote about in March, is closing up shop. Bad luck and timing could be the reasons.
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  • Royal Pingdom has a list of ten less known operating systems. For example, MenuetOS is written entirely in assembly language and is designed to be lightweight and responsive, and it fits on a floppy disk (1.44 MB).
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