A Tale of Two Open Sourcings, Canonical and AdobeA Tale of Two Open Sourcings, Canonical and Adobe
Two announcements, both things offered as open source, have come from entirely different corners of the industry. In one corner is Canonical -- the Ubuntu folks. In the other is Adobe, a name not normally associated with open source, but there are signs they're working to change that.</p>
July 21, 2009
Two announcements, both things offered as open source, have come from entirely different corners of the industry. In one corner is Canonical -- the Ubuntu folks. In the other is Adobe, a name not normally associated with open source, but there are signs they're working to change that.
I'll start with the Adobe announcement first, since it's less immediately predictable.What they've done is offer two technologies from their fold as open source offerings -- the Open Source Media Framework (formerly known as "Strobe") and the Text Layout Framework, a Flex / Flash component for supporting extremely rich text editing and display.
I have the feeling the OSMF was open-sourced in response to the deadlock that took place earlier this month over the proposed codecs for the <video> tag in HTML 5. OSMF doesn't specify a codec, but rather an open framework inside which any number of Flash media players could be created. So in that sense it's not really a proper replacement for <video> or its current limitations, since it requires the presence of Flash -- itself proprietary -- on the client. It's apparently aimed more at the folks who create and serve content professionally -- i.e., many of Adobe's existing customers for their for-pay products. The Text Layout Framework has something of the same cachet -- it's a library that builds on the capacities in Flash.
Canonical, on the other hand, has open-sourced the technology used to drive their Launchpad software development and collaboration platform. Those inclined to use it as-is to organize their own projects can do so; those inclined to add to it can do so. It's a splendid project, and it's open from the backend (PostgreSQL) to the frontend. It's not something that relies on other closed elements to be truly useful.
I'll be blunt. Adobe's doing a good thing. But it's the sort of move that works best when it's within an ecosystem that's equally open. They're doing this to increase dependence on Flash as a whole, not reduce it. If Flash itself is ever opened up, that would change a great many things -- but my bets are not on that particular pony.
Postscript: And now Microsoft has a second open source release this week -- a Microsoft Live service extension for the open source online education framework Moodle. Again, it fits in with MS's general strategy: play as nice as possible with open source without changing their central mission.
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