Open Source At Adobe

Very often I see an argument against Adobe technology claiming that Adobe isn’t “open” or is based on “closed” technology. This is far from the the truth, and I’d like to highlight some of Adobe’s involvement in open source initiatives and open standards.


First, let’s focus on Webkit, the open source web browser engine used in Chrome, Safari, iOS, BlackBerry, Android, and other systems… Adobe has contributed code for both CSS Shaders and CSS Regions to webkit (among others), and is taking steps to become a more active contributor to the webkit browser engine.

CSS Shaders

CSS Shaders will enable rich & high quality visual effects within HTML-based content. Check out the video below to get a better idea of what will be possible with CSS Shaders.

You can view the W3C spec for CSS Shaders at, and you can learn more about CSS Shaders from the Adobe Developer Connection at

CSS Regions

CSS Regions will enable rich, non-rectangular layout, with overflow between region containers. Imagine text wrapping area of an image (not based on the bounding rectangle), or text flowing between containers in a non-linear fashion. CSS Regions will enable significantly richer layout in content across the web. Check out the next video to see CSS Regions in action.

You can view the W3C spec for CSS Regions at, download CSS Regions code from Adobe Labs, or learn more about CSS Regions on the Adobe Developer Connection.


Next, let’s take a look at jQuery, the “JavaScript Library that simplifies HTML document traversing, event handling, animating, and Ajax interactions for rapid web development.” Adobe contributes to jQuery, jQuery Mobile, jQuery UI, and the jQuery/Themeroller tool for styling jQuery UI. Heck, Adobe even has a dedicated blog for jQuery, and jQuery is even utilized within the new Adobe Edge tool and jQuery support is built into Dreamweaver.

PhoneGap / Apache Callback

PhoneGap is “an HTML5 app platform that allows you to author native applications with web technologies and get access to APIs and app stores.” PhoneGap has always been open source. Adobe acquired Nitobi, the creators of PhoneGap, and with that acquisition the PhoneGap project was submitted to the Apache Software Foundation as Apache Callback.


The CQ content management system not only is built on top of open source software, but the development team also contributes back to open source in many projects, and is deeply involved with the Apache Software Foundation.

In addition to driving industry standards, Day Software has been a leading force in the open source community. Day Software’s Roy Fielding was co-founder of the Apache Software Foundation, author of the Apache Software license, and creator of the Apache web server.

Day’s R&D team are strong contributors to the open source world, with a development model based on building true open source communities around key technology advancements that originate in Day R&D through the sponsorship of new projects via the Apache Software Foundation.

Top-level projects such as Apache Jackrabbit (the reference implementation of the JSR-170 standard), Apache Sling (an industry-first REST-based web application development framework), and Apache Felix (an OSGi R4 Service Platform implementation) are examples of Day’s unique commitment to open source.

In total, Day Software contributes to over 12 Apache projects and 25 open source projects., an independent website that tracks open source contributions, shows that over 75% of Day engineers are active committers to open source projects, with over 75% of those engineers being ranked in the top 1% of open source developers worldwide.


Note: Day Software is part of Adobe

You can read more about the Day/Adobe open source projects at, however, here are a few worth taking note:

Apache Chemistry Apache Felix Apache HTTP Server
Apache Jackrabbit Apache Sling Apache Tika


Flex has been open source and available since version 3.0 (around 2009 I think). Recently, it was announced that Flex will be contributed towards an open source software foundation. This move will give the Flex framework direction and tooling to the community for further management and development. Be sure to read the official statement and FAQ for further detail.

As of November 2011, Adobe is in the process of preparing two proposals for incubating Flex SDK and BlazeDS at the Apache Software Foundation.

In addition to contributing the core Flex SDK (including automation and advanced data visualization components), Adobe also plans to donate the following:

  • Complete, but yet-to-be-released, Spark components, including ViewStack, Accordion, DateField, DateChooser and an enhanced DataGrid.
  • BlazeDS, the server-based Java remoting and web messaging technology that enables developers to easily connect to back-end distributed data and push data in real-time to Flex applications.
  • Falcon, the next-generation MXML and ActionScript compiler that is currently under development (this will be contributed when complete in 2012)
  • Falcon JS, an experimental cross-compiler from MXML and ActionScript to HTML and JavaScript.
  • Flex testing tools, as used previously by Adobe, so as to ensure successful continued development of Flex with high quality

Adobe will also have a team of Flex SDK engineers contributing to those new Apache projects as their full-time responsibility. Adobe has in-development work already started, including additional Spark-based components.

Open @ Adobe on SourceForge

Open @ Adobe is another collection of open source projects that are contributed by Adobe. This contains OSMF (Open Source Media Framework), FlexPMD (code coverage), CSS Regions, CSS Shaders, the Text Layout Framework (TLF), Flex Unit, and many others. Be sure to also check out the Open @ Adobe blog.

RIAForge is an open source online community sponsored by Adobe, and developed/maintained by fellow evangelist Raymond Camden. RIAForge hosts over 1225 active open source projects, with over 19 million project page views, and with each project you get a blog, issue tracker, subversion hosting, forums, and statistics.

Of course, don’t forget, where you can read about additional open source projects at Adobe.

This is not meant to be a definitive list, and it doesn’t even touch on the subject of open file formats or protocols.   If you didn’t already, be sure to check out the Open @ Adobe blog.


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