There’s been a lot of fuzz lately in the Flex community around the way the Flex SDK Open Source efforts are handled by Adobe. And let’s just say things have gotten a little messy around here. It’s funny because I’ve just watched the last episode of Battlestar Galactica, and without any spoiler, let’s just say that people tend to get things wrong when it comes to rebellion.

I mean, sure, everything is not perfect. Especially, Adobe doesn’t seem to be listening to votes on as much as I hoped. But when I read things like “the war of open sourcing the Flex framework”! I mean… come on, guys!

When Simeon Bateman started to take matters into his own hands and talked about forking the Flex SDK, I already thought he was going too far because I think Adobe is really trying here, and I respect their effort considering what’s at stake and the size of the boat they’re steering. And what surprised me even more is that Adobe actually responded to the feedback from the community by organizing a big open live discussion with the whole community. And then they even got way further by opening up their Open Iteration Kick-Off meeting. Hey, that’s an amazing effort! Can you imagine what it takes in a big “old school” company like Adobe to do that.

But as in every rebellion, it seems that people can’t seem to be satisfied now. They’re forming committees, gathering grievances, it looks more and more like a French revolution to me. And let’s just say that’s part of the reasons I don’t particularly like the country where I was born. But that’s another topic.

The problem with that kind of mutiny is that you always end up with self-proclaimed representatives who are honestly convinced they’re speaking up for the greater good, but they always forget about crowd control, about how people can forget everything about reason and lucidity when you inject in them the “it’s unfair” feeling.

I say thank you Adobe for Open Sourcing the Flex SDK. I say, let’s not forget that you were not forced to do so, that you could have kept it free as in “free beer”, as it was with Flex 2. I say, let’s not forget that Open Source licenses still guarantee intellectual property and ownership to the people who actually created all this code for us. And I say yes, they made the decision to move to Open Source and they should take the good side as well as the responsibility side of it, and really involve the community. But I don’t think that threatening them to fork, or getting into a war with them is going to make things any better… unless your only goal is to cover your butt for your ultimate purpose to actually fork it.

I think we should all calm down here, take a deep breath, show some acknowledgement of the efforts they’ve made so far, and insist on the fact that the community is here to help and work WITH them, and not to undermine their efforts, “start working on Flex 5 as a community now and let them join us when they are ready”. Uservoice, committees, those can be good ideas, but we have to show some good will and honesty here, because nothing is owed to us and because it’s not in our best interest to get people nervous and vindictive now.


Jeffry Houser · February 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm

I Tend to agree to an extent.

I think it is great that people are getting together and discussing ideas and giving suggestions to Adobe in an organized manner.

However, the claim that a closed group of self-appointed people are community leaders makes me a bit uncomfortable.

I should post this on Simeon’s blog.

John Wilker · February 12, 2009 at 5:43 pm

“I say thank you Adobe for Open Sourcing the Flex SDK” I’m curious what you’re thankful for?

until recently they seemed to not listen to community feedback, letting the community talk, but not seeming to actually care or change their plans. You say yourself, they don’t heed the voting of bugs in the bug base.

So I’m curious why thanks? Other than letting Flex Devs crow about working on an Open Source platform now, what’s been the net benefit of Flex going Open Source?

Sébastien · February 12, 2009 at 8:26 pm

The main benefit I see is that it was an important first step before something bigger. We can’t possibly expect such a cultural change on their side over night. Remember, Flex 1 was a pure commercial product (and very expensive). Flex 2 was just free and by lowering the barrier to entry, it extended the size of the user community. Adobe then hired evangelists to talk about Flex and allow the feedback to flow up from the community to the SDK team, especially after the Open Sourcing of Flex 3. Now Flex 4 is the first version that will integrate the feedback at some point. Now the proportion might not be enough for everybody, but it’s not a reason to forget about the inertia of Adobe’s big boat.

I’m glad all the recent fuss pushed them forward to accelerate this community involvement, I’m just afraid they could stop it all if the community becomes too vindictive.

I thank them because Open Source comes with important guarantees: easy support, extensibility, fast evolution, a bigger community of developers to talk to and learn from.

Tom Chiverton · February 16, 2009 at 10:46 am

Not really, I just want to make sure neither Adobe or users of the Flex SDK are surprised by decisions again (like what happened with the ‘fx prefix’ things).

“forget about crowd control,”
We’ll be trying not to, of course, and anyone who feels we’re not representing things correctly is welcome to drop me a line.

Tom, Community Committee member

Sébastien · February 16, 2009 at 11:03 am

@Tom Chiverton
I’m glad Adobe accepted to remove Fx prefixes, and I didn’t even expect them to do so. Obviously it goes a long way in making people happy (judging by the comments on Matt Chotin’s post).

And it makes it even more obvious that Open Sourcing is not just a marketing thing for them. As Matt says, the whole team had a thick skin in the past few weeks.

Now I just hope that those big changes will not delay the release of Flex 4 too much.

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