Adobe has announced its intention move the Flex Software Development Kit (SDK) to an open source model. The SDK itself is designed to provide software programmers with a process and method for creating apps for the Flash runtime. Adobe openly states that its loyalties in this space will now shift to HTML5.
A statement on the Official Flex Team Blog clarifies the company's position. "We know Flex provides a unique set of benefits for enterprise application developers. We also know that the technology landscape for application development is rapidly changing and our customers want more direct control over the underlying technologies they use. Given this, we are planning to contribute the Flex SDK to an open source foundation in the same way we contributed PhoneGap to the Apache Foundation when we acquired Nitobi."
The question naturally arises as to exactly what Adobe "does" recommend developers use — i.e. should they opt for Flex or HTML5 for enterprise application development? The company's answer is a solid backing of HTML5 saying that it believes that this will be the "best technology for enterprise application development" going forward. Having said that, Adobe does state that it recognizes where Flex has clear benefits for large-scale client projects typically associated with desktop application profiles.
Many developers will naturally feel aggrieved by this news having spent some considerable months and (in many cases) years investing in Flex (and therefore Flash) in recent times. The company apologizes, saying that it recognizes that it could have handled the communication better. Adobe also promised to share regular updates over the coming weeks and months.
"Given our experiences innovating on Flex, we are extremely well positioned to positively contribute to the advancement of HTML5 development, starting with mobile applications. In fact, many of the engineers and product managers who worked on Flex SDK will be moving to work on our HTML efforts. We will continue making significant contributions to open web technologies like WebKit and jQuery, advance the development of PhoneGap, and create new tools that solve the challenges developers face when building applications with HTML5."
Industry chatter has suggested that perhaps Adobe thinks that Flash for mobile can make a resurgence if they open source Flex. A prudent observer would probably give the technology a 50:50 chance of long-term survival at this point. This tale could twist and ultimately end up as good news for Flex, or equally, it could just as easily be the end.