Adobe Systems announced last night that they will be open sourcing their Adobe Flex framework so developers can access their source code to enhance its ability to create Rich Internet applications. The Flex SDK and docs will be available through the Mozilla Public License. Adobe Flex, initially released in 2004 by Macromedia, and available since 2006 as a free SDK from Adobe, is a set of technologies to support the development of RIAs, web apps with the features and functionality that mimic traditional desktop applications.

By open sourcing the technology, Adobe is realizing the potential of embracing the developer community. By providing open tools they are helping to foster a developer environment that can result in the creation of cool features and functionality and further developer the framework to suit developer needs. Other open source projects from Adobe include the contribution of source code for ActionScript Virtual Machine to the Mozilla Foundation and the open source WebKit engine in the Apollo project.

"The definition and evolution of Flex has been influenced by our incredibly talented developer community from day one," said David Mendels, senior vice president, Enterprise and Developer Business Unit at Adobe in a press release. "The decision to open source Flex was a completely natural next step. I am incredibly excited to deeply collaborate with the developer community on Flex, and further fuel its momentum and innovation."

With their latest open source release, developers are able to download and contribute to source code for the Flex compiler, components, and application framework. What is not included in the release is Flex Builder and Flex Data Services. Flash itself will also remain closed. Because some companies may not want to use the open source framework, Adobe still offers its commercial licenses with variable terms. I suspect that not many will opt for the paid license route, however. Adobe Systems has set up internal processes to ensure that security and stability remain core elements of Flex, knowing that any security breaches could be disastrous.

In the end, what this means that Adobe is further feeding the Apollo ecosystem to support applications and developers in creating and deploying Rich Internet apps that will benefit the end user. They have a $100 million venture arm to support the development of Apollo applications and with the Adobe Media Player. Going open source is a way to galvanize support within the developer community, though it remains to be seen what kind of uptake and flexibility it will actually provide. Adobe is certainly going "all in" with its software. Often times, big corporations will aim to emulate the openness and idealism of the new Internet economy, but fall short in the execution.

In terms of a timeline for its release, Adobe projects a pre-released version of their Flex product "Moxie," posting daily software builds of the Flex SDK for public download and we should expect the full open source Flex to be released during the second half of this year. The source code for the framework itself is already available in the Flex 2.0 SDK.