Adobe Open-Sources Flash Platform Components

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-07-21

Adobe Open-Sources Flash Platform Components

Adobe Systems moved another step closer to open sourcing its Flash Platform. Or did it?

Critics of Adobe have long called for the company to open-source Flash. While that is unlikely to happen any time soon, Adobe announced two new Adobe Flash Platform-based open-source initiatives for developers, media companies and publishers on July 21, said Tom Barclay, senior product marketing manager for the Flash Platform at Adobe, in an interview with eWEEK.

Adobe takes pride in touting the "ubiquity" of the Flash Player. Barclay said Flash Player 10 is now on 87 percent of Internet-connected PCs, a feat that has taken only seven months since the company released the technology.

"We're seeing great traction," he said. "Flash is the No. 1 way to watch video on the Web. And we're opening up the platform to the community."

Indeed, the pressure mounts for Adobe to open up even more. The company's new moves to bring another layer of the Flash Platform out into the open indicate Adobe's willingness to engage the community. But how far will it go?

For his part, Barclay said one of the technologies Adobe is releasing to open source is the Open Source Media Framework (OSMF), which is part of the project previously code-named "Strobe." OSMF enables developers to quickly and easily build more robust, feature-rich media players optimized for the Adobe Flash Platform, he said. The other technology Adobe is open-sourcing is the Text Layout Framework (TLF), which helps developers bring a variety of typography capabilities to Web applications. Both OSMF and TLF are now freely available as open-source software.

"Adobe is committed to providing core Flash Platform technologies to the community as open source," said Dave McAllister, director of standards and open source at Adobe, in a statement. "By releasing OSMF and TLF as open source, we are helping facilitate the creation and sharing of best practices for media players and rich text-based Web application development. We believe these efforts will strengthen the industry and lead to the next generation of Web applications, content and video experiences."

The goal of the OSMF move is to establish an open industry standard for media player development, Barclay said. Among the key points for OSMF are:

??Ç         The flexible OSMF architecture enables developers to easily create unique playback experiences that can leverage plug-ins for advertising, reporting metrics and content delivery along with standard video player features such as playback controls, video navigation, buffering and Dynamic Streaming. OSMF provides standard functionality along with plug-ins from third parties so content providers have the flexibility to adapt monetization strategies to specific content and the needs of their audiences.

??Ç         OSMF includes an API for partners to build plug-ins for value-add services. OSMF will enable more innovation around media experiences on the Web by allowing partners to easily experiment with new services for content providers, which spans content delivery, presentation and monetization.

??Ç         OSMF source code and pluggable software components are available immediately under the Mozilla Public License and available at

Open Video Player Initiative


Barclay also said Akamai and Adobe are collaborating on the Open Video Player initiative, previously founded by Akamai, and the release of OSMF technologies. The goal is to ensure a consistent framework for media player development that enables developers, publishers, content owners, corporations and others to more quickly and easily build new video players that create and sustain profitable new business models, he said.

"Open Source Media Framework complements and solidifies Akamai's Open Video Player initiative," said Tim Napoleon, chief strategist of digital media at Akamai, in a statement. "OSMF leverages code from Akamai's Open Video Player and Adobe's expertise and resources to assist media companies and publishers in redefining the benchmarks for online video experiences that are powered by standards-based workflows."

Also, Barclay said TLF goes beyond what is possible for Web text layout using HTML and CSS technologies today, with support for complex languages, bidirectional text, multicolumns and other advanced typographical features and controls. TLF is an extensible ActionScript library built on top of the text engine in Adobe Flash Player 10 and Adobe AIR 1.5 software. Source code and component library for TLF are available as open source at no charge under the Mozilla Public License at

Barclay noted that TLF is used in The New York Times' TimesReader 2.0 and The Boston Globe's GlobeReader, and Presentations. In addition, Makebook uses TLF to deliver an online, creative authoring network that makes it easy for users to write, share work with family and friends and then publish online.

"APIs that are standard in the open-source Text Layout Framework from Adobe gave us a jumpstart as we leveraged the high-end components for," said Mark Stanley, founder of Makebook. "With TLF we can more easily provide our customers with quality typography features and the text layout control they require for their self-publishing projects."  

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