Adobe Marks 25th Year with New Moves

The company open-sources the code to its messaging and remoting technology as BlazeDS underscores how far Adobe has come.

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Adobe Systems on Dec. 13 celebrated its 25th year in existence with an announcement that underscores how far the company has come.

Adobe, based in San Jose, Calif., celebrated its 25th anniversary by open-sourcing the source code to its messaging and remoting technology under a new open-source product named BlazeDS.

Adobe was founded in December 1982 by John Warnock and Charles Geschke, who formed the company after leaving the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center to develop and sell the PostScript page description language. By 1985, Apple licensed PostScript and the rest is history.

Also in the mid-1980s, Adobe entered the consumer software market with Adobe Illustrator, a vector-based drawing program. Meanwhile, in 1989, Adobe announced Photoshop, which became the company's flagship product.

In 1993, Adobe created the PDF file format for document exchange. Adobe Acrobat uses PDF as its native file format. Adobe released Acrobat Reader 1.0 in June 1993 for the Macintosh and later for DOS and Windows.

Adobe lacked its own desktop publishing program, but in 1994 the company acquired Aldus mostly for its PageMaker technology and added the then-called Adobe PageMaker and Adobe After Effects.


In December 2005, Adobe acquired its rival Macromedia for $3.4 billion and added Adobe ColdFusion, Adobe Contribute, Adobe Director, Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Fireworks, Adobe Flash, Macromedia FlashPaper, Adobe Flex, Macromedia FreeHand, Macromedia HomeSite, Macromedia JRun, and Macromedia Authorware to Adobe's production line.

In November 2007, Adobe announced that Bruce Chizen, who spent seven years as the company's CEO, was stepping down to be replaced by Shantanu Narayen, who had been the company's chief operating officer.

Michael Cote, an analyst with RedMonk, said: "Over 25 years Adobe has done a ton, of course. At the moment, we're all really focused on Adobe plus Macromedia, which is a relatively new thing. Overall, I'd say that Adobe contributions to print with PostScript and related technologies were huge. Then you had the Photoshop era, which continues strongly today.

Moreover, said Cote, "ColdFusion was huge in the Web app bubble heyday, and of course the mighty PDF can't be forgotten. In recent years, with the acquisition of Macromedia, the use of Flash and its descendants (Flex, AIR) has become an integral part of online culture."


Click here to read more about the future of Flash, Flex and AIR.

Mike Soucie, CEO of Electric Rain, a Boulder, Colo., ISV and Adobe partner, said, "Wow, Adobe is 25 years old. What a great story they've had, and it's not over yet."

Soucie said Adobe is one of those companies that had directly and indirectly "impacted on our digital lives through groundbreaking innovations like PostScript, PDF and Illustrator. Plus they have great business know-how to become a $2.5-billion-a-year company through smart acquisitions like Aldus in 1994 through to Macromedia in 2005. I would sum it up by saying Adobe has done with design software as Microsoft has done with office productivity software."

Moreover, Soucie said, "Ask any professional designer what tools they use, and undoubtedly they'll list Adobe products. If not, I would question whether they are real designers."

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And Adobe is not stopping with design tools either, Soucie said. "With its new AIR [Adobe Integrated Runtime] product Adobe is using the term 'platform,' which in the past has usually been reserved for companies like Microsoft and Apple."

Now, 25 years after its formation, Adobe has announced its BlazeDS open-source effort, with a public beta of the technology available.

"These are server technologies that run within a Java application server and allow you to connect a Flex application to existing Java server logic," said Phil Costa, director of product management at Adobe. "It allows people to build rich data collaboration applications."

The move will enable developers to connect to back-end distributed data, as well as push data in real time to Adobe Flex and Adobe AIR applications for more responsive RIA (rich Internet application) experiences, company officials said.

Adobe is making the server implementations of its messaging and remoting protocols available under the LGPL (Lesser GNU General Public License) 3 license.

"In addition, we're also creating a subscription offering around the product called LiveCycle Data Services Community Edition," Costa said.


Adobe LiveCycle Data Services Community Edition includes certified builds of BlazeDS, access to Adobe enterprise support resources and additional benefits, such as product warranty and infringement indemnity, and additional developer support, company officials said.

Adobe will still market the LiveCycle Data Services Enterprise Edition, which has more advanced capabilities such as client/server data synchronization, document generation and enterprise portal integration, Costa said.

Meanwhile, Adobe announced new beta versions of Adobe AIR, Adobe Flex Builder 3 and Adobe Flex 3.


The Adobe AIR bus rolls on. Click here to read more.

"From a developer's standpoint Adobe has once again lowered the barriers to adopting its technology," said Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst at Forrester. "In conjunction with work on Tamarin [an open-source virtual machine and just-in-time compiler for ESMAScript], AIR and the Flex SDK (software development kit) developers can go out and prototype cutting-edge applications with minimum investments in tooling and application platforms."

Meanwhile, "BlazeDS adds additional capabilities like data sync and push that will likely make Flex development that much more attractive to developers who might have been considering AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) frameworks because they could not get these capabilities out of the box with the basic Flex SDK," Hammond said.

Added Cote: "I actually think it's great that Adobe is open-sourcing parts of LiveCycle Data Services—formally known as Flex Data Services. I've been surprised by the Flex uptake by several old hands in Java-land recently."


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