Adobe Flex SDK Open Source

Adobe Flex is a software development kit (SDK) released by Adobe Systems for the development and deployment of cross-platform rich Internet applications based on the Adobe Flash platform. Flex applications can be written using Adobe Flash Builder or by using the freely available Flex compiler from Adobe.

The release in March 2004 by Macromedia included an SDK, an integrated development environment (IDE), and a Java EE integration application known as Flex Data Services. Since Adobe purchased Macromedia in 2005, subsequent releases of Flex no longer require a license for Flex Data Services, which has become a separate product rebranded as LiveCycle Data Services. An alternative to Adobe LiveCycle Data Services is BlazeDS, an open-source project that started with code contributed in 2007 by Adobe.

In February 2008, Adobe released the Flex 3 SDK under the open source Mozilla Public License and so Flex applications can be developed using any standard IDE, for example Eclipse.

On November 17th, 2011, Adobe officially open-sourced Flex and donated it to the Apache Software Foundation. This move comes after Adobe Product Managers announced that the company will be committing to HTML 5 and that they have submitted the code for its Flash-based Flex framework to the Apache Software Foundation. The news has stunned Flex Developers as they feel that Adobe is abandoning Flex and flash completely and it also hit hard companies that had invested millions of rands in flex in their company enterprise applications.

Adobe has assured its continued support for Flex along with its underlying flash technology. Adobe also suggested that web application developers in the future would be using HTML5 rather than Flash.

Now the question one would ask is, what does it mean when Flex SDK is now open source, let’s us explore the pros and cons of open source:


  • Open source is a good way for business to achieve greater penetration of the market
  • Companies that offer open source software are able to establish an industry standard and, thus, gain competitive advantage
  • It has also helped build developer loyalty as developers feel empowered and have a sense of ownership of the end product
  • Moreover less costs of marketing and logistical services are needed for OSS
  • The OSS development approach has helped produce reliable, high quality software quickly and inexpensively


  • In terms of security, open source may allow hackers to know about the weaknesses or loopholes of the software more easily than closed-source software
  • Free software can be developed in accord with purely technical requirements. It does not require thinking about commercial pressure that often degrades the quality of the software
  • It is also difficult to design a commercially sound business model around the open source paradigm
  • It is sometimes said that the open source development process may not be well defined and the stages in the development process, such as system testing and documentation may be ignored.


Adobe issued a statement to reassure Flex developers, it’s hard to miss the use of the past participle in reference to Flex, which doesn’t bode well for developers looking to the future. It’s also hard to miss the reiterated commitment to HTML5. “In time,” says Adobe, “we believe HTML5 could support the majority of use cases where Flex is used today.” The company puts the timeframe for most applications in the three- to five-year range. In other words, Adobe believes Flex is only a good bet for the immediate future, developers interested in building something with more long term viability would do well to consider the web and HTML5.

At JHNet we always strive ourselves on keeping up with new technology. We have found in the past that there is definitely a space for open source solutions but the clients must be made aware of the pros and cons of using a specific solution ahead of time.

Sometimes open source is a great choice but in a lot of instances we have seen clients come to us for a custom solution because a clients business and specific requirements are unique to their own entity and an out the box open source solution just won’t be able to get them the results that they need or require.

If you are evaluating an open source solution vs a custom developed requirement and would like some assistance, please feel free to contact us + 27 11 234 6165 or view more on our services.

Look out for new articles coming soon regarding HTML 5 – is it a perfect solution and silver bullet, as well as, Is there ever going to be Flash on mobiles – what does Adobe say.

Article is inspired by:

Adobe Puts Flex Out to Open Source Pasture by Scoot Gilbertson

Adobe Flex SDK bombshell STUNS developers by Tim Anderson

Category: Development
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