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Apache Flex gains Top Level Project status – but is it too late?

Chris Mayer
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After 14 months incubation, the Flash-based framework emerges from incubation at Apache. But has the world moved on?

Cross platform application framework Apache Flex has officially been promoted to Top-Level Project status at the Apache Software Foundation, 14 months after Adobe’s donation.

The ubiquitous Flash-based Flex framework, used to build rich Internet applications, emerged from the incubation process in December, signifying that it was ready to become an Apache project.

Adobe pushed the Flex SDK to Apache in November 2011, believing their future lay away from Flash and with HTML5 for application development.

“In the long-term, we believe HTML5 will be the best technology for enterprise application development,” Adobe stated in a blog post. “We also know that, currently, Flex has clear benefits for large-scale client projects typically associated with desktop application profiles.”

Despite this, Adobe didn’t abandon the project, continuing to ship updates and oversee the management of the Apache-governed project.

The announcement comes alongside the dual release of Apache Flex 4.9 and Apache Flex SDK Installer 2.0, consisting of an SDK, compiler and automated testing tools. Highlights of the latest version include the arrival of Java 7 support in compiling, as well as being able to work with Flash Player versions 10.2 through 11.5.

“The Apache Flex SDK Installer increases software developer productivity by reducing the amount of time spent configuring utilities and components needed to make the SDK work with an IDE,” said OmPrakash Muppirala, release manager for the Apache Flex SDK Installer.

Vice President of Apache Flex, Alex Harui believes that gaining TLP status “demonstrates Apache Flex’s commitment to ‘The Apache Way’” and its ability to self-govern. He also indicated that work has already begun on the next release, with plans “to include better support for Maven and better parity between mx and spark components.”

With the transition period over, the team behind Apache Flex can focus on getting a healthy community contributing code behind it. Their Apache top billing shows they’re committed to the cause, but with the enterprise world embracing HTML5 as the de facto choice application development, is it too late?

The late Steve Jobs’ thoughts on Adobe Flash in 2010 put the nail on the Flash coffin, saying that “new open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too).” With Adobe jumping ship over a year ago, the technology’s days are numbered with its relevance on the desktop only intact. For now.

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