Adobe Goes Open Source With BlazeDS

Adobe Systems is planning to release the source code for the remoting and messaging technologies within its LiveCycle Data Services suite as a separately branded product called BlazeDS. A beta of the product is available now on the Adobe Labs developer portal.

"Essentially, we're taking a subset of the LiveCycle technology and making it and the related protocols available to the open source community," said Tom Barclay, Adobe's senior product marketing manager.

Adobe's LiveCycle (formerly Flex Data Services) is server-based software used by Flex developers to gain high-performance access to server-side business logic. Flex is the developer framework for Adobe's Dreamweaver authoring tools used to build Flash Web animations.

The LiveCycle remoting capability is designed to allow developers to natively access existing business logic in Java on the servers, without having to deal with any marshaling code. Data are transferred over the wire in a compressed, binary data format. It's known as the Action Message Format (AMF), a proprietary protocol originally created by Macromedia and acquired by Adobe when it bought that company. The AMF is supported in the Flash Player, Adobe's nearly universally implemented client runtime. The company published the AMF specification on the Adobe Labs site, along with the BlazeDS beta.

Underlying this remoting capability is a publish-and-subscribe messaging infrastructure. Among other things, the messaging code supports true data push. It allows applications to maintain a persistent connection between the client and the server and push events in real time without the need for client requests.

Together, these two components comprise the new BlazeDS product. BlazeDS (the DS stands for "data services") is designed to allow rich Internet application (RIA) developers to add data connectivity to their Flex and AIR apps. Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) is Adobe's cross-operating system runtime for building and deploying RIAs. BlazeDS will help developers to add real-time collaboration and true data-push capabilities to their applications, Barclay said.

"If you think about it, when you create a rich Internet application, part of the reason it's so rich is that you have a cache of data on the client," Barclay said. "It's data that the application can update, manipulate, change, filter and do interesting things with as though it were a desktop or client-server application. But you need to keep that data in sync with your back end."

As part of this announcement, Adobe is promoting the community edition of its LiveCycle Data Services suite. It's offering a subscription that includes access to trusted, certified builds, patches, as well as enterprise support. The express edition of LiveCycle Data Services comes bundled with Adobe's ColdFusion development environment.

BlazeDS will be licensed under the Lesser General Public License (LGPL) v3. Builds and licensing will be hosted by Adobe, the company says, and it will also provide "an open planning process that includes the publication of specifications for review and comment by the community." Adobe plans to encourage contribution to BlazeDS initially through the public bug database, which will include a place for feature requests and a community voting system. Eventually, the company expects to promote external contributors to "committer" status, which would allow them to contribute code to the source tree.

Adobe released its Flex framework as open source in April under the same license. New beta releases of Flex 3 and Adobe AIR are also now available on the Adobe Labs site.

BlazeDS is likely to go to general availability in early 2008 under the LGPL v3 license, Barclay said. That release will include the Tomcat server and sample code, he added.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].