Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Open Source at Adobe?

The news is just in about Adobe being set to acquire Day Software (see also the FAQ). Assuming the deal goes through, it looks like I'll be working for Adobe by the end of this year. I'm an open source developer, so I'm looking forward to finding out how committed Adobe is in supporting the open development model we're using for many parts of Day products.

The first comments from Erik Larson, a senior director of product management and strategy at Adobe, seem promising and he also asked what the deal should mean for open source. This is my response from the perspective of the open source projects I'm involved in.

First and foremost I'm looking forward to continuing the open and standards-based development of our key technologies like Apache Jackrabbit and Apache Sling. There's no way we'd be able to maintain the current level of innovation and productivity in these key parts of our product infrastructure without our symbiotic relationship with the open source community.

Second, I'm hoping that our experience and involvement with open source projects will help Adobe better interact with the various open source efforts that leverage Adobe standards and technologies like XMP, PDF and Flash. The Apache Software Foundation is a home to a growing collection of digital media projects like PDFBox, FOP, Tika, Batik and Sanselan, all of which are in one way or another related to Adobe's business. For example as a committer and release manager of the Apache PDFBox project I'd much appreciate better access to Adobe's deep technical PDF know-how. Similarly, in Apache Tika we're considering using XMP as our metadata standard, and better access to and co-operation with the people behind Adobe's XMP toolkit SDK (see more below) would be highly valuable.

It would be great to see Adobe becoming more proactive in reaching out and supporting such grass-roots efforts that leverage their technologies. I've dealt with Adobe lawyers on such cases before with good results but it did take some time before I found the correct people to contact. Another area of improvement would be to make freely redistributable Adobe IP more easily accessible for external developers by pushing them out to central repositories like Maven Central, RubyGems or CPAN, for example like I did when making PDF core font information available on Maven Central.

Finally, it would be great to see Adobe going further in embracing an open development model for some of their codebases like the XMP toolkit SDK that they already release under open source licenses. I'd love to champion or mentor the effort, should Adobe be willing to bring the XMP toolkit to the Apache Incubator!


  1. [...] the acquisition doesn’t really mention open source (or Apache), so it was interesting to read Jukka Zitting’s take. Jukka is a committer on multiple Apache projects and is an Apache mentor and PMC chair for [...]

  2. [...] Open Source at Adobe by my colleague and fellow Apache Member Jukka Zitting. [...]

  3. [...] compliment each other, a good ComputerWorld overview article, or can read Bertrand’s or Jukka’s great community analysis, or just see Bertrand’s [...]

  4. Hi Jukka, thanks for your thoughtful response. The team you guys will be joining is definitely the right place to for your PDFBox work, and I've reached out to the XMP team in particular to get their thoughts on your posting. Looking forward to meeting you someday soon. - Erik

  5. Good to hear, thanks Erik! I'm looking forward to the acquisition being completed.

  6. Hi Jukka,

    I'm the engineering lead and main contact for XMP at Adobe. So far, the XMP technology has been made available under the BSD license while providing an open patent license on top of that to make sure XMP can be used freely.

    As you've pointed out, as part of our recent collaboration with SourceForge/Geeknet we have taken a step into the direction of engaging with the OpenSource community but I'm more than happy to learn from your experience to accelerate and optimize this effort.

    Talk to you soon!


  7. Hi Frank,

    Great to meet you! I saw the launch of the Adobe area on SourceForge earlier, nice work there! One note though; for example still reads more like a product description than a community site. I'd make links to latest sources, discussion forums and the issue tracker much more prominent.

    I'm looking forward to working with you and the rest of the XMP team later this year, and will probably in any case show up on already earlier to discuss our XMP needs in Apache Tika.


    Jukka Zitting