Saturday, December 15, 2007

Adobe to Open Source LiveCycle Data Services as BlazeDS

Adobe is announcing today the release of BlazeDS, an open source version of their server side remoting and messaging technologies that were previously only available in the LifeCycle Data Services ES package. Adobe is also publishing the Action Message Format (AMF) protocol specification.

Right now, the technologies included in BlazeDS are targeted at enterprises using Java via the LifeCycle product family. Adobe hopes that by opening the source code with BlazeDS and by publishing the AMF spec, developers will be able to use Adobe's remoting and messaging technologies with non-Java backends, such as PHP and Ruby.

"The combination of BlazeDS with Flex and AIR helps reduce the time it takes for developers to build responsive and highly innovative RIAs that deliver rich, dynamic, branded content and applications across all major browsers and operating systems," said David Mendels, senior vice president, Business Productivity Business Unit at Adobe in a press release. "Contributing these technologies, including the AMF specification, to the open source community opens them up for other non-Java backends, helping to rapidly advance this important RIA feature set."

I spoke with Christophe Coenraets, who is the product evangelist for Adobe's Business Productivity Business Unit, who told me that one of the main reasons to use Adobe's remoting and messaging technology is that it is much faster than traditional XML over HTTP or web services. According to internal Adobe benchmarks, data delivery using AMF is up to 10 times faster than traditional methods. Because XML is written so that it can be understood by humans, translating it back to machine code on the other end slows it down. AMF, on the other hand, uses a binary format, which makes it much faster.

Coenraets said that by open sourcing the BlazeDS technologies, not only will they be available to more Java developers, but also, Adobe hopes, they will be able to be used by developers working with other back end technologies. That, said Coenraets, is something that many of Adobe's enterprise customers have wanted: a larger pool of developers working with these technologies.

In fact, Adobe is already working with leaders in the open source community who have been attempting to bring Flash remoting to other programming languages, such as AMFPHP. "Working with Adobe, we can create a common programming model that enables RIA developers to extend the reach of their applications across different server technologies in a compatible and consistent approach," said Wade Arnold, from AMFPHP, expressing excitement at the opportunity to work directly with Adobe to bring AMF to PHP developers.

For businesses interested in BlazeDS but hesitant to adopt an unsupported technology, Adobe will offer the "Live Cycle Data Services Community Edition" which will package Adobe certified versions of BlazeDS with support from the company. No word yet on pricing.

Adobe is also releasing beta 3 versions of both Flex and AIR today -- two technologies that are designed to play nice with BlazeDS. A public beta of BlazeDS is available now on the Adobe Labs site, and a full release under the LGPL is expected in 2008.

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