Welcome Apache Flex’s First Release!
After a long trip with lots of speed-bumps, the incubation team on the Apache Flex project has finally pushed out the door their first release! Known as Apache Flex 4.8.0-incubating, this version is extremely similar to Adobe’s last release, 4.6.0. The major difference is the licensing model, in which you, as an end user are now bound by Apache’s license rather than Adobe’s. This is good for you and the community — Apache’s license is much less restrictive and more geared towards the open-source community, while not restricting the use of the SDK (unlike some licensing models out there in the open-source world).
Before you begin downloading the SDK, make sure to read the README document available on the Apache Flex website. This outlines a few gotchas you will run into when first working with the SDK. A lot of these have to do with some components that Adobe was unable to donate to the project (so we had to put in place a few workarounds). A great blog post that details the steps to using this first release is at : http://lucamezzalira.com/2012/07/24/how-to-install-flex-4-8-0-sdk-in-flash-builder/
Finally, there has been a lot of talk about what to do next. Later in this newsletter we will present some findings of a recent survey that has been passed around the community. Expect a lot of the priorities noted in the survey to be picked up by Apache committers in the short term.
Apache Flex Highlights from July
Apache Flex Work:
- New components have been added to a new namespace, including :
- PostCode Validator
- PostCode Formatter
- The ApacheFlex Installer has made significant progress, and has been donated to Apache. It will be posted to the website as soon as it is out of ‘beta’.
- A lot of Mustella tests have been committed. More about this coming soon.
- Two new committers have been added to the team. Welcome Om and Peter to the project!
Falcon, Adobe’s new compiler is undergoing the legal audit necessary for it to be donated to Apache. This is a huge step forward and will give us a next generation compiler.
Adobe is continuing to donate additional tests as they get their legal clearing.
Expect to see Adobe start to work on legal clearance on Flex 3.6.0. This will make many enterprises happy since quite a few never invested the time or effort into the 4.x model.
Apache Flex Component Status:
|4.6 Automation Libraries||Available in 4.8.0|
|4.6 FABridge||Available in 4.8.0|
|4.6 Flash-Integration||Available in 4.8.0|
|4.6 Samples||Available in 4.8.0|
|MXML Compiler Source Code||Donated|
|4.6 embedded font support||Available in 4.8.0 but you must be willing to use Adobe jars with the Adobe license which isn’t compatible with the Apache license. Source won’t be donated – it is Adobe proprietary. Apache Flex will have to implement the support. The one part needed (CFF Embedding) is not too hard for us to re-write in Apache.
TLF Adobe – donation in the works – already thru Adobe legal and some signatures have already been gotten.
|4.6 ViewStack||Adobe – almost done with some testing completed|
|4.6 Accordion||Adobe – almost done with some testing completed|
|4.6 DataChooser||Adobe – work underway but fair amount remaining|
|4.6 Enhanced DataGrid||Adobe – several features completed and testing underway|
|4.6 DateField||Adobe – work hasn’t started yet|
|3.x Flex SDK||Adobe – will start this process as soon as Mustella gets in – will have to spend a fair amount of time cleaning before donation similar to 4.6|
|BlazeDS/BlazeDS.NET||Adobe – donation in progress – see Adobe forum|
|OSMF||OSMF is still being actively maintained and expanded by Adobe|
|FXG||Support is in the compiler, but there is no guarantee that Adobe apps will continue to export it.|
|Falcon||Adobe – Q4, working on this now (legal audit)|
|Falcon JS||Adobe – after Falcon|
|Squiggly||Not currently a priority (no demand) – see notes below|
|Gravity||Not currently a priority (no demand) – see notes below|
1) Gravity is the codename for the “ADEP Client Component Framework” which is an ActionScript library that takes the concepts of OSGi and applies them to ActionScript. It provides a module and/or plugin architecture in which individual pieces can be added and removed seamlessly. The Gravity SDK comes with the es-sdk package for Experience Services. The parts become much more independent of each other allowing easier integration of content from different teams or repurposing of existing content. It makes it easier to have a library of parts that are put together as needed for applications.”
2) Squiggly is an Action Script spell checking library for developers who work
in Adobe® Flash® Professional, Adobe Flex® Builder™, or other IDEs that
Community Objectives and Priorities for Apache Flex
A number of Flex developer user groups from around the world participated in an online survey in July 2012. Mostly, the survey was to raise awareness of the current state of Apache Flex Project, gather community opinion, and encourage participation and use of the technology. The survey was organized and executed by members of the ‘Open Spoon Foundation’ (www.spoon.as) and affiliates in support of the Apache Flex Project. The survey results can be used by people looking to contribute, but who aren’t sure where to begin, or promote features/bug fixes that would benefit end users the most.
The survey was a success because it started a discussion. It promoted interest in the Apache Flex SDK and project, and may encourage some to contribute code and “other stuff” to the project in the future. Apache projects do not have “development priorities” and the ‘Apache Way’ does not limit the discussion to the content of this or any other survey. Anyone who joins the Apache Flex project can file a JIRA issue and/or ask on the mailing lists about issues that they are concerned about and just start scratching their own itch. That being said, those new to the project and open source can use the results of the survey to get oriented on what people think is important and make informed decisions on where they would like to invest their time.
Link to the Survey:
For those who would like to participate in the survey or read it for context, it will be open until Aug 21st, 2012 and the survey link is here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TWTJ2VS
The survey asked developers about their development priorities for Apache Flex in 3 ways. The answers were totaled and weighted to evaluate Flex development priorities from three perspectives: commercially, personally, and willingness to volunteer.
After these totals were calculated from 450+ responses, the results were ranked from 1 to 18.
- 4.6 Enhanced DataGrid
- 4.6 ViewStack
- 4.6 DateField
- 4.6 DataChooser
- 4.6 embedded font support
- 4.6 Accordion
- Flex compiler source code
- 4.6 flash-integration
- 4.6 automation libraries
- 4.6 samples
- 3.x Flex SDK
- 4.6 fabridge
What surprises you about the rank of the answer totals?
Apache Flex Ecosystem
We have re-vamped and update the ecosystem page at spoon.as. The page now includes links to the Apache Flex User Group Page and features pages dedicated to different categories of 3rd party products. Since Flex first appeared in 2004 it has attracted a robust number of supporting 3rd party components, add-ons and tools:
- Component Libraries providing mapping, charting and visualization;
- Data Connectivity for .NET, Java, PHP, and Ruby back-end using AMF (fast binary protocol);
- Developer Productivity with IDE add-ons, code visualization and automated build support (Maven);
- Application Frameworks (micro-architectures) that not only help organize you applications in a consistent manner but provide patterns/benefits such as Model-View-Controller (MVC), dependency injection, event handling, and enhanced modularization;
- Integrated Development Environments (IDE), there are currently several IDEs that you can chose from depending on your preferences/background including Eclipse-based, Visual Studio-based, open source or proprietary;
- Cloud Platforms including popular Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and verticals (Financial PaaS).
- Security and Protection to safe guard your applications and IP;
- Testing support including code coverage, unit testing, mock testing, functional, load and performance;
- Web Analytics to monitor, visualize, analyze and optimize your Rich Internet applications.
Get on the List!
Current work in progress is a directory of training, consulting and development service providers is being added as part of the Apache Flex Steering Survey that is currently live and will be open until Aug 21st, 2012. Alternatively, email to email@example.com the following information: Company name, address (city, state, postal code, country), business phone number, website URL, business e-mail address, Twitter handle, and service name(s)/description(s) – a 3-5 sentence paragraph.
How can I help?
Join the Apache Flex mailing list
Have other community members do the same. Particiapte and lend your expertise where you can: http://incubator.apache.org/flex/mailing-lists.html
There are two mailing lists — one for people who want to help improve and contribute to the SDK (flex-dev) and one for people who make applications with the SDK (flex-users). At this time most of the discussion is happening in flex-dev, but we expect a lot more to be happening on flex-users soon