The last few months have been a test of everyone’s patience. All of the components required to move the Apache Flex Project forward have been coming in small bite-size contributions. That is not to belittle how much has already been donated by Adobe — there have been significant legal and technical challenges needed to be overcome to get us where we are today. Let’s review what has happened in the donation process:
- Apache has received the entire Flex Framework. This includes all components that were completed in Adobe’s 4.6.0 release and a few others. Essentially if you take the existing compiler to the frameworks code, you would get what amounts to the current Adobe release.
- Apache has received the “mxmlc Flex Compiler”. This means we can now make changes to the existing compiler that shipped with Adobe’s 4.6.0. This will allow us to make bug-fixes and small optimizations while we wait for the new “Falcon” compiler.
- The testing framework that Adobe used known as Mustela has been donated. This will allow us to make changes to the compiler and framework while still maintaining compatibility with the previous versions. There are a series of tests that still need to be written, but at least the framework is there.
- The Apache Flex team has created a set of build scripts so that anybody can easily build their own copy of the framework. Apache ANT scripts will be officially supported, but other developers have offered to make build scripts for Maven.
- Pre-compiled builds have been created and posted. They are not the ‘official’ 4.8.0 version yet, but they are getting close. You can download them and put them in your Flash Builder or IntelliJ SDKs directory and see how they look with your existing projects today. They should be the same as the Adobe 4.6.0 release. http://people.apache.org/~cframpton/ApacheFlexRC/current/
- Apache committers have begun donating various components to the framework, including an FXGImage component, some collections classes, some major work around validation, busy indicators for non-mobile components, and some navigators. These components have not been integrated into the trunk (the main project), but you should expect to see some of them in the future.
- Lots of work is happening around localization and internationalization. A bunch of new locales have been submitted with more on the way.
- A team has formed to build what amounts to an automated installer for Apache Flex SDK. This is an AIR application that will allow a user to do a single-click install of the SDK, and integrate it into Flash Builder 4.6.0 (and possibly other IDEs).
We are getting closer to having a release we can call our own. There are still a few components that are needed from Adobe, but we should see those soon. Once we have those last items you can expect Apache to release Apache Flex 4.8.0, which will be a release that will have feature-parity with the Adobe Flex 4.6.0 release. The only major difference between our release and Adobe’s is that we will not be supporting cached RSLs (Runtime Shared Libraries).
What you can do to help today:
- We need additional people to help with our localization project. If you speak a foreign language, or can help with this effort in any way, we would appreciate it. This is really simple to do — check out the en_US folder on the SVN for an example of what it takes to localize the Flex SDK for another language or country.
- We need help with documentation! We need people to help write tutorials, how-to documents and more to help spread the word on how to work with our new SDK.
- Start submitting bugs as you find them into the Apache Flex JIRA system. While we don’t have the JIRA bugbase completely imported from Adobe, if you find a bug or would like to make an enhancement request, please report it so we can make sure to fix it. As always, voting on bugs/requests are great indicators as to where we want to focus our future efforts.
Get Involved Now
If you are a developer the best way to get involved is to sign up for the (very) active ‘dev-list’. This is the single spot on the web that all the discussion and planning around Apache Flex takes place. On the dev-list you can communicate with other active developers on the Flex SDK, contribute your own thoughts, and join forces with developers to create code that the entire community can enjoy.
Signing up for the dev-list is as easy as sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like additional information on mailing lists you can check out the following link to see all the possible lists that you can signup for: http://incubator.apache.org/flex/mailing-lists.html
If you are a ‘decision maker’ and the developer’s list isn’t for you simply add email@example.com to your contact list to ensure you’ll receive monthly updates via this newsletter. As time goes on make sure to remind your developers to stay active with the dev-list and encourage the growing open-source community by making sure to contribute code back to the Apache Flex project. Together we are so much more than the sum of our parts.
March Towards Release
Apache Flex has made numerous strides towards its first official (parity) release and graduating from its podling status to that of an official Apache Project. Just for starters: We have the code! Huzzah! We have the history! Huzzah! We can build the SDK! HUZZAH! We’ve got the Mustella tests AND they run! Huzzah! Our CI server is up and running AND Carol Frampton has begun the work to prep a release candidate! With all that said, there are some remaining legal/policy issues that will likely block our initial RCs from being viewed as official until they are resolved and those are actively being worked on.