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From Raju Bitter <rajubit...@googlemail.com>
Subject Re: [PROPOSAL] Flex for Apache Incubator
Date Mon, 19 Dec 2011 23:39:56 GMT
Hi Alex,

the proposal looks very promising. I have a few questions around
ActionScript, runtime environments for compiled code, HTML5/JavaScript
cross-compilation support, and target runtime environments listed:

1) When you speak of ActionScript, is it planned to continue the
development of the ActionScript language as a standard separate from
future JavaScript standards? I know that ActionScript 3 is an
ECMAScript 4 dialect
(http://www-archive.mozilla.org/projects/tamarin/), but believe it
would make sense to set the goal to move away from ActionScript 3 in
favor of a future ECMAScript/JavaScript version (long term goal, of
course).

2) Flex for desktop / Flash Player
Since the current version of the compiler "only" compiles to
ActionScript bytecode, it effectively would mean that an Apache
Software Foundation project would generate output which - in a desktop
browser - can only be executed by the proprietary Adobe Flash Player.
Are there any other ASF projects targeting proprietary runtime
environments? Wouldn't it be desirable to support an open standards
based runtime environment as well (Falcon JS)?

3) Falcon JS: ActionScript 3 -> JavaScript 1.5 cross-compilation
I'm aware of the FalconJS research Adobe has started (an ActionScript
3 to JavaScript 1.5 cross-compiler, which can be integrated into the
next version of the Adobe/Apache Flex SDK). Supporting JavaScript
generation out of ActionScript (including CSS styling) could turn
Apache Flex into the perfect platform for smooth migration to HTML 5
applications in enterprises. FalconJS is not mentioned in the
proposal, but a blog post of the Adobe Flex Compiler team on Nov 19th
(http://blogs.adobe.com/flex/2011/11/your-questions-about-flex.html)
it has been said that Falcon JS would be contributed to the ASF as
well:

> In addition to contributing the core Flex SDK (including automation
> and advanced data visualization components), Adobe also plans to
> donate the following:
>   + Falcon, the next-generation MXML and ActionScript compiler that is
>      currently under development (this will be contributed when complete
>      in 2012)
>   + Falcon JS, an experimental cross-compiler from MXML and ActionScript
>      to HTML and JavaScript.

Is that still the plan, since Falcon JS is not mentioned in the
proposal? I can imagine that there would be a lot of interest in the
community to see Falcon JS contributed, even if the the product is not
feature complete.

4) iOS, Android, RIM, Windows & OS X support
In the proposal you state:
> Apache Flex allows developers to target a variety of platforms, initially
> Apple iOS, Google Android, RIM BlackBerry, Microsoft Windows, and
> Mac OS X with a single codebase.
My understanding of the proposal is, that you are only proposing to
contribute the Flex SDK, as opposed to the Flex SDK AND the Adobe AIR
SDK.
http://www.adobe.com/products/air.html
The Flex SDK alone doesn't enable developers to compile from
ActionScript 3 into iOS, Android, RIM, Windows and OS X. That means,
it would still require the proprietary AIR SDK to support all those
platforms. Therefore the proposal should mention that developers could
target a variety of additional platforms, if they choose to download
the Adobe AIR SDK and runtime. I understand that it might not be
possible to completely open source the AIR SDK, due to legal issues.

5) PhoneGap / Apache Callback proposal
Nitobi proposed to contribute PhoneGap to the ASF
(http://wiki.phonegap.com/w/page/46311152/apache-callback-proposal).
After that announcement, Nitobi has been acquired by Adobe.
If Falcon JS will be released, it would be possible to integrate
Falcon JS compilation with PhoneGap (HTML5/JavaScript based mobile
apps for a variety of platforms). Even if it is possible to compile
ActionScript 3 into iOS or Android applications (native), the
ActionScript 3 -> JavaScript -> PhoneGap approach would be equally
powerful, and could be completely supported with open source tools. Of
course, that would depend on the availability of the Falcon JS
cross-compilation feature.

7) Adobe Flash runtimes
http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplatformruntimes.html
The runtimes currently targeted by the Flex SDK (without Falcon JS) are
http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer.html
http://www.adobe.com/products/air.html
I would suggest to add the long-term goal of adding another
(non-proprietary) runtime to the Flex SDK (e.g. Falcon JS with the
cross-compiler)

8) Open standards support
The whole proposal does not mention open standards, JavaScript, or the
buzz word "HTML5". Again, it might make sense to make support of open
standards with Adobe Flex a high-level goal.

It's exciting to see Adobe's willingness to contribute Flex to the ASF.

Raju Bitter
Software Architect & Open Source Evangelist


> Hi everyone,
>
> I would like to propose Flex to be an Apache Incubator project.
>
> Here's a link to the proposal:
> http://wiki.apache.org/incubator/FlexProposal
>
> Thank you,
>
> Alex Harui
> Flex SDK Team
> Adobe Systems, Inc.
> http://blogs.adobe.com/aharui
>
>
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