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From Raju Bitter <rajubit...@googlemail.com>
Subject Re: [PROPOSAL] Flex for Apache Incubator
Date Tue, 20 Dec 2011 12:44:55 GMT
Thanks for the detailed answers, Alex.

2011/12/20 Alex Harui <aharui@adobe.com>:
> My responses inline.
>
>
> On 12/19/11 3:39 PM, "Raju Bitter" <rajubitter@googlemail.com> wrote:
>
>> 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).
> This proposal is about the Flex SDK, which is currently written in
> ActionScript 3.  It is my understanding that a future decision to move away
> from ActionScript 3 would be decided by those contributing to the project.
> I would not state it as a goal in this proposal as I don't think there is a
> good alternative at this time.
I was just wondering if Adobe already had plans for any change to the
language, since initially it looked like ActionScript 3 might be the
future JavaScript. And given the amount of work it would take on the
tooling side it's not something which could be easily done. But the
idea behind Tamarin, to bring native ActionScript 3/ECMAScript 4
support to the browser, wasn't a bad idea - at least in my eyes.

>> 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)?
> It is my understanding that it is up to those contributing to the project,
> but I expect there will be work done that explores migration strategies,
> including cross-compiling to other runtime environments.
Yes, that's definitely one of a future features of the project.

>> 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.
> The plan is to donate the Flex SDK to Apache, then start the process of
> donating other Flex-related projects.  Next will probably be BlazeDS.
> FalconJS is on the list.  Many people believe that the differences between
> ActionScript and JavaScript (AS has Dictionary and weak references and
> ByteArrays) will make the effort to cross-compile a given Flex app to JS
> either impossible, impractical, or non-performant.
Again, that's a good point. I'm not mainly thinking of cross-compiling
from Flex/MXML/AS3 to JavaScript. But there are applications and even
libraries written in ActionScript 3, which could be cross-compiled to
JavaScript. The typing of the AS3 language would be helpful when
building larger, more complex JS libraries.

>> 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.
> Yes, some other SDKs that are listed as External Dependencies are required
> to produce a running Flex application.
That's what I thought, thanks for the clarification.

>> 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)
> I would hesitate to make that a goal, even a long-term goal.  I would prefer
> to focus the project contributors on strategies I think will be more
> achievable, but it is my understanding that is up to the project once
> established.
I see this as a chance to extend the Flex developer base to developers
who have not been using ActionScript 3 or Flex until now. The number
of cross-compilers targeting JavaScript is long and growing. It's
something I'd be interested in working as part of an Apache Flex
project.
https://github.com/jashkenas/coffee-script/wiki/List-of-languages-that-compile-to-JS

>> 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.
> I'm unclear whether such goals are typically part of these proposals.  We've
> heard from the community that a migration strategy is important, but Adobe
> has no official recommendation on whether it is cross-compilation, or
> porting the code to JavaScript and other open standards, or something else
> and hope to create a project within Apache and use the "Apache Way" to
> decide.
The reason I mentioned this point is that many developers are not
aware of how much Adobe has been contributing to open source in the
past years. Not only the the core Adobe open source projects, but a
number of companies acquired by Adobe have very strong roots in the
open source (Day Software and Nitobi, for example). Flash as a runtime
doesn't have the best reputation in the open source world, and
shouldn't the support of open standards be in the interest of any ASF
project? In the end, the project members will have to decide into
which direction they are going to take Flex.

>> It's exciting to see Adobe's willingness to contribute Flex to the ASF.
>>
>> Raju Bitter
>> Software Architect & Open Source Evangelist
>>

- Raju

>>> 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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>>>
>>
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>
> --
> Alex Harui
> Flex SDK Team
> Adobe Systems, Inc.
> http://blogs.adobe.com/aharui
>

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