Is Adobe's open source strategy a commercial consulting trap?

Why doesn’t Adobe shout about its work in open source a little more? After all, the company has a dedicated open source portal and its Abobe Labs division is arguably one of the more publicly open R&D websites of any vendor.

Does the company think that it needs to concentrate on making money out of its (often reportedly price-hiked) Creative Suite for design and artwork professionals more than anything else?

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Does the company spend so much time pumping out marketing-fueled reminders that Flash is installed on 97.5 (or whatever it is) percent of the planet’s machines, that it forgets to tell us about the gems it is helping to polish in the free and open source software application development space?

For example – one of the latest out the SourceForge traps is Cairngorm, a lightweight micro-architecture for rich Internet applications built in Flex or AIR.

Adobe Altruism?

So is Abobe using these open source code dissemination techniques to genuinely “give back” to the community, or it simply “seeding” its software development methodologies more deeply and laying a child-snatching trap for programmers as a result?

After all, according to the company’s website, “Cairngorm exemplifies and encourages best-practices for RIA development advocated by Adobe Consulting, encourages best-practice leverage of the underlying Flex framework, while making it easier for medium to large teams of software engineers deliver medium to large scale, mission-critical rich Internet applications.”

That was best-practices advocated by Adobe Consulting in case you missed that.

A quick check on the Adobe Consulting website allows me to (and I think I am pretty sure about this) confirm that this is not in fact a registered charity and the division does indeed charge for its services.

Now I’m clearly playing devil’s advocate here and Adobe clearly does give back to the open source community at some levels. But you don’t have to scratch far under the surface veneer of terminology here to throw up a few questions. Let’s hope the company is championing for the greater good for all at some level.

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The Cairngorm effort is completely available under a recognized Open Source License, MIT/X. Adobe does use Cairngorn as part of our consulting best practices. The release under open source enables others to build to those same best practices, and extend them freely as needed. In fact, MIT/X was chosen for Cairngorn because it is possible to mix it into commercial code without risk to the own unique code. The frameworks are readily available to anyone who wants to use, modify, redistribute them under the license terms, from Open@Adobe (http://sourceforge.net/adobe).
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