WEB 2.0 - Chizen: Adobe walks fine line with open source

Company CEO reveals it is involved in other open-source initiatives besides Mozilla

A day after Adobe Systems donated proprietary code for an open-source project, its Chief Executive Officer Bruce Chizen said the company is involved with other similar initiatives.

For example, Adobe is participating in the WebKit open-source browser project as well as other open-standard initiatives, Chizen said at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

Adobe has always believed in having an open architecture for its technologies, but as a software vendor it constantly struggles with finding the right balance between openness and commercial principles, he said. "It's a fine line," Chizen said.

On Tuesday, Adobe announced it would contribute source code to the Mozilla Foundation as the basis for a collaboration to establish a standard scripting language that developers can use to create interactive applications for Adobe's Flash Player and Mozilla's Firefox browser. Adobe's contribution is the largest made to the Mozilla Foundation since its inception, according to the organizations.

Adobe gave the source code from its ActionScript Virtual Machine, the scripting language engine in its Flash Player. With the source code, Mozilla will host a new open-source project called Tamarin whose ultimate goal is to give Web developers an open-source virtual machine for developing and deploying rich, interactive applications across Flash and Firefox.

Asked by conference moderator Tim O'Reilly about the topic of electronic books, Chizen told the audience that "we're almost there."

Although there was much talk about e-books several years ago, now is when the technology requirements are finally being met, he said. Namely, e-books must match the convenience of a printed book, such as the latter's portability, durability and readability, and this is on the horizon now, he said.

Meanwhile, Adobe's acquisition of Macromedia has gone very well and is having the desired effect of transforming Adobe from being "a peripheral player on the Web" into a protagonist by leveraging each other's products, Chizen said.

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