Has Adobe just killed SWX?

! Warning: this post hasn't been updated in over three years and so may contain out of date information.

adobe.pngAdobe today announced a new open source initiative called BlazeDS, which sees the previously proprietary AMF protocol file format made open source. Why is this a big deal? Well up until now, Flash-based RIA developers wanting to pass data between the client and a back-end server have had to choose between three unappealing technologies: XML/JSON, Adobe’s official remoting technologies and unofficial third party tools based on “hacking” Adobe file formats. The first suffers from serialization/ deserialization and verbose data format overheads. The second is just plain expensive (and only works with Java back-ends). The third is of dubious legality. BlazeDS changes all of that.

BlazeDS is based on the AMF file format used in Flash Remoting, and in the (until today) dubious legality of products like AMFPHP. With the release of BlazeDS and the transformation of AMF into an open file format, Adobe have made AMFPHP legal, which is superb news for RIA developers. Its worth thanking Microsoft here therefore. Why? Well ask yourself why, other than through a fear of Silverlight stealing the RIA market from Flash, would Adobe be given away a previously valuable asset?

And so back to the subject of this post. Has Adobe just killed SWX? Until today, SWX lacked (as far as I could tell) the ability to pass complex objects back and forth between server and client, but it more than made up for this by the server providing the data as native SWF files. However now that AMFPHP is fully legal and SWX remains in the legal grey zone, to me the choice between AMFPHP and SWX becomes a no-brainer. I can see no reason now to use SWX.

I invited Aral Balkan to respond to this post. He didn’t disappoint and provided a very detailed response on his blog.

6 thoughts on “Has Adobe just killed SWX?

  1. Hi David,
    SWF is really not a “closed proprietary format”. It’s rather a “published proprietary format”. It is open in the sense that anyone can create software that writes SWF files, but you are not allowed to make alternatives to the Flash Player. Some do exist, but these are what you refer to as “legal grey zone”.

    Creating SWF files has really never been a problem: http://www.flashmagazine.com/660.htm This article is from 2004 but I seem to remember that Macromedia have published the SWF spec since Flash 4 (1999/2000)? Getting to the spec used to require a license, but anyone applying will get that. It’s more a formality.

    J

  2. dubious legality …. care to quantify that some what miguided and sweeping statement David ?

  3. I certainly can qualify the “dubious legality” statement, though only with a degree of retraction 😉

    SWX relies on reverse engineering the SWF file format, as the SWF file format was only available to those that agreed to a license that forbade using it to generate SWFs on the fly. Now Aral’s argument is that by not referring to the specification and instead reverse engineering (or “observation for the purpose of interoperability” as he calls it) the SWF file format, then it is all legal. This is a highly dubious claim and not one I’d care to test in court with Adobe’s lawyers lined up against me!

    However this looks like it could be a moot point anyway. As Aral has pointed out, the latest SWF specification license has removed the restriction on generating SWFs on the fly and so it appears that my fears over its legality are without foundation.

  4. How did I miss this new!? Anyhow thanks for pointing it out, David. I am officially excited about this. The only thing stopping us using Flex in our next project were the insane cost of FDS and the lack of FlashPlayer 9 for Solaris. Well, Adobe have removed both those problems and we’re saved from going the JSP/JSF/AJAX route. Life is good…

    I’m guessing I might be the only person on the planet happy to see a Solaris version of FlashPlayer 9?

  5. Oh don’t know Laurence: I’m sure there must be at least two other people in the world that want to mix Solaris and Flash! 😉

    As to how you missed this news, the answer is obviously that you don’t subscribe to my blog… 😛

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