I’m often asked, “Why would a long-time open source com­mu­nity mem­ber join a pro­pri­etary soft­ware com­pany like Adobe?”

When peo­ple think about Adobe, they often think about our great soft­ware prod­ucts, such as the Cre­ative Suite, Acro­bat, or Pho­to­shop. More recently peo­ple think about Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud, which pro­vides a com­plete set of ana­lyt­ics, social, adver­tis­ing, tar­get­ing and web expe­ri­ence man­age­ment solu­tions for dig­i­tal marketers.

When peo­ple think about Adobe, they prob­a­bly don’t think about Open Source or Open Stan­dards. But maybe they should!

Here are some things I found out about Adobe and open­ness before joining:

Adobe is on GitHub and Source­Forge, with projects includ­ing an edi­tor, fonts, and con­tri­bu­tions to WebKit.
Adobe has an Open @ Adobe blog and Twit­ter account, car­ry­ing on the con­ver­sa­tion about Open Source and Open Stan­dards for the last cou­ple of years.
Adobe host forums for dis­cus­sion around Open Source.
You can find a sum­mary of many of these open source efforts on the Adobe web­site, with more details at the Adobe Devel­oper Con­nec­tion. Adobe employ­ees con­tribute to a wide range of open source projects, and Adobe hires more Apache Soft­ware Foun­da­tion mem­bers than just about any other com­pany.
Adobe also con­tribute to web stan­dards, and has a whole suite of tools aimed at mak­ing it eas­ier for peo­ple to build a beau­ti­ful, mod­ern web. Adobe actively encour­ages con­tri­bu­tions to many related projects.
Adobe’s broader engage­ments with open stan­dards are detailed on the stan­dards blog, where for the last year the con­ver­sa­tion has spanned a wide range of top­ics.
Adobe also spon­sors a num­ber of events in both open source and stan­dards. Most recently, the Open Source Think Tank 2013 and Eclipsecon, and the Open Futures Meetup at SXSW with W3C and IEEE.

Now that I’ve joined, I’ve been able to see the true depth of Open Source use. Just focus­ing on Adobe Expe­ri­ence Man­ager (AEM) and tak­ing a quick look at its architecture:

At its core, AEM is built upon a con­tent repos­i­tory. The con­tent repos­i­tory stores files in the tar for­mat (IEEE stan­dards POSIX.1–1988 and POSIX.1–2001), on top of which is the con­tent repos­i­tory API for Java (JCR; stan­dards JSR-170 and JSR-283, both led by Adobe’s VP of Enter­prise Tech­nol­ogy, David Nüescheler).
AEM has a mod­u­lar archi­tec­ture based around the OSGi spec­i­fi­ca­tion, and so Apache Felix is used to pro­vide the plug­gable frame­work.
The web frame­work and REST­ful archi­tec­ture are deliv­ered by Apache Sling, which lever­ages the under­ly­ing JCR imple­men­ta­tion to store and man­age con­tent.
Pin­ning all of this together is a huge list of open source depen­den­cies, man­aged using Apache Maven.

It’s great to see such a wide range of open source soft­ware used in the AEM solu­tion, but more impor­tantly each of these open source projects (and many more) reg­u­larly see active engage­ment and con­tri­bu­tions from Adobe developers.

Adobe is not just pas­sively ben­e­fit­ing from all this code: Adobe devel­op­ers are in fact fre­quently work­ing within open source com­mu­ni­ties cre­at­ing and dri­ving these projects for­ward, hand-in-hand with defin­ing and devel­op­ing the open stan­dards and spec­i­fi­ca­tions that they implement.

There’s a say­ing, often ascribed to Sir Isaac New­ton: “If I have seen fur­ther it is by stand­ing on the shoul­ders of giants”. It is fre­quently used in ref­er­ence to open source soft­ware, to describe the rapid advances that can be made by lever­ag­ing the soft­ware com­mons rather than rein­vent­ing the wheel.

It’s great to see how Adobe has pulled together best-of-breed open source projects to build Expe­ri­ence Man­ager, a pow­er­ful web expe­ri­ence man­age­ment solu­tion that imple­ments (and some­times defines) web stan­dards. I’m look­ing for­ward to play­ing a part in evolv­ing web expe­ri­ence man­age­ment, and to see­ing the asso­ci­ated inno­va­tions and spec­i­fi­ca­tions becom­ing part of future suc­cess­ful open source projects.

Fore more on Adobe and open­ness, see http://​www​.adobe​.com/​o​pen.

Andrew is a Senior Tech­ni­cal Prod­uct Mar­ket­ing Man­ager for Adobe Expe­ri­ence Man­ager at Adobe. Prior to Adobe, Andrew spent sev­eral years work­ing in a mobile con­sor­tium build­ing mobile plat­forms, and also worked exten­sively in sys­tems inte­gra­tion where he deliv­ered a wide range of enter­prise con­tent man­age­ment solu­tions. At Adobe, he pro­vides a bridge between engi­neer­ing and the wider world, ensur­ing every­one knows about the great new fea­tures and func­tion­al­ity that are being built, and how best to use them, with a mobile focus. Andrew is pas­sion­ate about open devel­op­ment, is active in a num­ber of open source com­mu­ni­ties, and is also an Apache Soft­ware Foun­da­tion Member.