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.

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