Does Adobe Still Need to Wake Up to Open Source?

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 02, 2011

Without a doubt, Adobe knows a thing or two about how to get critical software onto everyone's devices. Most of the video on the web is Flash-based, PDF documents are so ubiquitous that many people still refer to them as "Adobe" files in the same way they refer to "Xeroxing" as copying, and Adobe even draws criticism for how its applications regularly nag users to upgrade and sometimes even install unwanted software. But Adobe is attracting criticism for its lack of engagement with the open source community, a problem that may come home to roost for the company.

The Var Guy has gone so far as to write an open letter to Adobe, where he says:

"The HTML5 video tag and other technological changes mean that Flash, though still widely popular, is no longer the only option for embedding videos in Web pages, and there are plenty of alternatives to Adobe Reader out there, many of them free and much lighter on system resources than Adobe’s offering...Despite these challenges to its market share, Adobe continues to exhibit little interest in engaging partners or users within the open source channel, which it has traditionally neglected."

The open letter makes a number of very good points, although the availability of alternatives to Adobe's leading applications doesn't mean that everyone will adopt alternatives. Part of the reason Flash is so ubiquitous online is simply because it is ubiquitous online. It's supported by every application you would expect to support it, and supported in standardized, compatible ways.

Linux users, of course, have long criticized Adobe for ignoring the platform. The VAR Guy also picks up this thread in his open letter:

"By proving reluctant to commit seriously to supporting Linux, Adobe shuts itself out of other opportunities in the open source channel which involve more than just the narrow Linux demographic.  If it built closer relationships with Linux users, it would also establish itself as a potential partner for open source developers and vendors, which might create new partnership possibilities that the company could use at a time when it faces aggressive competition on many fronts."

Indeed, while Adobe has made more overtures to the open source community and Linux users in recent times than in the past, there are still signs that the company could do much more to embrace open source and Linux. It's worth checking out The Var Guy's full letter, and let's hope Adobe changes its stance toward open source.