Jun 6

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

NextGen Macromedia Flash Tool "Zorn" to Run on Eclipse

I'm so glad that the news is finally out. I've had to bite my tongue so many times. Macromedia's announcement that their next generation enterprise Flash development tool, code-named Zorn, will be built on top of Eclipse, is a watershed moment both for Macromedia and for the open source movement. Macromedia's choice of Eclipse speaks volumes about the impact of open source on commercial software development -- and about Macromedia's commitment to making Flash into an essential platform for next-generation internet applications. Zorn is only one part of Macromedia's broader Flash Platform announcement.

I'm on the board of Macromedia, so perhaps I'm biased, but I have to say that the next generation of Flash tools and applications are pretty darn cool. The demos I saw at the last board meeting of some features of the upcoming Maelstrom (Flash player) release really blew my socks off, especially the seamless, high-performance integration of real time video overlaid with multiple layers of other content in the same Flash application. While AJAX has created some real competition on the "Rich Internet Application" front, Flash still has some amazing advantages, including high end features like the ones I just mentioned, near universal cross-browser deployment on PCs and Macs, huge momentum on cell phones, a growing role in the telecom market, and much more.

A side note that may be of interest: the project lead for Zorn is none other than Mark Anders, one of the two original developers of ASP.Net at Microsoft, and long-time program manager for the product. Mark told me that he joined Macromedia because he felt there was a need for a real enterprise level development tool for Flash. That it was the developer of a key Microsoft product who made the choice to build on Eclipse may be particularly telling.

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Comments: 11

  Geof Harries [06.07.05 09:02 AM]

I just wish they'd also announce that Dreamweaver and GoLive (yech) are being merged into another Eclipse-based app. I use 3.0.2 with the cfeclipse plug-in and continue to be impressed by the speed and features of the entire package. Much more reliable and stable on OS X compared to Dreamweaver MX or MX 2004.


  Chris Davis [06.07.05 05:07 PM]

countless times i've had to enlighten clients and associates on the capabilities of flash.

countless times i've met resistance with the dismissal that flash is nothing more than an animation tool.

for me personaly, this is vindication!
and i will continue dreaming

  David Temkin [06.07.05 05:35 PM]

This is a nice step for Macromedia, but it is worth noting that since October of last year, there has been a *full* open source platform supporting XML-based RIA development -- OpenLaszlo. It isn't just a development tool, but a complete open source platform (language, compiler, server, components, examples, documentation). And since November of last year, there has been an Eclipse plug-in (IDE4Laszlo), developed by IBM's emerging technology team, that supports Laszlo development. Unlike Macromedia's proprietary Flex product, the latest version of OpenLaszlo does not require a deployment server, and the latest IDE4Laszlo has a WYSIWYG editor.

With 60,000+ downloads since the open source announcement, the OpenLaszlo platform has considerable momentum -- and you should really see Earthlink's upcoming Web mail that's built on it. For developers who are serious about open source, the OpenLaszlo platform may be more appealing.

David Temkin, CTO, Laszlo Systems

  brian.leroux [06.07.05 05:45 PM]

I'm just happy to see Macromedia has realized that the money is in the platform and not selling half assed tools.

  mr Flash [06.07.05 08:44 PM]

Flex doesnt require a development server, the compiler can distribute standalone SWF's also, no timeout. Still too expensive for small jobs, but thats coming.

  Calvin Ward [06.08.05 02:35 AM]

I think something that the entire Macromedia ColdFusion community would love to see is 'a real enterprise level development tool' for ColdFusion. Such a tool that is based on Eclipse would be very well recieved!

  Joe [06.08.05 08:57 AM] I the only one who see this whole "Flash Platform" as a big market push with no meat to it besides the new flash player? I mean we all already know about Flex, Breeze etc... These products are nothing new. Yet, MM is marketing it as a product. Ok, who goes to MM site? Not the big wigs we have to report to, we are. Why are they trying to sell something that we already know about. If our boss thinks of flash as just an animation tool, then its going to take alot more then MM site to verify the true power of flash. If MM wants to sell me just talk more about the new flash player...get it out there!!! Improve bugs in the Flash IDE. Make develpoing RIA easier or even more class files that will help us. I'm not sold on the so called new "Flash Platform". I am sold on the new Flash player, Flex etc... As far as MM acting as if they have come up with something new...please

  Tim O'Reilly [06.08.05 09:06 AM]

Joe -- You miss the point. Not all the new pieces are in play yet. If you look at the Flash Platform announcement, its...

the new player


new communications server stuff

new mobile stuff

And the sum is more than the parts. Besides, Flash already is a platform. Trying to get people to think about it that way, rather than just as a tool for animation, is important. It's incredibly widely deployed, cross-platform, powerful and flexible.

  Joe [06.08.05 10:39 AM]

I didnt miss the point. MM marketing department is just annoying me. First with the early release of flash and this. I don't know about you. I already know flash is a platform now. I don't think MM needs to tell us that it is a platform...I feel insulted even. I'm surpised you dont. I just feel MM is trying to put it down our throats about Flex,Breeze etc.. If they want to get me excited then talk about all the new features dont reintroduce somethings thats already out there. I Love flash and man when AS 2.0 came out what a exciting time it was for people who enjoy flash but also fimilar with languages like Java.

  Paul Hart [06.16.05 04:41 PM]

It's all vapourware until they announce a ship date, and then ship.

  Nicolas Cannasse [09.23.05 12:05 AM]

The Flash Open Source Community is already alive and making great stuff, you can have a look at the wiki which features a lot of OS tools for developping flash content on all platforms (including linux) and provide great OS libraries also.

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