Adobe Strobe Goes Open Source

Back in May, Adobe announced that more than 20 companies had signed on to support its Flash-based open framework for media players, code-named "Strobe." At the time, we didn't make much of the news—companies announce "support" or "partnerships" all the time—but it turns out that the May announcement was just a teaser for the really big news from Adobe today: The company has changed the name from Strobe to the Open Source Media Framework (OSMF), and as the name suggests, it's now a completely open source project.

The thinking behind OSMF is simple, says Sumner Paine, product manager for the framework: Ease the integration of media players into the online video stack and simplify the development of media players that support a wide range of unique playback experiences. "The ecosystem is growing so rapidly, with new players coming and going and new requirements and features, such as reporting, navigation, advertising, and Dynamic Streaming, being added from month to month," Paine says. "Some big publishers have spent a huge amount of money building their own players in-house, and they have a vested interest in making sure that open source gets this right, because they want to focus on the unique features that their customers want."

Licensing for the OSMF project is through the Mozilla Public License, and the initiative's website ——includes extensive information about the projects governance and guidelines, all of which follow accepted open source practices.

Open Source Media Framework
The home page for the Open Source Media Framework project, where source code and pluggable software components are available for download under the Mozilla Public License.

Many of those Strobe "supporters" were actively involved in the private Strobe pre-release program, says Paine. "We couldn't have built this unilaterally," says Paine. "We had to build it with active collaborators in the ecosystem." The next step will be for those companies to build plug-ins that work within the OSMF, he says. On the OSMF website, planned plug-in providers are presented in three categories: advertising (, Eyeblaster, Eyewonder, Panache, PointRoll, ScanScout, Thumbplay, and YuMe), publishing (Brightcove, Grab Networks, Incited Media, iStreamPlanet, KickApps, and Multicast Media Technologies), and analytics (comScore, Digitalsmiths, GlanceGuide, Nielsen, Ominture, Skytide, and Visible Measures). The initiative is actively seeking more plug-in providers, and the website offers a form to apply for consideration.

Adobe's move is yet another sign that the open source video movement is picking up steam. Last month's Open Video Conference in New York was a big success (click here for a podcast interview with Adobe, Akamai, and Level 3 representatives that was recorded at the event), and Adobe has joined Akamai on the latter's Open Video Player initiative; other partners on that project include Microsoft and many of the companies listed as OSMF plug-in partners.

"Open Source Media Framework complements and solidifies Akamai’s Open Video Player initiative," said Tim Napoleon, chief strategist, of digital media at Akamai in the Adobe OSMF press release. "OSMF leverages code from Akamai’s Open Video Player and Adobe's expertise and resources to assist media companies and publishers in redefining the benchmarks for online video experiences that are powered by standards based workflows."

Paine says that the OSMF hopes to establish "standards body-style standards," though no standards body currently governs video players. "In advertising, we're seeing official standards emerge, and to a lesser extent in analytics. We're not at a stage yet where we can establish 'true' standards, but we hope to establish de facto standards."

Adobe also announced the Text Layout Framework, a similarly open source intitiative designed to bring greater typography capabilities to web applications.

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