Adobe Open Source Spotlights

Here at Adobe, we’re strong believers in the power of open source. Open source lets us collaborate, communicate, and build amazing tools by leveraging the power of our active and engaged communities. We’ve rounded up 4 of our favorite videos about open source at Adobe:

Creative Technologies Lab spotlight video

Creative Technologies Lab

The Creative Technologies Lab is one of three labs at Adobe Research. It’s the lab that’s responsible for the “magic” you get in Adobe products — those small touches that make the user experience special. Open source has been great for the Creative Technology Lab, because it makes collaboration easy!

When you’re recruiting for new team members, having open source projects means that you can discuss specifics and dive deep into the project with candidates since it’s not proprietary. And then onboarding those new team members is easy because there aren’t any hidden parts — the whole project is available. This openness also makes it easy to get feedback, whether it’s from internal or external sources. A great example of this is Project Para, an open source collaboration between Jennifer Jacobs, a student at the MIT Media Lab, and the Creative Technologies Lab. Since it was an open source project, Jennifer was able to continue working on the project and evangelizing in the education space even after her partnership with Adobe was officially over.

This kind of collaboration wouldn’t be possible without open source. As Joel Brandt, the Director of Research Engineering, says,

“There’s no simpler tool and no better tool to support collaboration than open source.”
PhoneGap spotlight video


PhoneGap is used to build cross-platform mobile apps by leveraging existing web technologies. For people who want to get into developing mobile apps, PhoneGap helps lowers the barrier to entry because they only need to use front-end technologies (HTML, CSS, and Javascript). Tens of thousands of apps have been built using PhoneGap.

PhoneGap has been 100% open source since day one, and all the source code is freely available online. In fact, when the small web consultancy that initially developed PhoneGap was acquired by Adobe, they donated the software license to the Apache Foundation under the name Cordova. Now, the PhoneGap framework is a distribution of Cordova that also provides access to a powerful set of tools from Adobe.

Community drives PhoneGap. In fact, “We’re always relying on our community to test new features before we release them to the public,” says Steve Gill, a developer on the PhoneGap team. Since the community is so broad, and includes both individual contributors and teams from large companies, PhoneGap’s impact has been huge. The community is active and the technology is open source, so if Adobe stopped working on PhoneGap tomorrow, it would still be available. (Not that we’re going to do that!)

Creative SDK spotlight video

Creative SDK

Adobe’s Creative SDK makes it possible for Adobe apps and third-party apps alike to become part of the Creative Cloud platform. Creative SDK and PhoneGap have partnered together to make plugins that make Creative SDK available to developers who are coding in HTML and JavaScript rather than in common mobile development languages like Swift and Java. This has dramatically lowered the barrier for being able to leverage Creative SDK’s capabilities in mobile apps.

Providing sample repositories and plugins on GitHub helps bridge the gap between our proprietary technology and the third-party developers who want to reap the benefits of using that technology in their apps. These repos let developers see working code. Ash Ryan Arnwine, the Creative Cloud Technical Evangelist, puts it, “Developers can just come in and see top to bottom working code and get started very quickly.”

These open source projects make the product support process easy. If developers have questions, we can direct them to a GitHub repository with a sample project and we can talk to developers through GitHub issues. Users can also communicate with us by reporting bugs and requesting new functions on GitHub.

Arnwine says, “Our goal is to make that development process, and that getting started process, as easy as possible for those developers, and open source helps us achieve that.”

Brackets spotlight video


Brackets was the first Adobe project to be open source from the very beginning. It’s a code editor that’s especially great for front-end development — so HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. What makes it really cool is that it was built using the same tools these developers use. Peter Flynn, a Senior Computer Scientist at Adobe, says, “The real power of Brackets is that anyone who can write JavaScript code, anyone who’s a web developer who’d be using Brackets, also knows all the tools that are used to build Brackets.” Basically, we already had a built-in community of experts that was capable of working on the tool!

“And that was just too enticing not to try to take advantage of,” adds Adam Lehman, Adobe’s Director of Software Development. “Open sourcing it meant that we could invite that community in and they could make direct contributions… It’s all right there for them, and there’s no other way to do that other than open source.”

Brackets was the first project that was started at Adobe that was intended to be an open source project from the start. Since we knew that having it be open source would allow us to build it faster, it was an easy decision to make. By involving a community of developers and allowing anyone to extend and build the platform, it was almost like we had an army of engineers working on the project. We were able to build more quickly since more people were working on the project. But more importantly, we were able to be more innovative since more people were thinking about the project. This innovation allowed us to be a thought leader in this space.

But wait, there’s more

Check out the variety of open source projects we participate in Come join us! If you’re interested in learning more about Adobe and open source, visit