Open Source at Adobe — Our Journey

In the spirit of transparency and collaboration, we want to share our journey to Open Source — all our challenges, our shortcomings and our successes.

At Adobe, we’re dedicated to promoting an open culture for developing software. Adobe has a long history in Open Source — including projects like Brackets and PhoneGap — but in the past, we’ve struggled with the fact that most of our Open Source work has occurred in isolated pockets across the company. Our plan for 2017 is to centralize our Open Source efforts, and expand the role that Open Source plays at Adobe, both internally and externally.

So what does this look like? Great question. In the spirit of transparency and collaboration, we want to share our journey to Open Source — all our challenges, our shortcomings and our successes. Here’s where we’re starting:

Adobe Open Source Office

After learning from companies like Autodesk, Microsoft and Intel, we decided to centralize all our Open Source efforts in one open source team. We have officially launched the Adobe Open Source office, and we’re excited for what’s to come.

Making It Easier

The first matter of business for Adobe’s OS office is making it easier for Adobe employees to contribute to and open source their projects. We’ve created a process for open sourcing projects that includes:

  1. Submission process and tool (we opted for Github)
  2. Business review by the Open Source office
  3. Legal review
  4. A complete launch checklist, including a contributing.md file, icon for the project, and promotion plan

We want to make sure that all our efforts are community driven, so we spoke to Adobe developers about what they wanted. We found legal was a big sticking point for developers wanting to contribute to an open source project. We also worked with our legal team to determine what kinds of projects and contributions would need a legal review, and jointly developed criteria that would determine what contributions our developers could make without going through legal.

We will also give employees resources and support along the way — whether that’s help with how to promote their project, community management best practices, or just a clearer picture of what the process looks like.

Our new process is making the rounds with our Open Source Developer Advisory Board, and we’ll be trying it out shortly with a new and exciting Adobe project. We’ll let you know how it goes.

Linux Foundation

Adobe is a longtime member of the Linux Foundation, and we’re excited to be able to learn and collaborate with other companies as part of the Linux Foundation ToDo group.

We also recently joined the Linux Foundation Open API initiative. Our own Lynn Crabb, Architect on Adobe I/O, is driving that and we’re excited to contribute and help shape the new API definition format.

“The Open API Initiative is important for Adobe’s API efforts and we love the fact this is community driven. We are happy to support and participate in the initiative and help it be successful. Adobe is an active participant in Open Source and our developers are passionate about participating, contributing, and leading open source projects to make our products more innovative, easier to integrate and more interesting to developers.” — Lynn Crabb, Architect, Adobe I/O

Best Practices

Lastly, our greatest resource is our employees. We have some incredible developers that have spent their whole careers in Open Source. These employees truly embody the culture of Open Source with being so willing to share their experience, best practices and help others.

One guideline that we’ve adopted from our friend Guy Martin, Director of Open Source at Autodesk, is “pull requests welcome”. We’re passionate about Open Source and are still learning in all this. We welcome any feedback and invite you to follow along in our journey.