Adobe to donate script code to Mozilla

In the largest code handoff since its formation, makers of Firefox will get Adobe's script "virtual machine."

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
2 min read
Adobe will donate software to run JavaScript programs in the Firefox Web browser, the largest code contribution yet to the open-source Mozilla Foundation.

On Tuesday, Adobe is expected to announce the donation in conjunction with the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. The code will form the basis for a new open-source project called Tamarin, which will be governed and manned by developers from Adobe and Mozilla.

Adobe will provide the same software, called the ActionScript Virtual Machine, which it uses to run script code in the Adobe Flash Player 9.

This virtual machine is expected to be built into future versions of the Firefox browser by the first half of 2008, said Frank Hecker, the executive director of the Mozilla Foundation.

The scripting language for Adobe's Flash Player virtual machine runs programs written in ActionScript, which is based on an Ecma International standard called ECMAScript Edition 4. Widely used JavaScript and Microsoft JScript also comply with that standard, said Kevin Lynch, chief software architect at Adobe.

The latest version of Adobe's script "engine," released in June this year with Flash Player 9, uses a just-in-time compiler to run programs ten times faster than previous versions, he said.

Lynch said the deal with Mozilla is the biggest Adobe has done with open source. The move furthers the company's plan to allow developers to mix and match programming technologies, including AJAX-style Web development and Flash for media and animation, he said.

"We can bring together the broader HTML and Flash developer communities around this common language implementation," Lynch said. "Using the same language engine is a huge step."

Hecker said that having a high-quality script engine is "extremely important" to its open-source projects, which include both the FireFox browser and Thunderbird e-mail client. Much of Firefox and many extensions are written in JavaScript, he noted.

The Tamarin project code will form the basis for the next generation of SpiderMonkey, the existing JavaScript in the Firefox browser, Hecker said.