Adobe Makes ActiveScript Engine Open Source

Adobe Systems has announced that it will contribute the source code for its ActionScript Virtual Machine to the Mozilla Foundation, to be hosted under a new project called Tamarin.

ActionScript is Adobe’s implementation of ECMAScript, the formal name given to JavaScript  when it was turned over to a standards body that almost no one uses. JavaScript has been forked for some time, with slightly different implementations in use by different developers.

The Mozilla browser, for example, has its own implementation, called SpiderMonkey. ActiveScript is used in Adobe’s Flash multimedia format, and Microsoft  has its own for Internet Explorer, called JScript.

Adobe  said its reason for turning over the ActionScript engine to Mozilla is to create a single standard for Web-based scripting.

“It’s our hope to unify the virtual machines across platforms, to give developers a more uniformed target platform and a more uniform language for apps based on ECMAScript,” said Pam Deziel, director of product marketing for the platform business unit at Adobe.

Code will be available from the Tamarin project beginning today. As part of its source code contribution, Adobe is also giving the Mozilla foundation its Just In Time compiler, which Deziel said can run up to ten times faster than SpiderMonkey.

Deziel predicts the significant improvement in JavaScript performance will result in all kinds of new Javascript-based applications, including those written in Ajax .

“Every time you increase performance, people find new things you can do with it. The fact that a broader level of developers will be working with it, we feel will accelerate the pace of innovation,” she said.

Not surprising, given their legal sniping, Adobe hasn’t spoken with Microsoft about its plans for a Garibaldi-like unification of JavaScript. Deziel said she wants to.

“Both Adobe and Mozilla would welcome Microsoft using a uniform implementation of the language. Having a uniform language across FireFox, Internet Explorer and Flash would be a positive thing,” she said.

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