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Adobe Open Sources ActionScript Engine with the Mozilla Foundation

I don’t have a lot of time but I thought this was interesting. Adobe is making open source the code behind the ActionScript engine in the Flash player (well, the next version at least). As some might know, ActionScript is based on the ECMAScript standards, just like JavaScript. Currently, the engine implements the 3rd edition standard with enhancements from the 4th edition spec.

The project has been labeled “Tamarin” by Mozilla and Adobe, they’ve set up a project page on the site, which outlines the project roadmap and team members.

It’s interesting to me because when I saw Brendan Eich speak at the Ajax Experience two weeks ago, he spent an enormous amount of time simply going over the new features proposed for the next edition of ECMAScript, which is really going to be the basis for JavaScript 2, as I understand it. He was clearly heavily invested in it, and it really makes me wonder if this entire effort is geared to capitalize on the momentum building on JavaScript in the industry.

An aside, at the conference it was announced that sales of JavaScript books were up something like 120% since the onslaught of Ajax stuff took off in our Web 2.0 world. Now standardize it in Flash too and … well … oh, and in case you, constant reader, didn’t know, Brendan Eich is the guy that invented JavaScript.

Currently while coding for Flash ActionScript is similar, it is different than JavaScript in many ways. Wouldn’t it be something if it was almost transparent with exactly the same features implemented in both the Spidermonkey (JavaScript engine in Mozilla Firefox) and others such as JScript? This seems like a cut and dry effort to speed adoption of the new feature set across the board. Over on Brendan’s site he’s blogged about it, and it appears they’ve already gotten a sort of working version integrated with Spidermonkey.

This is interesting, and it will certainly help pave the way for the next and future versions of JavaScript in browsers as well.

Special hat tip to Henrik Gemal’s blog.

Update: Over at Ajaxian they’ve posted, and even Brendan Eich commented, about the huge performance gains to be had with the type of JS engine that’s being developed as a result of this project. Certainly good news for everyone. Can’t wait. Also, Joe Hewitt weighs in … you decide.

Update 2: Simon Willison has also blogged about Tamarin, the performance benefits, and the potential improvements for JavaScript in the industry and of course, for Firefox. Additionally, he points to a post by a gentleman by the name of Frank Hector who has a lengthy discussion about it all.

Nov 9, 11:13 AM in Web Development (filed under Flash, JavaScript)

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