A year ago I wrote about how the involvement of various media companies in open source software was worth paying attention to. It still is, but it is equally interesting to see commercial vendors back successful OSS that, on the surface, looks like it may be competing with their paid products. One such project is Adobe’s Brackets [home | Github], an excellent free code editor that has been going through rapid iterations and impressive adoption by developers – both those working on the software itself, its many extensions, and the broader population of people simply using it.
Adobe is not giving up on Dreamweaver, now part of their CC suite and clearly positioned to serve Photoshop users, i.e. visual designers more than developers. They were never really in the “work directly from the source code” world to begin with, so arguably they’re not directly cannibalizing themselves. Still, the company could have created Brackets as a closed source commercial project.
My experience with it is that it’s certainly polished and powerful enough that it could command a $49-$99 pricetag, competing against the likes of Sublime Text and WebStorm. So it is noticeable that Adobe is not just paying lip service to OSS to gain street cred, but rather they’re walking the walk, at least with this project. They’re not the type of brand you’d spontaneously associate with open source.
This raises the question of how to monitor the health and success of similar projects that have a user community and/or open source backbone. It turns out that of course there’s a company dedicated just to software development analytics called Bitergia. They’re another OSS company out of Spain, like Bitnami which started in Seville (though they’re now a Y-Combinator, San Francisco-headquartered company).
04/2016: Visual Studio Code editor hits version 1, has half a million users. The New Microsoft!