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Alcatel gets free and easy with OpenPlug

New parent less protective of dev platform revenue stream

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Alcatel Lucent has decided to hand out the developer version of OpenPlug free to drive more Adobe Flex development.

Cross-platform development environment OpenPlug doesn't need Adobe Flex; it can plug in to Eclipse too, though that's an "alpha" release. The product is clearly intended for developers wanting to take Actionscript and MXML programs into an environment which will spit out compiled binaries for Android, iOS and Symbian handsets.

The developer platform might be free, but the device stack and interface components that Alcatel Lucent acquired last year as part of OpenPlug remain commercial products. Those are licensed to handset manufacturers who want to create phones and don't fancy using Android, Symbian or any of the other alternatives available.

The part that's now being shared for free, formerly known as ELIPS Studio, plugs into Adobe's Flash Builder version 3 or 4 and compiles developed applications into native packages for the various mobile device platforms (including tablets).

There is an Eclipse version too, but the product is clearly aimed at those with Adobe experience who'd like to get aboard the mobile bandwagon with the minimum of fuss.

One might speculate that the giveaway is a precursor to gently declining support as Alcatel-Lucent focuses on the bits of OpenPlug it actually wanted to buy, but that's not how the company is painting it. To underline that continuing support Alcatel-Lucent has set up a "Certified OpenPlug Solutions Provider Program", with On3 as the first qualifying partner.

But that's not necessary to get access to the SDK, which can be downloaded after providing the usual demographic information. ®

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