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Stephen Shankland

Staff Writer, CNET
Graphics software giant Adobe Systems has released some components of its commercial products as open-source software, a move intended to help others ease a tedious but important part of programming.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company released two packages, Adam and Eve, that it uses for the creation of the interface people use to control software. The packages were posted last week on the company’s Web site.

Adobe said it released Adam and Eve “to give back to the wonderful open-source community which gives us so much” and to enlist the help of others in improving the packages.

The majority of Adobe’s products are proprietary, but the company is edging closer to the open-source realm. Its flagship products run only on Windows and the Mac OS today, but in 2004 Adobe started evaluating Linux more seriously. And a beta version of its latest Adobe Reader, a program for viewing Portable Document Format, or PDF, files, runs on Linux.

Adam and Eve are libraries that can be used by other software packages. Eve eases creation of interface elements such as dialog boxes and lets the computer manage their placement on a display. Adam automates how interface elements are modified according to changing circumstances.

“Ask nearly any software engineer what they hate doing most and the answer will be, ‘Building the human interface,’ and even with Eve, that work is onerous,” Adobe said in an overview of the technology. “The code associated with the human interface accounts for nearly one-third of the code necessary to implement a feature within Adobe applications.”

Eve first debuted in prototype form in Adobe’s Photoshop 5 and now is being updated as Eve2, Adobe said. Adam is being added to several Adobe programs. Both can be used with any operating system.

Adam and Eve are part of a larger software effort called the Adobe Source Libraries, or ASL, underway at the Adobe Software Technology Lab. The ASL software is covered by a liberal open-source license, the MIT License.

In addition, Adobe indicated that it would release software related to the XMP standard, which lets “metadata” describing a file be incorporated directly into that file.

Adobe representatives weren’t immediately available for comment.