Adobe to Developers: Unemployed? Have Down Time? Learn Flex

When I heard on Friday via Twitter that Adobe was offering Free Flex Builder 3 Professional licenses for unemployed developers, I was very curious what the developer community's reaction to this announcement would be. Flex is fun, sexy, and is in demand by businesses all over. Businesses cannot find enough talented Flex developers (especially good ones), and the work pays well (as a contractor, you can earn anywhere from $50-100 per hour depending on locale and skill set in the US). Experts can surpass this.

Reading this for the first time, I thought the announcement was a great move on Adobe's part. Right on. Adobe gets good press, create some positive buzz in their developer communities and beyond, convert new developers, demonstrate goodwill, and can be perceived as being compassionate in this moment. Seriously, what is the downside of this announcement - both for Adobe, and the developer community? There is none, especially in today's economy. Of course, Adobe is looking out for their own interests; don't be fooled by that. More developers will mean more licenses, as Adobe wants you to get a job working with their products since your future employer will probably need to buy you a Flex Builder license at some point. This, however, does not change that if you are developer that was just let recently let go or is out of work, feels unchallenged, or needs to learn something new to jump start your career - then consider taking advantage of this opportunity. To be license eligible, you will need to:
  • Attest to the fact that you are unemployed and that the software is for "personal use".
  • Agree that you are not employed or being paid to build software applications.
  • Agree that the Flex Builder 3 license you receive is for personal use, and only for you to build your skills. You cannot use this to product production applications.
  • Agree that the license you receive will only be used by you, and will not be transferred to anyone, including a future employer.

Adobe will need a couple of weeks to process your license, but in the meantime you can get started using a copy of the 60 day trial. Once Adobe verifies your case, you will receive your license. W00t! Not to exaggerate, but this is like money falling from the sky for the motivated.

"flex developer" Job Trends graph

One of the most common complaints I hear about Adobe regarding Flex is that a free version does not exist (the Flex Builder trial lives for 60 days; a Standard license costs $249.00, and a Professional license costs $699.00). If the cost of a Flex Builder 3 Professional license was your primary reason for not giving Flex a spin, then take this opportunity to reconsider Flex as a skill. For people on the fence with time, there really isn't an excuse any more; is there? And yes, there are limitations to the license (specifically, the production application requirement). How, though, is this different from other software:
  • MySQL, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server and free and "production" versions of their database software. If you use the software for a product or in a production environment, you typically need to buy a license. Development or personal use, however, is free.
  • Antivirus software follows a similar model. A number of AV vendors will provide free copies of their software for home or personal use. If the software is for business use, however, then a license must be purchased.
Regardless what you think of Adobe or their motivation, the opportunity they have laid out for unemployed developers is clear and tangible. On top of this, the Adobe DevNet site has all sorts of online courseware and video training on Learning Flex 3 in a Week. Additionally, Safari Books online is offering a free 60-day subscription to their Flex book library. No time like the present, right?

What are you waiting for? Start learning already.

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