Adobe Systems on Monday plans to release beta versions of new content-creation tools for its Flash Platform.
The new applications include Adobe Flash Builder 4, Adobe Flash Catalyst, and the open source Flex 4 framework.
Flash Builder 4 helps developers build rich Internet applications. Flash Catalyst is a new RIA interface-creation tool aimed at designers rather than developers. And the Flex 4 framework is a collection of open source resources for building RIAs.
Adobe Flash Builder 4 previously was called Adobe Flex Builder, but the company changed the name to more clearly delineate the software applications it sells and its open source Flex framework.
Adobe is making public beta versions of the three applications available from the Adobe Labs site.
Adobe Flash Catalyst should be well received by Web designers. It allows them to add interactivity to static graphics, without relying on developers to generate user interface code. This in turn should free developers up to focus on coding back-end connectivity.
Adobe's long reign as the leading maker of tools for online rich media creation and the master of Flash technology is increasingly threatened by Microsoft, which has been promoting its competing Silverlight technology heavily. Microsoft is planning to introduce Silverlight 3 on July 10.
It also faces distrust from the open source Web development community, which has long resented the fact that Flash isn't an open source technology. Adobe has tried to address such concerns through the elimination of licensing and royalty fees associated with Flash and by contributing to open source projects like Tamarin. But some detractors remain suspicious of Adobe.
With the evolution of open standards like HTML 5, which includes new graphic capabilities, there may come a time when Flash isn't necessary. But given the ubiquity of Flash, that time appears to be far off.
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