Adobe Advances Flash Platform with New AIR, Cloud, Flex Solutions

At its annual MAX user conference, Adobe puts on the dog and serves up new tooling and other support for Flash. Adobe introduces Flex Builder "Gumbo," Flash Catalyst - formerly known as "Thermo," the availability of Adobe AIR 1.5 and a pre-release of the 64-bit Linux version of Adobe Flash Player 10. Adobe also opens up its cloud initiative, known as "Cocomo," as a public beta.

SAN FRANCISCO -- At its annual user conference, Adobe unveiled several advancements to its Flash platform, including new Flash offerings, new Flex tooling and the availability of a new version of Adobe AIR.

"Our goal with Flash is to enable users to create rich, immersive applications," said David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president of the Platform Business Unit at Adobe. "We'll create design tools and developer tools, and the right servers. And one of the key areas of focus for 2009 has to do with workflow across our tools," Wadhwani said in an interview with eWEEK.

At Adobe MAX 2008 here, Adobe announced a preview of the next version of its Flex Builder, too, codenamed "Gumbo," and also announced the preview of Adobe Flash Catalyst, formerly known as "Thermo."

Adobe Flash Catalyst "is an interactive design tool for designers to build applications without any code," Wadhwani said.

The Thermo design tool is aimed at creating application interfaces and interactive content with out coding. Moreover, Flash Catalyst enables artwork created in Adobe Creative Suite 4 to be imported and converted into components such as buttons, scrollbars, input fields and more. And completed Flash Catalyst projects can be published directly to Flash Player or AIR. Moreover, when combined with Gumbo, Flash Catalyst enables design and development to be done in parallel. Adobe made the preview version of Flash Catalyst available to MAX attendees, and a beta version of the technology will available in early 2009 on Adobe Labs.

"We named it Flash Catalyst because it catalyzes the effort for design and development to allow designers and developers to work more closely," Wadhwani said. "So Flex Builder has interaction and workflow for Flash Catalyst."

The Flex Builder "Gumbo" preview release expands the use of Flex to a broader base of developers by delivering new data-centric development capabilities to create rich Internet applications. Gumbo also provides debugger, profiler and code editor capabilities.

Meanwhile, Adobe announced the availability of Adobe AIR 1.5. Adobe AIR is a core component of the Adobe Flash Platform that enables developers to deliver rich Internet applications outside the browser. The new version brings new features and performance enhancements. For instance, Adobe AIR includes the open source WebKit engine and accelerates application performance with "SquirrelFish," the new WebKit JavaScript interpreter. Adobe AIR 1.5 also includes a new, encrypted database that meets enterprise security compliance requirements while storing data securely on customers' computers. Additionally, AIR 1.5 includes functionality introduced in Adobe Flash Player 10, such as support for custom filters and effects, native 3-D transformation and animation, and extensible rich text layout, said Wadhwani. Adobe AIR 1.5 is available immediately as a free download for Windows and Mac, and AIR 1.5 for Linux is expected to be available before the end of the year, he said.

Adobe announced the release of Flash Player 10 in October, and now announces a pre-release of the 64-bit Linux version of Flash Player 10. This release is available on Adobe Labs. "We're starting with Linux with our 64-bit support, because that's where we've heard the outcry the loudest," Wadhwani said. "So we're starting here and then adding 64-bit support for Windows and the Mac."

In addition, Adobe demonstrated a preview of Flash Player 10 for smart phones which features the latest advancements related to the Open Screen Project. Adobe Flash Platform innovations are at the core of the Open Screen Project, which is an industry-wide initiative to deliver rich multiscreen experiences built on a consistent runtime environment for open Web browsing and standalone applications across personal computers, mobile devices and consumer electronics.