Adobe debuts Flash Platform tools, including renamed Flex Builder

Flex Builder is now called Flash Builder 4; the open source Flex framework also is updated

Adobe Systems will roll out on Monday a slew of development tools and technologies for the Flash Platform, including a renamed version of its Flex Builder tool as well as an IDE for its ColdFusion platform.

With the rollout, Adobe will enable development of more visual and interactive applications as well as UI customization, said Dave Gruber, Adobe group product manager for the Flash Platform. Also, the tools will help developers build applications faster via coding, testing, debugging and deployment features, he said.

[ Last month, InfoWorld's Paul Krill reported on Adobe's upcoming Flash Player 10.1, which includes new mobile capabilities. ]

Featured in the product set is Flash Builder 4, the latest version of what used to be called Flex Builder. The tool is used for building rich Internet applications.

"We changed the name because the new Builder product encompasses more than just the Flex framework," Gruber said.

"People were actively using Flex Builder for ActionScript development outside the Flex framework," he said. The tool supports Flex and Flash development; both the Flex 3 framework and the new Flex 4 framework are supported. Flash Builder 4 offers improved coding and testing and enables designers and developers to better work together via integration with the Adobe Creative Suite toolset.

Developers can use Flash Builder 4 to leverage the Flex 4 "Spark" skinning and component architecture, offering a new level of user interface expressiveness, Adobe said. Version 4 also will support collaboration between developers and designers via the soon-to-be-released Flash Catalyst interaction design tool

Available Monday, Flash Builder 4 comes in a $249 Standard Edition and a $699 Premium version. The Premium release offers capabilities of the Standard edition plus testing tools and a license for the ColdFusion Builder IDE, which also is being announced and shipped on Monday.

The ColdFusion tool offers an Eclipse-based IDE for application development based on the ColdFusion application server platform, which integrates with Flash-based UIs, Gruber said.

"ColdFusion [application] builders have been asking Adobe to build a new tool for ColdFusion for some time," said Gruber. These developers have been using Adobe's Dreamweaver and open source tools in the market, but they lacked a professional-grade IDE, he said. ColdFusion Builder, priced at $299, features intelligent coding, which offers code completion, as well as full debugging.

With the open source Flex 4 framework being made available Monday, Adobe is adding a component architecture for rich Internet applications, offering separation of appearance and functionality and enabling each to be changed without affecting the architecture. Spark offers a more efficient mechanism for developers and designers to control the appearance of Flex applications.

Adobe also is introducing on Monday Flash Platform Social Service, for developers to integrate Flash applications with 14 different social networks, including Facebook Connect, MySpace ID, Google, LinkedIn, and Sign-in with Twitter. Developers no longer need to interface with each separate social network service API but can code to a single, common interface offering access to multiple networks, Adobe said.

Part of Adobe Flash Platform Services, Social Service will monitor each social network site to make sure changes to APIs do not break applications, according to Adobe.

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