Monday, October 1, 2007

Adobe pushes foward on enabling RIA ecosystem with Flex 3, Adobe AIR betas

The world of rich Internet applications (RIA) got a little richer on Monday when Adobe Systems released the beta versions of Flex 3 and the Flex SDK with enhanced features for evelopers.

The beta versions are in place of the alpha release, which was scheduled for this month, but which has been pushed out to the first quarter of 2008 to coincide with the release of Adobe AIR 1.0. The AIR beta is also available.

Enhanced capabilities of the Flex beta include support for ASP.NET, including new data wizards that allow developers to look at data tables and create a new Flex application from a SQL database. Developers who consume Web services can view the WSDL files and automatically generate code for invoking operations.

Adobe AIR now supports background applications and system tray notifications, allowing the app to run in the background. Among its other features are:

  • Synchronous APIs for embedded local database
  • Greater control of windows and menus
  • Content protection for video, HTML improvements
  • Application and runtime enhancements such as improved install process and automatic updates for the runtime.

Check out Matt Chotin's blog at Adobe for a complete rundown on the latest enhancements and updates.

Also, keep an eye out for Adobe to announce a new Adobe Developer Connection, where the Adobe community can get newsletters, form a professional network, participate in forums, and get special offers.

The Adobe AIR and the Flex betas can be downloaded from the Adobe Labs site, which also has a pre-release version of Adobe Media Player, which will be free to end users and will allow companies to distribute Web 2.0 content in video format. Major television broadcasters and other content producers have already agreed to support the Adobe format.

Adobe made the announcements at Adobe Max 2007. Among other news from the event:

Adobe has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Virtual Ubiquity and its online word processor, Buzzword, built with Adobe Flex and leveraging Flash Player. It's soon to be available on Adobe AIR. Buzzword has integral collaboration capabilities that allows multiple authors to edit and comment on documents from anywhere at anytime. Because it will run on Adobe AIR, the application will offer users a hybrid online/offline experience for working with documents.

Adobe and Business Objects have agreed to jointly undertake multiple initiatives to drive product interoperability and optimization, technology adoption, and product distribution.

One of the key initiatives is the development of a Business Objects Xcelsius Connector to Adobe LiveCycle Data Services ES.

Adobe is posing a strong alternative to other platform approaches to RIA and Enterprise 2.0 interfaces, most notably against Microsoft. It's just one of the thousands of daggers pointed at Redmond nowadays, but its cuts could go deep.

I'd like to see Adobe make more partnerships with those vendors supporting SOA activities. More ease and integration of RIAs and SOA infrastructure could be powerful. Microsoft obviously thinks so. I wonder why IBM and Adobe are not closer, at least in their more blatant go-to-marker campaigns.

I'd also like to see Adobe move more quickly on the completeness of the platform approach. These RIAs are catching on fast.