Adobe enhances tools for UI development

Adobe Systems is updating its Flash platform with new tools for building user interfaces for Web and enterprise applications.

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Adobe Systems is updating its Flash platform with new tools for building user interfaces for Web and enterprise applications.

At its AdobeMax conference in San Francisco today (17 November), Adobe will hand out a technical preview of Flash Catalyst, a new tool that aims to be a workflow system for designers and software developers creating user interfaces.

Announced earlier this year under the code name Thermo, Catalyst will be released in beta early in 2009, Adobe said on Monday. It still isn't saying when the final product will ship, however.

Adobe will also give out a preview of the next major release of Flex Builder, its toolset for creating rich Internet applications (RIAs). One goal of the release, code named Gumbo, is to attract server-side developers who are more familiar with languages like PHP and Cold Fusion. The final product is due in the second half of 2009.

Flex applications run in a browser using Adobe's Flash Player, or on the desktop in its Air runtime environment. Rivals include Microsoft's Silverlight, VisualStudio and Windows Presentation Foundation, and Sun Microsystems' JavaFX.

Most Flex development so far has been for the Web, but Adobe is making a push for more enterprise applications that run on the desktop in Air.

Last week it released Air 1.5, an updated runtime that includes an encrypted database for securing data on the client. SAP will be at the show to announce that developers can use Flash and Flex with SAP's Web Dynpro environment to build better interfaces for SAP applications.

Bridging the gap between developers and designers is a big theme in the new products. With Catalyst, developers will be able to import user interface (UI) elements created by designers in Photoshop, Illustrator and Fireworks, then convert them into UI components that maintain their original "skin," or look and feel, said David Wadhwani, general manager of Adobe's platform business unit.

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