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Macromedia Flex Offers Alternatives to HTML Apps

Macromedia Flex Offers Alternatives to HTML Apps

"Flex is going to create a renaissance in enterprise application development, " promises David Mendels, senior vice president, Macromedia, on the announcement of the immediate availability of Macromedia's new presentation server and application framework. Macromedia Flex enables enterprise development teams to put more effective interfaces on critical business applications. The Flex server offers a standards-based, declarative programming methodology for delivering rich user experiences via the ubiquitous Macromedia Flash Player. These experiences, known as rich Internet applications, combine the rich user interface of desktop software with the reach and ease of deployment of the Web.

"Everyone knows the limitations of HTML for application user interfaces, but until now, there hasn't been an alternative that works for enterprise development teams," commented Mendels.

The Flex presentation server is designed to help development teams deliver rich Internet applications in scenarios where traditional page-based HTML applications are inadequate. Examples include rich visual data dashboards, online product selection and configuration tools, and customer self-service applications. These applications are multi-step processes that involve visualization techniques, immediate user feedback, and local processing that are difficult, if not impossible, to deliver in HTML. The Flex application framework offers an extensible and customizable class library of pre-built components, effects, behaviors, and layout managers for creating more effective experiences for these uses.

The Flex framework supports open tooling, allowing developers to use their text editor or IDE of choice to create applications that run on the Flex presentation server. Later this year, Macromedia plans to release a new Flex development tool code-named "Brady". Built on Dreamweaver MX 2004, "Brady" will offer visual layout, code editing, debugging, and data connectivity tools for creating Flex applications. In addition, IBM is working with Macromedia to develop a Flex plug-in for the WebSphere Studio Application Developer development environment. A pre-release version of this plug-in is available on IBM Alphaworks at www.alphaworks.ibm.com/tech/wsadflex.

The Macromedia Flex presentation server runs on leading Java application servers, including IBM WebSphere, BEA WebLogic, Macromedia JRun, and Apache Tomcat. A native .NET version is in beta and expected to ship later this year. The trial version, which converts to a non-expiring Developer Edition after 60 days, is available now from www.macromedia.com/go/flex. Flex pricing starts at $12,000 for two CPUs and includes annual maintenance. "Brady" is scheduled for release later this year, and pricing information is not yet available.

For more information, to get a trial version of Flex, or to see rich Internet applications built with Flex, visit www.macromedia.com/go/flex.

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