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'Astro,' 'Moxie' and AIR on display at Adobe Flash confab

Adobe Systems is readying tools, including the next version of its Flash Player, to make video-rich Web applications.

BOSTON--Adobe Systems' chief software architect, Kevin Lynch, gave a glimpse of a few goodies for developers and designers meant to make media-rich Web sites run faster.

At the company's FlashForward conference on Wednesday, Lynch said that the next version of the Flash Player, code-named Astro, will have "significant performance improvements" for people making video-rich Web applications. That includes better manipulation of three-dimensional images, he said during a keynote presentation of the Flash developer conference.

After his talk, Lynch declined to give a date for when Astro will ship, but said he'll be providing more details at the upcoming Max conference in Chicago next month.

Adobe chief software architect Kevin Lynch tells Flash developers to think big. Martin LaMonica/CNET Networks

Also coming in the next few weeks will be an updated Flash Player 9, code-named Moviestar, which will include support for the H.264 video standard that will show high-definition quality videos.

"We're really focused on the whole video workflow," he said. "Were going to keep investing and keep innovating."

One way Adobe plans to improve Web application performance is through the introduction of a cache mechanism in the next version of its Flex development tool, which Adobe is in the process of open sourcing.

Code-named Moxie, Flex 3 will have a Framework cache which will download the files required to run Flex applications to a browser's cache the first time a user accesses a Flex application. Those same components can be reused in other Flex applications. That means quicker downloads and the ability for developers to use ActionScript--the JavaScript-compatible language in Flex--to write more ambitious Web applications, Adobe executives said.

Lynch showed off applications written with Flex to run on AIR. AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) is a download for running Web applications on desktop PCs on Windows, Mac and eventually Linux and mobile devices.

Some of the new AIR applications haven't been shown publicly yet, including one called Art Musheen (no Web site available yet), a slick drawing application with the kind of animation that people expect from Flash applications.

An AIR application, Buzzword, can import Flickr photos based on tags. Martin LaMonica/CNET Networks

Another application he showed off that's still in beta was Digimix, which again featured animations to let people drag and drop audio snippets onto an editor. (For screen shots of other AIR applications, click here.)

Adobe will make a second beta of AIR available at the Max conference.

Lynch said that beta will be have the final APIs, which include the ability to access a local file system architect and network connection, the ability send out notifications to users, local storage, automatic updates, and drag-and-drop capabilities.