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Adobe to release Flex beta

To increase the number of Flex developers from several thousand to a million, Adobe offers a free version of its Flash development tool.

Adobe is expected on Wednesday to release a beta edition of Flex 2.0 and make licensing changes to encourage broad adoption of the Flash development tool set.

Flex products, originally from Macromedia, are aimed at professional software developers who write Web applications that use the Flash presentation system.

The product line includes an integrated development environment based on the Eclipse software, as well as "frameworks," or prewritten code to speed application development. There is also a server component for corporate applications that tap into back-end systems.

The beta of Flex 2.0 is scheduled to be available for download on Wednesday from the Adobe Labs Web site, along with Adobe Flash Player 8.5. A final version of Flex 2.0 is due in the second quarter this year.

With the beta release, Adobe plans to unbundle the components of the Flex package and lower prices in an effort to encourage developers to use the software.

The company's goal is to increase the number of Flex developers from several thousand to a million, said Jeff Whatcott, senior director of product marketing at Adobe's enterprise and developer business unit.

Adobe is introducing a free, basic software developers kit that includes the Flex Framework, compiler and documentation. The Flex Builder development tool costs less than $1,000 per developer.

Flex Enterprise Services 2.0, which connects to back-end systems, will continue to cost about $15,000 per server, Whatcott said.