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Macromedia to court J2EE developers

The software maker is working on Royale, a new set of development tools built around its Flash format and aimed at Java developers.

Macromedia plans to reach out to Java developers with a new set of development tools built around its Flash format.

The product, code-named Royale, is in development. Dates for beta testing and final release have not yet been announced.

Macromedia is in the middle of an ambitious effort to expand the use of Flash--once seen mainly as a format for blinking Web ads--into a broad foundation for delivering Internet applications and building interactive Web sites. The company earlier this year released new tools aimed at creating Flash applications that don't depend on a Web browser and recently announced Flash MX Professional 2004, a set of Flash development tools with an interface designed for mainstream programmers familiar with environments such as Visual Basic.

Jeff Whatcott, senior director of product marketing for Macromedia, said Royale will further extend Flash's appeal by using a standards-based text format similar to that used by Java developers, particularly those working with Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) applications. Standard Flash development tools use a timeline-based interface that reflects the format's roots as an animation and graphics vehicle.

"It's going to introduce a completely new way of building rich applications, one that will be particularly attractive to enterprise applications developers," Whatcott said. "Java developers tend to view tools such as Flash--and rightly so--as really not suited to the way they're used to working."

The focus will be on using Flash to create attractive, easy-to-navigate interfaces for using J2EE applications. Such work is typically done in Java or HTML (hypertext markup language), both of which often force users to wait through a series of page refreshes and other events to get the information they want.

"Any Java developer will tell you that as a presentation tier, Java has its limitations," Whatcott said. "The end user goes through a lot data to get to where they want to be.

"Most companies are building really robust backends with J2EE, but they often fall down on that last millimeter, where the application actually touches the user."