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Applications

Macromedia adds Flash tools

The software maker hopes to encourage the proliferation of Web applications based on its Flash language with the addition of a new set of drag-and-drop developer tools.

Software maker Macromedia hopes to encourage the proliferation of Web applications based on its Flash language with the addition of a new set of drag-and-drop developer tools.

The Flash MX Data Connection Kit, which Macromedia plans to announce Tuesday, contains prefab software components for connecting Flash applications to different data sources.

Macromedia is in the midst of far-reaching campaign to turn its Flash animation player into a broad foundation for delivering rich Internet applications. The company has promoted a vision for designing key Web pages entirely in Flash and recently announced a strategy for extending Flash applications beyond the Web browser.

Although many developers have joined the Flash crusade, others have been intimidated by the complexity of making Flash applications work, said Paul Gubbay, director of engineering for Macromedia.

Creating the link between a Flash application and the server with which it needs to exchange data is one of the more intimidating parts of the current development process, Gubbay said. By providing pre-built components--based on Firefly software Macromedia acquired from CyberSage Software--to make those server connections, Macromedia can lower barriers for developers.

"The focus is to make it much easier for developers to build applications working in Flash," Gubbay said. "It really takes away the responsibility for the developer to understand the data architecture."

While the Connection Kit will eliminate drudge work for experienced Flash developers, the pre-built components should be especially appealing to developers who have limited Flash experience.

"This is great for VB (Visual Basic) or Delphi or Java developers to get going in Flash," Gubbay said. "They're used to certain metaphors for building applications in other environments, and we've incorporated those."

Flash MX Data Connection Kit will be available next week priced at $299 for commercial users, and $199 for educational users.