With upgrades to its Flash Builder, Flex, and AIR application development technologies Monday, Adobe Systems is taking a decidedly mobile bent.
Adobe will introduce preview releases of the next versions of its Flash Builder development environment, the Flex development framework, and Flash Catalyst design tool. Expanding the reach of these products to new form factors, particularly Flex and Flash Builder, is Adobe's intent. The three tools are used for building applications that run in the Flash Player or Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR). Additionally, version 2.5 of AIR, which backs mobile devices, will be released this week and is considered a lynchpin of Adobe's multiscreen efforts.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Flash Player 10.1 squared off with Microsoft's Silverlight in an InfoWorld review. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights with the Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter, and stay on top of the latest software development news with InfoWorld's Developer World newsletter. ]
"The point of these releases [of Flex, Flash Builder, and Flash Catalyst] is to be able to build apps for multiple screens, including Web, desktop, mobile, and set-top box TVs," said Dave Gruber, group product manager for creative and interactive solutions at Adobe.
"We're going to deliver a common development framework, that's Flex and a common software development environment, that's Flash Builder, that allows developers to create apps that run across all these difference environments. The benefit is that it saves developers time and allows them to get applications to market faster," said Gruber.
Without these tools, developers must write separate applications for the different form factors and learn different languages and use different tools, he said.
For mobile development, Flex will support Google Android, Research in Motion BlackBerry, and Apple iOS, which runs on devices like the iPhone. Although iOS does not support Flash, developers can take the Flash application and, via the Packager tool, compile a native code application to work on iOS.
The Flash Builder preview will add mobile development tooling, including a design view environment for mobile applications. "Not only can you design mobile applications, but you also can debug, preview, and profile applications on connected devices," said Gruber.
Developers using Flex and Flash can build such applications as self-service systems or applications that work with business-to-business and business-to-consumer apps.
General releases of the Flash Builder and Flex SDK upgrades are planned for 2011.
Mobile "is a huge focus right now for Adobe," said analyst Melissa Webster of IDC. With the recent release of Flash Player 10.1, Adobe seeks to get the player on everything except iOS, where it is prohibited, Webster said. Flash Player is presently only available on Android; WebOS is due to add Flash support when it ships in the coming weeks, and Research in Motion says it will support Flash Player on the BlackBerry soon. Windows Phone 7 does not presently support Flash Player, but Microsoft says that support may be added in the future.
"Accelerating Flash Player 10.1 adoption is a big area for them," Webster said.