Adobe ships AIR, Flex 3 open-source development tools

Adobe Monday announced the availability of its Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) cross-operating system for taking rich Internet applications (RIA) to the desktop.

Adobe also released Flex 3, an open-source development tool set aimed at helping developers build RIAs.

AIR is a runtime environment for building RIAs in Adobe Flash, HTML and AJAX. The product includes the Safari WebKit browser engine, SQLite local database functionality, and APIs that support desktop features such as native drag and drop and network awareness.

Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. and the American Cancer Society are among several organizations running beta versions of AIR to bridge the gap between the Web and the desktop. Both said they turned to the technology because it doesn't require that developers learn new skills.

"AIR takes the capabilities of Flex and Flash and extends that to the desktop," said David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president of Adobe's platform business unit. "With the release of AIR, we've expanded our developer base to the millions of AJAX and HTML developers of the world."

Wadhwani added that FedEx Corp. has developed an AIR application to track packages in real time on the desktop, and Deutsche Bank AG is using AIR to provide alerts about financial transactions.

In addition, business intelligence software vendor Business Objects SA has been working with Adobe to develop reports on transactional data that run in AIR and can be e-mailed to multiple users who can then access live feeds from those reports to do an analysis, he said.

Adobe also released Flex Builder 3, its commercial Eclipse-based plug-in for developing RIAs. Flex Builder 3 integrates with Adobe's Creative Suite 3 set of tools to make it easier for designers and developers to work together, Adobe said. It will be available in two versions: The standard edition is $249, while the professional version costs $699.

Finally, Adobe also made available its BlazeDS open-source tool that promises to help developers boost the data transfer capabilities and performance of RIAs. BlazeDS is made up of components from Adobe's LiveCycle Data Services suite.

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