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Adobe Flexing Into the AIR

Making good on its recent promise to take its rich Internet application development environment into the open source arena, Adobe Systems Inc. has released the public beta of its next generation of Flex 3 development tools.

The company also issued a beta of its new multimedia runtime environment, code-named Apollo. The Adobe Integrated Runtime, or AIR, is the new official name of the cross-platform runtime, which supports several key development environments including HTML/CSS, AJAX, Flash and Flex, including the newly minted Flex 3.0.

Adobe is touting the combination of AIR and Flex 3 as the foundation of its integrated RIA platform for creating rich and interactive multimedia applications across platforms. According to Adobe, AIR lets developers build rich applications that combine the interactivity of Web technologies with the depth of desktop software without having to run in a separate shell.

Flex 3 supports AIR by incorporating the AIR development tools into the Flex SDK and Flex Builder tool sets. AIR consists of key open source components including the WebKit HTML engine, the ActionScript Virtual Machine from the Mozilla Tamarin Project, and the SQLite embedded database.

With this beta, Adobe is issuing the first part of its open source infrastructure -- a bug tracking system. Built on the open source Java-based JIRA bug tracking platform, developers can view and submit bugs. It will support bugs via the Flex SDK and Flex Builder. Developers will be able to track all bugs submitted by Adobe employees as well as outside public developers from the new system, according to an article posted by Flex product manager Matt Chotin on The Adobe DevNet site.

Also as part of its open source effort, the Flex SDK team will post nightly builds, allowing developers to verify bug fixes each day. Adobe is also posting a new Flex Wiki that consists of planning documents, allowing Flex 3 developers greater visibility into the features of the new release.

Among those new features, according to Chotin, AIR supports multiple windows for each application while the new Flex adds a new Windows component, supports both custom and native OS-chrome and allows typical window functions such as resizing and minimizing.

Chotin underscores that Flex now has drag and drop functionality, enabling applications running in the AIR to leverage the new features. Also, he points out that SDK has the tools needed to build, debug and package AIR apps. Adobe also has improved its Flex Builder tool to provide support for AIR, allowing developers to code, debug, and package Flex apps with the same tools that they used to build Flex apps for the Web.

Meanwhile, Adobe plans to update its Flash Player to support a new cache, which will offer better memory management than prior players, Chotin writes. Flex Builder 3 offers two profilers that will aid in the tracking of issues that cause memory management conflicts.

The first is the performance profiler, which tracks method invocations including the time it takes for programs to execute in any given state, allowing developers to improve performance. The other is the memory profiler, which lets developers take snapshots of an application while it is running to trace objects that may be interfering.

The company will be adding to its Flex open source initiative this summer. AIR and the SDK can be downloaded here.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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