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Mobile Code Portability the Focus of Adobe 2011 Release Train

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Mobile Code Portability the Focus of Adobe 2011 Release Train

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Adobe has its ear to the ground when it comes to it's core user base of developers and designers.  They know that figuring out how to develop and design applications for smartphones (and now tablets as well) can involve a steep learning curve.  They also realize that web developers want to use the open source technologies they trust, like HTML5, CSS3, and jQuery.  Adobe even has a special treat for the fervent contingent of server-side ColdFusion developers.

Today Adobe is introducing its new developer tools and creative suite to keep up with a rapidly growing software and web development industry with constantly changing needs.  Adobe's GA releases include:

  • Flex 4.5 and Flash Builder 4.5
  • ColdFusion Builder 2.0
  • Creative Suite 5.5

Here is some info about each release:

Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5

Ever since the banning of Flash on the iPhone and the subsequent banning of apps that weren't originally developed in C, C++, or Objective-C, we've known that Adobe is laser-focused on adapting its Flex framework for the most popular mobile environments.  Of course, Apple later had a change of heart and now integration between the two technologies is going smoothly.

Today developers will see an overhaul of Adobe's mobile development features in the new Flex and FlashBuilder.  Adobe wants Flex (the open source framework) and Flash Builder (the IDE) to be the only things a developer needs to develop applications that run on the desktop, Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS, iOS, and even more platforms eventually - all with the same codebase.  Only a few changes to the code are required for screen sizes.  The rest is portable.

Flex 4.5 focuses on three main areas for its new features:

  • Multi-Screen Development: Allow developers to build applications that target the web, desktop or mobile devices using a single unified framework.
  • Spark Maturation: Polish and grow the Spark architecture by adding new Spark components and capabilities.  Many are related to mobile development.
  • Large-Application Development: Support developers building large applications by improving fundamental pieces of the Flex infrastructure.

Flex 4.5 and Flash Builder 4.5 currently support Flex projects for Android and they will support Apple iOS and Blackberry Tablet OS(QNX) after an update next month.  ActionScript projects are already supported for all three platforms.

FlashBuilder 4.5 has added support for both AS3 and Flex mobile projects, and it conveniently packages your code into AIR applications for each of the platforms mentioned above.  You can also get a version of FB 4.5 called "Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP" which comes with an integrated copy of Zend Studio 8 for creating Flex and PHP applications.  This is good for PHP developers because they now have the ability to port their PHP code into Flex front ends that can be deployed to mobile or desktop environments.  FlashBuilder MXML and AS3 coding are better and faster in 4.5, and there's support for the new bi-directional design/development workflow introduced by Flash Catalyst CS 4.5.

Here I'll also include resources for Flash Catalyst 4.5, which is part of the creative suite.  Adobe introduced this utility last year to bring peace and harmony to designer/developer workflows.  Prototyping and building synchronized designs and backends can be difficult between two groups that don't share the same expertise.  Flash Catalyst alleviates that pain by allowing a project to flow freely back and forth between designers and developers by recording and synchronizing changes made by each group.  

You can download trial builds of Flash Builder 4.5 and Flash Catalyst CS 5.5 and just see for yourself how the new mobile workflows work.  5.5 makes the process completely bi-directional and you can find out more about what I mean here:

ColdFusion Builder 2.0

The coolest news around ColdFusion is the new ColdFusion Builder Express Edition which is a free, lightweight version of CF Builder 2.0.   You can get it by downloading the free trial and waiting till it expires.  If you don't enter a serial number, it switches to Express.  Here are the features you will get in the full version of the newly released CF Builder 2.0:

  • Improved workflows: The new release provides professional coding tools for CFML, CFScript, HTML, JavaScript, SQL and CSS; server management, advanced search & replace; and new deployment capabilities—from development to production.
  • Professional coding support: Developers can use and customize keyboard shortcuts, color coding, code formatting, code assist, quick fix, code insight and code snippets, speeding up the development process.
  • Extend capabilities: CFML can be used to increase the functionality of ColdFusion Builder 2, creating extensions to generate applications, insert blocks of code, create custom views, and expand code assist with customized code proposals.
  • Integration with Adobe Flash Builder 4.5: ColdFusion Builder 2 also integrates with Flash Builder 4.5—also announced today—to accelerate the development of Flex and Adobe AIR apps. Flash Builder 4.5 enables developers to introspect CFCs, automatically generate corresponding ActionScript objects and leverage web services.

Creative Suite 5.5

Aside from Flash Catalyst 5.5, which was discussed earlier, Flash Professional, Dreamweaver, and a few other applications have been updated.  

Dreamweaver's biggest new feature in the 5.5 line is jQuery and jQuery Mobile support.  This includes autocomplete, mobile templates, contextual code hinting, and the ability to quickly insert objects into a design.  You can also build and package native apps for Android and iOS with the open source PhoneGap framework. Along with a new multi-screen view, Dreamweaver is quickly becoming IDE-like with support for the most popular web technologies.

Multiscreen view in Dreamweaver

Another cool thing from Adobe's Photoshop temple is the free Photoshop Touch SDK, which allows developers to create applications that can drive and/or communicate with Photoshop CS5 (version 12.0.4 or later) via a TCP connection.  It opens the door for some really slick apps.

You can find out more about the Creative Suite 5.5 release here and here.

You can download Flash Builder 4.5 and ColdFusion 2.0 at these links.

Take a look at an Indigo.Design sample application to learn more about how apps are created with design to code software.


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