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Macromedia Intros 'Central'

Company also updates Flash Communication Server By Dave Nagel
Macromedia today introduced Macromedia Central, a new front-end environment for users to interact online and offline with Flash applications. It also provides developers with a development kit for creating the applications that run within the environment and a purchase mechanism to provide the applications on a try and buy basis. It's expected to debut this summer.

Macromedia Central builds on the Flash Player with the ability for users to store data offline to access features without an Internet connection, as well as the ability to use Web services and to share information across applications. I had a chance to see a demonstration of this functionality, in which contact information for an individual was accessed through one application and then cross referenced with another to show a map to the location of that person's office. A variety of other types of information-sharing functions are possible as well.


Central comprises a front-end environment in which users access applications, as well as mechanisms for finding, trying and purchasing additional applications that can be added at any time. It also provides a means for updating applications. Macromedia will ship a core suite of house-developed applications and is already working with companies like PriceGrabber.com to develop additional services for end users.

The core Central application will be available free for Mac OS X and Windows simultaneously this summer. According to Macromedia, developers interested in creating Central applications in advance of the product's availability can apply at http://www.macromedia.com/go/centralsdk/ for access to a Software Development Kit. DevNet Professional subscribers and Macromedia Alliance partners automatically qualify for beta participation.

In separate news, Macromedia has also launched an update to the Flash Communication Server MX, bringing it to version 1.5. Flash Communication Server is a platform for providing interactive rich media on demand. The new version adds support for HTTP tunneling, SSL, enhanced audio (including MP3 support), improved administration capabilities and a new model for adding capacity. It also adds support for Linux.

Flash Communication Server MX 1.5 runs on Windows and Linux and is available now for $499 for the Personal Edition and $4,500 for the Professional Edition. Upgrades from 1.0 are free for Professional Edition users and $99 for Personal Edition users. Ninety-day capacity packs run $7,500. For more information, visit http://www.macromedia.com.


Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at dnagel@digitalmedianet.com.

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