Adobe launches Flex and Flash Builder software for cross-platform mobile apps

Common code will reduce developer time, cost

Adobe today announced software to develop, test and deploy mobile applications on devices running Android, BlackBerry and Apple's iOS.

Developers have been able to use Adobe products for more than seven years to build applications in desktop browsers and can soon use the new tools to apply their skills to various mobile platforms, Dave Gruber, group product marketing manager for Adobe, said in an interview.

"You'll leverage Adobe Air again, except across iOS, Android and BlackBerry," he said. "It's one tool and one framework and one code base."

Adobe's approach makes it possible to create common code that varies only in minor ways across the various mobile platforms; developers don't have to create totally different apps for Android and iOS, he noted.

Adobe's Flash runtime tool called Air 2.6 will use the new Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5, both available in May. Pricing for Flash Builder Standard starts at $249 per developer seat, while Flex 4.5 is free open-source software. An update to Flex 4.5 to support the Blackberry Tablet OS and iOS will be available in June.

The tools will allow developers to build applications and test them on a desktop emulator or an actual mobile device.

Standard Chartered, a UK-based bank, has used pre-release versions of Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 to create an online banking application that works across desktop computers, tablets and smartphones, Gruber said.

Adobe provided a statement from the bank in which Aman Narain, group head of remote banking, said the new Adobe tools cut the time to bring the mobile banking applications to market by 40% and reduced investment costs by two-thirds compared to conventional development methods.

The Flex and Flash Builder tools are part of what Adobe calls Creative Suite 5.5, which supports Adobe's Flash runtime software and player technology. Adobe expects 131 million smartphones to have the Flash player installed by the end of the year, including Android, WebOS, BlackBerry Tablet OS, future versions of Windows Phone and more.

Apple has opposed including the Flash player, a software plug-in, in its iPhone, but Gruber said the Air runtime software can be compiled into iOS applications that will be installed in iOS devices to support animations and other design features.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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