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ColdFusion Meets Flash

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Macromedia Inc has released more details of its long awaited 'Neo' ColdFusion project, demonstrating a number of forthcoming server software releases at an invitation-only event in San Francisco. The product's official name is ColdFusion MX.

The company has also released the next version of Flash, its vector graphics design tool and player. Macromedia has decided to drop the version number, and is calling the suite Flash MX instead of Flash 6, to emphasize its integration with ColdFusion.

"We're coming out with server features that allow people to build new communication and collaboration services with Flash," said director of product management Eric Wittman. Flash MX will have a "laundry list of new features" he added. The two products used in conjunction will allow more functional web applications to be built.

Macromedia has previously said ColdFusion MX will be built upon Java 2 Enterprise Edition, with its ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML) compiling to Java. The software can be used with .NET or Java application servers.

Wittman said the company has also made performance improvements for communications between the Flash player and server back-end software. The weighty XML-based protocol is still in use for connecting to "legacy" back-ends such as CGI app servers but communications between ColdFusion and Flash have been streamlined with a new protocol allowing them to run faster.

Support for video is another Flash MX first. Video files in "all the formats supported by Quicktime and Windows Media Player" can be imported into SWF files. The software converts the MPEG, say, into the lightweight Spark codec, licensed from Sorenson Services USA, and the filed can be HTTP-streamed to the Flash player.

Flash MX ships with a number of pre-built components for commonly used interface features, such as scroll bars. Wittman said this part of the kit is an expansion on the SmartClips "experiment" in previous versions.

Elsewhere on Wittman's laundry list: a Flash player with in-browser debugger, new templates, future integration with Dreamweaver, and improved text-to-voice software compatibility for blind users.

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