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Adobe's Flex Builder to woo Microsoft C# developers

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Adobe MAX The next version of Flex Builder will help Windows developers slap an Adobe-authored front-end on data-centric .NET applications.

Adobe Systems today demonstrated Flex Builder client-side code talking to Microsoft's C# language via the Adobe Action Message Format (AMF). "This is AMG with .NET on the back-end," senior technical evangelist Ben Forta told Adobe's MAX conference Tuesday morning.

In a jibe at Microsoft, Adobe's evangelist added: ".Net developers want to build applications with rich internet experiences and they haven't had a viable client technology."

This was just a preview, so details were scarce, but Forta said Adobe planned to go further "with more messaging." There's still no date yet for when Gumbo will be released.

By going further on messaging, this made it sound like Gumbo will use AMG to talk to, and connect with, C# and .Net-based back-end services through Adobe's BlazeDS. This already uses AMF to exchange data between an Adobe Flash and AIR applications and a database.

The difference in Gumbo is it will introduce something Adobe has called Client Data Management (CDM), to bind user-interface components to operations on the server.

Central to this is a CDM data store that acts as a middle man, by handling user requests for things like creating, updating, and deleting data and then issuing a single call to the client data management's commit() method to handle synchronization of all the changes.

Adobe's goal is for Flex to get more widely used in enterprise applications - in things like data dashboards, forms, and content management that are written in PHP, Java, or .NET.

According to Adobe here: "It was sometimes a challenge for developers to connect to these different back-end systems and manage data within a Flex application."

It's the latest chapter in the on-going interface battle between Adobe and Microsoft. The latter is peddling its Silverlight browser-based media player as a front-end for presenting business data in .NET servers and services in the form of graphs and charts.

Also demonstrated at MAX was Adobe's Project Alchemy, to run C and C++ code in the Flash Player. Millions of lines of C/C++ code have been authored in - among other things - Microsoft tools over the years. Adobe now wants to make that code accessible to Flash Player and AIR.

Alchemy translates C/C++ into ActionScript 3.0 to play in Flash Player 10 and AIR 1.5. One possible application: Bringing over games authored in C and C++ to Flash. Furthering the "come-to-Flash" message, Alchemy also lets you play Ogg Vorbis and Lib Vorbis that were previously unable to run in the Flash Player or AIR. ®

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