Macromedia Central to let Internet apps run on desktop

Macromedia Inc. will announce on Thursday Macromedia Central, a Mac OS X compatible product that's designed to extend Macromedia Flash beyond the browser.

How? By allowing Internet applications to run on your desktop, not just within a browser. Applications designed to work with Macromedia Central can be used to "grab" online info and make it available for examination and manipulation on the desktop when you're offline. If you're interacting with an application running inside Central and go offline, when you return online the info that you've worked with on your desktop will be automatically synchronized with the online (if it's interactive data).

Developed under the codename "Mercury" and not due until the summer, Macromedia Central is a "unique product for us," Lea Hickman, Macromedia's senior director of market development, told MacCentral.

"It will help end users find relevant information quickly," Hickman said. "For developers, it means that they can rapidly develop, distribute and sell Flash applications within Macromedia Central. Any online information that's available today -- such as stock, weather, recipes, reviews, etc. -- can be aggregated into Central Internet applications."

The product offers the benefits of connecting end users with relevant applications, simplifying download drives adoption, driving application purchases with trial versions and making online purchases easier, Hickman said. Macromedia Central will deliver an application metaphor -- a Web services user interface -- to tackle the expanding world of online information by providing instant delivery of applications, a try/buy infrastructure, support for "occasionally connected computing," cooperative applications and open data formats.

"Another benefit is that Central can use information across its applications," Hickman said. "For instance, you could store personal information about a movie look-up site or restaurant look-up site and it would share the data across applications. You wouldn't have to keep keying in the same information. You get a consistent experience across applications. Instead of interacting with 10 different Web sites and usage paradigms, we're promoting a more uniform method. And users can install Internet apps that are relevant to them and use them as a personal way of interacting with information."

For developers, the Macromedia Central environment provides a transaction infrastructure to enable end users to purchase said applications. They'll be able to hook into the product's software update feature to ensure their users always have the latest version of their software. Macromedia will also deliver applications that ship with the product. Central will come with an Application Finder to enable users to find details, cost, popularity rating and other relevant information about specific applications.

"Revenue from services are many companies' main source of revenue right now," Hickman said. "Macromedia Central can be used to help build and develop applications that Flash developers want to sell."

Macromedia is working with companies like PriceGrabber.com to develop Central applications that enable users to aggregate comparative shopping information.

"Macromedia is working with PriceGrabber to develop a central application that uses built-in Flash as a more effective way of looking at the PriceGrabber database," Hickman said. "It can be used to continue research on products offline."

Macromedia Central will be free and available for end users this summer. Some Central applications will be free, while others will available for purchase. Developers interested in creating Central applications in advance of the product's availability can contact Macromedia for access to a Macromedia Central Software Development Kit (SDK), due for an April release. Macromedia DevNet Professional subscribers and Macromedia Alliance partners automatically qualify for beta participation.

This story, "Macromedia Central to let Internet apps run on desktop" was originally published by PCWorld.

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