Public Beta Version of Macromedia Central released

Macromedia Inc. has released a public beta of Macromedia Central, a Mac OS X compatible product that's designed to extend Macromedia Flash beyond the browser.

It will allow 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). See our March 27 article for details.

The Central public beta includes two initial beta applications: Movie Finder and AccuWeather. Movie Finder provides access to film ratings, showtimes, ticket purchasing and DVD rental services, and integrates information from Tribune Media Services, Fandango, Rotten Tomatoes (for reviews) and Netflix. AccuWeather provides five-day forecasts and notification about specific weather conditions -- displaying the info in Central pods.

These applications will be part of a larger application library being created by third parties for Central, according to Kevin Lynch, Macromedia's chief software architect. Since the start of the initial beta program this summer, over 5,000 developers asked to join the application development community for Central, though there's only room for 1,000 right now, he told MacCentral. Plans are underway to increase the number accommodated.

"Macromedia Central provides a unified place for Internet applications, including a console that you can configure the way you want," he said. "Also, Central can monitor things in the background and notify you when information changes. What's more, you can link out from Central to the Web."

He said Macromedia was working to create an environment where developers can create lots of different types of applications that will work online and offline. For example, if you've "grabbed" information on movie listings with the Movie Finder app, you can look at the data when your Mac is unplugged from the Internet.

Since the company is "making sure it's really great before shipping," the estimated arrival time for the finished version of Macromedia Central is sometime before the end of the year, Lynch said. The completed version will also sport an application finder for tracking down new components for Macromedia Central. Developers can offer them for free or sell them on a "try-before-you-buy" version. If you decide to purchase one, you'll be able to conduct the transaction directly through Macromedia Central's infrastructure, Lynch said.

To take advantage of Macromedia Central, you'll need Macromedia Flash Player 7 for Mac OS (10.1). It works with the following Web browsers: Safari, Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla, Opera, and AOL.

This story, "Public Beta Version of Macromedia Central released" was originally published by PCWorld.

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