Macromedia is heading in a new direction with the launch of a development tool for Flex, its development platform for rich internet applications (RIAs).
The scheduled release of Flex Builder at the end of August confirms Macromedia's shift from vendor of web development tools to fledgling supplier of application development environments.
Steve Allison, EMEA product marketing manager at Macromedia, said that although Flex Builder was derived from its Dreamweaver web development, the firm had chosen to release it as a separate product because of the strategic importance it has placed on the application development of RIAs.
"Dreamweaver is aimed at web developers, whereas building e-commerce applications [in Flex] is more for application developers' RIAs. That's the direction the company is taking; that's where we want to be," he said.
Analyst Butler Group expects RIAs to be the next big thing in application development and predicted that the release of Flex Builder could increase Macromedia's lead in the corporate market for RIA environments.
But with competition from Microsoft looming, the analyst warned that Macromedia needed to do more to take advantage of its current lead.
Microsoft will have a "profound impact" on RIA developers when it releases its competitor to Flex, which is codenamed Avalon and due to ship with Longhorn, the next version of Windows.
Michael Azoff, senior research analyst at Butler Group, told vnunet.com: "[Macromedia has] got a few years because Microsoft keeps pushing back the release of Longhorn, which is quite a significant advantage for Macromedia.
"But they're not making the most of it. They seem to be targeting the enterprise. If they really want Flex to capture the mass market they need to provide low cost versions of their tools."
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