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Adobe pushes Flash platform for business apps

James Niccolai | Nov. 20, 2008
Adobe Systems expanded its partnership with SAP this week.

UniversalMind used Adobe Flex to build its SpatialKey analysis and reporting tool, which lays business data over third-party mapping services to help businesses identify location-based trends. It's an example of how Adobe is pushing Flex and Flash for enterprise use at its conference in San Francisco this week.

SAN FRANCISCO, 19 NOVEMBER 2008 - Adobe Systems, whose roots are in the media and publishing industries, is pushing deeper into the enterprise by promoting its Flash platform as a way to improve the stodgy user interfaces that come with most business applications.

At its Adobe Max conference in San Francisco this week, the company broadened its partnership with SAP and promoted several other companies on the show floor that are using Flex and Flash Player to liven up business software. The idea is to get away from static grey boxes and build more engaging interfaces that improve data visualization and make business software less monotonous to use.

SAP said it would release a library of Flex and Flash components that developers can use within Web Dynpro, SAP's environment for user interface development. It hopes they'll build interactive dashboards and charts for SAP applications, to represent data in more intuitive ways than can be done with HTML and Javascript.

SAP developers will be able to do data binding and pass events between Flex Builder and Web Dynpro without needing to be fluent in Adobe's programming models, according to SAP. They'll need to buy a copy of Flex Builder to get started, which costs US$699 for the Professional edition.

A preview of the components library will be available this week on the SAP Developer Network, with the final production release due in February, said Sanjay Katyal, vice president with SAP's global ecosystem and partner group.

SAP also has its Duet partnership with Microsoft, which provides access to SAP data through Excel and other Office applications. Customers need to decide if they want the Office compatibility that comes with Duet or the custom interfaces that can be built with Adobe's tools but which won't sync with Office, Katyal said. was also at the show, encouraging developers to build Flex and Flash front-ends for custom applications built on its platform. "For the last 20 years, enterprise software has been where innovation has gone to die," said Steve Fisher, an executive vice president with, urging developers to build more engaging software.

UniversalMind used Flex to build SpatialKey, a reporting and analysis tool that lays data on top of maps to help organizations identify location-based trends. It's being used by several police departments, and UniversalMind is now offering a version to small businesses using Intuit's software-as-a-service platform, which was released earlier this year.


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