Adobe shoots for simplicity with new Flash Builder, Catalyst betas

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Today, Adobe announced its latest steps toward simplifying the creation of rich Internet applications (RIA) with two new betas, Adobe Flash Builder 4 and Flash Catalyst.

Where's Flash Builder 1 through 3?

Adobe made a little change in names to keep things simple. For the last four years, this software was known as Flex Builder, a tool based on the Eclipse open source integrated development environment (IDE) for creating RIAs and user interfaces. But while it uses the Flex framework, it's ultimately a tool for creating Flash applications, and Adobe's real mission has been to simplify the creative process, so they're calling a spade a freakin' shovel.

As Adobe's Tim Buntel said, the team has been working for the last year and a half to evolve more than just the name, and the two new betas are meant to improve the workflow between the developer and designer creating RIAs.

Flash Catalyst targets the latter of the two groups. The new software lets designers take their creations from Photoshop or Illustrator and add Flash-based interaction elements, thus converting them from essentially a "dumb drawing" to a hybrid user interface without any code at all. The projects can then be exported as Flex applications for developer-side work in Flash Builder 4.

But even without the design elements in place, Flash Builder 4 targets the developer, and will offer a simplified drag and drop framework allowing disparate back-end technologies (PHP, ColdFusion, or third-party Web services) to be integrated simply and easily into a Flex application.

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