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Xamlon Out to Connect Flash to .NET

Software maker Xamlon is looking to let Microsoft developers write Flash applications in their native language.

With the release of Xamlon Pro, Flash Edition, the company is offering software that lets developers write Flash application user interfaces using any .NET-based programming platform, including C# and Visual Basic , instead of using Macromedia's Flash MX tool.

Pre-existing Flash applications and artwork can be imported and integrated into the developed application. Deployed applications only require the Flash runtime on the client.

"Because Flash, unlike .NET applications, can run on any device, this opens up the development of applications for different platforms and form factors, without developers having to actually learn Flash," said Paul Colton, Xamlon CEO.

"While Flash is more powerful than HTML, it's too difficult to learn, and, for Microsoft developers, it's an entirely different paradigm," he added.

Xamlon previewed the software in January, following the release of its XAML development tool, Xamlon Pro, in October 2004.

XAML lets developers separate user interface code from application logic, so that they can change the user interface without rewriting logic and event-handling code.

Although Flash is installed as a plug-in on an estimated 98 percent of the world's computers, there are only about one million Flash developers, according to Macromedia's count. Colton said that differential could spell good opportunity for .NET developers.

He added that Xamlon Pro, Flash Edition, also could cut developers in on a simple way to create rich client applications similar to Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX). While AJAX uses JavaScript and XML connected to Web services to deploy Dynamic HTML rich Internet applications, Colton said that developers could use Xamlon Pro, Flash Edition to create what he calls AFLAX applications.

Asynchronous Flash and XAML (AFLAX) applications are also Web services-connected apps that deploy directly to Flash. Programming in JavaScript can be difficult, and not all browsers are configured to run JavaScript, he said. With Xamlon, "you can use the languages you know, use open standards, and it's a much simpler programming model."

Colton called the Flash product a true hybrid that can exist between the Microsoft and Macromedia platforms.

In 2003, there was chatter that Longhorn, Microsoft's next version of Windows, would include a "flash killer" code-named Sparkle.

Sparkle was supposed to automate the creation of vector-based graphics using XAML. The XAML functionality will be part of Visual Studio 2005, the next version of Visual Studio .Net. Microsoft expects to release the toolset in mid-2005. Longhorn, expected in 2006, will include Avalon, an advanced graphics subsystem based on XAML.

Part of Xamlon's sales pitch is "Longhorn now."

Xamlon will launch the product on April 6 at Macromedia's Flash Forward user conference in San Francisco. The final 1.0 version will be priced at $499 per seat and will be available for download on May 3rd.