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Some AIR in Adobe's Web Services?

Adobe Systems (NASDAQ: ADBE) has updated its software for Web services, LiveCycle Enterprise Suite (ES), with the integration of its Flex platform and AIR runtime environments.

The additions are designed to juice up Web applications and improve end users' experience with Web applications, such as filling out accident forms online.

Speed is also a factor in the upgrades. Brian Wick, director of Adobe's LiveCycle product marketing, said the LiveCycle ES Update 1 adds components designed to help developers build content-rich applications at a rapid clip.

For example, the platform update enables an automated conversion of two-and three-dimensional CAD design data to PDF format.

"Our focus is how to bring all the Web 2.0 and expectations that we set in the consumer world ... and extend those out to the business world," Wick told InternetNews.com.

The release comes at a time when developers are adding more rich features to Web-only applications, while adding more Web-like features in desktop applications.

Also in this release are what Adobe calls "Solution Accelerators," templates that are built for specific verticals, like financial services and government.

For instance, they could enable developers in financial services to build in nifty features when enrolling customers, while government developers might use the templates to improve personalization in their applications.

The focus with these accelerators, he added, is "very much around those high-value solutions within our target verticals in the Global 1,000 market, in order to automate those things that are very painful for our customers."

The upgrade to the LiveCycle ES comes about a year after Adobe integrated its Flex development environment, PDF technologies, its Flash Player and Adobe Reader with the tools in LiveCycle Enterprise Suite.

Now, the addition of AIR to the suite helps developers build more Web applications that function much like the more sophisticated applications that often only reside on desktops.

AIR is shorthand for Adobe Integrated Runtime, which is the company's foundation for building rich Internet applications (RIA).

Like the addition of Flex, the developer framework that exists in Adobe's Dreamweaver authoring software for Web application development, the AIR platform helps developers reuse code that was used for a Flash-based animation and deploy in a Web application. The AIR runtime enables developers to use HTML, Ajax , Flash and Flex to add more whiz bang to rich Internet applications that work across operating systems.

Adobe also noted that LiveCycle update extends policy protection for Microsoft Office 2007 and PTC Pro/ENGINEER files. "Rights management is very important" in this update, Wick added.

The suite validates against LDAP or [Microsoft's] Active Directory in making sure end-users are who they say they are, or are operating within their network permissions.

As for whether the upgrade is a competitive response to Microsoft's Silverlight platform, the well-received cross-browser technology that competes with Adobe's Flash platform, Wick called Silverlight an "interesting play," but asserted that AIR element in LiveCycle is a powerful differentiator" for the company. "We'll have to see how that plays out."

Pricing and availability? That will be revealed in July.