Macromedia Labs Debuts

It’s now easier than ever for Macromedia users to get early versions of
the latest Macromedia technologies.

The Macromedia Labs portal, launched this week, provides developers with
early access to applications, as well the opportunity to contribute to product direction through feedback.

The first applications available on Macromedia Labs are public alphas of
Macromedia Flash Player 8.5 and Flex Builder 2. FlashLite 2.0 is expected to be
previewed on the site in January. An alpha of Blaze, the next-generation
Flash authoring tool, with support for ActionScript 3, will be on the site
in the first half of 2006.

Beyond just providing an early look at new technology, Macromedia Labs will also include a variety of forums to help facilitate discussion about the

RSS syndication will alert developers to the latest news from the
Labs, while chats and podcasts will further engage developers.

Flex Builder 2, which was first announced earlier this month, is an Eclipse-based IDE for the development of rich Internet applications.

Such rich applications could include rich media developed in Flash, which Macromedia claims is currently installed on over 600 million PCs worldwide.

Macromedia is pinning its hopes on Flex, which helped to serve as a
driver for the launching the Labs initiative.

“We knew that we wanted to share this early release of the Flex product
line with a broader audience, so we took it as an opportunity to do
something bigger and broader,” Sara Spalding, Macromedia senior director of
developer relations, told

The “lab” concept, though new to Macromedia, is not new to the tech
industry. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft all use similar lab-type concepts as a
test bed for future product releases. Spalding, however, noted that Macromedia
was not necessarily influenced by any of those other tech industry lab

“We were primarily focused on what our customers were telling us — that
they wanted even earlier access to our work in progress, and to collaborate
with us as we bring technologies to market,” Spalding explained.

“That feedback, as well as our own aspirations to include our community in a more profound way –- is what really drove the design and functionality that you
see on Macromedia Labs.”

When you boil it down, Macromedia Labs is all about feedback.

“We’ll continue to evolve Labs based on the feedback and feature requests
that we hear from the developer community,” Spalding said.

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