Adobe adds support for building iOS apps with Flash Builder, FlexAdobe this week released Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5, adding the ability to build and distribute iPhone, iPad and iPod touch applications on Apple's official App Store.
The new functionality was announced on the company's official blog, where Adobe Product Marketing Manager Puneet Goel revealed that App Store software could be created "using one tool chain, programming language and code base — a first for developers."
The support for iOS applications comes in addition to the ability to create software for Research in Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, also new features of Flash Builder and Flex 4.5. Initially, application support was only available for Android software.
Flash Platform evangelist Serge Jespers demonstrated the ability of Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 to build iOS software in a video accompanying the post. The same stock market tracking application was shown running on an iPad 2 and iPod touch, in addition to an Android-powered HTC smartphone and the BlackBerry PlayBook.
Jespers also showed off the ability of Adobe's software to allow developers to quickly created tabbed applications, or add features like automatically rotating between portrait and landscape mode. By checking the appropriate boxes, developers can easily export their mobile software for Apple's iOS alongside BlackBerry Tablet OS and Google Android.
A "Platform Settings" option also allows developers to select their target device when creating iOS software. Through this, software can be created specifically for the smaller screen sizes of the iPhone and iPod touch, the larger 9.7-inch display of the iPad, or both.
"When your application is ready, you don't actually have to build the application separately for every single platform," Jespers said. "You can actually do that in one code. It's pretty amazing."
Flash 4.5 and Flex 4.5 are offered as standalone products for developers to purchase, or are available through Creative Suite 5.5 Web Premium and Master Collection.
"The reaction from developers to the new mobile capabilities in Flash Builder 4.5 and the Flex 4.5 framework has been absolutely fantastic," said Ed Rowe, vice president of developer tooling, Adobe. "They are amazed by how easy it is to create great mobile apps for Android devices, BlackBerry PlayBook, iPhone and iPad. Companies can now effectively reach their customers no matter what type of device they have."
Last September, Apple revised its policy on third-party development tools for iOS, and decided it would allow developers to use tools like Adobe's in order to create software made available to download on the App Store. That was a change from an earlier policy, when Apple's iOS 4 software development kid license banned tools that would port applications from Flash, Java and Mono.
Controversy over Apple's decision prompted CEO Steve Jobs to pen a letter in which he explained that allowing Flash conversion tools would produce "sub-standard apps" for the iPhone and iPad, hindering the progress of the iOS platform. Jobs said at the time that it was known from "painful experience" that allowing developers to become dependent on third-party tools is restrictive.
"We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers," Jobs said in April 2010.
Though Flash remains banned on iOS devices, Adobe has continued to expand its support for the iPhone and iPad, and this march released a Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool. The "experimental" software called "Wallaby" allows for Adobe Flash Professional files with the .fla extension to be converted to an HTML format that can be opened in the Mobile Safari browser on iOS devices.
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