Macromedia unites multiple media types

Macromedia on Tuesday is set to announce availability of Macromedia Flash Communication Server MX, which unites communications and applications to boost Web sites, the company said.

To be unveiled at the company's Flashforward conference in New York, The server integrates support for streaming media, real-time collaboration, and multiway video, audio, and text messaging. The technology can be used by the 1.4 million Flash developers, according to the company.

Developers can add communication and collaboration functions to Web sites and rich Internet applications, San Francisco-based Macromedia said. For example, companies can offer features such as stock information, online learning, and sales communications information within a single user experience.

"It is a communications server that sits alongside an application server [and] it enables people to build applications for adding multiple points of communication functionality to their existing Web content," said Chris Hock, Macromedia director of product marketing. Functionality such as live audio can be added without requiring tools such as custom players, Hock said.

Use of the server at Aspect Communications Corp., a developer of call center software, has enabled the company to host online broadcasts without paying outside hosting fees.

"Since it is a program based on a server, we don't pay outside company fees for hosting on demand or hosting as a live event," said Ronald Biggs, a consultant at San Jose, Calif.-based Aspect. "It becomes basically a one-time fixed fee."

In addition, the server automatically converts PowerPoint content to a Flash format, retaining all animation, Biggs said.

Content and applications for the server can be developed using Macromedia Flash MX for Macintosh or Windows. The server can be integrated with Java and Microsoft .Net application servers and other Web infrastructure, according to Macromedia.

On the client side, the communications server leverages Macromedia Flash Player 6 to receive and transmit video, audio, and data.

Macromedia Flash Communication Server MX, which runs on Windows, starts at US$4,500 for the Professional Edition for a one-year subscription.

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