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Is Macromedia "In Play"? Might Flash & CF Become Integral Parts of .NET Functionality?If you own Macromedia stock, a Microsoft t

Is Macromedia "In Play"? Might Flash & CF Become Integral Parts of .NET Functionality?If you own Macromedia stock, a Microsoft t

(December 23, 2002) - Rumors have been circulating in San Francisco since late yesterday that Microsoft Corp may be planning to buy Macromedia, Inc.

The San Francisco-based Macromedia, Inc., specializes in software that aids in the design, development, delivery, and display of Web sites and Internet applications, and its flagship "Macromedia MX" product suite includes two cornerstone products - Flash (graphics) and Shockwave (animation) - that any software titan would be proud to swallow up if it got half the chance.

Both Flash and Shockwave are already incorporated into the products of industry vanguards like AOL Time Warner and Apple; more importantly, from a Java developer point of view at least, Macromedia is the owner of ColdFusion MX.

To get some background on the rumor, and on the consequences for CFMX should it emerge in due course to be in any way well-founded, CFDJ talked with one of the four movers and shakers of the Flash developer community, Jens Christian Brynildsen, co-founder of FlashMagazine.com. We ran him to ground in his native Norway. "The income figures have been failing Macromedia lately and that reflects in its stock value," Jens Christian conceded, speaking from Oslo, "so a hostile takeover is definitely technically possible. Microsoft does however not have a good record vis-à-vis handling creative software like Flash. So, our guess is that even though this is possible, it will not happen."

In the UK, TheRegister.co.uk reports that (unnamed) "analyst sources" believe Microsoft covets Flash primarily because the vector graphics design tool and player was radically updated this year. An online article written by their San Francisco correspondent speculates that Microsoft might want to take over Macromedia to prevent further Java integration in the Flash Player.

But Jens Christian Brynildsen disagrees with this interpretation of the rumors. "I strongly doubt this would be possible," he contends, "as multi-platform support has always been one of Macromedia's strengths. J2EE is the foundation for Macromedia technologies such as ColdFusion and JRun." Java developer James F. Hurff, who recently evaluated Macromedia ColdFusion MX for IBM WebSphere, a Java application server that runs within a J2EE-compliant infrastructure, corroborates Brynildsen's view. "CFMX for WebSphere compiles CFML files (.cfm files) into Java classes and then executes them within the IBM WebSphere application server and VM," Hurff explains. "This functionality allows developers to run their existing ColdFusion applications within the J2EE environment."

In his research, Hurff says, he found that ColdFusion MX for WebSphere yields several key opportunities for Java developers. The IBM WebSphere platform overcomes what he sees as having been, historically, a limitation with the ColdFusion application server, "namely its close ties binding the developer to the Win32 environment."

A limitation that, if the takeover rumors are true, would return - in spades.

"A second interesting benefit of the CFMX environment," Hurff continues, "resides within application deployment. The only step necessary to redeploy a ColdFusion page is to save the new file to the server. The next time the file is requested from the server, CFMX automatically compiles the new page into bytecode and executes it. This hot deployment capability saves time, since the recompilation is handled automatically by the CF runtime environment. The execution takes place within the IBM WebSphere Java VM."

In short, this is a good example of RAD - rapid application development. With ColdFusion MX, a developer can simply copy the new CFML file into the appropriate virtual directory and - zingo! - immediately execute the code.

Unless, that is, Macromedia gets snapped up by a company that would prefer all this Java compatability to be superseded by synergies with the .NET platform.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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