Macromedia will announce the Mac OS X-compatible Macromedia Central, which lets Flash applications run on the desktop independently of a Web browser.

Applications designed to work with the application can be used to gather online information, which can then be examined and used offline. The desktop will automatically synchronize with the data repository when back online.

Central isn't due to ship until summer, but Macromedia expects it will generate a wave of Flash-based application development. Any available online information - such as stock reports, weather news, recipes and reviews - can be gathered within Flash applications. Information can also be shared across applications.

Macromedia Central also offers a transition infrastructure to enable end users, to purchase applications, as well as a software update feature that keeps Central applications up to date.

The company is working with third parties to develop online service and retail applications. For example, Macromedia is working with to develop a central application built on Flash to gather information from PriceGrabber databases, the company told MacCentral.

Macromedia Central will be free and should appear this summer. Some applications built for it will be free, others will be chargeable. The company plans to release a Software Developer Kit in April.