Adobe has released new technology that aims to make AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) programming easier for Web designers.

The company is to offer a free pre-release version of an AJAX framework called Spry. The Spry framework is HTML-centric and features a JavaScript library specifically oriented to Web designers, said Jennifer Taylor, senior product manager for Adobe's Dreamweaver products. Developed at Adobe Labs, the pre-release features data capabilities to incorporate XML into HTML documents using technologies such as HTML, Cascading Style Sheets, and a minimal amount of JavaScript.

Spry lets Web designers create AJAX-enabled pages without having to learn new languages or adopt a full programming model, Taylor said. "It's very lightweight and flexible," Taylor said. The framework can be used with Dreamweaver or any other Web authoring tool, according to Adobe.

"This was built out of a need we identified in the marketplace," Taylor said. As Adobe talked to Web designers, the company found they were interested in AJAX but that many existing frameworks were more oriented to existing programming skills.

Spry features data capabilities that can be leveraged to build AJAX-enabled interfaces.

"Adobe is deliberately avoiding a new tag set," or imposing a full programming model to develop in AJAX, she said.

Adobe does not see its Flash technology for Web applications as competitive with AJAX. "We see them as tools that leverage some of the same skills and provide different levels of functionality," said Todd Hay, director of platform marketing at Adobe.