Adobe has introduced its much-vaunted tools for rich internet application development and deployment, Adobe AIR and Adobe Flex 3.

These new technologies usher in a new generation of such solutions, enabling developers to create web applications and other rich content that blur the division between desktop computing and the web.

Applications deployed on AIR have  the advantages of browser-based rich internet applications, such as speed of development, ease of use, and universal access, but also offer benefits ordinarily associated with local desktop apps, such as being able to read and write local files or work with other applications on a computer.

Kevin Lynch, chief technology officer at Adobe revealed hundreds of thousands of developers downloaded the software development kit (SDK) for AIR during the beta process, which began in June.

Adobe also discussed its own new applications built with Flex and deployed on AIR, such as Adobe Media Player (beta), which allows users to watch online TV/video transmissions both off- and online, and Buzzword, an online word processor which integrates collaboration tools.

Adobe's rich internet application development technologies include integrated tools, frameworks, servers, services, and runtimes. The company has also introduced a variety of relevant learning resources at the Adobe Developer Connection.

Flex is a free, open source framework for building such applications. Adobe Flex Builder 3 includes new capabilities for deploying these on AIR and integrates with Creative Suite 3. Flex included testing tools include memory and performance profilers and function testing.

Major elements of AIR, such as the Webkit HTML engine, Tamarin ActionScript Virtual Machine, and SQLite local database functionality, are open source.

Adobe AIR and the Adobe AIR SDK are available immediately for Mac and Windows as free downloads in English. Upcoming versions are expected to be available for Linux and other languages.

Adobe Flex 3 is available now in English and Japanese for Mac and Windows. The open source Flex 3 SDK is available free of charge and a beta version of Adobe Flex Builder 3 for Linux is freely available on Adobe Labs (labs.adobe.com).

Adobe Flex Builder 3 is available as a standalone product or Eclipse plug-in, with the Standard edition priced at £125 (excluding VAT) and the Professional edition at £349 (excluding VAT).