Macromedia's plans to enhance Internet communications were outlined by its chief software architect Kevin Lynch at the FlashForward 2002 event, yesterday.

During the conference, Lynch used his keynote address to show off Macromedia's new communications server, explain the company's strategy for improving the end-user Web experience, and look at some forthcoming technology.

Lynch broke Macromedia's strategy for better Internet communications into three parts: emotion, context, and interaction.

He said current software does little to help users express emotions, adding: “The best we can do to express emotion is put a smiley face in email.”

Context sensitive Information on Web sites often lacks context, and is not as easy to interact with as it should be, he claims.

“That's what we are going after with the communications server, to integrate various [communications technologies] such as VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), Web casts, and instant messaging,” Lynch said. “We're raising the level of human interaction across the Internet.”

Earlier this week, Macromedia took the wraps off Flash Communications Server MX, which is currently available and includes collaboration and streaming media as well as multi-way audio, video, and text messaging.

Another big push for Macromedia is to more closely align its front-end Web-design tools with the server-side Java software that it acquired from Allaire.

“There is a trend in using Flash with servers,” he said. “We've been working to make that easier, so you don't have to be a hard-core Java developer.”

Fusion thinking One of the ways Macromedia has made it easier for Flash to work with servers is through Web services, which also enable ColdFusion to expose server code, he said.

Toward that same end, Lynch demonstrated technology he loosely referred to as a data grid, which hooks into servers or databases and can download information. The software can retrieve and be filled with data from those sources, such as rows and columns of information typically associated with relational databases.

“We'll be releasing this shortly,” Lynch said, though he offered no more details.

Macromedia Flash Communication Server MX, announced July 9, integrates support for streaming media, real-time collaboration, and multi-way video, audio, and text messaging into a single solution.

It lets developers add communication and collaboration capabilities to Web sites and rich-Internet applications. Streaming media and live, human interactions integrate into existing Web sites. It's designed as an open development platform, and offers client support for Mac OS X.