Adobe today announced that its Flash Catalyst design tool is shipping with version 5 of its Creative Suite, helping organizations put more compelling front ends on their data applications.

With Flash Catalyst, a designer can hand his or her project to a developer, who can use Adobe’s Flex framework tools (such as Flash Builder, formerly Flex Builder) to open the file as a Flex project, then gain access to the ActionScript and XML to easily connect the Flash Catalyst interface to back-end data, said Doug Winnie, principal product manager for Flash Catalyst.

“It had been a bit of stumbling block (connecting to the data center), because each data source had a different configuration,” he said. “Flash Builder has a consistent panel that takes the guesswork out of connecting to the data center up front.”

In Flash Builder 4, Adobe created the Spark architecture that provides for the complete separation of the presentation layer from the business logic that sits behind it. So, if a designer wants to make a change to the application’s graphical front end, it can be done without affecting the structure of the application, Winnie said.

Further, Flash Catalyst projects can also be published directly to a browser or desktop as AIR or SWF files, he noted. Creative Suite 5 includes Illustrator, PhotoShop and the Flash Professional animation tool, all of which can now be used to create application interfaces. “Now you can bring a Flash video or MP3 audio in as a design element, and build buttons or interactive controls,” Winnie said.

He also pointed out that round-trip editing has been added for PhotoShop in Creative Suite 5; this capability already existed for Illustrator. If a business user wants to change the look of the application, the front end can be exported from Flash Builder back into PhotoShop for rework, and then re-imported into the live project, he explained.

Flash Builder will also now be bundled with Creative Suite 5 at a cost of US$1,799 for the Web Premium edition. Flash Catalyst will sell for $399 as a standalone product.