Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Flex, that "Web 2.0 thingy" and today as a significant event in history

So today, Flex 2.0 was officially released. Hurray! What? Exactly! So why is the arrival of Flex so important and if it truly is, why is this event not larger?

First - for those of you who do not know what Flex is, Flex is an offering from Adobe that allows you to create Rich Internet Applications (RIA's) that display using Flash by using a declarative markup langauge (MXML). Furthermore, unlike Flash Director, Flex Builder caters specifically to developer who like to think in terms of Objects, Event Models, Event Handlers, MVC and other commonly accepted programming methodoligies and techniques, rather than the timeline based world of Flash Director. Flex has two important components - the Flex Builder, an Exclipse based development tool that comes with a wide range of prebuilt widgets and components, and Flex Data Services, a server that can allow the heavy lifting to be done away from the client.

A major point of clarity - to use Flex, you do not need to buy anything. There is a free Compiler available and you can write your own server and bind to it however you want. Adobe sells it tools based solely on the value they present. Most people will want to do a few common tasks and these are packages in our tools to make it much easier and quicker for you to get your next generation RIA up and running. This model was triumphed by Macromedia - think of why people bought Dreamweaver instead of hand coding HTML and JavaScript. Still - please feel free to use the free stuff.

Flex arroving in its' current iteration is a major milestone on the road to the next generation of the internet or what some are calling "Web 2.0". Flash has been for a long time the preferred technology for most rich internet applications and Flex bridges the gaps between web developers and application developers. It briges the gaps between enterprise architecture and the edge. There is even a bridge between AJAX and Flex.

In short, this toolset, the common programming model and forced MVC architectural constraints are moving the internet along to whatever it will be. Want to make a rich HTML text editor for your site? It used to take several days or weeks to do. Today, using Flex Builder 2, you can make the front end in minutes (I actually timed myself and my fastest time was 42 seconds).

As with everything I post on this blog thought, don't just take my word for it or believe me. Try it out for yourself.


  1. You should update your links to point to or Adobe's official product page. Flex 2 is no longer in labs.

  2. Yeah, Flex Builder 2 is great and all if you have Windows, but Mac users are once again second-class citizens in Macromedia's eyes.

    Yes, I know they claim there are problems with Eclipse on OS X. But doesn't this then underscore that basing your IDE on outside code is probably not a good thing?


  3. I use a Macbook Pro and there is a growing number of us at Adobe who do as well. We are committed to Mac users never being treated as anything but first class citizens ;-)


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