Archive for May 14th, 2008

Adobe Flex isn’t Flash

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

But it is pretty cool.

Adobe will tell you that Flex is Flash. And the file extention is swf, so really it is Flash. But.. it is far closer to HTML and Javascript than to the movie clips and timelines of Flash. I’ve done a bit of Flash, and now a bit of Flex, and developing the two seems worlds apart.

Extensive knowledge of HTML, CSS, Javascript and all of the various browser handling tricks will let you begin creating a modern RIA (Rich Internet Application). But now the much simpler option is to just do it in Flex.

No need for AJAX calls, just use the very neat HTTPService object. No worries positioning your screen items, just drag and drop them. Nothing to do to handle different browsers, as a Flash file is going to look identical on any browser.

And it certainly helps that the available controls look very nice. And some very advanced controls they are, also. The default data grid’s standard abilities would take a huge amount of difficult to manage Javascript to duplicate (resizable columns, automatic sorting by column, click a value and it changes to an edit field, highlighting on mouseover, highlighting of selected row, etc.).

I’m not exactly sure how Adobe makes money out of this kind of thing. It all seems free, although I believe the original Flex did have some big licencing costs. I plan on taking advantage of Flex whereever possible from now on, so I’m hoping it stays free and it continues to be supported.

And how about Adobe AIR.. Well, there’s a whole new interesting approach that is really a very short hop from Flex.

Flex product page : http://www.adobe.com/products/flex/
Coding examples : http://blog.flexexamples.com/
RIA examples : http://flex.org/showcase/
Language reference : http://livedocs.adobe.com/flex/3/langref/
Design : http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flex/articles/fig_pt1.html