So far this week has been all about new beginnings. First, yesterday the most feature rich version of Flex went out the door, version 3.0. That was big because secondly, Flex 3.0 supports AIR, which made its first apperance into the wild and will most likely bring about great innovation in 2008 and beyond. And for developers world wide looking for information and samples, the Adobe Development Center has been updated to make it easier to find said information. Happy coding everyone!!
There are many reasons why Flex is growing into a popular platform for creating RIAs: familiarity, great framework, simple yet powerful, etc... But the most important one I believe is ease of deployment. Think about it, even without the server component (now even that is free, see BlazeDS), you can create something pretty compelling. Case in point, just this week one of my work colleagues decided to dive head first into Flex. He comes from a Java/Swing background and started building a small application to learn the ropes, an album manager/viewer for his family and friends. He is loving it, but the best part is that he is going to make it available to his family and friends by hosting it on a server he is already using for other things. Nothing special for him to do, just drop the SWF file on the server and everyone can access it, thats how easy it is and that is why Flex is so successful. Could he have done this so easily in Swing? Nope, the client install would have been tedious, not impossible, but still quite an effort. The small footprint of the Flash player and seemless install is what makes this all possible. Who would have thought 10 years ago the little Flash Player would have been this powerful... great things come in small packages.
My brother and I currently own VWs and my dad owned 2 himself, so it is pretty cool working in Flex to see that a large car company like VW re-worked their UK site with Flex. It is very well done and I really like the animation when you select the color of your car, you actually see two robot arms appear and apply the new paint job. That is what RIAs are all about, useful and fun at the same time, captivating your imagination. And my three-door Golf R32 250hp only costs 27,745.00 euro btw. Only :)
I've recently been contributing to a book called AIR Unleashed being written by my partner in crime Stacy Young. The book covers everything you need to know about Adobe's upcoming AIR platform from A to Z, literally! This book covers all the basics from working with windows, file operations and OS integration to the more advanced stuff such as using application frameworks, unit testing and continuous integration. If you are salivating at the chance of getting this book, you can already pre-order it on Amazon.
It's Saturday morning and I am doing my regular tech web rounds and I found that the InfoQ website has no less that 3 Flex articles on their main page. One is about FlexReport, a tool for adding better printing capabilities, and God knows Flex needs help in that department. Second is a Java-based compiler API. I know you are going to say, that this exists today and lots of people of using it via ANT, but this is a bit different. It is an actual API, so you can create a Java class that uses the API to compile a Flex application and in some cases by just having the Flex application in memory, no actual file on disk. Interesting in seeing what that this is going to produce. And last but no least, FlexSpy and tool similar to FireBug but for Flex applications. I guess this is for those you won`t be able to have the Flex Building debugger but still want to look inside their Flex application at run and solve some problem they are having, big thumbs up here.