Adobe has consistently surprised the world of internet developers with one new system after another. One of the latest additions to their expansive technology collection is that of Flex. This development was intended to be cross platform and easy to develop as well as deploy to create a richer web browsing experience.
The core of Flex is based on the Adobe Flash technology for which they received from Macromedia after their assumption. It was back in 2004 when Flex was first released. With the initial development kit, came an IDE as well as J2EE integration capabilities with the use of the Adobe Life Cycles Data Service. Furthermore, since it was Macromedia who first launched Flex, initially one had to obtain a license for it, but through the latest release by Adobe, this is no longer needed.
The most current release of Adobe Flex is known as the Flex 3 SDK of which this particular development has been released as open sourced under the Mozilla Public License. The Flex IDE was developed on the Eclipse platform which unfortunately is not open source and is a proprietary application.
The design of Flex was in response to a demand by developers regarding the adaptation of the animation metaphor using Flash. Flex was the solution created in order to minimise the problem as well as help improve the speed of which a program can be developed using the Flash technologies. It makes use of both XML files as well as ECMAScipt to achieve this. Basically, the technology creates a similar solution to that of AJAX but also includes the use of flash animations.
When you get the Flex SDK, you will notice that it also comes complete with many common interfacing components such as buttons, trees, list boxes as well as grids and much more. As for add-ons to the SDK, you can choose from a huge range of great solutions including charts, drag and drop interaction and a number of other important web services.
Flex itself is the presentation tier in a multiple tiered web page. Using the concepts which have made AJAX popular today, this allows one to reload new data into the field without having to completely reload the HTML page. Adding in the Flash abilities means that all of this can be done richly in comparison to many AJAX developments currently in use. For this reason it is considered to be fairly similar to AJAX. It is also considered to be similar to other common used technologies like OpenLaszlo, XUL, Silverlight as well as JavaFX.
Furthermore, there is already a number of major websites which uses the Flex technology and you may not even realise it. The Pikeo photo sharing website uses Flex as does the Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport. If you go to Sherwin-Williams and want to visualise a colour you select then this program is built in Flex as well. The popular Sony Ericsson catalogue uses it and so does both the Yahoo! map online web application as well as the web based Yahoo! messenger.
Original Authors: Nick
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 09/02/2009